December 26, 2018

Chasing Fireflies


“Look! Over there!” 

I hurried down the back porch steps. Tiny glowing lights flashed on and off from all directions. Enchanted by my first sighting of the fireflies I’d heard so much about, I felt giddy, like a child again, as I darted around the yard. My heart beat faster as I pursued them, but each time I got close to one, it flew out of my reach. When I stopped for a few moments to catch my breath, a firefly suddenly appeared right in front of me. At first, it looked like an ordinary winged insect suspended in air, until its posterior lightbulb ignited and then quickly extinguished. 

I stood still, taking in the show. There were so many of them—it seemed wherever I looked, their twinkling lit up the yard in the waning light of dusk. What miracle created such a creature? Their beauty mesmerized me. Another one flew near me and hovered for a few moments. This time, I tried to touch it, but it took off too soon and disappeared behind the trees and into the woods beyond the house.

Finally, I returned to the porch and sat next to my husband. He put his arm around me and pulled me close. Our two dogs sat beside us, surveying the yard for critters.

“I want to watch the fireflies like this every night. Fireflies on summer nights. I think this is always going to be my favorite thing about living in Georgia.”

“I’m glad you like them,” he whispered. He kissed my cheek, then rested his on top of my head. “I’m so happy to see you smile.” 

“I really do love it here. I love the fireflies. And I love living with you.”

He chuckled and blushed, then pulled me into a soft kiss—the kind of kiss that feels like coming home.

All of a sudden, my black French bulldog began barking and startled me out of my wistful reminiscence. Robby practically knocked me off the porch when he pushed past me and raced down the steps in pursuit of a squirrel.

“Robby!” I groaned. 

My blissful reverie was broken, but there they were—the fireflies—their gleaming luminescence popping up everywhere: near the bushes, in the tree branches, above me, around me, far and near. 

Every summer, they faithfully appear for a few short months to dazzle me with their spectacle of lights. It’s been seven summers now, and they still thrill me as much as they did that first night. 

I scurried down the steps and tried to chase a few of them all around the yard. I wanted to catch one, just one, before it flew beyond my reach. One of them flew so close to me I could almost catch it. I chased it all the way to the fence until I stopped short and froze in place. The firefly disappeared as I stood staring at the driveway. I felt heaviness in my chest looking at the place where he used to park his car. The space he used to fill had been empty for days, but it felt like years. 

Robby trotted up beside me, and we both stared into the emptiness. He whimpered as we faced the loneliness together. I reached down to stroke his fur, hoping to console him. 

“I know, Robby. I miss him, too.” 

It seemed like several minutes passed, but it was only seconds before I forced myself to turn away and look back toward the yard where the fireflies’ lights danced in the fading twilight. Darkness waited around the corner. Soon, the fireflies would retire for the night, but they would be back tomorrow, and I would return to watch them play as their miracle of light soothed my grieving heart.

“This is my last summer chasing fireflies…” My voice drifted off as I looked over my shoulder on the way back to the house. “I’m going to miss this,” I whispered.

I knew I would always think of them when summer came. There would be no fireflies where I was headed. No back porch, no woods in the backyard, no sounds of cicadas crying out from the treetops. 

I took one last look out into the yard. There were fewer of them now, but those that remained still gave off their magnificent light.

Maybe there will be fireflies in my dreams.

It was wishful thinking, but I hoped it was true. Then, I’d never really leave this beautiful home, and I’d be forever chasing fireflies.