It’s been a while since I’ve written you, hasn’t it? Do you feel when I think of you every day? Sometimes, I feel that warmth of home you always brought me, and then I know you’re still around in spirit.
Tonight was Patches and Bo’s first prom.
Do you remember how excited I was for my first prom? I felt like I was splitting in two from grinning so hard! Man, it feels like a lifetime ago. I suppose it was, for it was back when Bo was a baby, and now he’s a teen, going to his own prom.
Patches didn’t look excited. She said she was nervous. There’s this girl she likes in her class, and she was hoping she might be there.
Bo looked a little scared, actually, when he raced out to the limo.
“Your shoes!” I called to him.
“Naw!” He called back. “I wanna dance in my bare leaf!”
“You mean barefeet?”
I poked my head in through the limo window to wish them well.
“Have a great time, Patches,” I said. “You look lovely. Remember, if you like someone, it’s perfectly OK to tell them so!”
Bo climbed into the furthest back seat.
“You ready, Bo?” I asked.
“Not really,” he said. “I think Ethan will be there. I hope so. What if he doesn’t notice me?”
“Bo. You’re the handsomest, coolest guy there. He’ll notice you.”
“I’m not so sure,” he said.
Both of the kids were sitting there, lost in their own worries and thoughts. I tried to think of something you’d say, Mom, to boost their confidence and spirits. I mean, this was their prom!
All I could think of was “Have fun!”
Neither looked like “fun” was on the horizon.
When I came back in, I found Riley sitting at the table, looking pensive and wistful, like she often does. Once again, I regretted that she never got a chance to meet you, Mom. I’ve got a feeling that, with your own quiet, gentle heart, you’d be able to understand her.
I have a hard time understanding her depths. She’s always thinking, and she seems to notice so much.
“What’s up, Ri?” I asked as I came back inside.
“I’m just thinking about families,” she said.
“What about them?”
“Their shapes,” she said. “The shape of ours is really quite traditional, in terms of dynamics. You and me, we’re like the parents. Bo and Patches are the kids. Even their fights are the kinds of fights that siblings would have.”
I asked her if she liked it like this, like a regular family.
She said she did. She’s a home-body and tuned in to family by nature, and she said that this way, she could do what she does best and still be useful.
“That’s all I really want,” she added, “to be useful to others.”
Do you think a life can be made out of that, Mom? Out of service?
I like taking care of everyone myself, but I also feel I need to do things for me, too, like going back to school when I wanted that second degree.
“Isn’t there anything you want for you?” I asked her.
“Honestly?” she replied. “I want to feel good inside. And being useful to you and the kids is the best way I know to do that.”
I told her she should try petting Hatbox because, since this cat came to live with us, I get all sorts of happiness from that cat.
Riley and I talked until the kids finally came home.
“How was it?” I asked Bo.
Then he started cackling.
“I was coronated,” he said.
“A flower crown?”
“No,” he replied. “Cardboard. But I’m the King! His Royal Highness the Prom King!”
Mom, I guess you know. Bo is weird.
Patches came in looking a little scattered.
“How was it?” I asked.
“Oh,” she replied, “it was great, I guess. I got named Prom Queen, and Bo King. And I got into two fights, and Bo got into one. And I sort of got together with that girl I like, and Bo watched Ethan dance all night. I don’t know. Did we have fun, Bo?”
He just cackled.
I guess some things never change. My own first prom was a lot like that, remember, Mom?
I remember how you told me that my prom night was just like me: beautiful, wild, crazy, lovely, and magical.
What would you tell Bo and Patches about their prom night? Is it just like them?
I think you would tell them it’s just like life: full of friendship and enmity, triumph and conflict, excitement and boredom.
Maybe you’d tell Bo not to get too full of himself and to take his success in stride. That high times and low times are both part of life, and if he’s up now, to remember tonight the next time he’s down. And that now, it might not hurt to remember the times when he hasn’t been the winner. A little moderation! Wouldn’t it be something if we could teach that to Bo? Especially since moderation has never been my strong suit!
And what would you tell me, Mom, if you were somehow around and able to talk to me?
I hope you’d tell me that me and Riley are doing a good job with these two kids. I know we’re not perfect on everything, but we’re trying hard. We’re trying to think about them and what they need to be able to grow up strong, resilient, and kind. I’ve got a feeling that’s the kind of people you’d want them to be, and so Riley and I are doing our best to raise them to be kids you’d be proud of.
I hope we make you happy.