July 4th, 2014
He has seen fireworks before, of course. This night, he and I are alone at the West Milton fireworks display. The crowd is buzzing and rough around the edges. He’s not wearing his mask since we are outside and I want him to feel normal, not stand out so much. Men, women and children do stare. He does not notice them nor his mother staring back.
Of course I must allow a hot dog with ketchup and I fret about his ANC not being high enough to combat the food vendor’s paper plate germs, much less the actual food.
We find a hillside place to put our blanket on the outskirts of the crowd.
Together,we eat our food and wait until dusk while watching the big kids on the rides. He is cold, though it is not cold, so I gather him up him in the blanket and put him on my lap like a toddler.
After a while, the highly anticipated summer sky is alight just for him.
It is a night between only us, hundreds of people closed out of our circle. I hear his giggle and his ‘wow!’ at the flashes and streaks above us. I feel his solid body in my arms and his downy head beneath my chin. I see the light in his eyes and his now bloated chemo cheeks. He covers his ears and looks up like he has actually never seen a fireworks show, eyes wide! My eyes even wider that he is still alive to see this. I check his port surreptitiously through his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shirt. I smell his sweat that removes his dressing each day as he devours life outside like a regular kid.
Maybe he knew, I think he did.
He said, “Mom?”
“Do you think my Daddy wikes it?”
“I do think he likes it. Imagine what it looks like from the moon?”
“Well, I want to ewase da smoke because I don’t think he would wike dat.”
“How will we erase it?”
He lifts up a hand, holding his invisible eraser. “Just use our hands, wike dis!”
So we put up our hands, erasing the smoke behind the shooting stars. And he is.