The bright summer sun melts quickly, like our homemade ice cream, into the horizon and the hot day makes way for a humid Kansas night. The light blue afternoon sky begins to fade and shades of yellow, orange, and pink dance in the west. The activity of the day slows down and an evening filled with conversation and laughter begins as we settle into our chairs and our cold drinks on the front porch of my parents’ house.
We listen to stories we’ve heard before but love none the less. We talk about books and Hemmingway, music (including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and my dad’s new found appreciation of Jason Isbell), and movies (mostly comparing Midnight in Paris to Somewhere in Time). We talk about everything from business and budgeting, to parenting, and our experiences with moving away and living far from family.
We talk about life and love and loss.
We sit on the porch until the stars come out and the magical golden hour light is long gone.
Even though the stars are now twinkling above us, this time we share together is still our golden hour…
It has taken me a little while to wrap my head and heart around what is happening, but I think I’ve finally come to accept this season of life we are currently living.
My dad has cancer.
From the moment a cancer diagnosis came into my life, it changed me. I wanted to grasp for meaning, for anything that could possibly explain why. I didn’t know what to do with all the of feelings I was experiencing- I definitely didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to pretend I was ok and I wanted to be a source of strength for my mom, dad, and my sisters. I can picture the ‘put on a brave face’ side of myself shoving these feelings into a bottle, tossing it into the ocean, and watching it drift off into the vast open waters. The problem is that eventually, the bottle will wash up onto shore. Someone will find it, pop the cork, and the contents will start to spill out everywhere. And it did- when I’d least suspect it, someone would ask about how things were going and I’d desperately try to hold myself together.
No one knows when our time on this earth may come to a close but when someone you love is going through something like this, it really opens your eyes to the importance of each day. It took me some time to realize that, as hard as this may be, it could also be seen as a motivation to be present and show up for life. Instead of thinking of what the next few years may bring, I’m coping by taking in every phone call, every conversation, every cup of coffee I get to have with my dad. I ask hard questions, even though I may not really want to hear the answers. When I start to feel my mind drifting towards a darker path, I stop what I’m doing and I call him. We might just talk about the day, but I feel better. I know I’m taking in my life with him in it and not wasting time with worry about what may come.
I started this as a way to take in time with my dad but I think the idea of ‘showing up’ has become a continuous theme in conversations with family and friends as well. What if you showed up, and asked the hard questions and had the meaningful conversations (whether about big life stuff or just about your day) without needing something like cancer to jump start it? Why not treat each day, each moment as if it were your golden hour? Slow down, settle in, laugh and talk, and watch the beauty unfold around you.