Yesterday’s holiday didn’t feel like one, but that’s been standard operating procedure for this unusual life I’m living these days. I’m trying to be the big girl, the one that smiles and says “chin up” and fails to notice that a 4th of July without extended family, or fireworks, or potato salad or late night laughter is hardly a holiday at all. So I fought back tears over a phone call to my mom, sitting lakeside two-thousand-five-hundred miles away, us both hurting for one another, and made small strides in learning how to forgive the inanimate objects holding my holiday hostage like burn-bans and migraine headaches and hot dog shortages.
I try to bury the thought that freedom is a totally fluid concept to me, at the moment, dripping between my fingers all the while, but I can appreciate its context patriotically and so I imagine fiery explosions over lake water, and conjure up the sticky taste of lemonade on chlorinated lips, and the hollow tin sound of an amplified radio belting out the sound of summer, singing…o’er the land of the free…and the home of the brave. And it occurs to me that we forgot to hang our flag yesterday, of all days, and it feels sickeningly symbolic for all else that was missing.
There are days I’m afraid I’ve left my heart behind, on the west coast, where we came from. And this is one of those days. But I find my knees and whisper upward thank you thank you thank you for a husband that is stronger, for a husband that does not flee when fleeing is the easiest way out. And I pray again – not out, not back, but through. Husband says words I’ve been waiting so long to hear, and it is only now I see how far through we’ve come already. So I can breathe again and consider the beauty of all we celebrate on Independence Day -- freedom for our country, but more than this, freedom in all its forms and disguises.
Mostly, at this moment, I’m grateful for the freedom to walk through this earthy battleground in victory, not always upright and proud, but sometimes tattered and torn and shell-shocked from combat, worn from our “perilous fight”, and yet, still stand, and even stand still in celebration of freedom—patriotic, spiritual, physical, or from the bondage we put ourselves in.