One year ago today, I was prepping for tomorrows festivities.
The 4th of July was always a full day of family, swimming, eating, laughter and more eating. The ‘kids’ ( ages from 31 to 18 years…when are they not our kids anymore?) awaited anxiously for the sun to go down so they could start setting off their arsenal of fireworks. They would set out ladders, buckets of water and would carefully and meticulously sort the array of fireworks family members brought.
We would drag out chairs sit on the lawn and watch the boys set off the fireworks, filling up the sky with bright beautiful colors! We would ooohh and aahhh and clap loudly for them. We laughed at them as they tried to get away from a firework that went astray and would crack-up when they chased one another with a sparkler trying to scare the daylights out of each-other!
Fourth of July last year was exactly like every year before. Our backyard was brimming with people. It was hot and people were in and out of the pool. Some played ping pong while others sat in the shade enjoying a cold drink. I, as always, was busy running around being the dutiful host.
I had gone inside to restock some bowls. Joey was sitting at the dining table. He was fiddling around on his laptop. He wanted to escape the heat. He looked up at me. “Hi momma…it’s too hot out there.” I smiled, nodded and was about to walk out when something made me stop. I decided to take advantage of the quiet and sat at the table to talk to him. Just catch up on his life. “How are you? Anything new? You OK?” “Of course”, he answered, “just living the dream, momma.” He said he and Sarini were getting a house soon. It had the perfect set up for a gym, and he would start training clients there. It would be good he said.
I smiled weakly and asked again “Are you SURE, you’re OK?” Yes, ma’am, he cheerfully answered.” I smiled, patted his hand as I stood to walk out to join the others in the backyard. “What are you going to do” I asked, meaning if he was planning on joining the rest of us soon. I will never forget his answer…his favorite movie quote….“I’m going to fly far, far away, like a little bird!” He must have seen the color drain from my face because he started laughing. “I’m kidding mom!! HAHAHA, I’m kidding!” He jumped to his feet, following me to back yard.
If I had known it would be the last time I would ever speak with him, I would have said so much more! I would have told him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. I would have told him that having him was one of the greatest gifts God could have ever given me. That all the sleepless nights when he was a baby were worth it. I would have told him how he lit up my life with joy. I would assure him that I KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, how much he loved me! I would have taken him into my arms and hugged him tight. I would have taken in his scent, felt his face one more time. I would have gazed into his beautiful brown eyes until I had every speck memorized. If had know I would never hear his voice again, I would have had him talk to me over and over. I would have closed my eyes and paid attention to very syllable, how he pronounced every single word! I would have him tell me just one more time, ” I love you, momma.” I would have asked him, no, begged him not to leave me! I would have dragged him to the doctor and demanded they check his heart! I would have kept him by my side 24-7. I would have told him not to be afraid. I would ask him to visit me, to let me know he was OK. I would tell him that he would ALWAYS be with me….If I had known…..
The 4th of July will NEVER be the same again….