The view of Lake Okoboji is as beautiful this year as it was 20 years ago when I saw it for the first time. It imparts peace in the morning, awe at sunset, and reflection at night.
For over a decade this was the place of joyful summer fun for my family. Memories abound. My children racing about for our traditional scavenger hunt. The image of my youngest standing alone on the dock, fishing pole in hand. Walking hand in hand with my husband along the shore. Daily trips to the Nutty Bar Stand for a chocolate and peanut covered cube of vanilla ice cream on a stick.
This year my dear friends Tony and Joyce invite me to join them again for the 4th of July at their beautiful lake home. The children have been grown for some years now, but this is the first time I arrive without the man who introduced me to this lovely spot on the earth.
There will be no more morning walks along the water with him. No more breakfasts at the Koffee Kup Cafe. No more lazy afternoon naps lying close. No more sunsets.
As I take in the thought of all that has been, I release a long breath. How do I want this Independence Day to be? I could stay in the thoughts that make me weep. I could believe it's not fair. I could assume that I will never be as happy here as I was in those days when my husband was here with me.
Or I could choose freedom on this Independence Day. Freedom to reflect on happy memories that warm my heart. Freedom to tell stories from summers gone by that make me laugh. Freedom to stay in the present moment. Freedom to make new memories.
For people who have experienced the countless changes divorce brings, holidays are often tough. Grieving loss is necessary and unavoidable. Still, taking a holiday from that sadness can bring a much needed respite.
When the sun goes down tonight, boats with their red and green lights will gradually fill the lake in preparation for the fireworks. It always reminds me of a giant Christmas display and is my favorite sight of this day.
When the fireworks begin and the synchronized music starts, I will be listening for Louis Armstrong to sing "What a Wonderful World". I will be free to remember it truly is.