The house has been cleaned top to bottom, the recent bathroom renovation has been completed, just just, the flower beds have been weeded, the back deck swept and the new grill assembled, the refrigerator and pantry are filled to bursting with the makings of a weekend of meals, and fresh, crisp and clean sheets have been put on all the beds, towels set out, and there I am, sitting on the front stoop, waiting.
They arrive. One, and the other, and the next, and then by the vanful. The firecrackers in my heart sputter and sparkle and zoom into shiny sky. I'm all crackly with loveliness inside, warm and heart-oozy, smeared with pudding smiles, blushing with pleasure. Oh, lovely faces. Oh, squeezable ones. Daughter and son, the center of my joy. She with her blonde prettiness, so petite and sweet, and he with his wide shoulders and bearded chin, as if opposites, yet not. Magnets drawn together, and I mirror their fun in seeing each other again, my eyes all misty and my smile silly, rocking from one foot to the other and nearly dancing to see.
Too much celebration for one day to hold, so we spend the weekend and still, there's more. Every day is a celebration of family and friends, every day. Isn't it everything? Is there anything else? If we honor an entire country on this holiday, it is because of the nation it holds, and the nation is a web of connection, silver threads to hold us all together, mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and friends and soul mates and neighbors and strangers yet to meet and befriend, all one. So many beloved faces.
All I need now, is to see them all, their faces, their lovely faces, and I can be still and quiet, just sit and see them, memorize them all in my heart. Sparkles sputtering and flickering all inside. I miss you, Vecmamit. But here you are, yes, here you are, still, and part of my sparkle now. I see your face.
We fire up the grill, and the table creaks with food, and the old chow pup runs in happy circles all about, under legs, around chairs, back and forth across the back lawn, making little hops of silliness, catching bites of food that take flight, neat arc to land smack in his open mouth, and he laughs the way that dogs laugh, great pink and chow-black tongue lolling about wet and sloopy and licking any hand hanging loose over the arm of a chair or at someone's side. He has firecrackers in his dog heart.
Crack, crackle, boom, down the street, and a neighbor waves across the fence. He has a pudding smile too, long fork in hand, standing over his grill, all his many lovely beloved faces milling about and mirroring his. Firecrackers streak into the sky and burst into stars.
It's all over too soon, much too soon, and must squeeze enough love into each dear one as they depart to hold until next time. Squeeze it in, filling each nook and little heart corner, squeeze them tight, until they are full of buttery sweet love seam to seam, and safe with it, wherever they go until next time, whatever their fates and destinies and dreams to pursue, until next time, whatever adventures and misadventures to bring to next gathering for shared stories, squeeze, and kiss on noses, kiss on sweet cheeks, kiss on foreheads, kiss away goodbye tears, and wrap them all up in good wishes, angelsbewithyou, until next time, next time, never soon enough.
I see firecrackers streaming through the sky high over them in graceful arcs as they drive away into the next day.