Alder’s life bar has been sparkling for weeks. We want him to stick around longer. He assures me that he feels great, as keen as ever. And he certainly does seem sharp when he’s playing games.
But I think maybe he knows something that he’s not sharing. I often find him looking up at the sky and standing with his arms wide open, as if he’s listening for someone to call his name.
And he’s smiling all the time. When have I seen the mean Sims in the family smiling a lot? Only when they’re gearing up for the end, making the most of every day.
Alder’s completed a lot of aspirations, so he chooses what he wants to do now. And often, what he wants to do is dance.
onezero is making sure to squeeze in as many hugs as Alder will let her. Through watching them, I’ve learned that the relationship meter doesn’t tell the whole story. Alder and onezero keep the green in their friendship bar trimmed back through periodic insults and yelling, yet the love they share endures, regardless of what the meter shows.
Cypress, too, is making sure she can spend as much time with her uncle as she can. She’ll often take her meals wherever he happens to be.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life,” she told Alder the other day. “I know I’m sort of in a transition position between finishing the legacy and starting the new thing. I’ll still be an adult when the new thing starts, most likely. Or an elder. Either way, I’ll have lots of life left, right?”
“Yeah,” said Alder. “You’ll have a lot of time.”
“So I’ve been dreaming about what I want to do,” she said. “Maybe I’ll have a big garden and start a garden club. You know, a place where all the gardeners can get together and enjoy working in nature!”
The rest of the family, too, has started to think about what’s next.
“Just think!” Nathanael said, “We can do anything! We can move to a new house, if we want! We can go anywhere, any time!”
“Or we could just live like we’re living, Dad,” Red said. “Life is pretty sweet as it is.”
The Park Boys have aged up, and they’re all three cute. Wade is now a gloomy slob, and Anderson is now an insane geek. But it’s Jade, the materialistic geek, who seems to be the one who stops by most often.
“Your house has a lot of stuff,” he told Cypress and J.P. the other day. “I mean a lot.”
“Well,” she replied, “You know my dad really likes nice things.”
“It’s really cool!” he said.
After the recent patch, autonomy has been working great, and onezero is taking full advantage of it. While she spends a lot of time with family, she also relishes time alone. It’s easier to listen, when family members aren’t talking all around you.
She still hears the constant buzz of the voices of the women from her planet of origin, those she used to call the 1,000 mommies. She has taken her place among them, now, bringing their energies of support and love here to this planet. Sometimes, the buzz is simply the buzz of connection. And sometimes, it offers specific guidance: Share what you know. There is a young woman here ready to listen.
Cypress listens to all that her great aunt has to share. Though grounded with an earthiness that I haven’t seen in this family since Cedar, Cypress is open to the celestial, too.
“I see you’re always listening,” onezero told her. “And that’s the first step. Understanding and then putting into action, those are the next steps.”
One of Cypress’s favorite forms of action combines listening, moving, and being. She dances her way to integration, and as she moves, dance leads her to understanding.
Every day, now, Alder makes sure that all the dishes are cleaned, and my heart feels a twinge when I see him moving through the lot, collecting the piles of dirty plates and mugs. When he was young, with all the time in the world, he could always leave the dishes to be washed tomorrow. And I remember Acacia, when her final days were nearing, making sure, too, that the house would be clean before she left for good. Don’t go, Alder. We’re so near the end!
The family carries forward the artistic tradition that Alder helped to establish. I think back, wondering when this became a family of artists and musicians. We’ve always been gardeners. And now, art and music join with the tending of the garden as a way to express through the family lexicon the views and understandings of each individual.
Though Sugar has her own understanding of the transition that reaping brings, an understanding that penetrates finality, sometimes, it strikes her: ghosts, too, can be culled. There is such a thing as nothingness.
But Alder has no fear. He’s had a white cup in his inventory since he was a young adult. It’s gone untasted. He wants to meet it head-on, whatever’s out there, whatever’s calling his name. He’s ready.