As my parents are always happy to point out, the Fourth of July was never my favorite holiday. This mostly stemmed from being a baby and not understanding the deafening bombs bursting above me. The only ones to hate it as much as me, I think, were the confused pets who not unreasonably equate the sound of explosions in the sky to the world ending. As I grew up, the explosions felt less threatening, and Fourth of July became merely a celebration of how many hot dogs I could eat before retreating to the bathroom.

I still, very distinctly, remember enjoying the fireworks of fourth of July from a hospital in Pennsylvania, standing next to my sister-in-law, watching the muffled explosions and glittering blowout from afar.

Like I said, Fourth of July had become a joyous occasion, that year especially; two close friends were finally tying the knot that day in New Hampshire. And not only was it a wedding, it was a reunion – we saw old friends and made new ones, everyone in the happiest of spirits. It was right after a stale breakfast at the Hilton Inn that we got the call that Jena’s father, Paul, had been rushed to the hospital five states away.

We wasted no time trying to figure out how to venture the distance. It seemed impossible at first, most businesses closed for fourth of July, every flight costing a fortune. Luckily, our friends and family rose to the occasion. Guided by the ridiculous Arnold Schwarzenegger voice on my GPS (we needed a laugh), we were by his side that evening (Paul’s… not Arnold’s). He had survived the ordeal, as had we all.

That night, for the first time since childhood, it did feel like the world was ending. That the sky ripped asunder and the fabric of reality had come under attack. Everything slipped away but the desire to get there, get through it, and hope Jena’s dad would follow suit. It’s hard to think about that day, and the chaos that ensued, but I still remember those silent fireworks, a pale celebration of the “victory” of getting there for family.

Writing this, a year later, that night is little more than a bad memory. I am thankful that our world stayed intact, if shaken. We all survived, and Paul recovered and is doing great, which I am eternally grateful for, as he’s an amazing man. And apparently, back in New Hampshire, the wedding went off without a hitch (speaking of which, happy anniversary, Chas and Emma).

All I can really say about this anymore is that sometimes it feels like the world is ending, but with enough time and trust in the people around you, you’ll be able to look back and see a victory. And I’d rather look at it that way.

Happy Fourth, everyone.