Let July Just Be July

I heard a song recently on an Instagram Reel. Or maybe it was that Tik Tok thing. Yep. I’m hip. The lyrics were simple, yet for me, so profound. “We can let July just be July.” Music has a way of seeing into our souls.

I love the summer. I am, after all, a teacher, so perhaps I have some bias on my end. For me, July is my favorite month. It feels like a Saturday during the weekend. With August giving off more of that Sunday vibe.

July is a time where I can kick off my shoes and let my shoulders fall. It is the month where I can exhale in the knowing that I can simply just be. The beach. The mountains. Pickleball. 😂 There is no agenda and there are no alarm clocks.  

July has always been my favorite month. 

When my dad died on July 2nd, July was no longer just July. July now was sprinkled with a grieving heart and a sorrow that could not be brushed under the rug. On July 2nd, the memories would flood my mind of the day my biggest fan left the stadium. 

My mom and my brother followed my dad just a few short years later in different months. However, both of their birthdays are in July. So, July began to become everything it had never been to me. Heavy and just plain awful. July became that month that could not end fast enough. July had lost its sparkle. 

I dreaded July. And the buildup to all of the anniversaries. It felt like a month that was impossible to navigate. And for those that have experienced grief, you know there is no GPS system or playbook for when it comes, how it comes or how it will behave when it arrives. It is like that guest on the EVITE that responds “Maybe.” It might show up, it might not. Perhaps unannounced and it sure won’t matter if your place is clean or a mess. You just cannot prepare. 

I guess one could say that, for me, the sun had been knocked out of the sky. The ocean became an empty and dry crater of a space. The mountains that I had loved, crumbled to the ground. And I stood there staring at nothingness. 

My July was no longer July. At least it was no longer the July I had once known. 

July now became a month in which I would put tremendous pressure on myself. I need to honor everyone somehow. Right? That is what the grieving do. I posted pictures, I did walks and donated and some years I wept. 

Then one year I missed the July 2nd date altogether. I was in a plane and because of the length of the flight and the time difference, somehow July 2nd disappeared into thin air. 

That year I had no choice but to let the expectations around what I should and shouldn’t do on these anniversaries go. It felt weird and it felt freeing all at the same time. 

Then something interesting began to happen. I started to attach myself to unavailable people. Mostly love interests. After about the 7th broken heart, my detective skills began to notice that these specific unavailable people presented themselves to me in July. No shit. Coincidence? Nah.

Maybe it was living in fantasy to try and protect my heart from true intimacy. Perhaps it was searching for a story to confirm my limiting and self-sabotaging belief of “I am going to be alone forever. Everyone leaves me. I am not good enough.” No matter what the root of it was, the one thing that I knew was that July SUCKED. 

I had forgotten what it was like to feel anything else. Anything else except pain did not seem to fit. In a weird way, the feeling of pain and sadness was comfortable and at the same time, I did not like how it made me feel. My grieving brain had become my security blanket. Afterall, who would I be without it? 

Around the third year of my sobriety, a friend that knew my story and how I would attach to these unavailable people, said to me, “You should just get out of the country in July.”  Although she was probably kidding, I took her up on it. 

The next July I went to Bali. Then I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Then I headed to Peru. Then I was off to Iceland. 

Each experience was exactly what the doctor never ordered. Even though grief itself can be universal, how people deal with it is individual. 

I had found that travel, seeing and doing new things, meeting people, experiencing a sense of wonder and awe in nature’s magnificent existence was the prescription I needed to feel alive again. 

I wasn’t running away from July. I was simply redefining and rebuilding July. 

Even though curiosity killed the cat, my new found curiosity had given me life after death. It had revived me mentally, spiritually and emotionally. The awe and wonder of a world unexplored. The curiosity of places in my own heart that had yet to be discovered. Traveling to places I had never been was the key to rediscovering a sense of self I had once known. I was different now. 

Instead of dreading the month of July or putting it on a pedestal, I grabbed it by its hand. And we learned to walk together. I wasn’t July against me. It wasn’t me against July. It was just July and I learning to walk side by side and just be. 

The memories of all that had passed and the hopes of all that is to come. July and I had a new relationship. 

It is kind of poetic I guess. The month that had brought me so much joy then brought me so much pain. As I learned to allow both joy and grief to coincide in the same space, I was able to feel more alive and in the moment. I was able to feel more deeply than I ever had before.

Then Covid hit and I almost forgot my why. Missing a few Julys of travel and of course dealing with a global pandemic. Although there was a comfort in knowing that everyone was experiencing a similar July. A collective grief.   

This July I traveled to Banff, Alberta. I had never been, but there I experienced a familiar feeling. At one point in the midst of awe and wonder, staring at the scenery that looked as if it could be a screensaver, I whispered to myself, “Oh yeah.” That feeling of aliveness and complete inspiration. That “Holy Shit is that seriously real?!” feeling. 

Perhaps losing so much has given me a deeper appreciation for life and all that it has to offer. Perhaps through the deaths, I have learned to live again. 

This July I had no expectations. At least I didn’t think I did. I just knew I had to travel. I just knew I had to go. And on my mom’s birthday, I gazed out onto one of Alberta’s stunning lakes. Having a moment of pure gratitude.

My friend was staring at a different lake on the other side of the trail. When we met up again, she exclaimed as she showed me picture of a pierced t moment she had captured, “Look at that heart in the sky.” Although the hearts had already faded from the clouds when I looked out, the picture was stunning. And there were in fact serval hearts.

Instead of joy, I began to feel resentful that I didn’t get to witness these hearts myself. The expectations of heart spotting tried to interfere with this moment. I was supposed to be the one to spot the hearts.

As I stared at the picture with envy, although I wasn’t the one that spotted them, I realized that those hearts were in fact for me too. Juts because I wasn’t the one to see them did not negate the fact that they existed.

In that moment, I was able to recognize That life is and love is meant to be shared. After all, she didn’t know that it was my mom’s birthday and that hearts were our thing. And that was in fact a moment.

As I continue to work on swinging my extreme independence trauma response back towards the middle, I realized that Sometimes love shows up through the eyes of others. And part of my work was to allow it to do just that.

As the lake reflected the perfect love that was shining in the clouds, I smiled and silently said, “Happy Birthday Mom.”

In that moment, I understood what it meant to truly let July just be July. 

The Valley of Five Lakes Hike. Jasper, Alberta
Photo Cred: Shannon Dempsey 🙂

July (Later on) by Lily Williams

We can let july just be july
Let the sun hang in the sky
Clear your mind of all the things you’re waiting on

Let there be a second you forget
All the work you still have left
Cus tomorrow’s just a little later on
Later on

Verse 2
We could let this room just be our room
Stay inside all afternoon
Easy as the tune of all your favorite songs
You could let my arms be yours to hold
Rest assured they won’t let go
And we’ll get old but that’s a little later on
Later on

Later on
Later on
Just a little later on

No one knows where this is going
And the days are getting shorter now, I swear
I was rarely in the moment
‘Cause something ’bout it always made me scared
But now, you’re there

[Verse 3]
I have found July is just July
Rainy days will pass you by
You can let go of the ways it could’ve gone
Take a second, take a breath
Take the minutes that you get
‘Cause the rest is just a little later on
Later on

One thought on “Let July Just Be July

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