I was just going to go to bed early tonight after a day filled with activities that got me through this holiday… another holiday without my dear Sam, who died at 16 unknowingly taking a synthetic drug as a curious teen in initial exposure to our drug using culture. I have an early shift at the hospital tomorrow so I wanted a good night sleep.
After lying in my bed listening to the myriad of fireworks outside as the same myriad of loud bursts of thoughts occurred in my mind, I could not drift off to sleep. So I am up now in front of my laptop to write what I don’t want to think about.
As a family, we spent most of our fourth of Julys’ when we were together, on Lake Vermillion, where my parents have a lake home. I remember the one in particular where we got to see all the air balloons going over head during day light and then at night fall saw fireworks from the Danville Boat Club. The stuff that traditions are made of. That particular July 4th, Sam brushed his knee on part of the boat and ended up with a cut that for him was incredibly painful. He was 3 and he cried a lot as the fireworks were going off… so much so that his voice was heard more than the “oohs” and “aahs” of the exclamations from the visual bursts of light and sound. I held him and talked to him and couldn’t imagine how it could hurt as much as his tears were showing.
Fast forward to Sam’s sophomore year playing Center Grove High School team basketball. Mid-season he sprained his ankle. I took him to the ortho med center and he got the ankle support equipment that he needed, some physical therapy and attention from the team trainer and he didn’t miss a game… didn’t express any amount of pain.
Looking back now, the brush with the metal guard on the boat must have been painful. I’m glad I was there for him whenever he needed me. I now miss not being there. In the time following his death, I needed others there for me instead. I remember the first year, just months after Sam’s passing, and I had stayed a week at my parents and then we were all sitting at the boat club for the fourth of July “celebration.” I remember looking down at my phone and going back through my text messages and seeing a group text that included my mom, Nick and Sam, etc. Even though I knew Sam would not get my text, I text in that message that I missed him and loved him. I don’t know why I did it.
Then I walked the short distance from the boat club back to my parents and when in the house, had my personal melt down. As I thought in the house, I got up and walked outside just to be walking. My dad, always the observant, must have seen me leave the boat club and followed me home as when I walked outside there he was sitting in his usual lawn chair. He held me as I cried and that was the best that I could do at that time. I had been comatose most of the week reading books that I had gotten in Danville about a mother that lost three daughters all in one accident and her struggle back to the living in the year that followed, plus there was the mother who lost her son to an uncommon cancer that allowed them time to say good-bye before he died. Then there was the two families where each lost their spouse and the two families joined into one. Happy endings?