Today, my family got together for a BBQ in Bessemer. Angelo and Casey drove in from Akron, Kate came up from the 'burgh and my "Aunt" Judy, "Uncle" Davy, their son (and my "god brother") Mark and his family gathered at my parents' place to celebrate the 4th.
I texted photos of my boys to them. I followed Kate's Instagram action of the party. And was bummed. I wanted to be there.
But I also wanted to be here, with the awesome "family" and friends we've made in Vermont. Celebrating our independence on Reinhold and Pam's porch, watching the parade, eating popsicles with Mike B. Grilling ribs and dogs on Chris and Ri's deck with Jeff and Lauren, the boys mesmerized by Chris's backyard firework show. When I was a kid, it was lamb and loads of vegetables from Grandpa Patsy's garden at his place, followed by an insane fireworks display by "Little Theresa's" husband Ralph. All of my (dad's side) cousins - and most of my dad's cousins - were there. It saddens me to think that my boys won't have so many big family memories to look back on...
But, I suspect (hope!) that Jules and Kai will have awesome memories of their childhood in Vermont - and many of these memories will include the amazing people here in Vermont that we're lucky to call friends, old and new. The "family" dinners and parties 'round the fire pit. The hikes, the bikes and trips to the beach, the farmer's market, the waterfront. BBQs, parades, camping trips... and that's just the summer stuff.
Some days, I can't imagine ever leaving Vermont. But I also hate thinking about never being closer to our "real" families. Such is the price we pay for freedom, I guess. The freedom of so many choices.
I had this thought earlier this afternoon. And then I had another thought: All of the men and women who are (and who have been) responsible for ensuring the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy often live (or have lived) far, far away from their families -- and without the option of hopping on a plane for a random visit or picking up and moving to be closer to their parents, their siblings, the people who matter to them most.
And to all of these people, I am grateful.
Happy Independence Day!