remember the first time we discovered them blinking in the trees outback and we hurried up the street. We went so quickly to see them that I didn’t even bother putting on shoes. There’s a place, a few houses up, where there are woods on both sides and we stood there in the midst of a fairyland together. We both loved the fireflies in the trees.
I told you, in an intense moment of anger and pain, that we had nothing in common. That we shared nothing. But, that wasn’t true. Another time when I spoke before I thought. June reminds me of how much we shared together; Smokey campfires, vacation, sunset walks on the beach where I’d stuff my pockets full of shells, Shelby Lynne playing in the dark, the wind from the sunroof with the open road ahead of us and the fireflies.
The fireflies came back two nights ago when we were in the basement again because there were tornados and I was the one who looked each girl in the eye, in turn, and told them we were safe. I calmed my mind and calmed my body and believed it was so and I wanted to call you, to at least hear your voice, so you could tell us we would be okay, but I didn’t. You can’t help us feel safe here anymore.
I wonder if you remember the fireflies. I wonder if you remember me in the backyard, swatting at mosquitos with my feet bare trying to find a setting on my camera that would capture them as we saw them. I was always desperate to try and get a picture or a video. I’d show you what I had gotten, your head bent over the screen to look at the tiny streaks of yellow. They come and go so quickly, those little pins of lights in the trees. They stay for just a few weeks. Some years we missed them because of vacations and some years we missed them because we were wrapped up in things that took us away from simple pleasures and temporary miracles like fireflies signaling messages to each other in the woods that live next door.
Did you think about the fireflies as June rolled around? I suppose they’re not in your new place. I never saw many there, as it was, when we lived nearby. I’m sure you’ll see even less now. I wonder if a day will come when you will see one and think of me and those summers and smile. I wonder if a day will come when I’ll see them twinkling like stars just out of reach and be grateful for the times we shared them and not cry because it’s another thing we won’t do together anymore.
I am grateful for the lessons I have already learned about grief. I know that the firsts are always the hardest. The first Valentine’s Day without a card. The first Easter without an impish grin as the Princess huffs through the house, unable to find her basket as the sisters gorge on chocolate. The first Mother’s Day without a Facebook post about how proud and grateful you were. The first time the fireflies come back into season.