The day after Salix passed, we left lots of room for autonomous pursuits so that everyone could choose their way of creating space for grief.
I provided a bit of direction–the making of ice cream; reminding folks to eat by clicking on yellow hunger meters; helping Sugar plan, host, and complete a gold-medal dinner party–but for the most part, the Bough family members chose what to do that day.
Early in the morning, as a special treat, Sugar and I whipped up a batch of ice cream.
“Who said you can have ice cream for breakfast?” Red asked.
“Dad did, right, Dad?” Alder replied.
“Sure thing,” said Nathanael. “You want some Little Bud?”
“No way! This chicken salty boca is yoom!”
onezero thought an ice cream cone made the perfect breakfast.
“Chocolate smells like an infinite time loop,” she said.
“How’s that?” asked Sugar.
“Neverendingly delicious!” onez replied.
Given free choice, Alder discovered that doing the dishes was his new most favorite activity.
He found dishes all over the property.
It gives him a confident bounce in his step to know that he’s helping out.
“You’re the best dishes doer!” Red told him.
“Aw,” he said. “It’s fun!”
Seeing his niece and nephew together reminded Doug of when he, Tam, and onezero were kids, and how back then, their mom was always around.
Two days from elderspin, Doug is now the oldest family member–not in terms of actual number of days lived (Sugar holds that honor), but in terms of being next on Grim’s list.
This gives a guy a lot to think about.
He turned to painting to let his thoughts settle while he found the shapes to express what he felt inside.
“Mom would love this,” he said, as his picture began to take form.
He remembers his mom’s playful side, how she always had her crooked smile and twinkling eyes, as if she were forever laughing at some inner joke. When he thought of that part of her, he felt that she was nearby.
But when he wasn’t immersed in creative expression, he had a hard time.
He’d be an elder himself soon, he thought. Tam had bought herself a bit more time, through her pregnancy with the twins, and it made him feel even more forlorn knowing that he’d go through this final birthday alone. He thought of the white cup in his inventory–but why postpone the inevitable?
The twins watched their uncle, not sure what to make of this guy who walked with his head bent. He was usually the one to run up to them with a joke and a hug.
“Hey, Mr. Sargent Pepper guy,” Red said to the clay figure Doug sculpted earlier that day. “Tell my brother we gotta do something to cheer up Mom and Uncle Doug.”
“We most certainly need to do something,” said Mr. Sargent Pepper guy. “And something ingeniously, delightfully creative. And soon.”
“I can hear your squeaky voice when you talk for Mr. Pepper,” Alder said. “And besides. Your lips move.”
Redbud spent most of her day running back and forth between the observatory and the play room, chasing inspiration.
“No, no, no, Mr. Stuff Nose,” she said to the big bear in the play room. “It’s not hopeless! There’s always a way. We can make Uncle Doug smile again. I just know it!”
onezero has been helping out in all sorts of ways, even autonomously fixing the plumbing.
“My single mom would repair every broken thing in an instant,” she said. “It takes me longer, since this is my first time, but I’ll learn. It’s curious to see how water finds its way back home again.”
“Look at your face, brother!” she said when Doug sought her out for a hug that afternoon.
“I’ve been trying to smile,” he replied. “It doesn’t really stick.”
But when onez wrapped him in a big hug, he didn’t have to try. His smile returned naturally.
Clarence dropped by in the evening.
“Can you play?” he asked Red.
“Haven’t you heard?” Red replied. “My grandma died. Everybody’s moping. If you want to hang around anyway, that’s ok. We can mope with the grown-ups, or we can play by ourselves. Your choice!”
Even though he didn’t have to do his homework, since he’ll be a teen before Monday, Alder pulled out the math book and pretended to be puzzled by the fractions.
Sugar invited friends and neighbors for a dinner party. She needed to host it for her Master Chef aspiration, and it seemed, too, like the right time to share a meal in this kitchen that’s been the heart of the family for so many generations.
Alvaro, our red-headed entertainer friend, felt Salix’s absence keenly. She’d always had a kind word for him, and as a kindred romantic, they shared a natural affinity and an unspoken agreement about all that’s most important in this short life.
Over supper, onezero pulled the white cup out of her inventory. She had four days until her adult birthday rolled around again, but I guess, being touched so closely by Grim’s visit the night before, she wanted to be certain to forestall the day when the hooded one came for her.
They’ve seen so many deaths, these Sims at Cradle Rock. They know what it entails–the changes this final transformation brings.
onezero didn’t want anyone mourning for her. And she was in no hurry to leave her present form.
She made a night of it. When I checked her mood panel, I saw she’d recently downed the inspiration potion that had been in her inventory, too. Then, she brought out the fun potion, which she drank outside with Red and Alvaro.
“We had a great day!” Red was saying. “My brother washed dishes, and I got inspired!”
Tam, worn out from grief and a hard day at the art studio, took a nap when she got home from work. When she got up, she wondered why they even bothered. Why get dressed up for a party when all she and her brother wanted to do was hide from the world and cry?
When the guests were saying their goodbyes, she sat in Sugar’s silent presence. Both women had so much to think about.
Doug, too, has a lot on his mind. He’s got that cup of youth potion in his inventory. Yet his mom didn’t choose to drink her serving, not autonomously. She’d been given it once, before she became an adult. But she never chose to drink it, even though the white cup was there in her inventory the whole time.
He wasn’t sure what he’d do on his birthday. To spin or to drink. It was a tough decision.
He molded the clay while he pondered, and when he saw what he’d sculpted, he laughed in spite of himself. It was that crazy Mr. Leggy Antennae Guy that his mom was always making when she felt playful.
“See, he’s right-side upside!” His mom said the first time she sculpted him for Doug. “Only you just can’t tell! Just like with you, son. You know which way’s up and which way’s down. It’s just that people can’t always tell that, just by looking at you.”
He couldn’t really tell if it helped to remember her and all the silly things she said. While he was remembering, it seemed like it helped. But then once he stepped out of the memory, he just missed her all the more.
He won my heart that night, Doug did. There was nothing playful about him–he was sad through and through.
But he painted a playful painting. He sculpted the playful sculpture. He knows that it’s in remembering the happy part of somebody that you find that part of them that’s most alive within you.