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April 22, 2006


Dave loved fireworks.  The fascination began early with sparklers and smoke bombs and grew steadily as he grew.  The last few years of his life his love for fireworks bordered on an obsession and reminded me of my own “compulsion” to use them when I was his age. So like any “good” father (a part of which remains a boy all his life) I eagerly bought them for him and we used them together.  The fourth of July those last two years I really went overboard and between my boys and me we staged an aerial display that was the envy of the neighborhood, the dismay of local law enforcement and the extreme irritation of every dog in the neighborhood. 

After Dave died from huffing computer duster the leftover fireworks from our last celebration were set in a box, put away in his closet, placed on the highest shelf and remained there for many months with other objects of memory that were simply too painful for me.  They stayed there until one day, on a whim; I got the box down to take with us on our weekly visit to the cemetery.  As I mentioned in an earlier, post the cemetery where David is buried, posed a number of difficult and painful conundrums for me, the earliest being a compelling need to be there every week and yet once there, being overcome again with that visceral feeling of grief and despair, which stayed with me long after I left.

But on this day I took down the box from its hiding place away from my view and put it into the back seat of the car.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the fireworks but at least I knew they would be with me when I decided.  It was a beautiful fall day, there was crispness in the air and the leaves in the trees had turned golden and red. 

After kneeing for a while next to his marker I went back to the car and brought the box to the graveside.  I took out a pack of Black Cat firecrackers, lit them and carelessly tossed them away from me.  Their loud sharp staccato bursts echoed across the empty expanse of the graveyard.  Surprisingly with each explosion my spirits raised a little bit until when the last firecracker had cracked I felt as if I had my Dave at my side whispering in my ear “Yeah Dad, do some more please”.  I returned to the box and this time took out of packet of bottle rockets and one by one sent them soaring above us their journey ending at its peak with a load retort!  And as I turned to walk back to the car my heart was lifted as it had never been since that June day when we had to leave his body there and begin our life without him.

Today I never visit the cemetery without our bottle rockets and my spirits never fail to soar as one by one they rush from the ground into the sky above his resting place.

April 22, 2006 at 05:02 PM in The Journey | Permalink


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