In the midst of her own grief, Tamarind has taken it upon herself to tend to the hearts of her family. She finds that as her siblings listen to their own solitary tunes, she can hear them, and she knows just what to say to lessen grief’s sting for each of them.
“Shhhh, Lil Sis,” she says to onezero, when the creepy-crawlers come. “It’s just stress hormones that make you see them. They’re not really there.”
Tamarind, with eyes like the rest of us but a vision that can penetrate dark corners, has the gift of discernment: she can tell when onezero’s extra sight perceives something real, yet invisible to our eyes, and when what she perceives are merely flashes from misfiring synapses, an overstimulated nervous system, or emotional overload. onezero has learned to trust her sister’s sight.
In the focused silence held by onezero’s new feelings of peace, Tam and Doug feel their own pain anew.
Maybe a change of scenery and a friendly conversation will help! Tam and Doug took their extra credit work outside to the patio table, where their dad and Cousin Irving reminisced about old times.
I had a feeling just then about Irving.
Irv had a funny feeling, too, and rose from the table to see who it was calling his name.
Not Irv, too! Not today!
“Are you gonna be ok, sis?” Doug asked. If she’s the one who’s been tending to his broken heart, what will happen when her heart breaks anew? Who will tend who?
The whole family gathered, except for Sugar, who was still at work, finishing up some last lines of code.
Tamarind dug down deep. There were times when a brave word, spoken on behalf of another, could make a difference. Maybe this was one of those times.
“Your brother just came for our godmother yesterday,” she told this Reaper. “We’re still so raw, each of us. And my little sister feels things so acutely. If we pile this on, too, I think it might break her. And besides. Cousin Irving! He deserves another day, right? Or two or three? It’s not like he’s going anywhere. He’ll still be here or right across the street next time you come looking.”
Grim heard her words. Sometimes, as the fairy tales tell us, when a pure heart asks for the sake of another, the words are heard.
And Cousin Irving felt as fit as ever. Better than yesterday! Or even last week! And was the sky really that blue five minutes before? Look how the light shines on everything as if it’s all glowing from life itself!
When Sugar came home from the office, Irving felt strong enough to look at what had really happened.
“Something strange occurred before you came home,” Irving told Sugar. “This moment–this wasn’t to be. Yet here it is. Like a gift.”
By the time Grim left, onezero discovered that her grief had fled, superseded by confidence.
“I hear you guys had a close call today,” said Quinn, over a chess game.
“My sister has amazing powers of persuasion,” said onezero, “combined with a heart of pure titanium!”
And it wasn’t just onezero’s grief that had been swept away by Tamarind’s selfless act: every member of the family found that joy, relief, and confidence had moved into those raw corners, sweeping away the shards, and replacing them with something smooth and cool–the feeling of selfless love and bravery.
Salix faced the morning after Grim’s abortive visit with a sense of purpose–it was a new day. Sure, the same tasks waited, those unending piles of dishes, but to be able to walk across Cradle Rock carrying a stack of dishes, like she had yesterday, that was a gift. Each day, she thought to herself, even if I do what I did the day before, it’s different–it’s another chance, another moment, to feel the weight of the porcelain in my hands, to feel the baked dirt beneath my feet, to do what I’m here to do, the mundane tasks that make up our lives and that cease to be mundane when we bring to them simple gratitude.
But when Chandler felt that grief had left his heart, he felt it was too soon. His heart and his head didn’t match, for his head still knew that Miracle was gone.
He went to the graveyard so he could bring heart and head into alignment.
It’s a long row of tombstones that lines the estate of every legacy; Chandler was realizing that. It made him wonder about the long succession of those who had come before, the faces he’d never seen, the ones he couldn’t remember, and it made him think about the long succession of those yet to come, whose faces he would never see and who would never remember him.
And he thought about the fate that might have been–for him, his sister, his mother, and Miracle. Townies all, who, if they had not have been moved into a home, would have disappeared, too, perhaps before anyone could think to remember them.
What is fate that determines whose pleas will be heard, and whose ignored, who will be remembered, and who forgotten, who will be culled, and who will be saved?
And what does it all mean for one middle-aged artist who’s been to space and beyond, who’s met love and given life, and said goodbye, and wonders still?