Burdens and Joys

Salix

If you can love doing the dishes, you’ve found a source of daily joy.

Some things don’t change, generation to generation. There’s always a stack of dirty dishes waiting to be gathered and washed, and Salix has taken on the dish-washing duties with the same joy that her mom brought to the task.

Sugar’s taken a job with a tech company to help her meet an upcoming milestone for the Computer Whiz aspiration, and that means that during the day, with adults at jobs and teens at school, Salix and Chandler are finding themselves alone together at Cradle Rock for the first time in their marriage.

The estate stretches out around them, and they feel their happiness together fill it. I often find Chandler looking at Salix with such a soft gaze of love. They will sit down to a chess game together which they will never finish, for they find themselves lost in conversation, and the chess board becomes a simple table–a place where a nearly middle-aged couple can sit together and visit under the morning desert sun.

Salix

“It’s not that Caprese salad is better than garden salad, just that it’s got more stuff in it.”

Of course the cousins still come over daily. For some reason, Daryl aged up to elder days after his twin Irving. We’re at the point where every day that we see Irv feels like a victory–he’s still around!

He and onezero have kept their friendship alive, stopping in the oddest places to enjoy uncle-niece mentoring.

onezero

The curbside homework session is always one of the most fun.

Miracle’s time came when she was grilling fruit. Sometimes, we can tell when the time’s up, and sometimes, we can’t. This time, Grim’s visit took us by surprise.

Miracle

“I was looking forward to tasting grilled mango one last time.”

It was hard for the family. Miracle had been more than a friend to the kids.

Doug Fir

It’s hard to let go.

Chandler had been exploring one traumatic occurrence just to turn from his canvas to face another.

Chandler

Some experiences are life-defining.

No matter how deeply one understands and experiences the eternal moment within the now, Grim’s visits always place us right back within linear time, where endings and beginnings both are real.

onezero

Even Wittgenstein can’t forestall this experience.

Tamarind and Salix’s soft hearts broke, too.

Tamarind

This is the eighth death Salix has witnessed.

Sugar, who has her own understanding of death, was in the garden. I didn’t cancel the actions in her queue. She would have canceled them herself, if this was something she wanted to see. It’s like her to immerse herself in tending growing, living things when death comes to visit.

Grim wouldn’t wait to give onezero a chance to plea for her godmother. He was all business.

Grim

Grim was in kind of a hurry.

When she is feeling stressed or overwhelmed with emotions, onezero loses her mental balance and the hallucinations trouble her.

onezero

“Away! Away!”

The kids were starving and Tamarind went to remove the fruit when a spark shot up and soon her clothes were in flames.

Tamarind

“Help! Mom?”

She grabbed the extinguisher and turned it on herself. Salix fought the flames engulfing her daughter and the grill. And Grim did the fire dance.

Tamarind

Grim? Remember how your brother once helped Silduun put out a fire?

I thought that Grim would have no fear of death.

Grim

“It’s not death I’m afraid of! It’s the bloody flames!”

onezero momentarily lost her connection to gravity and rose up into the air! Apparently, extreme fright can do that.

onezero

The flight of fright!

When the family at last gathered in the safety of the curbside, after Salix and Tamarind successfully put out the fire, it was only to remember the reason for Grim’s visit and their broken hearts.

Grim

“Fright feels better than grief.”

At breakfast the next morning, Tamarind sought comfort from her brother.

“Remember how every morning Miracle would eat breakfast with us?” she asked. “I miss the sound of her laugh.”

But Doug Fir sought solace in his own memories which he feared he’d lose if he spoke them.

Tamarind

“What do you remember, Doug Fir?”

When the kids were at school and Sugar was at work, Chandler found comfort with Salix. Through completing the soulmate aspiration, she’s got the knack for sharing burdens. And Chandler discovered that when grief is encircled by love, a different feeling enters in. Peace. And gratitude.

Salix

“I’m here, babe. And we’ve got this time together.”

Chandler

There’s a place on the rooftop…

Chandler

This is the one…

Chandler

“Yeah.”

And even joy.

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