Fourth of July
July 4, 2008
Exploring the idea of where to spend the 4th of July and see fireworks, I thought the ideal situation would be a hotel in St. Louis, MO within walking distance of the Arch. Westward Expansion. What a great symbol to celebrate Independence Day and the expansion of ourselves on this Jonas Brothers concert adventure with my daughter, Hannah. Driving from East Coast to West Coast, our travel would land us in the midwest for the 4th.
But, the hotels were booked. I checked for openings every day and I thought there would be cancellations or more rooms released. I was praying for an opening and still there was nothing…
The idea of driving downtown, paying for parking and being stuck in crowds and traffic, just to see the fireworks, was not appealing to me. So, I reviewed the hotels outside of St. Louis and finally chose a spot two days before our arrival. It was close to our destination for the next day and it would have to do.
It was hard to release the ritual of going to see fireworks. Since the death of my husband four years earlier, I had organized a 4th of July firework adventure every year. When he was alive, this was “his thing” to organize and build the family excitement along with the annual carnival in town. It was something we enjoyed as a family, but he was the inspirer with childlike excitement and a willingness to find the perfect spot and drive us to and from the location. In my heart, I didn’t want to disappoint my youngest daughter. I didn’t want to let an annual tradition die with her father. I didn’t want to let her down.
I initiated several conversations with Hannah leading up to the day. She consistently told me that said she didn’t care, it didn’t matter and she didn’t want to be in the city with the crowds and traffic. Sitting with my feelings of failure and disappointment, I finally let it go. We settled into the hotel and both of us started reviewing photos on our laptops from the last few days of travel and dove deeply into our own worlds of writing blog posts for our travel blogs.
Around 8:30pm, I heard a pounding. It sounded like someone banging on the wall in the room next to us. Finally, I opened the drapes and looked out the window. My heart skipped a beat, I was so excited. Fireworks in four different locations were visible from the window of our hotel! We saw fireworks from downtown St. Louis and Cahokia Mounds across the river and two other places I couldn’t identify. We watched them for 10 minutes together. I was feeling so much gratitude for the luck of the location I had randomly chosen. Or was it random? Maybe I was guided here by an inner inspiration and the key was releasing and listening.
Feeling so much gratitude and fulfilled from having my desire met, I walked outside to get something from the cooler in the car. In the parking lot, I stopped and gasped. There were fireworks EVERYWHERE! We were on top of a hill and as I walked around the parking lot, I saw four.. seven..twelve.. sixteen… maybe twenty different fireworks locations. Some were so close, I could hear the boom and crackle and pop. I could smell the burning of fireworks powder. We were in the middle of the most spectacular fireworks event I had ever seen.
I noticed a couple sitting in lawn chairs, the trunk of their car open with an exposed cooler of food and drinks. They told me they lived in the area and this is the best location in the St Louis area. The fireworks continued for two hours!
Maybe this is what it really means to trust, to let go and open to inspiration. Letting go brought me something I couldn’t have envisioned with my mind. I had to connect with the longing in my heart and trust. And in that letting go and trust something magical happened.
This was a 4th of July to remember! Westward Expansion. Here we are!
Andrea Hylen and her daughter Hannah traveled all over the United States and Canada over a 3-year period writing to inspire and heal their personal grief after the death of a husband and father. They traveled to 78 Jonas Brothers concerts and moved from Maryland to California. Andrea founded the organization, Heal My Voice, a non-profit organization with programs to empower women to heal and write a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership in their homes, communities and the world. When each nine month program is completed, the stories are put into books. Go to Heal My Voice for updated information: http://healmyvoice.org/
Hannah is currently attending UCLA as a communications major. In the spring of 2016, Hannah hosted a show on UCLA Radio. You can find links to the recordings of her shows at https://www.facebook.com/seasonalsoundwaves/