We spent the day yesterday in the most traditional celebration of July 4th that I have ever experienced in my whole life. We watched the Evanston parade in front of my son’s coffee and gelato shop on Central Street. The parade was wonderfully local, politically liberal, and very small town. Later we went to my friend Michael’s house for dinner and to watch the fireworks. (He lives on the fourth floor of a condo building that has a perfect view of the top half of the fireworks right behind the Carlson Building.)
It was great to reconnect with friends and even meet a couple of new ones, including a lovely girl my son is dating. It was festive and lively and filled with good cheer (and plenty to eat and drink).
But deep down in the center of my being there was a small hole. Gregory was Michael’s partner for over 40 years. The both of them have been an important part of my life for nearly as long. Gregory was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimers some 13 years ago and died last October.
The parade took place in Michael and Greg’s old neighborhood. The fireworks took place at Michael and Greg’s condo. And, of course, July 4th is Gregory’s birthday and each year celebrating “the birthday of our country and Gregory” was a given. July 4th, in fact, is totally tied up emotionally for me with Gregory.
But yesterday the cake didn’t have his name. There was no singing or opening of gifts. We didn’t bring and share in his favorite gift—chocolate. There was no tour of books of his favorite architectural wonders and latest discoveries.
In this year’s fireworks, there was a missing spark. There is a missing spark.