In late autumn, a new sadness enters the home. Moira Fyres has died. The grief hits Ira hardest, maybe because she hadn’t been friends with Moira as long as Case had, or maybe because she doesn’t have as many projects, interests, and activities as Case and Kiki do to distract her.
She goes back to bed after Case leaves for work and Kiki goes to school, and her mid-morning naps dissolve into crying beneath the covers.
“I can’t get my mind around it,” she confesses to Aadhya. “She was just here the other day. We were becoming friends. Now, we’ll never be better friends. She seemed so full of energy. So alive.”
“They say it was an aneurism,” Aadhya says.
“I know. So sudden,” Ira replies. “Did you know that she was Case’s first friend?”
“I thought I was,” Aadhya says.
“Oh, maybe you were. Maybe I heard wrong and he meant one of his first friends.”
“Probably,” Aadhya adds. “We all used to hang out together.”
“I just don’t know why it’s hitting me so hard,” Ira says.
“Don’t bother trying to figure it out. Grief never makes sense. I mean, look at me. I should be all broke up, right? Or what about Case? You’d think he’d be really sad. Maybe he is, and he’s just not showing it.”
“I think he’s too busy,” Ira says. “He has work. He’s all wrapped up in the adoption process. I’m just here all day, with my thoughts. It gets to me.”
Aadhya, carrying the blank canvas, follows Ira out to the easel.
“Painting will help you feel better,” Aadhya explains.
“I suppose so.” It does feel good spread the paint on the canvas, and the scent of linseed oil helps Ira relax.
Aadhya leaves before the painting is finished, and Ira is alone, first with her thoughts, and then, as she continues painting, with no thoughts, only feelings, a knife in her chest, bruises under her eyes. Grief is painful.
“Can you help me, Ira?” Kiki asks. It’s a school project.
“Oh, a volcano,” Ira says. “I made one of those when I was in first grade. Using baking soda and vinegar?”
“Something like that. Are you still sad, Ira?”
“Yeah. I miss my friend. I’m just so sad that I’ll never see her again. I had all these plans for what we’d do together, and, you know, I thought she could help me as I grow older, by telling me what it’s like and stuff.”
“You know what I do when I miss my mom and dad?” Kiki asks. Ira doesn’t say that it’s different, because her mom and dad died when she was so little that she probably doesn’t even remember them. She swallows that thought, and she just listens, instead. “I talk to them.”
“I might feel silly talking to her,” Ira says.
“Doesn’t matter,” says Kiki, “but you could also write. You could write her a letter. It will help.”
The next morning, after Kiki has gone to school and Case to work on-site, before she even cleans up the breakfast dishes, Ira sits at the kitchen table with her journal. She imagines everything she would want to say to Moira.
We never became best friends, but I thought, last time you visited, that we might. I thought, maybe, you would be my close woman friend, and that you were an older woman was all the better, for I would have someone to talk with about the changes my body is going through, and about the shifts in my goals and my plans and dreams as I grow older.
I envisioned us gardening together, sitting at the chess table with a pot of tea, talking over Kiki’s latest milestones, planning for ways to make life easier for Case. I thought that, if I ever did get into college, that I could lean on you for a role model and for advice.
I guess I saw you as a role model, and now you’re gone.
This feels so selfish, because this is all about me, and what I’m missing, which is my dreams of having someone to fill this gap in me. But the thing I’m really sad for is that you’re no longer here. That your life on this green world is over.
When you were here the last time, which is the first time that you and I really talked, the time when we really became friends, your eyes sparkled. You were shining from within, I don’t know if you knew that. We talked about your garden club, and you talked about how hopeful you felt, with all the changes that have happened here in Port Promise, all the changes that Case has been either responsible for or directly involved with, and you told me that you felt so proud. You felt proud to know us.
Maybe it was that shine in your eyes that inspired me, that made me decide then that I wanted to be like you. I’m not much, Moira, and even though I speak my mind, probably more often than I should, I really lack confidence. But somehow, you made me feel that that was OK, and that it didn’t matter, and that just being a person was enough.
Can we still be friends, even though you’re not around? Can I still write you?
I’m not sure if I feel better, but at least I don’t feel so lonely.
Wishing you peace, wherever you are,
Your friend, Ira