They can't cancel summer.

I need to know there will be brighter days to come.

I can't miss the smell the scent of my babies slathered in sunscreen.

I don't want to give up joyful days spent at the pool or see the splash pads and parks closed up.

I want late nights with roasted marshmallows and great music and good friends.

I was looking forward to family gatherings and cookouts, concerts and fairs.

I'm secretly rooting for summer camp.

I don't want to let this season go.

Please don't let them cancel summer.

Because if they cancel summer, it's another three months families have to juggle childcare, work and our sanities. If they cancel summer, it will feel like there is no relief on the horizon, and like so many parents, we are already burned out. If they cancel summer, whatever hope we have for turning the corner on coronavirus feels like it would be swept away.

If they cancel summer and we don't have any school distractions for the kids, how will single parents entertain their children all day while they're trying to work without childcare? If they cancel summer, what will all the parents who have lost jobs do? If they cancel summer and we're still not supposed to gather together, what will we do without human connection for this long?

If they cancel summer, I'll grieve again for the break my husband and I won't have. For the memories my children won't make. For the carefree way we used to cherish June, July and August. Because we only get 18 summers with our children, and I don't want this one to get whisked away before our eyes.

Please don't let them cancel summer.

I'm holding onto hope, because during quarantine, sometimes it seems like hope is all we have.

COVID-19 has taken so much from us. It's robbed us of beloved family members. Of socializing with girlfriends. Of school and playdates and teachers and ballet class. Of preschool graduations and baby showers and dance recitals. It took Easter and Passover. It ripped away occupational therapy and soccer practice and family dinners out. It threatens Memorial Day weekend and summer vacation. It stole jobs and livelihoods, steady paychecks, savings accounts and access to food. It took our mental health and our sleep and our support systems.

But what I'm realizing is that even if camp is closed, even if school in September is uncertain, even if the pools never open, summer can never be truly canceled. Not even this year.

Because summer is a state of mind. And more than ever, we need the bright, hopeful mentality that summer so breezily evokes.

So maybe, no matter what happens, summer won't really be canceled. It will just be different.

Because they can't cancel a backyard sprinkler to run through and the screech of gleeful children as they blitz through the cool water.

They can't cancel the delicious drip of ice pops on the front stoop.

They can't cancel movie nights in the backyard with popcorn and Frozen 2 (AGAIN).

They can't cancel walks around the block and the way fresh cut grass smells in June.

They can't cancel sunscreen and bathing suits, even if we just wear them on the patio.

They can't cancel the solidarity of all being in this together.

They can't cancel squeezing a kiddie pool in wherever you can fit it, cooling your feet off while your little one has the time of their life.

They can't cancel the smell of hot dogs on the grill or the delicious taste of a mean pasta salad.

They can't cancel the love you feel from your support system dropping a meal off or receiving a DoorDash gift certificate in your email.

They can't cancel the freedom on the 4th of July, not even on lockdown.

They can't cancel your son waving to his best friend across the street.

They can't cancel the energizing way the sun feels on your face after a long winter, followed by an even longer quarantine.

They can't cancel watching your wild daughter climb up a tree or jumping around in the rain.

They can't cancel the simple pleasures of nature—your feet in the sand, the sound of the waves on the shore, the babbling brook on your favorite hikes.

They can't cancel backyard margaritas with your besties (thank you, Zoom!).

They can't cancel warm nights looking up at the stars, wondering about our place in this weird, terrifying, beautiful universe.

They can't cancel little moments of connection with our kids—from sticker books to water balloons to reading together.

If summer is joy and innocence and rest, then maybe we don't have to cancel it at all.

Each year, summer is our reward for remembering that BRIGHTER DAYS ARE COMING. That winter won't last forever. That yes, this is hard, but a big joyful celebration awaits.

Maybe in a strange way, summer 2020 will be a reminder of the simple connections and pleasures of family life that really matter most of all.

And maybe, this summer, we're all being called to tap into our inner children—to be resourceful and use our imaginations and creative spirits like never before. Because the simple joys of summertime can never truly be canceled. We'll make sure of it. ☀️