Lingering death of the fireflies…


When I was a child growing up in Chicago, one of the greatest things about the summer (besides no school, shorts, bike riding, cook outs, and swimming at the lake) was catching fireflies. The magic of hunting and searching for them as they slowly floated around is something I think about whenever I see fireflies to this day.

Childhood was a simple time because the world was nothing but possibility and everything had a touch of magic to it. Catching those floating lights always felt, to me, like I was capturing a bit of magic with every one I snatched and carefully stored in my cleaned out Peter Pan peanut butter jar.

The boys I knew took a different view of the lights. They reveled in smashing them on the sidewalk and smearing them to see the trail of light that was left on the pavement. They didn’t seem to be content to let them live and exist; to stare at them in wonder on their bedside table as sleep over took them as I do often did. No, they loved the instant gratification of death and the stark evidence of it shining up on them from the pavement.

I remember one particular boy who danced around me as I looked for fireflies one June evening. He was trying to find them first and kill them so I would go home empty handed. He laughed every time he found one before I did, and then with a look of glee he would toss it to the pavement to smash and smear it with his shoe. After the third or fourth one, I was filled with an overload of rage of indignation. My body shook and my small hands balled into fists until I couldn’t control myself; I launched at him and bloodied his nose. This, unfortunately, was not the first nor the last time that I took to fists to vent my anger.

Fast forward to now and driving through the back hills of Pennsylvania. The twists and turns sometime making me break until I was only crawling ahead and making me wonder if I was really supposed to be on this particular road. The hills and fields showed me such beautiful sights as well as hiding the setting sun behind hills and painting the sky in oranges and pinks. The beauty seemed unreal at times and my favorite site was when I saw a doe eating placidly while her fawn jumped and played next to the road (all the while I was yelling “Baby Deer” and hoping it didn’t get spooked and run in front of me). Pennsylvania has the highest incidence of Lyme Disease and usually when I saw deer it was every 1/2 to 3/4 mile laying dead at the side of the road, so for me to see this little ball of ish happily frolicking while his mother looked and ate on was a beautiful site.

As the sun snuggled in for the night I started noticing slight flashes of lights in the trees on the side of the road. Knowing that I was tired after nearly 9 hours of driving and a restless sleep the night before, I didn’t pay them much attention; I had a hard enough time just trying to navigate these twisting and turning roads. All of a sudden, right in front of my eyes, I hear the splat and see the bioluminescence shining from my windshield.

No, please no…

I know it’s silly to mourn the loss of anything as insignificant as an insect, but these aren’t just insects to me. These are moments, memories, and bits of magic wrapped in a small flying case. Yes, I know its just the way they mate but I don’t care. That wide eyed child inside of me was yelling and screaming that I was a big meanie. She was fighting that boy again but that boy was now me. I was losing my grasp on reality and it was over fireflies. However these weren’t fireflies to me, these were my memories that I was watching splatter on my windshield time and time again. That’s because where there is one firefly there are bound to be more.

Splat! Splat! Splat!

With each sound came an explosion of neon green on my windshield. I didn’t dare try to wash them off knowing that it usually just results in smears and more of a mess than it’s worth. As one splatter of color would fade, two more would take its place. My nerves frayed as I gripped the steering wheel tight while I willed the torment to end.

A few hours later, I finally got to my delivery point and stopped for the night. Shaking and crying I sat transfixed at my windshield. At this point the evidence of the crimes on my childhood had faded but the memories still lingered.

While I was not that boy from long ago who delighted in the destruction he waged on the fireflies of our neighborhood, I still felt that something broke inside of me with every death. I tried to honor the light which glowed on my windshield for as long as possible, but I also had to be safe and keep my eyes on the ever turning and twisting road.

I don’t know if it was those memories or if it was something else, but I’ve been in the worst funk. It took a few days to realize that part of it is that I’m not taking very good care of myself either physically or mentally. I would say this was my first wall. I had more than one moment of thinking “I can’t do this anymore” and more than a moment or two of darker thoughts.

I’ve pushed through those feelings and I’ve made a plan for myself to take more time off. The industry standard is you get one day off for every seven driving. Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking even that. That type of behavior ends now.

I’m currently in Springfield and set to take my business course. I know, isn’t that kind of backwards since I already have my business? Well, yes and no. This class is all about maximizing profits. They schedule this about three months after you’ve been on the road as a way of using your previous data and telling you how you could have optimized your trips. I already know what they will say which is “slow down and drive 55 mph”. My sanity isn’t worth the extra savings to be honest, so we’ll see how much I actually get out of it. I will go in with an open mind but I don’t know about this whole 55 mph thing. I personally tend to think that slow trucks are a danger on the road. When so many roads are 70mph and 80mph, coming up on a driver doing 55mph can be a shock.

One of the nicest things I’ve come across was finding a rainbow in my side mirror. I tried to catch a picture of it and you can kinda see it…

I had to up the color and contrast but if you look closely it’s there.

Until next time my lovelies. Peace, love, and Godzilla.

2 thoughts on “Lingering death of the fireflies…

  1. Nancy L Jackson

    Hi TJ! So good to hear from you. You have a writing style that sweeps me into your story. That is a great ability. You write very well. I grew up in NJ where they had lightening bugs when I was growing up. I have 3 brothers so you can imagine the stories. Be safe my friend!


  2. Therese

    Hey TJ,

    I can tell you are working hard as it has been a month since yout last post. Self-care is a must. You already know this. We heard drivers brag of being out months with no down time but really, is that living? Life is short. Remember to make every day count. You are worth it!! Hugs.


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