When my kids catch a glimpse of lightning bugs for the first time one summer, they assume they’re battery powered. “Are those little flashlights attached to anything?” they ask.
“Those aren’t flashlights,” I reply. “That’s God’s little magic trick. Wanna know something else?” I continue. “Those lightning bugs got me through one of the worst summers of my childhood.”
They’re awestruck when I tell them about the summer I cut my foot open with glass. I show them the faded checkmark scar on the underside of my foot. “I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike or climb trees that summer. So I spent most evenings catching fireflies in mason jars.”
They grab jars from the kitchen and try it for themselves. I watch them and find myself feeling nostalgic for the invincibility of childhood. If we jump, our mom or dad will catch us. If we want to find magic, we need only look for a firefly.
The first year after Cameron goes missing, it’s my inner child—the one who still believes in the magic of lightning bugs—that hurts the most.