A Nighttime Car Ride

3 July 2015

Dear Lucy,

Tonight, after you got into your pajamas and we played that you were going to bed so Little Jo could go to sleep peacefully, Daddy bundled you into the car so that I could drive you to see some fireworks at a golf course nearby.

We saw them just as we came out of our neighborhood, and we watched them the whole way to our destination. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the different colors as I drove. You asked me how fireworks work (I admitted I don’t really know), and on the way there and back we talked about the loud noise they make, and how even in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s day they celebrated the 4th with firecrackers, and how they resemble shooting stars. We got out of the car for the last few minutes of the show and sat on a picnic blanket on the sidewalk to watch the finale.

But I think the best part was simply hearing your voice and mine as we watched all those sparklers fizz up and burst: “Beautiful!” “Ohhh… wow, Mommy! Look at that one!” I took a grainy video of you sitting there with a cardigan over your pajamas and a towel over your hair, and I missed the finale because I was happier soaking in all your wonder than watching the show itself.

I loved that I got to do that with you, sweet girl. As we stopped at a red light on the way back, I told you that I would always remember tonight, and I will. I’ll remember your shining eyes and excitement over leaving the house at night (“I’ve never gotten in the car when it was this dark and gone to see fireworks!”), and how you told me your heart jumped a little when you first heard the boom and crackle of the explosions. I’ll remember the accelerating pace of your childhood and my motherhood in these days, the definite “no’s” I have to say to certain requests that you put forth, and the disorienting toggle of in-the-moment parenting and after-you’ve-all-gone-to-bed-and-I-look-back-at-the-day parenting.

I’ll remember how much I wished we could have left the house a little earlier so you could see the whole show, and how I proud I am that you didn’t complain at all and simply enjoyed the part that you got to see.

I’ll remember fireworks — and hugging you tight on the porch as we came back into the house — and talking with you about all the good things to come tomorrow. At some later date, as I look back, I’ll ponder further what you said about the night sky: that it’s good that it’s dark, because most fireworks and shooting stars are white, and that makes it easier for us to see them.

I’ll remember… and I’ll probably think a great many things, and pray that you will always find something to look forward to, and reflect about stars shining in darkened generations.

But for now, I just want to tell you how much I loved spending that bit of a summer evening with you. There is no place in the world I would rather have been. And I  will always love you farther than your arms will ever be able to reach.