A few years ago my mother watched a television show which talked about different things you could do with your body once you are dead. Up until then she'd always told me she wanted to be cremated, placed in a beautiful urn, and be displayed in either my home or my brother's. She then went on to say that whoever puts her in a closet first and no longer displays her will be haunted by her ghost. Then that television show put a new idea in her head.
Among the many options they reviewed (sending it into outer space, donating it to science, turning it into jewelry) there was one my mother got the most excited about. Fireworks. This expensive alternative highlighted how one's ashes can be packed into several different large fireworks, and then be shot into the sky in an official send off. She suddenly changed her mind and excitedly told me about it. I was less than thrilled.
I actually gave her a look of horror and then immediately had that overwhelming feeling of bursting into tears. I exclaimed that I'd never be able to watch fireworks ever again if she did that... and she'd be gone forever. My brother, however, says that's what we're doing. No question he thinks we should find a way to make it happen when the day comes. I suppose he's right, but the idea still makes me sad.
As time would find out, a couple of years after my mother's revelation, fireworks would come to remind me of somebody else who's no longer with us. Shanna. I wrote about her in my first post on this blog, but I'll recap quickly for those who may not have read it.
Shanna was the first friend I made in first grade. I was new to town, and, other than Mavis and Danielle (both of whom are also no longer with us), I hadn't made any friends yet. Shanna was the first girl to spend the night at my house, where she formed a crush on my brother. It was short lived. We didn't remain close throughout the rest of our school years, but we remained friendly. I always enjoyed running into her and talking with her.
Two years ago, today, she passed away. I'm not getting into specifics about her death, but I will say that she was taken from us too soon. I honestly believe there will not be a Fourth of July for the rest of my life where I won't remember her. It really sucks losing friends when your young.
Yesterday really did seem like a day of remembrance. The patriotic feel does that to people. We remember to be grateful to past generations. We remember the troops who are not given the day off to be with family and friends. And the civilians tend to remember those they've loved who cannot attend this year's BBQ party. Getting older only means there will be more and more people who only live in your memory.
I was fortunate enough to spend the Fourth at a friend's house. I engaged in a lot of fun conversation, ate way too much great food, and even got a little tipsy with some cocktails. We laughed and made a lot of jokes. We gossiped and broke out some opinions. And we felt our hearts sigh when we spoke of the friends we've lost. After the festivities we gathered up our lawn chairs to see the fireworks.
This year my home town put on a show for the first time in two decades. Luck would have it that this display in the sky could be perfectly viewed from my front lawn. A group of roughly thirty of my family and friends clustered up by my house on the hill to see the show. It was magnificent.
There is something so awe inspiring about watching fireworks. You're sitting there quiet, staring at the heavens, gasping at magical nanoseconds of bright, glittery, booming explosions. I don't know about you, but in this quiet head space I think about Shanna. As each explosion forms these beautiful firey flowers in the sky I think of her beautiful daughter. As another one bursts and leaves an imprint of a chandelier in a drifting cloud of smoke my mind travels to a time of younger innocence. I can't help but feel the pure joy the fireworks exude. They are magic, truly.
Now that I think about it... I could not think of a better burial for my mother. Everybody loves fireworks...