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4th of july fireworks in Portland, Oregon.

4th of july fireworks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We eagerly carried our lawn chairs from the gravel parking lot, over the rough trail of rocks and small boulders, to the wide beach. Small waves were kissing the shore as a light breeze blew the hot air, cooling off the 100 degree day.

It was the 4th of July and the fireworks show was about to start.

After we settled in our chairs, I looked out across the lake. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed dark, hulking shapes lined up as far as I could see – straight ahead, to the left and to the right. It took me a few seconds to realize that there were hundreds of boats stopped or anchored in front of the cliffs where the explosions of light and sound would begin. The lake was as much of a parking lot as the fields we had just passed, filled with hundreds of silent cars.

All of this time, effort and energy for a 30 minute show that was suppose to start in ten minutes.

Twenty-five minutes later, we knew something was wrong. There were no lights on the cliffs, and the only activity was focused on the back of the Sheriff’s Tahoe that was parked about 100 feet from us. We could see scuba gear and tanks being transported to a boat, and that is when we knew someone was in trouble.

My husband wandered over to see if he could find out what was going on. He overheard two Deputies talking quietly and one said, “Don’t know if we’ll find her, but we sure can’t tell these folks that there won’t be any fireworks tonight.” The other man responded, “Just wait until you get the word before you do anything.”

Once we learned this vital piece of information, we quickly decided to leave. I looked back over the lake, sending out a silent prayer of peace to her family and friends, and a blessing to all of those who would have to make their way back home. My prayer was for safety and understanding.

We were the first to leave that night. None of the other families on the beach or waiting in their boats had any idea that they were being kept in the dark because a young woman had drowned in the lake and they were trying to find her body.

A tragedy…for those involved.

A small inconvenience for those expecting a show but were sent home instead – without knowing why.

When there is a void of information and decisions made that affect you, it is so easy to judge and criticize. You fill in the empty space with your own prejudices, grievances and complaints.  Wonder how many of those folks felt bad about complaining when they read the local paper the next day and learned the true facts of why the fireworks show was cancelled.

One vital piece of knowledge can clarify a situation, solidify an action plan and create sympathy for a family’s tragic loss. Without that vital information, you are left to make up your own story.

Think about it the next time you are tempted to jump to a conclusion that may or may not be true.



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