The popping of firecrackers alternates with the hum and buzz of cicadas and crickets. The random frog is croaking too. A party. There’s a concert out there tonight, folks.
Just like a song that takes you back, I’m there.
My neighbors down the road are putting on a show tonight. I think of decades of former Independence Day celebrations, some delightful, others– more subdued.
Different. That’s what this one is. Just me.
My toes aren’t in the sand this year. I didn’t even look for the red/white/blue t shirt. The one I usually wear.
Sam isn’t out by the pond setting off boxes of fireworks while the kids and my mom and I clap and whistle and repeat “oooooh ahhhhhhh” as he smiles at us, shakes his head, and lights some more.
There’s no deer meat grilling, no extra pieces “accidentally” dropping for the the newest trio of dogs .
Nobody fished at the pond today. The earthworms are ready, probably wondering why we aren’t upturning leaves and rocks and old metal tubs to gather them up.
One year I spilled a container of purple hull peas in the truck on the way to the in laws’ Fourth of July celebration. Not sure why I remember that.
Different years took the kids and me down the gravel drive to see the July sky come alive with glittering sparkles of fire. Not tonight. Not this year.
But I’m grateful for the years. For those days. For those times.
Days pre-Sam when I’d go with my mom to family reunions and eat too much fried catfish. Days my first family ( the one you get born in 🙂 ) would be on vacation together, watching a freedom fireworks show from the bank of a river or lake or hotel balcony.
And today, freedom to remember. I have seen a lot. I’ve seen my mom sit in a wheelchair on a nursing home patio while my husband positioned her perfectly so she could catch a glimpse of something he knew she couldn’t see that well any longer.
I’ve seen my kids twirling sparklers, spelling their beautiful names in the summer night. I can still see that smoke trailing away, the glowing letters like golden whispers, hanging in the air.
I’ve also seen people confined by their minds and limited by their fears. Not free , right in the middle of the USA.
And I’ve seen my Sam fighting like hell this time last year, knowing he might not be here today. But he fought anyway. And on his terms.
Tonight, I’m still celebrating freedom, like a worn out warrior maybe, but I’m still walking.
I put my youngest on a plane this morning and shared a sweet visit with my son and future daughter in-law tonight. They are free to live, and are.
I consoled dogs that think this is too much noise, and I listen as the pops and echoes grow louder. There’s no fading into the distance yet. Good.
I walked outside earlier, for old times sake. Saw those long ago kid days of spitted watermelon seeds. Saw our long ago new house in progress, the two of us laughing in lawn chairs in the front yard.
Saw those red bobbers floating on rippling water, our feet dangling off the bridge. Happy and free.
I’m independent today in a way that I never thought I’d be, not this soon. And I’m going to tell you, it’s not always so great. But I’m also here to tell you, there were good memories today. Old and new ones.
I live in a country where I can do pretty much what I want when I want. I stopped by church this morning, worshiped my God the way I like to. Saw the cemetery nearby where my father is buried. Someone took time to leave flags on every veteran’s grave. Dozens of American flags fluttering. This has probably been going on for years, but I only knew it today. Like so many of life’s ways. We miss things. We really do.
A few miles away, there’s a patriotic bouquet on my Sam’s grave. A shiny plastic windmill is twirling in the breeze near his name. I bet there’s a show in that sky too. Those people down that road are shooting off fireworks and passing around beers, eating some decent BBQ. Oblivious to me writing this. Not realizing their little lights are giving me happiness. Because I am free to honor his memory in my own way. And I’m hoping somehow we both are seeing some night lights tonight and smiling. We both are hearing those repeating pops and snaps and thinking … so many good things. The mind is always free, friends. Free to dream. Happy Independence Day.
Live free to feel and think…and celebrate all the moments. As many as you can.