Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The culmination of a great Fourth of July ends in Fireworks. Following the parade, the picnic, the looking for Peter in neighbor's doorways, the camaraderie of friends, who helped us locate Peter, we would gather the children and head to the Fireworks. Now in our area, that meant heading to the lakefront where various parks were located, and one could choose the park of their liking to scout out a good seat. That seat being one where the fireworks could be fully taken in and along with your new friends seated on the blanket next to you, one could "ooh and ahh" as loudly as possible.
Being creatures of habit, we usually chose the same park every year and the same location where we would plant the blanket, haul out the cooler filled with drinks, and gather for an evening of laughter and fun. Knowing friends who lived in the neighborhood near the park, we usually secured a parking spot in their driveway, or at least close to their house. Little did I know that feature of habit would turn out to be to my benefit in the future.
As the years past, the children grew older, we became less important, and the number of those attendees on our blanket grew smaller, until eventually only four members were left in the original group, that being Peter, myself, and the Ehlers. Several years ago, the Ehlers, Peter and I ventured down to the lakefront ready to end our day with a good dose of that good patriotic feeling one receives after watching the sky light up. We, again, parked close to our friends home and walked the mile to the park. Parking there also gave us the option of a quick getaway after the fireworks, as the hundreds of others heading west would get caught up in virtual parking lot of a traffic jam and we would head south to avoid that particular lot.
We parked, we observed, we loved the sky show and the fireworks ended with a bang...literally! As we were gathering our belongings, Peter decided to get a head start, and in his usual method did not announce his plans. He took off while we were bending over the blankets and coolers, discussing the last of the fireworks.
It did not take long for me to realize Peter was AWOL and even though my eyes scanned the crowd, he was no where to be found. That crowd of hundreds were all madly rushing to their cars to get first in line for the traffic jam, and somewhere embedded in them was Peter. The crowd was enveloped in darkness, as without the fireworks, and except for a few street lights, one could not see beyond a few feet. We took off full speed ahead, trying to out maneuver the crowd and find Peter. Hoping he was standing near a tree or light, we continued on to where the crowd forked. Appearing as a herd of cattle, one group headed west and one south, Peter was no where to be found. Always in the background post fireworks, if one notices, you can hear the sound of sirens. Those sounds, only invoked a feeling of helplessness in me, wondering if that emergency vehicle was heading towards Peter. At that point, 10 minutes into a lost Peter, my heart was racing. Did he head south, did he head west? Where was this child that would not be able to tell anyone his name or where he lived? That child, who would most likely run from anyone trying to assess that information.
Calling 911, I asked if they had found a child. The 911 operators, although very kind, at this point were being inundated with calls. I gave them my number and they promised they would let me know. We walked, we searched and hoped. The mile walk to the car, among the crowds seemed interminable. I called 911 again. Nope, no child.
Finally, after what seemed like hours we turned the onto the block where we had parked. Midway down the block, standing next to the Ehler's car, stood one young man nonchalantly waiting for us. Not a concern in the world. He knew where he was going. He had no idea that I had just lost ten years off my life stressing over his location. He had no idea that 911 was involved, and expressing these thoughts to Peter would only waste my time and breath. Telling Peter not to run.......yeah right!!
So, Peter, that Fourth created his own Fireworks in my heart. The next year he was given fair warning and was told he must hold my hand following the Fireworks...and he did. Me and my twenty year old, hand in hand, until we reached our destination.

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