The smell of barbecue and the sound of fireworks in the distance surround me as I sit comfortably outside, watching the kids play and enjoying the company of new friends. Last Fourth of July I was on a beach in Hawaii with my best friend, having the vacation of a lifetime. But this one, as simple as it is, is special in its own way. As I sip my drink and allow my mind to wander, I think about how different things are now from this time one year ago; how I can truly say that I’ve created a life for myself that I no longer need a vacation from. Gone are the days of being a “weekend warrior” or counting down the time until my next “escape”. Instead, I wake up every day grateful, positive, and content.
I look at him from across his brother’s backyard. He has my youngest son on his shoulders so he can see the festivities at the park behind the house. We’ve been able to enjoy this holiday together with all three of the kids, having taken them swimming earlier in the day. Life feels good; it feels complete. I couldn’t have imagined several years ago in the midst of the whirlwind that my heart would feel so whole again. This family, his family, has been so welcoming to me and my sons, so hospitable. For me, today is just one of many days worth celebrating.
After we savor our dinner and indulge in conversation, it’s time to say our goodbyes for the evening. The little ones are anxious to watch the firework show. The streets are full of people, full of excitement. We drive through the field behind my boyfriend’s house until we reach our friends who arrived earlier. Sitting in the bed of our trucks, with the air cool and music playing, this spot is ideal for seeing fireworks from all over town. The kids are chasing each other around with their glow in the dark bracelets, stopping here and there to oooh and awww over the colors that are exploding in the night sky all around us. As I sit there mesmerized, he walks up, puts his arms around me and plants a kiss on my cheek. I’m pretty sure at that moment, my heart set off a few sparks of its own.
“Appreciate this moment. Stop and look around you. Be thankful for all you have and where you are because this time next year, nothing will be the same.” – Annonymous