This little story pretty much encompasses my feelings about my little Adelaide - it happened July 4th, 2016.
I opened the car door to the sound of her tiny voice commenting on how cute the dogs were, playing frisbee with their owners at the receiving end of our car's headlights. I smiled. Her obsession with dogs knows no bounds.
After extricating her from her carseat and retrieving the lawn chair and blanket from the trunk, I turned to move out. She blocked my passage and asked, "you hold me?" She seemed to be undeterred by the fact that my arms were full. Looking around I noticed how dark it was getting and my heart swelled knowing that her tender apprehension was a byproduct of the increasing darkness. I somehow managed to transfer the blanket to my already burdened left hand. I squatted and picked her up by my right arm. I was unwavered by the fact that I probably looked ridiculous. Somehow, holding her sweet warmth in my arm, all 28 pounds of her didn't seem heavy at all.
I began to cross the parking lot, taking efforts to avoid other cars trying to quickly park. Children were playing football in a small field to our right, the sun's last blood-orange rays were dripping down below the horizon to the left. Addi still cheeped away about the dogs. All of these beautiful things reminded me of our good fortune in living in this country... what a fitting scene.
Others were already setting up their lawn-chairs and blankets. Some families set up camp in the tailgates of their vehicles. All eagerly awaited the light show to come.
As we approached the gym, which was located between our parking spot and my intended destination, the street-lights fed Addi's courage and she requested to get down. "Alright sweety, just stay close because there are cars around," I responded. She obliged with a short and somehow adorable, "okay."
My intent was to find a dark and lonesome spot to set out the blanket for the impending fireworks. Just the way I like it. Yet, Addi, upon seeing a bright tree lit up by one of those angled lamps that point at buildings to show them off at night, simply pointed and asked, "right here daddy?" Again, her anxieties about the dark were getting the best of her. I rejected her request, knowing that a darker spot would enhance our viewing experience - a notion that her little mind might not yet understand. Yet, she simply trusted in me, summoned some vestige of courage, and we moved on without complaint. I had but a moment to ponder the metaphorical significance of that little exchange...
We trekked on. Behind the gym we found an opening in a fence to the baseball field. Not a soul in sight. Perfect. We laid a blanket down and sat upon it comfortably. I looked at my watch. Ten minutes until the show. We filled the time by watching videos of Copper on my phone, at Addi's request, of course.
Frequently we were interrupted by the "bang" of some firework detonating nearby. Several, Addi ignored. Others she would gasp at and look around for the lighted display.
In the middle of one of the videos, she was cut-off, mid-giggle by the first big firework above the stadium. For a few moments she was catatonic - amazed with a mixture of surprise, elation, and perhaps a little fear.
We enjoyed the fireworks for a few minutes. She and I chatted back and forth, commenting on the colors, the sizes, and the sounds of the performance. Every pink firework was her favorite. Wanting to give my tired, crouching back a rest, I convinced Addi to lie down. We pulled the blanket over us (something that was necessary even on July 4th... that's Cheyenne), and laid on our sides facing the light show. With her tiny back to my chest I wrapped my arms around her. That view, that moment, was emblazoned on my memory.
Each fiery display burst into the dark sky. This back-lit effect seemed to light her whispy hairs on fire as her little head soaked up my view. I smelled her hair and head - a mix of some kid hair product and what I will affectionately refer to as "toddler" smell - which is probably just sweat and dirt. I felt her little warmth pressed against me. I heard her squeals of delight and her incessant questions such as, "what is that firework called, daddy?" I held her a little tighter. I didn't want the moment to end.
When the fireworks ceased, the darkness returned. She was reminded that she needed her daddy and stayed close to me. Yet, through all of this - through every last tender moment - I was reminded in a very personal, emotional, and tangible way, that I absolutely needed her.
3 Weeks Away
2 weeks ago