When I was a young girl growing up in northern Maine, summers were precious. I loved the freedom of long unstructured days, and there was nothing I enjoyed more than riding my bicycle on country roads.
My grandparents lived one mile (all uphill) from us, and I made that trip nearly every day with the reward of coasting home with a date filled cookie or a homemade potato donut digesting in my belly.
There is one particular summer day I will never forget.
I was trembling with excitement. My sister was taking her family and me to the circus! I was the youngest of four, and my older sister had children close to my age, so we did a lot of things together while Mum and Dad slaved on the farm, unable to get away much in the summer.
The morning of this most fantastic day, I decided to take a bike ride. I pedaled to Grammie and Grampie’s and in a flash of spontaneity zipped down the long steep hill past their house.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I knew it was time to turn around and begin the arduous process of pedaling back up the mountain for indeed it was a hill going down and a mountain going up.
But something made me stop. And it wasn’t asthmatic wheezing because my lungs were robust and capable of the most vigorous physical activity back then.
I closed my eyes and felt the sun soak into my flesh. I listened to the sounds of summer: a songbird, the rustle of the warm breeze in the poplars, cicadas buzzing. I smelled the fragrance of sweet grass, freshly mowed hay, and the Blackstone’s manure pile.
I thought about what a wonderful life I had at that very moment.
I knew even at my young age that life was fleeting. I thought about my parents and how I had so many years with them stretched before me. I thought about my grandparents and how much I loved them. I thought about my older sisters and my brother, my nieces, and nephews and how important they were to me.
I stared at the dry, brown earth and thanked God I was standing on it and told myself, “I will never forget this perfect instant in time when I counted my blessings and the people I love are here with me, surrounding me with light and love. This will not always be the case, but at this point, I have everything a child could ever want.”
The funny thing is I barely remember the circus, which was the event that prompted my delight. I suppose there were the usual trapeze artists, unicyclists, and elephants. I imagine I ate popcorn and cotton candy and had a bellyache from the junk food and the laughter.
But the detail about that day that I’ll never forget is when time stood still for one moment of perfection.
This is how I imagine heaven will be. Reunited with those I love, time suspended on a perfect summer day, looking forward to the circus.
Have you memories of a perfect day or moment in time you can share with me? I’d love to hear all about it.