It is a day in Washington, D.C. It is a day in Huntington Beach, when a cousin set fire to his hand as well as to a firecracker. It is a day at Hickam AFB on Oahu. It is a day in Baltimore, in Long Beach Island, NJ, in Novato, CA, and, most poignantly, in Cocoa Beach.
It's not yet the anniversary of my Dad's death, but it's damn close. For his last Fourth of July, we put the egg-crate mattress topper in the bed of their Nissan pick-up truck, helped him up into the bed, and we drove to a strip mall.
It could be any strip mall in America. Or at least any strip mall in America where you're not in severe drought conditions, just waiting for some dumb-ass random neighbor to set off illegal fireworks and cause a fire of a colossal nature.
It wasn't the most spectacular of fireworks displays I've seen. Pretty lame, honestly. But I cried that night as I watched them. I cried because I knew the next Fourth of July would be one without my Dad. I was grateful for the dark. I could sneak peeks at him as he lay prone on that fucking egg-crate mattress topper, outfitted in an outrageous Aloha shirt, a flower-dotted green hat to cover the two brain invasions, and, certainly, black socks with a pair of tennis shoes. Outfitted to a tee in his Dadswear.
The hardest part about this whole atheism gig is the realization that, as I age, my memories dim and there will be no bright light tunnel I travel through to see him again when my time comes. I am quite rapidly closing in on the age he was at his death.
This is to you, Dad. I will do my damnedest to not lose those memories of you. And I'm eternally grateful to the cosmos that a part of you lives on in me and in my kids. And so on and so on.