Tomorrow will be Bobobo’s first day of school, and I’m still here to see it.
“Will there be kids there at school?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say. “That’s pretty much what school is about.”
“Yuck,” he says. “I should really stay here with you.”
But we agree that he’ll try it. I have a feeling he’ll love learning, even if he does choose to spend recess talking to the librarian to avoid what he calls “the stupid conversations” that kids have.
While Bobobo is getting ready for bed, we notice silence. We have a portable keyboard outside, and some stranger had sat down to play it all evening. We didn’t mind, for the music was lovely–Chopin preludes, which sound amazing on electric keyboard.
But when the music stops mid-passage, I look out the window.
It’s a sight I know all too well.
We race out. We’re crushed, having to witness this yet again. No matter how many times I’ve seen a reaping, it never gets easier.
Bobobo stands behind me and giggles.
When I turn to look at him, he’s chanting, “One down. Six billion, nine hundred million, and ninety-nine one thousands to go!”
I worry about him sometimes.
The next day, he and Marigold hop on the school bus together.
“Have fun!” I call after them. I’m hoping that Bobobo will be decent, at least, to the other kids.
With the kids gone, I have no distractions for my grief. I’m still mourning Frank. I have witnessed so many passings. I’ve lost so many old friends and a lover. And no reaping has hit me harder than this. I feel that I never realized how I’d counted on Frank’s support and the warm way he made me feel. And now he’s gone, and I can’t thank him.
We have so many angels in our lives–do we even recognize them when they are here?
I make a mental note to tell the kids how much I love them today, before they go to bed, and to let them know how grateful I am to have had a chance to care for them.
When school’s out, Marigold calls to ask to go over the Wolffs, and Bobobo asks to go home with a new friend. That’s wonderful! He made a friend!
When they come home, I ask them how it went.
“Did you do your homework?”
“First thing,” says Marigold, trying hard not to roll her eyes.
“I played video games first,” says Bobobo. “Get the brain-juice pumping, you know!”
“I played video games second,” said Marigold. “The Wolffs have awesome games!”
“I did my homework second,” said Bobobo. “It is very stupid.”
“Did you finish?” I ask.
“Of course!” He says. “What’s the point of half-stupid when you could have whole-stupid! Duh!”
“As long as it’s done,” I say. “Then what did you do?”
“I talked to Patches. I had to tell her all about school. She thought it was silly to be at someone else’s house.”
After supper, Dante joins us. It’s the first time we’ve been together in the living room, all four of us.
“It’s a picture postcard of the perfect family,” I say.
“Mom, I’ll read Bobobo his bedtime story tonight,” says Marigold. She’s looking at Dante when she says that, so I figure she is being considerate, letting us have an evening together.
While she selects Bobobo’s book, I come up beside her.
“I’m so proud of you, Bunny,” I whisper in her ear. “I love you the whole moon over.”
She giggles. “Mom! Your whispers tickle!”
I kiss Bobobo. “I could eat you, little Sprout,” I say. “I bet you’d taste great with ranch dressing.”
He makes a sound like tiny explosions in his mouth.
“I love you, Mischief,” I tell him. “You are a miracle and an amazement, and I’m so lucky to be your mom.”
“Same, same,” he says. “Green Tea.”
I stand at the door and watch them while Marigold begins the story.
“Every story starts with magic,” she says, “for that’s where we can find what is true!”
Dante stands behind me, and I can feel the pulsing of the red light of his heart.
“How did we get such kids, sweet?” he asks.
“We must have dreamed them,” I say, and he wraps his arms made of red light around me and I feel on the outside that same warmth that spreads through me inside. I’ve lived another day.