Ready or not . . .

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMzAAAAJDZmNGEwNDkwLTA0ZTYtNGFhZC1hNmI0LTc5MWM3Y2Q4MDcyOQ. . . . . . . you’re on your own.

Wait, what?  I really didn’t order that. Star-spangled freedom wasn’t on my wish list. Been there, done that. I know independence is a good thing– both for people and countries. Being able to stand on your own is an asset in every situation, whether you choose to walk solo or not. Brexit may be one of those times when that ability may be tested.

When I met my husband, I walked into coupleness with eyes wide open – and then some. Having been married before, I knew the difference between being controlled and being intimately connected. Having a base, feeling ultimately at home in a relationship, that’s a cool thing and what we strive for, right? Unfortunately, when my almost-fairytale ended a few months ago, there was no ‘happily ever after’ – at least none that my emotional binoculars can see right now.

My husband’s sudden death set me free into a life, an independence I hadn’t planned on or wished for. Unlike the independence we celebrate today, that kind of freedom doesn’t invite the Grucci brother’s famed fireworks. Nothing about being cut loose in a sink or swim ocean of grief calls for flag waving or bbqs. (I’ve never been a hot dog and beer girl anyway) While I celebrate the heck out of our United States today, sometimes freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if it’s the last thing you were looking for instead of what you were fighting for.

Still, today I do celebrate our home country, the one we call America, land of the free; home of the brave even though it doesn’t feel very united right now. Those dudes who fought for independence were indeed brave, as well as all who came after who fought for freedom, justice, equality ever since. I suspect, there’s been enough rhetoric, fireworks of words in this political year that our founding fathers are shaking their heads, saying ‘what the…”? From sea to shining sea, however, today people celebrate the birthday of our land and no matter what your politics, it is our freedom that allows the very speech that enflame us. It also enables our voices to rise above it. In fact, it’s not only our right – it’s our responsibility.

As long as we remember how we got here, the faith of those who came before us in people and the infant country they nurtured, I think we’ll make it. And we’ll make it together – as long as we don’t allow hate and divisiveness to do what wars could not. They say freedom is a chance to do better. If we were to take our temperature by the absolute pervasive political unrest, we might be in need of a good, old-fashioned time-out, if not a civility makeover. We have the right stuff; we just have to use it for good.

And though I don’t want to remember what signaled my own ‘freedom’, the one that ended ‘til death do you part’, here I am anyway, forging a new land, a new path with every new day. Both my husband and I were independent in our own ways before we discovered each other, so freedom in relationship meant something less life changing and more life affirming. After raising kids, struggling financially, to us freedom meant two kids with empty nests who still had things to do, and places to go – together. Life had other plans.

Our fledgling country realized it takes a village, in fact a whole lot of them, to build a nation. It also takes strength, courage, purpose, and belief to go it alone. It can’t be such a bad thing to follow in some of those celebrated footsteps, adapting the best of our history to the future, even for those of us whose independence wasn’t a choice. We not only have the guideposts of our ancestors; I suspect each of us have our own moments and lives of strength and fierceness to build our ‘new world’ on.

After all, despite those who’d have us think differently, from a rag tag, feisty, fearless bunch of malcontents, refugees, persecuted, dreamers, America’s done pretty well for itself these 240 years.

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