You take the good, you take the bad . . .

Ice cream date with Maddie and Parker.

Ice cream date with Maddie and Parker.

This is the last week of summer for our family. The kids start back to school on Monday, and on Wednesday I'm helping Maddie drive her new-to-her car up to BYU. It's been a good summer in many ways -- but there has also been a good deal of heaviness. There have been hospital stays, and deaths, and bad news, and heartbreak all around us these past months, which makes me anxious and panicky. I know these sorrows have always circled, but normally I'm better at pretending they don't exist. The pretending bit gets hard when it's RIGHT IN YOUR FACE.

On the other side of the equation, there have been beautiful, joyful moments this summer. There has been midnight laughter from the kids upstairs, beautiful sunrises as we drive to Crossfit, the complete feeling of having Maddie home again. There have been fun dinners in The Heights, farmer's market breakfasts, that feeling of warmth as the gulf coast breeze washes over you when you step from the ultra air conditioning of the supermarket. Last night all of our kids (except Jordan, of course) piled on our bed and did their best to pick on one another. It was so annoying and so comforting -- all at the same time.

Maybe it comes with age -- this living with joy and sadness all intertwined. It seems that in my 20s I bull-dozed through life, knocking aside what I didn't like, greedily claiming those things I thought would make me happy. But now, as my babes leave the nest one by one, I'm more circumspect about my joy -- more careful to savor the everyday pieces of happy that come my way. And still, more prone to worry in the night that tragedy is lurking in every corner.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the schedule of the new school year will set me right. I do like extreme order. But also, a little good luck and peaceful vibes wouldn't hurt either. Here's to new beginnings, soft words of encouragement, and a year of kindness. Goodness knows we all need it.