When I was a kid, every 4th of July, my family and I would drive four hours north of Phoenix to a small town called Pinetop. About 100 family and friends gathered to play a weekend tournament of horseshoes. It was our most fun vacation each year because we got the chance to see our good friends and get out of the horrible July weather Phoenix is prone to! Also, it was a tradition our family had participated in for years and years, even before I was born.
My mom died July 12, 1991, and, in 1992, my family decided not to go to Pinetop because we feared we would get one million questions about my mom. The people attending the horseshoe tournament were from all over Arizona, so it was likely many had not even heard she had passed away, much less that it was a suicide. We stayed away from the tournament for years because it was too uncomfortable to go back. Our favorite family tradition was ruined!
In 2008, my fiance and I were looking for wedding venues and found the perfect place. We wanted to get married in July and the only dates they had available which also worked with our calendars were the 4th and the 12th. My fiance wanted the 12th because it was not a holiday and I told him there was no way I was sharing my wedding day with the anniversary of my mother’s suicide. We agreed on the 4th.
I am so happy we chose to get married on the 4th. It feels like the beloved holiday my mom’s suicide stole the joy from all those years ago has been redeemed. What was once a painful day of looking back at what and who my family was missing is now a day of celebrating all that my life has become. Sometimes we feel guilty for moving on with our lives and we become stuck. The truth is, though, that our lives continue and we get to move forward living life. Our lives can and will be beautiful again if we allow it. July 4th was once an amazing and fun family tradition as a child until it became tainted and painful after the tragedy of my mom’s death. Today, it is beautiful again and worthy of much celebration with my husband and three kids! Happy Fourth of July!