Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

the mother woke on Saturday and immediately set herself. before opening her eyes she was priming herself for strength. this day will be good, she thought, this day will be good. she pulled her hair into a giant, floppy topknot and put on enough makeup to look if not refreshed, then less tired. she wore the dress, the one worn so often in the last two years it was thinning and sagging, coming unplucked. this Halloween at the pumpkin patch was a first. neither of her sons would be there, not the oldest- who hadn't come last year, either- nor the younger, just turned 18 and suddenly vibrating with a restless energy to launch himself away from any obligations of family. despite the mother's heartsore missing of these boys- eternally so, in her eyes- this is the only childhood the girls get. she knew that. she valued that. she honored that by rising to meet any joy that would meet her halfway.

the oldest daughter was turning thirteen as quickly as Sleeping Beauty's finger pricked that spindle, and her lanky beauty, so like her missing Aunt Lura, was becoming carved with the ferocious critiques of a teenage girl. the mother was becoming stupider and more embarrassing to the oldest daughter at a rate so rapid this year that she felt subhuman, reduced to a clumsy bunch of laugh track one liners that left the audience scrolling through their iPhones. still, the oldest daughter deeply loves the mother, and her sister, and her father, and her brothers- whose absence she fussed over that morning, braiding her long, blonde hair- and all her pack, so there is a smile underneath narrowed parameters of her gaze, if you look for it. you are twelve, the mother hummed in a little song all morning, you are twelve years old, lalala, twelve, you are, lalala. there were only two months left of twelve.

the littlest daughter was thrilled when she went to bed- nursing to sleep- and thrilled when she woke up, rubbed her eyes and bounded out of bed, tearing off her underwear and crowing ' i am going pee!  come on, Momma! ' the littlest daughter was in love with her family, from the two dogs with horrifically bad breath to the kitten that procured many time outs for the little girl, all the way up the totem pole to her grandparents. she was the smallest of a large family, and she felt, as did her older sister, the safety net of that love and support in her every step. unlike the older daughter, the littlest daughter was happily and totally immersed in her pack, and not straying at the edges with a restless flick of hair. the littlest knew the pumpkin patch meant the horse ride, and ice cream, and movement. movement was life, and life was happiness. 

the father woke earlier than everyone else in the family, as usual. during the workday he woke at 5:30am, sometimes earlier if the job called for it, and often on family excursions he paced annoyed but patient as the three girls pulled brushes through their hair, jeans over their legs, lotion on their skin. he was priming himself, also. this day will be good, he thought. i'm going to make this day good. his eyes were swollen and the arch of his back and neck were curved as if already exhausted. yet he stood in the beautifully lit valley basin and snapped a photo of the three girls. and it was good.

this family: everyone doing something for everyone else, all but the smallest, who did for everyone what she knew nothing of, but was essential- loved unconditionally and easily, found joy in everything.
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