Here we all are on the cusp of the strangest summer in my memory, which is, of course, following the strangest spring in my memory. Winter was pretty normal. We didn’t get any snow in Atlanta, and my Georgia Bulldogs finished next to last in the SEC. Remember normalcy?

Remember when it was summertime and the living was easy?

Actually, I don’t either. But I remember when it was fun. As a kid summers were endless. Easy disappeared on my 16th birthday when I went to work in the cotton mill. And then after six years of that I entered my camp staff phase. The summers I spent as waterfront director at Camp Jamison on the Bert Adams Scout Reservation were the most idyllic of my life.

Then marriage and eventually kids of my own came along, and summer meant long family trips and days at the pool and outings to baseball games and their own summer camps and . . . Well, you remember what summers used to be.

This summer, however, is the summer of COVID-19, and none of us really knows how much we should be able to enjoy ourselves. No ballgames, of course. No long days at the swimming pool. I snuck away for a few days at the beach and was worried the whole time that I was doing the wrong thing. I felt pretty safe on the golf course and in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but honesty compels me to admit that I felt funny in the restaurants and there were no all-you-can-eat-including-crab-leg-buffets open.

The central event of summers in my family, especially for the past 40 years, has been camp meeting. It’s a Southern thing, primarily, and you might or might not understand. Camp meeting is part religious revival, part family reunion and part social gathering. There is preaching and singing and homemade ice cream eating, and young people get to be out and about without checking in until suppertime— just like all of us used to.

The first one was in Cane Ridge, Ky., in 1801. The one I attend is Salem Camp Meeting, near Covington. It has taken place every summer since 1828, except for two years during the recent unpleasantness between the North and South. We survived World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, World War II and Jimmy Carter being president of the United States, but we know a lot more about communicable diseases than we did in 1918 and the risk is just too great, and we still know too little about the coronavirus, so Salem Camp Meeting, and every other one I know anything about, will not take place.

We’ll have some virtual stuff online, but if there’s no wood shavings between your toes, it’s just not the same.

Here’s hoping that by next summer everything will be back bigger and stronger than ever. Here’s hoping that everyone will have such a deep thirst for life the way we remember it that we will fill our tabernacle every night and that the Holy Spirit will wash over the masses like it was the day of Pentecost all over again.

Here’s hoping. Maybe we can throw a little praying in there, too.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to prove that it is no respecter of anyone or anything. Numbers continue to increase, and people continue to argue over whether it is as serious, as deadly or as contagious as “they” would have you believe — whoever “they” are.

I don’t know. I am not a smart enough man to know. But I know that I got word Thursday morning that a good friend and great person, Officer Steven Minor, had succumbed to the virus. Steve served with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office for 16 years. I knew him best during the three years he served as Heritage High School resource officer.

He was as good as they come. Many have referred to him as a “gentle giant.” He was a large man, but there was always a smile playing around the corners of his mouth. He did his job and you didn’t want to cross him, but he loved the students at Heritage, and the staff, and they loved him back.

His death has made COVID very real to a great number of us and has made this already strange summer even sadder than it already was.

Stay safe, y’all. And keep the faith. Things are going to get better soon. I believe that.

Well, UGA’a basketball team, I’m not so sure about — but everything else will get better soon.

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Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.

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