Why I would choose today to write a post with this title is yet another great dichotomy in my expanse of my writer’s choices; after all, yesterday was July 4th and flags and fireworks were waving and blasting, respectively, across the land.
Today is a different celebration, still of the liberation kind, but vastly different than what was observed yesterday and, I hold these truths I’m about to write to be self-evident.
Today, we are letting grief shed its outer skin as we come together as a family to celebrate a matriarchal birthday gathering for the first time since saying our final goodbyes to one of our own.
Since I was a child, mourning has taken a more loose, less restrictive, definition. Feelings of loss are carried internally rather than by visible symbols parleyed for the world to see our pain. Grief, by definition alone, is never a temporary visitor – it lingers until it makes peace with acceptance and then takes on the form of nostalgia.
But grief has a place, even at birthday celebrations. Today, the reminiscences will be inevitable. It is hard to corral all the human journals of one’s collective stories into a room and not let the past find its voice. Undoubtedly, it will speak up lifting passages from the pages these lives have compiled.
We will see the worn faces of the older generation, masking sadness behind forced smiles, displaying inevitable fear of their own mortality. If we see our young going, what can be said about our old?
Today, however, we will give ourselves permission to laugh and enjoy each other’s company while acknowledging the absence that is so prevalently sitting at our table. It is the first of many gatherings where we will begin the healing, starting our move toward the conformity of acceptance and letting some sun into what have been stormy days.
Today we eradicate the sadness of late and begin our walk toward the path of wistful affection for what once was and no longer is in our lives. Along the way of this road, we will see the signs of otherworldly existence directing our path, reminding us that permanency exists in a variety of forms namely, physical, mental, spiritual and heartfelt.
As we sing a birthday song today, we will celebrate lives continued in a myriad of ways. As we see children rush to snuff out the candles on a grandmother’s birthday cake, we will see tiny explosions of light and smoke before our eyes. While these candles won’t be fireworks celebrating today’s events, they will be beacons of hope signifying that life does go on, that we do smile again and that eventually, God willing, we can declare our independence from grief.
Independence Day is on its way.