Annie dreaded the 4th of July. Everyone is town would grab a blanket and head down to the town square to watch the fireworks. Annie couldn’t bear to do it alone again this year. It was bad enough she spent 4th of July last year by herself; she couldn’t and wouldn’t do it again. She felt so pathetic sitting on the ground watching families all around her hugging and pointing at the overhead display of fireworks. She felt a longing deep inside her as she watched women her own age, now mothers, running after their toddlers who needed their faces’ washed after eating the blue sno-cones that were always a town favorite. It wasn’t fair, she thought, that she couldn’t have children of her own. She would be a great mom and Ben agreed with her. She would take her baby to picnics and dress her baby up in those striped legging sets that baby’s always looked so adorable in. She would take long walks and teach her child all she knew about the world, if she ever got the chance.
Ben and Annie, after 3 years of trying and many frustrating and heartbreaking visits to the fertility doctor, decided that they would adopt. They decided that Ethiopia would be the perfect place to adopt from. Their orphanages seemed well taken care of and the adoption turnaround time seemed to be quicker than most other countries. They filled out all the necessary papers and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, an e-mail came. When Annie opened the attachment, she couldn’t believe she was staring into her new child’s eyes, dark brown eyes. Abraham. She would call him Abraham.
Annie couldn’t wait to tell Ben. He had been at the base all day and she was dying to share the news of their new child. Annie prepared a favorite meal of Ben’s, chicken parm, and waited patiently to hear his footsteps. He finally arrived at the front door and Annie burst into his arms to share their incredible news. “Ben! You’re not going to believe what….”. She couldn’t finish. His eyes looked tired and sad. Something was wrong. “Annie, I’m getting shipped out. Tomorrow. They need more doctors over in Afghanistan. The fighting’s getting worse and the casualties are getting greater. I need to go.” What? Leave. Annie couldn’t stand the thought of the loneliness. She decided to keep Abraham a secret for right now. Who knows with her luck, the adoption might not even go through and she would upset Ben for no reason. She would tell him when he returned. It would only be 4 months after all.
Four months passed and Annie waited eagerly to hear when Ben would be returning. She could no longer bear to keep the secret from him. The phone rang. It was Ben. “I’m not coming home this month, Annie. I’m sorry, honey. They are keeping me another 4 months.” “But Ben, that’s July! I have to get him next week. I can’t do it alone.” “What are you talking about? Annie? Who do you have to get?” ” Our son, Ben. I have to go to Abraham. I have to go alone.” Silence and tears ended their conversation. No words could express their complex emotions of grief and happiness that overwhelmed their brains at that moment.
Annie’s dad decided to go Ethiopia with her to get Abraham. It was a wonderful visit and the Ethiopian orphanage had taken good care of him. Abraham was hers! Annie wished with all her heart that Ben could be with her. He wouldn’t meet Abraham for another 4 months. He’d be sitting up by then.
“You better cover up, miss”, one of the orphanage aids had whispered to Annie. “They frown on pregnant women adopting our babies. You will have one of your own soon; don’t let them know.” What in the world? Annie thought to herself. Me. No. Not possible. Me! Me! ME! It dawned on Annie that SHE could be pregnant. The sickness, the tears, the pants that wouldn’t close. Oh, Ben! Come home soon! You’ve missed so much, Annie thought to herself..
Annie had heard nothing about when Ben would be returning. She filled her days with Abraham and his happy baby babblings and filled her nights with dreams of her new child. It would all be so perfect if Ben were here.
Annie prepared for the fireworks that night as every new mom would. Blanket, check. Bottle, check. Change of clothes for Abraham, check. Camera for a reminder of a wonderful 4th of July, check. Annie proudly pushed the stroller down the main street of town, feeling as though she were finally a part of this 4th of July celebration. She had a family to celebrate.
She set out her blanket and bundled up Abraham and laid back to watch the stars and fireworks collide. As she reached her head back, she felt a sudden familiar item under her head. It was Ben’s hand! He was home. Lying next to her. Staring at Abraham and smiling. Annie couldn’t help but cry. As he pulled her close to him, he jumped back. Annie’s stomach had startled him beyond belief. There was only silence. There was only the two of them staring into each other’s eyes. And then tears. The happiest tears a family could ever shed. The 4th of July would forever be the day their family had begun.