Puppy Love 22

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I’ve observed a few things to help with the grief felt by those left behind. Doing the dishes is one of them.

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Does keening help? Lucas seems to think so. But I fear it’s more the animal response to searing pain and not always even palliative. It’s the body’s way of marking the passing.

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Tears help, though. That’s what Tanvi tells me.  They cleanse and heal.

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Grieving together helps.

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When it doesn’t break a family apart, which it can as often as not, it brings a family together.

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Pa! You OK, Pa? You play pounce? Emery asked Dustin.

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I think not, pup. The pounce has left me.

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We each bear our pain in our own ways, and sometimes, those ways find mirrors in the ones we love the most.

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If I have sharp knife poke me, then so do Ma and Pa.

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And if this poke now, maybe it not poke later.

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Ma, you still know how to smile?

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Of course, Moon Dog. And I still know how to snuggle, too.

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Do you think we continue to learn once we’ve left this realm? We do. We learn from you every day. It why we look back, so we can see what lasts, after we’ve left.

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It’s love that lasts, and love that draws us back, and love, too, that lets us go again, when we feel the need to roam.

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When the sun set on the sad day, Lucas pulled out his violin. He remembered how Mochi always cowered when he played. He didn’t play that badly, did he? He always thought she was teasing him, and he’d play for her again. He knew, wherever she was, she’d hear.

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Twister came racing. Was Lucas OK? It sounded like cats were being strangled!

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Ah! It was just the terrible music, as bad as ever, too much for this music-lover to stand, even if he was the performer! How was he ever to get any better if he played worse than he could listen to, himself?

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I let him practice, while I chipped in with the chores. Always so much to be done in a houseful of dogs!

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But now that Otter and Mochi were with me, there was a bit more room in the house. And that hooded grump said he’d be back soon for Crackers and Caleb. What could we do with all this space that would soon open up?

I hopped on the computer and bookmarked a few pages. “Adoption Success Stories”–and no, this wasn’t the Cat and Dog Adoption Center. Let’s not call it a suggestion. Let’s just say that if a certain someone is thinking along certain lines, he should be able to find the information he needs quickly and easily. And if he isn’t thinking about certain lines, maybe this page will get him to do so.

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While I put my scheme into place, Emery checked in with the rest of the family.

Granddam? Twister wondered, as he burst out from under the couch. You got pounce?

She did! Her pounce had returned, and she leapt straight up! All four feet off the floor!

We fly!

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You are the flyingest, Moon Dog, said Chloe.

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Yes, some things help. Doing the dishes and puppies are two of them. And maybe, just possibly, my wild-hair of a scheme might help, too, one of these days!

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Zuki: Bear-Chair

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Zuki loves the Bear-Chair. Placed before the big garden window in the girls bedroom, with rugs on the floor and Meadow and Jasper’s bright paintings on the walls, it’s easy to see why this is her favorite place.

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It’s her new dining spot. Jena has taken to joining her.

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Jena has stepped right into the role of big sister-cousin. She explains everything to Zuki.

“Don’t worry about being an orphan and a refugee,” I heard her tell Zuki the other day. “I am an orphan refugee, too!”

She said it as if it were something to be proud of. I suppose, given the way she went on to define it, it’s worthy of pride. Or at least, gratitude.

Confession time: I was adopted. My mom, a beautiful tall Jamaican woman, and my dad, a dapper bespectacled Japanese man, met in San Myshunu. In every photo, I’m a little scruffy thing, held in their arms, caught by the camera mid-squirm. “You are a very lucky young lady,” my dad always told me. I was raised to believe that adopted children are not only special for having been chosen, but that they are Most Fortunate for having been given a reason for ongoing gratitude that lasts through their lifetime.

“Being a refugee is no big deal,” Jena explained to Zuki. “It just means that you left someplace dangerous to come live someplace safe.”

Zuki whistled and clucked.

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“I like that definition,” I told Jena.

“It’s true, isn’t it, Mizuki Suzuki?” She never calls me just Mizuki. It’s always “Mizuki Suzuki,” or, if she’s feeling especially affectionate, Mizu-Suzu.

“It certainly is true, Jena,” I replied.

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We are so lucky that we live in a safe place, that our fields aren’t littered with landmines and UXOs, that our nights are quiet, and our streets are calm. We live in a refuge, so it only makes sense that we would open our homes to refugees. What these two little girls don’t know is the peace they carry, each an ambassador and diplomat. After all, if anyone met them, how could they not love them? And if you love them, wouldn’t you then want to do anything you could to ensure peace for the lands where they come from and the peoples they belong to? Open your home and heart to a refugee, and next thing you know, you’re marching for peace, too!

