Another Lap Around the Sun (and an Anniversary Tribute)

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Danny has been learning about the structure of our solar system just in time to have an appreciation for the just-past Summer Solstice and all of these glorious summer sunrises and sunsets. Our goal was to stay up to see sunset on the Solstice, which came at exactly 9 PM, an hour past his normal bedtime. We must have expressed concern as to whether we would make it because Danny told Dan and I, “Don’t worry, later on in the year the sun will set much earlier.” I hid my amazed smile, thinking how far his cognitive abilities have developed compared to last summer. Just one less ring around every tree in the forest. Just one less lap around the sun.

What different lives we were leading then, one lap ago. Summer sunrises found us rushing off in three different directions--away from each other--Dan and I to work, Danny to daycare. I remember the deep sadness inside despite the blossoming beauty of the season. This time around is very different, as we plan each day around togetherness. The deep sadness is gone. To be sure, replaced by deep tiredness, as the birds must be tired in their day-long to-ing and fro-ing to feed their ravenous growing babies. But it’s a happy, purposeful, bearable tiredness.

Eighteen laps ago, Dan and I got married. I marvel at how different we looked in wedding photos, how stunningly young we were, but how little within our tiny universe has actually changed since then. Dan was in his third summer of running Ogonek Custom Hardwoods. I was embarking on one of a series of mini-careers. We were broke but hopeful. Looking forward to everything that lay ahead. We still are.

Sixty laps ago, Dan’s parents got married. Also stunningly young in their photos, also beaming with hope.This weekend we will celebrate with them everything that the years held for them between then and now (eleven children, twenty-two grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, medical practice, two tree farms, hardwoods company). They are the center of the Ogonek family solar system, holding so many wildly spinning, wildly different planets in orbit. Shepherding us all through another lap. Still smiling with unfailing hope.

Here’s to the laps behind us and the laps still ahead. May we plan them around togetherness, and remain hopeful.