When I was a kid, my parents would throw the most epic Fourth of July parties. Along with the seven of us in total, what seemed like hundreds of loved ones would arrive in twos and fours – armed with coolers, freshly baked pies, and cold summer salads. We had a giant, kidney-shaped pool and people would put out their towels on our lawn. I don’t think you could see even an inch of green lawn – because the entire lawn was covered by colorful towels and festive loved ones.
Somehow, in the long and winding road, that brings us to today. As I start to write this, it’s July 2nd, which is the anniversary of my first kiss with Cassidy, as well as the crapiversary of both my father’s death, and my paternal grandfather’s death – if you can believe that. All of it makes sense and doesn’t make sense – this fireworking swirl of love and light and loss, and even the remnants of horror. Somehow it makes more sense to me than the current political climate, and the first half of the year in review – from koalas in wildfire, to so darn many people in gunfire and virus-fire – caught in the dangerous repetitive fireworks of what was and what shall never be again. And yet, history repeats itself in the most surprising, disgusting ways. The 4th of July.
January came in with its usual pomp and circumstance, only it was a longer length of time for holiday vacation, and it was a lumpy week between Christmas and New Year’s. Pajamas until 3pm, no idea what day or time it was, and frequent trips to the fridge or counter for leftover cookies and chocolates. I mean it – even the idea of another week of that lumpy ambiguousness was too much for me. Never could I have imagined what was coming. I got pregnant in January, but didn’t know it. And I got sick, so sick, that I cried from the sick. I don’t think it was COVID-19, this low grade fever for a day and then full-fledged head cold. My nose itching made me cry.
February. Magic. How were we to know, yet? I mean, maybe we should have. Cassidy and I had overlapping business trips to Orlando, and got to share three blissful days at a Universal Orlando resort – ordering raspberry mocktails – and riding roller coasters galore. I still didn’t know about the pregnancy or the virus, not really, as I swirled around those steel tracks. After we all met Chewbacca and delighted in Star Wars Galaxy’s Quest, Cassidy flew home, while we drove to St. Augustine. Another three days of bliss, with beach and manatees. We had one perfect day, just the kids and me, seeing and eating everything we wanted in festive downtown St. Augustine.
I marveled at the end, how I got the kids packed and up before dawn. Fed and to the rental car drop-off, to check-in and security and boarding, to on that flight – alone with two kids. It was my only solo-adult with two kids and it struck me right then that it was probably my last solo-adult flight. With two kids, anyway. I found out only four days later about the baby. We told the kids after February vacation, and my first confirmed pregnancy appointment. As you’ll remember, I bought three extra Bruce Hornsby tickets to a show I had planned on attending alone, and not only did he read Scarlet’s note aloud and play her song, but we met him on a dark, quiet street.
March was cut off mid-month. I remember that extremely fateful Friday the 13th – I got them home off the bus from a half day, and I’d never send them back. Not yet. We did start that fire, didn’t we? And we continue to do so. March was a full first trimester month so I had a lot of couch naps and terror and calm. It was all so strange. We had planned to get Lucy before the quarantine – she was born in mid-February – but gosh, she made late March so magical for us.
April. How to even describe April? It was a lot of getting to know Lucy. Cassidy gardened a ton. I entered the second trimester, but didn’t feel well – but it wasn’t from the pregnancy. It was the pandemic stress. Still, we held out hope for some resolution. For school and work and healing.
May was beautiful! More gardening, and we painted rainbow fences in our garden. We learned what sort of masks we liked to wear, and had a lot of pretty ones ordered or made. We sort of celebrated Mother’s Day. Hammocks and highs and lows – that was the month of May.
June. Des turned eight! We finally let go of the “school year” and welcomed Strange Summer. Des had a little outdoor birthday parade and party and we got to open up our social circle a bit, but still no hugs and kisses. Bruce Hornsby was the guest on the regular streaming Friday night Grateful Dead show and he mostly talked through it but answered two questions, and mine was one of them! With meeting my favorite singer two weeks before quarantine, and having him answer my question to the public (with my name!), and then with my second favorite singer (Glen Phillips) doing free Facebook live shows three times a week, I feel more connected than ever to music during this strange time. I miss concerts, and Tanglewood, but we’ll get there.
Oh, what we could have done, with travel and fairs and puppy dog tails. And oh, what we’ve done, with life skills and resilience and care. As they say, it is what it is, and what it is completely sucks, but otherwise contains beauty and magic so far. The year that never was, is maybe one of the most memorable years on earth. Good/bad. What can we do to make the next half better?
You could almost say that life rages on, despite wildfires, viruses, and the way we seem to hurl insults and hatred at one another like fireworks – hoping that they sting and sizzle and destroy. And yet, the earth rebuilds while it turns – shaking off the casings and the shells, and letting the sparkles linger while they light up the night and the future. Love and devotion to light and love.
I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FTSF) for a new prompt. This week’s awesome topic is “How I celebrate (or wish I celebrated) 4th of July..” You can link up your own post HERE.