Monday, July 2, 2012

That Year

July 4, 1993. 

It was the first year my family did not celebrate Independence Day.  We had intended to.  The same way we did every year.  Our little town put on quite a display on the practice football field of my high school.  So many memories.  Gathering on the little hillside next to the field.  Finding an empty spot to unfold blankets.  Then setting out to find my crowd. 

Friends were always excited to see each other, moving en masse through a maze of blankets to find shenanigans and sodas and cotton candy.   Waiting for the navy sky to fade to black.  I’m sorry.  I tend to forget my Dixie roots sometimes.  To find shenanigans, Co-Cola, and cotton candy.

Except that year.  My family did not celebrate Independence Day then.  We did not see joy.  We did not have cotton candy.  We did not see fireworks.  We did not proudly screech our pride in being Americans at the top of our lungs.  We did not cover our hearts with our hands nor bat away our watered eyes while singing our national anthem.   We did not see moms passing out ear plugs to each of her brood.  We did not hear screaming babies.  We did not feel the rain of blackened pyrotechnic containers, nor did we smell the unmistakable mix of sulphur, charcoal, and flint symbolizing American military might and courage. 

The smell I remember from that day is one of disinfectant and destitution.  The sounds are those of machines, the echo of shoes on tile, cries in the distance, grave voices, fancy words.  In place of the ever-changing artistry of fire against a canvassed sky lives the memory of faces, wet and twisted.  And the only fireworks seen that day were the fulminant shattering hearts upon a cloud of choices no parent should ever have to make. 

Time.  A friend and foe.   Inevitability marches within it.  Yet along that road, the blade of sadness becomes dull.  Fists carrying anguish loosen.  Love gathers within and without, holding hands, nudging forward, softening feet to a graceful glide once more.   Yet, it does not heal wounds.  Soothes them?  Yes.   But to heal the wounds of loss would mean forgetting- 

The beauty- with its pain. 
The jewels- within the rocks. 
A life- and the end of it. 

I will celebrate Independence Day this year, as I have many times before.  I will celebrate my freedom and the lives lost to defend it.  I will, once again, create irreplaceable memories with my husband and my children.  And once again, as I have many times before, I will remember the aunt my children have never known.  I will celebrate the miracle of each one of the 11 years I was gifted to spend with my baby sister.  I will strain against the explosions above me to remember the sound of her laughter, her cries, and her voice.  I will watch her dance with sparklers in the faces of her nephews. 

And I will hug my momma.  Tell her that she is the strongest woman I have ever known.   And that I love her.  
________________________________________________________________________________
 ________________________________________________________________________________

10 comments:

  1. awesome post. What a great tribute to your sister and your mom.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post Amy, and a touching tribute to your mom and sister .. I'm sorry you werent blessed with more time to spend with each of them.
    I just wanted to say a happy 4th of July to my American Compatriots, Thank you to the soldiers, the countless men and women who serve in the Army and the Military, And to your husband for serving for not only the freedom of the citizens of the U.S.A but for serving for the freedom of us living in Canada .. So thank you to your husband and to those that serve for us.

    Cheers .. ~Adam~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ;-) That means a LOT coming from a yank! You're awesome, Adam.

      Delete
  3. Reminds me that even in the midst of celebrations, somewhere there is always a family in anguish. Thanks for the powerful reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Co-cola?

    I would be lost without any of my sisters... Hugs to you mon amie.

    But, Co-cola? Really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put it this way. Both my boys have pretty much grown up in North Carolina. Anyone who's anyone would probably look at a map and be absolutely confident when they attest that North Carolina is in "the south."

      Yet. When we go home to visit family, my kids have so much trouble understanding our family's southern accent that I have to actually translate for them so they can participate in the conversation. Dead. Fucking. Serious.

      Delete
    2. I guess this can account for the fact that i probably cant pronounce some of the towns and cities the right way .. Raleigh being one of them (i always thought it was ray-lee .. until i got told its like rah-lay, lmao), hopefully you will get a laugh outta that anecdote.

      Cheers .. ~Adam~

      Delete