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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Going Home

Photo “Galaxy” by Christina Hymes Phillips

Going Home

Leaning against a tall ash, the bark felt rough against my naked arm.  It was a nostalgic feeling, bringing back memories of childhood, when a tree was as much for climbing as for shade or support: memories of a little girl waving and shouting, “Mommy!  Here we are!” as she scrambled up the low slung branches of a back yard tree; Daddy, standing on a dappled lawn, guarding her progress; a gentle wind rustling the leaves of the branches.

A slight breeze lifted my hair, making it dance about my face, tickling cheek and nose.  The night was soft and velvety, with the smell of sulfur hanging in the air, the distant sound of the pop pop pop of fireworks stirring memories as well: memories of celebrations past, of laughter and song, good food and companionship, of family.

Sliding to the ground, I sat.  Drawing my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms about my legs, I watched, resting my chin upon my knees.    The hill where I found myself this 4th of July evening was an impressive one.  So much so that the fireworks were below me, making it appear as if I observed the display from a more heavenly plane.

It would be nice if it were so, if I could be in Heaven, or Nirvana, or wherever it is we go when we breathe our last breath.  I would be with those who had left me behind, left me to touch and see and smell and hear – alone.

I shifted my body and leaned against the rough bark, relishing the scratchy feel of its bumpy surface through my thin, cotton blouse.  There was a screeeeee, a trail of smoke and a loud bang as a rocket burst into a shimmering bouquet of red and pink.  It lit the ground below, and I could see a billowing nimbus of smoke, looking like so many clouds, reinforcing the illusion that I was not on earth, not bound to this mortal existence, but had moved on, perhaps – gone Home.

They say “Home is where the heart is.”  If this were so, then there was no home for me on this earthly plane.  My heart died a year ago on a freeway in Central Ohio.

My husband and I were married a year when I discovered that I was pregnant.  We were delighted when our little girl was born on the 4th of July.  Five years later, we were driving home from Grandma’s house, full of hot dogs and bratwurst, birthday cake and soda pop, eager for our beds.

It had been a good five years, full of Christmases and birthdays, paper doilies imprinted with paint-smeared little hands: tiny stars pressed upon a white surface, waiting to be framed and wrapped in bright paper – a Mother’s Day gift from a golden child. 

Five years of butterfly kisses and hugs, Cheerios and Sponge Bob. Five years of love and happiness, that ended a year ago this night, on a dark strip of highway.

The finale was approaching.  The fireworks were coming faster, the screech of the rockets increasing in number.  Soon it would be over and I would be going Home.

My head began to nod.  I smiled a soft, slow smile – my first in a year.  Soon!  Soon!  The scene before me became hazy; the sounds of the finale began to dim.  My heart lifted in joy!  I could hear a little voice, “Mommy!  Here we are!”  I was Home.

© 2008 Debra Shiveley Welch