My tenth year of life was not a good one.  My parents separated.  My mother pulled my brother and I out of school and moved us to Florida in the middle of the year because she had a nervous breakdown.  On July 4, 1975, my best friend died in our house in New Jersey. 

I remember my mother telling me he had died.  I couldn’t have described the feeling then but now I know that what I felt at that moment was absolute, utter hopelessness.  My view of the world had been cracked before but on that day it shattered. 

For the next thirty years my perspective of the world remained skewed.  Happiness was fleeting and utterly elusive.  I found drugs and alcohol and for a while they made the brokenness inside me bearable.  Eventually, the chemicals stopped working and in desperation I sought help.

Fast forward to July 4, 2008.  Thirty two years had passed since my friend had died.  I had found recovery and discovered happiness.  I was in the early stages of my romance with Trent.  My sponsor, Laurie, and I went to Hilton Head, North Carolina, to visit her sister and celebrate the fourth with her. 

Laurie and I got to the beach early and it was drizzling.  We sat on a blanket and went over my twelfth step.  It had taken me two years to work my way to step twelve.  We talked about spiritual awakenings, helping others, how the steps miraculously transform the people who work them.  We cried tears of happiness and tears for the love that exists between sponsor and sponsee.  The drizzling stopped and in its place, the sky held a rainbow.  The symbolism and beauty of the weather wasn’t lost on us. 

We packed up our blanket and coffee and headed back to the house.  My freedom hung in the air with the rainbow.  After forty-two Independence Days, I was finally free.