Chasing the Sun

It is fitting that my mother was born in late June. She was the personification of summer in her brief but impactful time on this earth. As soon as the temperature broke 70 degrees Fahrenheit, Tracy could be found in the sun. My memories from May through September during my childhood always included her on our back deck, laying out in a swimsuit. A cold drink resting on the table, a hardcover biography or true crime novel in her lap, her bronze skin glistening with tanning oil, and the rays of the sun reflected off her auburn hair. She lived for those brief months of pure sunshine. It was the only real cure for her chronic pain, the only time when she felt solely and one hundred percent human when she laid in the sun.

The last trip we went on was last September to South Carolina, including a day trip up the coast to our old home in North Carolina. She was battling severe pain, worse than normal and I didn’t think we’d be able to go. She had just received a hip injection and was in debilitating pain. But she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She said, “Just get me to the beach, I’ll feel better.” Another thing about being born in late June, she was a Cancer and an extremely stubborn one at that. I remember pushing her through the airport in a wheelchair, wondering if this whole thing was a huge mistake. It was the most stressful trip of my life, but we made it. The day after we arrived, I sat next to her on the beach of Sullivan’s Island and saw her finally relax and soak up the sun. She was never an early riser, but she got up at the crack of dawn to chase the sun, wanting to squeeze every moment of relief from it. On the beach, she was an able, pain-free person just like everybody else.

Tracy loved people, she loved to entertain, loved to cook for people she cared for. She loved discussion, debate, long nights of lively conversation. The deck was set with chairs for company, the sliding glass door opening and closing as she brought more and more food that she prepared. She loved animals, her dogs, her cats, her horse. She would take Trigger out to graze for hours in the sun, sitting on the ground next to him, rubbing his neck. She let all the cats out on the deck with her, with catnip plants available for their enjoyment. She brought everyone and everything she cared about into the refuge of the sun’s rays, where she could focus on others rather than her pain.

Today, the sun is shining. Today there is no humidity in the air. Today is a day that she would have loved. She would be on the back deck in her swimsuit. Book in hand, drink on the table, the cats at her feet. When I close my eyes, I can see her there, in the glorious sunshine. I am sad that she isn’t here to enjoy this gorgeous beautiful June 26th. But part of me thinks that she sent this weather to remind me and everyone who knew her and loved her of what her good days looked like.

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