The month of August has always been significant to me in one way or another throughout my life. As a child it symbolized the end of summer and the approach of a new school year. When I entered my adult years, this time brought about the anticipation of the coming Fall, which is one of the most colorful and beautiful seasons in New England.
About 5 years ago, I found a new reason to appreciate August, as an established friendship deepened and presented me with the opportunity to make a spontaneous trip to California. This trip was simple, but wonderful and one that I could never forget. For me, it was significant.
In the years that followed, although my friend and I would reconnect at least once a year before he returned back to MA during the summer, I knew that we would always have August to look forward to. Although his return during this month was planned around being with his loved ones for their annual family reunion, he always found a way to dedicate some of this time to me, which I appreciated. Receiving the phone call, informing me that he would soon be home was something that I anticipated with the came excitement as a child looking for their school listing on the TV screen during a snowstorm.
The summer of 2011 was no different, or so I thought at the time. And when my phone rang in mid-August with this dear friend on the other end, I couldn’t wait to find out exactly when he’d be home.
At first, this conversation was not much different from any other that preceded his homecomings. He asked how I was doing and if I would be in the area, I said yes. Then he explained that he would be coming home for a few months, which made me both excited and confused, simultaneously, since he lived in California and had a very full life there. The tone of his voice shifted a little and he cleared his voice as he kind of searched for words before expressing that he would be home for “treatment”. When that came through the phone and into my ear, I had no words, but 1 million questions. To this day, I remember exactly where I was standing in my bedroom when he said this. There was a silence for a moment, then I began with the questioning, “Treatment?” “Are you ok?” “Treatment for what?” “What’s going on?”, I don’t believe that anyone could have been prepared for the answers that followed, and although I think I went into some form of momentary shock, I could tell you exactly where I was standing in my bedroom when this conversation took place. We continue to talk, but after I hung up the phone that afternoon, nothing was the same.
I won’t detail the months that followed this phone call, but on April 7th of 2012, my dear friend, my love, lost his battle with Cancer.
Four months after the passing of my friend, I find myself in the midst of another August. An August that holds new significance; and different memories; An August without my friend.
As this week approached, so many thoughts filled my mind. Thoughts of his family, whom I knew would be gathering, as they do annually for their reunion. Thoughts of the last conversation I had with my friend in August. As I said, the month of August has always been significant to me in one way or another.