I wasn’t fine. I started with a lawn chair a safe distance away from our lighting zone. I winced when I held my first sparkler, cringed when the first spark touched my skin. I even jumped a little when one of the snakes started growing. In my head, I knew it was harmless; my heart told me otherwise. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Our child saw every reaction and started to mimic my responses.
We started small, and the bigger fireworks were left until the end of our time outside – for the “finale” of course. Some of the fireworks did what we expected. Some did not. One went much higher than we were prepared for and “flew”. I moved my chair back. My kid moved back further.
By the time our “show” was over, we were WAY farther back than where we started. At least two of us were much more comfortable and even willing to say that we had fun! But then I realized something. I realized that there was an image in my head that I just couldn’t get rid of.
I kept seeing firetrucks, low hanging clouds, a bunch of smoke, people running up a hill, more firetrucks, an ambulance coming through a crowd, more smoke, picnics disrupted – a scene of chaos. It was the fireworks display in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, sometime in the 1980s. The winds were either too strong or non-existent (I can’t remember), and a person was hurt badly by a firework. I honestly can’t remember if he lived or died. I just know that I can feel that memory in the very core of my being. I’m pretty sure this is why I don’t like setting off fireworks.
Decades later, with the setting completely different, the magnitude of fireworks completely different, me completely different, I am still remembering that sobering moment.