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Dateline: July 4, 2022, 1:00 a.m.

Illuminated by lamplight, we watched out the window, vigilant, hopeful, that the last of the booms and splatters were exhausted and the parties over. A soothing bath, two Advil, a twenty-minute yoga practice, a yoga nidra practice, the last urging to Molly to please come out of the crate, please go outside to relieve herself, all failures, all in the space of the three-hour infiltration of sound and sight that is this day's end.

Professional fireworks aren't the problem. They are set to a program, end at a reasonable time, and can be nice. The lack of control over the amateur up the street, likely with a few drinks in his belly, messing with bottle rockets and whatever they call those things that shoot star fire into the sky; those are the troubling, unsettling behaviors that keep us awake. Five minutes between the sounds, my heart pounds into a submission I wish I could control like the new tenor of patriots who want to exert control over every aspect of life.

No amount of Rockets' red glare brings solace this year because independence and being independent are loosing their meaning. From the Oxford Dictionary; to be independent means free from outside control/ not depending on another's authority. My dogs live in fear when the first stabbing sounds pierce our home, infiltrate our otherwise peaceful existence. And I suffer right along with them, surfing Airbnbs for next year, hoping to find a place within driving distance that we can avoid this, practice our individual freedom and find our dogs, not cowering but running free and happy.

Yet, at this ungodly hour that I rarely see anymore, visions of my dear Eloise mingle with the brutal display of fire power in the skies above my home. If she is truly free, truly independent then, as she grows, she will have the power to decide more than when she naps, what food to eat on her toddler plate, and when a device is used to find a heartbeat within her body.

Independence Day has new meaning. The rain of fire power and the posting of an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer about what it means to be a patriot synonymously tell the story of whose freedom this day celebrates. The article pictures people and their thoughts on patriotism. Of the thirty-four people pictured five are women (all white), twenty-nine are men (six of them are of color), that leaves (higher math here) twenty-three white men of various ages who comment on this word that is supposedly equated with freedom.

I disagree with the use of such comments. My best friend considers herself a patriot. Thirty-two years of service with one year in Afghanistan, where she sent messages to me to let me know that she'd survived a bombing but the children outside the gate who begged for money from the soldiers didn't. The list of women who I would define as patriots is long and lost on so many people in power that it makes my heart hurt.

This Monday morning, in the wee hours, as the last of the stumbling drunks head indoors to sleep off their celebrations, the only solace I find, beside the warmth of a settling red wine from France, is that there is one more day to consider the need for me to work toward true Liberty and Justice for all.

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THAT is beautiful! Touched me on soooo many levels. Wow! Just wow!

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