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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 12

A letter to Kaitlin

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Dear Kaitlin,

It’s been a while since we’ve written. So much has happened in our family–and in yours, too, I’m sure!

Congratulations on Reese and Brooke’s graduation! And even more congratulations on their wedding!

And, is it time yet to congratulate you on your divorce? (Does one even congratulate a friend on a divorce or offer condolences?)

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Well, since the divorce paves the way for you and Leroy to get married , I will offer congratulations. So, congratulations!

Norm feels terrible because he really laid into Newt when he found out about Newt’s past with you. He was furious when he answered Newt’s letter. I told him maybe it’s best to work through the feelings first, and then correspond, but that minor detail hadn’t occurred to my brother. I hope that Newt is OK. I mean, he’s got enough to deal with without having to deal with my raging-bear mode brother on top of it!

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How are all your kids and grandkids? Everyone healthy? Everyone happy? How is Ben doing?

We are great. Jena has grown into a big, confident, know-it-all five-year-old–and we love so much that our hearts burst! She has a terrific attitude!

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Nothing can stop her. I’ve read a lot about how girls lose their confidence when they enter middle school, and Mizuki Suzuki and I are already doing research to find ways to beat that trend with our girl. I hope she carries this strength with her all through her life.

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Remember when you first wrote me, years ago, and my house felt confusing and full to me with just one little two-and-a-half year old in it? Well now our home seems to be always full of children!

Jena is so out-going and friendly. She brings home loads of friends after school! It keeps me busy making cookies, slicing apples, and brewing hot chocolate! I love it.

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Mizuki Suzuki loves it, too.

Sometimes in the evening, I’ll see her sitting in the living room with one of Jena’s toys.

“Our house has space for more children. Don’t you think?” She used to always say.

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I always thought of your old two-room apartment, and how you filled it with children and teens. And I have to agree: Our home does have room for more.

And it looks like we just may be getting another!

One of my other pen pals told me about another group of refugee children who need homes. She’s sending me the contact information for the agency in charge of placing them, and I have a feeling that within a few months–if not sooner–we will have another little toddler, originally from somewhere very far away, filling our home with laughter and cries!

My life has changed so much, dear Kaitlin, from knowing you. You’ve shown me how to look outside of myself and notice others. I have always cared, but I have never known how to be caring. Now, all I need to do is think of you and how you are, and the road is clear to me.

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Thank you so much for changing me, Kaitlin. When the person I am now looks back on the person I was when I received your first letter, I can’t help but chuckle wistfully, the way we do at our younger selves. I have grown so much, and so much of it has come from knowing you.

Wishing you all the best, and sending you so much love!

–Meadow

<< Meadow’s Previous Letter

Zuki’s Home!

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Today was Zuki’s first day with us. She went straight to the doll house. Her eyes were so wide, and she chirped.

“Think she’s hungry?” Meadow asked, when she started gnawing on Flower Mommy Doll.

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She was humming. “I think she’s happy!” I said.

It’s hard to believe this day is here! This whirlwind happened after Meadow’s pen pal Dove wrote to her. I knew something was up when I saw Meadow reading her pen pal’s letter. Meadow gets this look like she wants to save the world, and that’s when I know: buckle-up for change!

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“What is it?” I asked. I could tell something big was going to happen.

“Oh, Mizuki. It’s terrible. A refugee ship crashed and there were little kids on board.”

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“And you want to help?” I asked. I needn’t have asked. I already knew the answer.

“Of course!” Meadow answered, just like I knew she would.

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Next came a string of email messages, phone calls, and texts, and lots of long conversations about how best to help: Financial support? Meadow’s got loads of money. Volunteering with the agency? We both have a little extra time in our busy schedules. Holding workshops for care-givers? We’ve got expertise. Providing trauma-therapy training for the social workers? Meadow is a gifted therapist. Eventually, it came out that what was really needed were homes for the survivors, most of whom were under three years old.

Many had already been placed with qualified, carefully selected individuals, and the toddlers were receiving care. Already, they were successfully integrating into their families and the local communities.

But alongside these success stories remained a few dozen children who had been labeled “difficult to place.”

Some had behavioral issues; some had mobility challenges; some seemed to have nonstandard developmental patterns.

When Mr. Noriega learned that I was pursuing an advanced degree in childhood education and Meadow, a doctoral in trauma therapy, and that Meadow had already adopted a child from a refugee camp who was thriving in every way, he asked if we’d consider taking one of these “Category D” children.

