Once a year I spend a week in the woods on a lake. I get to help it unfold and watch it come to life at the beginning of the week. I am in a place with people I call family. It’s a place that people understand what life with a bleeding disorder is. I watch families let their babies and kids go for the first time. I watch a particular miracle of connection with others happen. I have people in my life that I would never have met or connected with in any other circumstance.
There is a process that happens for each person, one of understanding, being mentored, becoming mentors and becoming the old timers. Every generation of kids growing up make friends that last a lifetime even if they only see each other once or twice a year.
In a few hours, less than a day, I’ll be back in my regular life. My heart will be full but I will be a little sad. I’ll stop on my way home and look in a mirror and realize how easy it is to have messy hair and forget there is a certain standard the world wants to hold me to. I won’t be able to get smiles and hugs from people I see. No longer will there be that recognition of knowing how it feels to walk in each other’s shoes.
Tonight as we begin the process of saying so long I’ll cry. I’ll cry for memories of kids that are now adults, I’ll cry for the adults that are not here and I’ll cry for loss of this feeling of being understood. I’ll have hope for our new friends that are learning to let us love them because I remember how hard it was let the ones who went before love me.
I will fuss about the amount of work this takes and jump at the chance to do it again next year. I’ll watch the camp get put away, the boxes and bins get put back in the shed, much like the rewinding of a movie. I’ll get hugs and wave goodbye. I’ll get in my car and think about the week as I drive home.
Camp is not an event for me, it’s feelings. It’s a lifetime in a few days. I keep it in my heart until next time.