At sixteen months old Savannah saw her first fireworks. We went to a church picnic, where we ate on a blanket with my girlfriends, and Savannah ran into the makeshift football field, clapping and squealing as men in their twenty’s ran around her.
I expected she’d fall asleep before the fireworks began. Then I expected the booming to hurt her ears. (Now, knowing what I do about Hyperekplexia, I’m even more surprised that it didn’t.). But as the fireworks started, I held her in my arms and marveled at how she was entranced by the booming glitter that rained down around us.
From that moment, fireworks have made Independence Day her favourite holiday. When she was three, we visited my day’s family in Smalltown, USA. All of us gathered at my aunt’s house to watch the fireworks from her yard. Our plans didn’t include a rain storm and power failure. But once the fireworks started, Savannah was insistent to see them. My aunt held the umbrella over us. My aunt, my mother and I stood in the rain with Savannah, enjoying the fireworks. My aunt passed away a few weeks later. I am terribly grateful that Savannah and mine’s last memory of her was in the rain, watching glitter drip through the sky.
Shortly after we moved to Tennessee, on July 3rd, fireworks broke through the night. I woke up the kids and hurried them into the kitchen. I don’t have a picture, but the image is burned in my mind. We stood in the kitchen with the lights off, on the peeling linoleum floor of the rent house. My right arm wrapped around Savannah steadying her as she stood on her toes on the wooden chair, her fingers gripping its back. Joseph rested on my hip, half asleep and stunned by the noise. We stood there that night, the three of us clinging to each other in our pajamas, watching the glitter and fire fall from the sky.
This year my parents were with us, resting a few days after our trip to the Mayo Clinic, before heading back to their Texas home. The past few years the fireworks have been iffy at best. There have been melt downs and unpredictability and traffic. This year, there was rain. But, like when she was three, it didn’t damper the glitter. We sat in the car, in the grass of an offbeat parking lot and watched the fire light up the sky. She remained mesmerized until the finale, when she squealed and laughed.
We all left with a feeling if contentment, letting her hyperactively stay up late, despite our fatigue. Knowing the possible damning diagnostic forecast, the night carried more weight and more importance. None of us wanted it to end. None of us wanted to take the night from her. None of us will forget the music, the smiles, the glitter.