I think this was what Meadow had hoped for all along. She beamed.

“We can’t really refuse, can we?” she asked.

Of course we couldn’t.

Meadow’s family has been supportive.

“Another grandniece?” said her uncle Jasper. “The clan expands!”

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Jena has been an angel.

“How do you feel about becoming a big sister?” Jasper asked her.

“I’ve been practicing,” Jena said. “I’ve been bossing the kids at school all year!”

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But Jena has natural empathy. I think she must have picked up on Zuki needing a little time to settle into her new home.

She didn’t rush towards her or try to smother her. She simply smiled in her quiet, calm way and let Zuki be in charge of her own physical space.

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The approach is working! Zuki circled, studying her big sister and clicking her tongue. She’s a very curious child.

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Confession time: I’m pretending that Zuki is Youssef and my love child. Shhh! Don’t tell!

But I think she looks like us combined. She’s got Youssef’s curly hair and broad nose. My blonde coloration and pale skin. She could be our baby!

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When we learned her first name was Zuki, Meadow and I decided she’d take my last name: we filled out her paperwork entering her name as Zuki Suzuki.

And we entered my name, Mizuki Suzuki, as the primary care-giver.

And now, I have a baby daughter, who just so happens to look like the perfect combination of me and my squeeze, my own little Zuki-burger with curly fry pigtails!

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Septemus 31

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Dear Sept,

You’ve developed a funny habit of checking the sinks. Fortunately, we’ve only got two, the kitchen and bathroom. You will stop what you’re doing–even if you’re deep in concentration. Then you head to the sink.

“OK! All good!” you say, when you see that the faucets are off.

“You don’t have to check them all the time, son,” I said.

“I know, Pops,” you said. “I’m just making sure.”

All right. It’s not a big thing. No cause for concern. And likely, you’ll grow out of it. And even if not, there are all sorts of people, all over the world, who check that the faucets are shut off. I bet half of them haven’t even been through anything close to what you’ve been through. So, one little quirk. It’s not such a big deal.

You also keep singing other people’s songs. Some of them are heartbreaking.

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Mum is hurting, don’t know why~
Come back, come back.

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“Don’t leave me.
Not alone. Not you, too.
Come back, come back.
Stay with me.”

“Whose song is that?” I asked you. While you were singing, I saw a flash of a little indigo girl.

“It’s Panda,” you answered.

“Is she? She’s not… is she imaginary?” I asked.

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“Of course not!” you answered. “She’s my sister. What makes her mom sick, Pops? Do you know? If something happens to her mom, can she come live with us?”

Oh, man. We’ve got such a little house. I’m not sure if the agency would approve of our taking in anyone else. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons for spreading out all you kids, keeping you all separate. I know they had their reasons for not giving me the contact info for the other parents.

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But what if something happened to me?

Where would you go?

I wouldn’t want you to go back to the agency. I’d want you to be with someone else who knew about you kids, who understood you, who would be patient with you and let you be yourself, without interfering.

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“Sure, son,” I said. “If something happens to Panda’s mom, or to any of your brothers’ or sisters’ parents, we can take them in.”

I could talk to Geoffrey. I’m sure he’d see my point.

“Oh, squeegee,” you said. “And anyway, she’ll be OK, right? Panda’s mom?”

You started singing softly, so I could barely hear.

“It’s safe, it’s safe now.
There’s time and wolfbane!
There’s tea and tisane…

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“For little girls
and Mamas
And sisters
and Papas.

“Don’t worry
little Pandas.
It’s safe. It’s safe.”

Oh, I will do all I can. That’s for sure.

Love you,

Your pops.

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Author’s note: Panda’s song was written by Thymeless. And what’s happening with Panda’s mum? Read Pandora’s Box to find out!

Septemus 1

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Dear Sept,

Three days ago, you came to live with me. I wanted from the first to write this account of our life together so that when you’re on your own, later, when you’re all grown up, you can have something to look back on, to help you remember, to keep you connected to your past, and maybe even, to answer some questions.

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I don’t have that with my dad. He came back from the war broken. I guess it broke my mom, too. After she died, I went to live with Nonny and Poppy, my dad’s parents. I was about five when we had my dad’s funeral. I remember guns going off and even a band played. I still can’t stand the sight of dress uniforms and flags.

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I make it sound like my childhood sucked. But it didn’t. Nonny and Poppy were probably way better parents for me than my mom and dad ever could have been. So it wasn’t like I suffered. I just had questions and trauma. Like all of us do.

