Today is the 4th of July but my celebrations for this holiday were yesterday.
This is our 2nd Fourth of July without Tony, but we haven’t changed any of our traditions that he and I built.
Every year my best friend and her family drive in from St. Louis to fill my home. We setup air mattresses for the kids to have sleepovers together. I make big breakfasts that always includes a round of biscuits and gravy. Her husband setups up whiffle ball games for the kids. Everyone goes swimming. Then she and I stay up too late on the patio sharing glasses of wine. Now we talk about Tony and what he’s missing too.
Like in years past, we started yesterday’s activities by heading to my parent’s house to play in their pool. We had a full backyard with 10 kids and 10 adults. It was the best kind of chaos, as long as the kids weren’t fighting. We wrapped up the pool day with an early dinner.
Next, we were headed to my in-laws for their fireworks show. They have a few acres outside of the city and you’ll have to trust me when I tell you they do it up big. Their fireworks show is top notch for sitting in someone’s backyard.
Random circumstances led to me arriving to their house alone with no one pulling in next to me. As I opened the back of the car to get out lawn chairs and drinks, a wave of grief hit me out of nowhere. I hate when I don’t see them coming. I stood there and welled up, feeling overwhelmed at how I was going to carry a pile of chairs and drinks to the crowd – alone.
Thankfully, my friends didn’t end up being too far behind me and pulled in within a few minutes. I stepped around the side of my car so my youngest who was riding with them wouldn’t see me. I let them see me cry but not every time and not when they are feeling celebratory and so excited. My wave of grief is not his.
I got a quick hug from my friend, and we tackled the pile of things together. The overwhelmed feeling was gone but not the longing for Tony. That lingers, always, touching everything I touch.
His mom made Jell-o shots again this year, just like she does every year and just like she did for our wedding. I choose my flavor and give a little nod to Tony. His mom and I laugh about how Tony was always holding her off. Telling her it was too early to start the show, that it wasn’t even dark yet. We would intentionally show up late because he knew she’d never start without him. Now he’s there in a different sense but I can still hear him razzing his mom.
As always, it’s an amazing firework show. I’m thankful we still get these days. That my kids remember when Dad was here, and we can build memories on top of those. Not erasing the old but holding them and adding new ones where we carry him in our hearts. The 4th will never be the same without him, but neither will the rest of our lives.