Fire Waterworks

I used to love the Fourth of July. I used to attend every celebration and fireworks display available. And then seven years ago, my grandmother died while the fireworks were going off. And while it took me a couple of years to get back and appreciate the holiday again, it took a long time to forgive myself for not being there with her when she left us.

Needless to say, it’s not really my favorite holiday.

I remember when my friends, at a loss for words, tried to offer me condolences. My friend Steve had looked away and said, “That sucks.” And I loved him for that. I loved him for not doing that whole “She’s in a better place” schtick when we’d only really just started getting along and I wanted her here with me because we had a lot of lost time to make up for. We drove each other crazy and fought like dogs, but the fire was driven by amazing amounts of love.

And since she left us, I told myself a million times over that I’d never take my mom and grandfather for granted. But it seems that, over time, I’ve distanced myself from them. Like, I know I’m going to lose them so why get too close? And I know it’s stupid and I hate myself for that. But then again, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life. What’s another one to regret?

I don’t mean that, of course, but as my life revolves around things that I will never be remembered for, I realize that my family never achieved anything remarkable other than being a good family. And to me, that is their legacy, the thing I am grateful for and shaped by. The tradition I haven’t thought anything about perpetuating. But I have the blood of amazing people flowing through my veins, and some how, some way, I need to let the world know that these incredible beings lived and created something special — and that was me.

I remember when she died, I needed bereavement time. And my employer was horrible about it, only giving me two days when I wanted three. I had to fight for the two, because you got three for a parent and one for a grandparent, and I had to argue to prove this woman had helped to raise me. I’d lived with her and my grandfather and my great-grandmother and my mom for years. We don’t have extended family. We have each other.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend in payroll just happened to “accidentally” allot me the amount of bereavement time I needed. No one knew and I even feel guilty typing out our secret here. It taught me a lesson I’ll never forget, how a small moment of humanity is something that will warm your heart forever. Because I had no intention of going back that Friday, and my pay was to be docked for it. (And I wasn’t making all that much money anyway.) My friend stuck his neck out for me to give me the one tiny bit of solace that he could, and I loved him for that.

And that reminds me of my grandmother — it was hard for either of us to show love, as we’re both pretty reserved in that area. We show it by doing. We will work hard for you and give you our all and love you 300% but never say one word about it. And never ask for it back.

And it makes people wonder, as it made us wonder about each other, if there were anything beneath the surface other than a generous, if not detached, soul. That answer is, of course — and much more than anyone could have ever realized. I’m just glad we realized it before it was too late.

I heard this song over at Bayou’s awhile back, and it’s appropriate for today. (Discovering the magic that is Patty Griffin is a whole ‘nother life-changing event, but we’ll talk about that another day!)

Patty Griffin, “Goodbye”

3 Responses to Fire Waterworks

  1. Sabre :

    Usually I have all sorts of things to say. Today doesn’t seem to be that day 🙁

    For some so reserved, I think you’ve been pretty damn open and wonderful to me. Thank you for being such a fantastic friend with depth and beauty and wisdom 🙂

    Now go hunt down cute boys to photograph!

  2. Sabre :

    Arg, that should have said “someone”. This is what I get for typing without contacts in and not really paying attention when scanning the entry!

  3. The Goddess :

    Well, Sabre, you’re worth it. 😉 It’s the least I can do to return the favor!

    And as far as photographing cute boys, we’ll see. Funny how you start dating someone who’s on call during weekends and holidays, yet you’re (I) on call round the clock on weekdays. It’s either the foundation of a fabulous relationship or beautiful disaster. Thank god there are at least other pretty boys out there when I need to see one!