It’s June, my favorite month of the year. It’s the month of my birth, my parents’ anniversary (I came home from the hospital with my mother on their first anniversary), my husband’s and my anniversary. It’s the end of the school year, the beginning of summer vacation, and the pool is open every day. It’s the month of daisies and roses and my very favorite – tiger lilies. The fireflies, or lightning bugs, visit for a few weeks from mid- to late June. It’s the month of the summer solstice when the fairies dance in Eden Park. (I’ve watched them many times.) June has always been my favorite month, but then there was June 2012.
Last year my second baby said, “Done,” on June 1st. He had to leave us all on June 2nd. More than 800 people came to say good-bye to him on June 5th. The Mass celebrating his life was held June 6th, my birthday. He missed his first Father’s Day on June 17th. The cask containing his ashes was interred in late June.
Yet because it was June, I could jump on my bicycle and ride to the labyrinth across the Ohio River any time I felt so moved. I could comfortably sit outside on our terrace until very late into the night, drinking chardonnay, reading some form of mindless entertainment or crying – often doing all at the same time. I could wear bicycle shorts under the skirt I wore to the internment, so I could jump on my bike at the cemetery, ride off some of the profound sadness and still be moved by the tiger lilies along Route 8.
Tonight, June 15, 2013, the fireflies officially came out in numbers. They are lighting the trees and bushes along the river behind our building. However, Brandon gave me a firefly gift twice already this month. Two weeks ago, June 1st was a Saturday, exactly 52 weeks since Brandon died near midnight (last year the Saturday was June 2nd), one firefly visited me. A second single firefly made a brief visit on my June 6th birthday.
Joe and I had spent the evening of June 1st enjoying the celebration of our goddaughter Colleen’s wedding to her wonderful young man Scott. I’d been having a terrific time with old friends and new. Then it hit. A Michael Jackson song, some moon-walking, which Brandon used to do quite proficiently, and I went from fine to anything but in less than 30 seconds. It was time to head home.
Once home I took Rudy, out goldendoodle, out for his last potty break of the day. Rudy doesn’t mind when I cry, and I was crying as I walked him up and down the grassy puppy potty strip behind the condos. I was crying when I scooped up dog doo in the plastic bag. I was still crying when I reached the dog doo dumping can at the end of the strip.
Yet as I tossed the sealed bag into the little can, a single firefly/lightning bug flew directly in front of me. I followed its blinking light, as it moved from where I stood to the river and then disappeared. I looked for other fireflies, but there were none. There was only the one early firefly for that 52-week marker of the night that will always connote Before and After for me. There was one firefly to light the darkness and bring a sense of joy. (Can anyone see a firefly without feeling joy?)
A few days later, in-town family joined us for dinner on my birthday. We sat out on the terrace talking, eating and drinking. We laughed a lot and cried a little, remembering last June 6th. The sun set over the hills across the river, so we cranked the umbrellas back in; however, it was remained light for an hour or so after the sun disappeared. At some point I was telling one of my daughters about the firefly I’d seen late Saturday evening. I’d no sooner told her about it when a single firefly flittered in front of our faces as we sat outside on our third floor terrace. Again, I looked for other fireflies, and again there were none.
I’ve been watching for fireflies every night since my birthday. Tonight is the first night I’ve seen any others, and tonight I’ve seen scores of them. I can’t help but think the single fireflies I saw June 1st and June 6th – one to two weeks before they typically announce themselves – were gifts to remind me that June is a special month. Oh, and the tiger lilies bloomed a day or two ago. Tremendous joy and profound sadness are entwined so perfectly in this “lovely month of June.”
“But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day in June.” (Oscar Wilde)