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Anyway, Nonny and Poppy died when I was in college. I figured I could do life on my own. I majored in early childhood education because I like little kids and I want to help build a better world, and I figured I’d never have kids of my own, so why not help raise other people’s kids?

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Then I went on to get a master’s in library science. I got the idea I’d work as a children’s library. But nobody’s hiring. I graduated last May and I’m still unemployed.

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I guess the agency found me through the ECE degree. They sent that letter to all University of MP ECE grads from the past four years.

I had to think hard before accepting. I took a few phone calls from people at the agency.

Then I decided, why not? You needed me. No one else did.

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And I’ve got the time and training to take care of you.

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You were Number 77–the seventy-seventh foundling out of one hundred. Seeing as our last name is Sevens, I thought that was auspicious. That’s why I’ve named you Septemus. Septemus Sevens.  Your official ID of record is G27Z0-77.

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You’re sleeping now, which gives me these few minutes to write. Because when you’re awake, it’s non-stop action.

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I’d better get snack ready. You’ve got a tendency to wake up mad and hunGRAY!

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I’m doing my best to keep you happy, little 77. Bear with me.

Your caregiver,

Sebastion

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Author’s note: Oh, look! I’ve started Pinstar’s newest challenge, the Alien Adoption Challenge, because who can resist? Hope you have fun following along with me as Sebastion Sevens does his best to raise young Septemus (Official ID of Record G27Z0-77). Cheers!

Next >>

Whisper 2.18

Hey, Shannon.

Got your letter. Thanks. I like your response to the Stray Dog story–I sort of had a feeling you’d identify with him.

What you said about not wanting to be part of a dyad, though, surprised me. I mean, I get you on being an individual. But for me, I like being an individual within a series of domestic dyads. I mean, think about it: a dog and his girl. That’s an awesome dyad. A brother and his sister. Also awesome. An IF and her person. Very cool.

And then there was my mom and me. That’s maybe the most significant dyad I’ve ever been in–that’s the one that lets me connect with everyone now.

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Are you saying that you never were part of a secure parent-child dyad, and that’s why you like being independent and, as you put it, “an individual I” more then “being half of a we”?

I remember what you told me about your mom. I guess that must have been hard. My mom was always there for me.

Well, not my birth mom. And I guess if I hadn’t been adopted–or been adopted by Mom–then maybe I might feel the same, too.

I wonder if that’s why it’s so important to me to adopt this stray cat.

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I want him to get to feel what it’s like to be “part of a we,” and not just a solitary “I.”

I remember my birth mom. I never told you that before, did I. I never told anyone, not even Mom.

I remember breast-feeding. Funny thing to remember, but my fingers remember holding onto her. I remember softness. I remember how she smelled: like Vaseline, breast-milk, and cinnamon. I don’t remember her voice, but I know if I ever heard it–like on a recording or something–I’d recognize it immediately.

I can’t really compare my having lost her to what you experienced, for I had her, before I lost her. And then, after that black time I hardly remember at all, I had Mom. And, just the first look in her eyes, and my whole world fell into place. I had a happy childhood from then on.

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I think I understand what you wrote about having to always fight to keep your solitude.

I might know what you meant about the pressure to be part of a couple. I felt that when the paparazzi started making a big deal about me and Chet when there was nothing between us but a few nervous flirts and one skittish dance. He was cute, and I went along with the hype that we were an “item.” But a dyad, we weren’t.

There were a lot of times when I just wanted to be me, without any pressure from the gossip columnists to be in a couple.

I can’t really imagine what it’s been like for you, all your life, to have people wonder what’s wrong with you that you’ve stayed single. What a weird awkward burden it must always be to be asked, “Why aren’t you in a relationship?” Like that’s the only normal.

I’m glad you were with me, when I was at college. I loved the private universe we spun around ourselves. I’d love it if you came–and I know you won’t and you don’t even want me to bring it up–but I’d love it all the same. And at the same time, I feel something like awe of you and your way of approaching life as a solitary.

I want to adopt Stray Cat–just like I wanted to adopt Stray Dog–because I want to give every individual a chance to have that closeness that I got when I was adopted by Mom. I want to be the one who provides the home, and I want all the single ones I love to be brought into that home.

I’d adopt you if I could, you crazy old lady!

I’ve been playing with Stray Cat every day. She and I have become BFFs.

And still, at the end of the day, when I head inside to make supper, she doesn’t come in with me. She walks across the street and into the frosted meadow.

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You lonely tigers. Is it any wonder that I love you?

–Marigold

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