A few weeks after Barry died, my mom asked me what holidays/occasions coming up in the next year I expected to be especially difficult. One of those holidays was the 4th of July. I have two very vivid, very sweet memories of celebrating that day with Barry.
On July 4, 2003, we were in Washington D.C. on a youth mission trip. I loved that trip - in fact, it was one of my favorite trips we ever took. That specific group of kids and the leaders that went with us are very dear to my heart. We worked in a very rough, inner-city D.C. neighborhood cleaning a school's grounds and facilitating a VBS for some the poorest kids in one of the most violent neighborhoods in America. The night of July 4th, we sat out in the back of an old colonial house we were staying in and watched an amazing fireworks show. I don't know exactly what made it so special - whether is was the emotion of the work we were doing or the company of great friends and youth, but I can close my eyes and see sitting on that porch with Barry. It was a simple, sweet moment in time that I will forever cherish.
On July 4, 2008, we celebrated the holiday at a friends house. I don't remember much about the night - what we did or who was there. What I do remember is that William was about 18-months-old. We were pretty certain he would be afraid of the fireworks, but we wanted to try watching them anyways. Barry laid on his back in the grass and William laid on top of him, looking up at the sky. Every time a firework went off, Barry would say "BOOM!" and William would echo his "BOOM" and giggle. This went on for more than 20 minutes. It was one of those moments in time you treasure as a parent, watching your child experience something new and enjoy it immensely with their daddy.
This year, I dreaded the 4th of July. I missed Barry. I knew watching fireworks would never be the same. But, just like each day since he has died, God has been so generous and so faithful to carry me through the hard moments. This year, we went to some relatives' house to eat and set off our own fireworks (and just so you know, the owner of the house is also a fire chief at a fire department here in the metroplex - safety first!). It was a very sweet evening, celebrating with people who have been unbelievably supportive over the last 4 months. William and Layla spent hours wandering around the property, riding the golf cart and scooters and William even set off his first firework and had a blast playing with sparklers. Layla spent a good hour just cuddling in my lap - something she usually never slows down enough to do.
All in all, it was a great night. I missed Barry. I wish he could have seen William stand on a huge pile of dirt and sing and dance for the "audience" sitting around. I wish I could have held his hand while the fireworks went off, like I did in D.C. But instead, I had the pleasure of watching his son enjoy the evening, noticing that he is EXACTLY like his daddy. And I had the pleasure of holding his daughter, thankful for the gift of my kids and the legacy that God gave us in them.