Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Patriotic Berries
SWMBO’s patriotic dessert: an American flag composed of raspberries, blueberries... and Greek yogurt.

Independence Day - the day on which we Americans celebrate our country’s having become independent from the British crown - is a joyful day for most of us. I have wonderful childhood memories of annual Fourth of July clambakes and outdoor grilling spectaculars at the home of Al S., one of Eli Hizzownself’s business partners. Al’s place had two major attractions: (1) a huge, two-acre lot, inconceivably spacious to a typical South Shore kid like me, and (2) an honest-to-Gawd built-in swimming pool. We would swim all day, gorge ourselves silly on char-grilled burgers and hot dogs, and then set off every firecracker, Roman candle, and aerial bomb we could get our hands on as soon as the sun went down. Happy days.

As a certified Propulsion Engineer and lover of pyrotechnics, I’ve gotta love any holiday on which fireworks are part of the officially sanctioned celebrations.

But the Fourth is a bittersweet holiday for She Who Must Be Obeyed... and, by extension, for me. Has been for a long time... for it was on this very day thirty-five years ago that SWMBO’s sister Polly was struck by lightning and killed instantly.

All the grilled hot dogs, picnic goodies, and fireworks displays in the world cannot erase that memory.

I never knew Polly. I met SWMBO almost six months after that terrible Fourth of July, at a time when the psychic wounds of the family’s loss were still fresh and raw. But I know that even today, thirty-five years later (more than twice Polly’s entire span of time on this planet), not a day goes by when SWMBO does not think of her lost sister.

A few days ago, as we were cleaning out the contents of our old bedroom furniture to prepare for the arrival of the new, She Who Must Be Obeyed happened upon several faded snapshots of Polly, photos that had been taken in the last weeks of her life and that had been tucked away in her nightstand, unnoticed, for years. She sat on the floor and wept, then... and I grieved, too. I grieved for the sister I never knew.

So if SWMBO or I seem a little subdued on this happiest of our National Occasions, we’re just thinking about our family’s Missing Piece. SWMBO has her memories to fall back upon; I, having none, must imagine the sister I never got to know.

1 comment:

Rahel Jaskow said...

No words can possibly offer comfort... but I would give SWMBO a hug if I could.