"Janie, Jane!" I bellow down hardwood halls. "Jane, where are you?"
She flits out on soft feet, pads into the living room.
"Honey, Jane, where were you?" I raise my eyebrows, slide a leggo to Rosie with my toe.
"I was hiding under the bed," she looks at my feet. I pause. "Because every time I looked at you," she says, "I just wanted to cry." A glance and she peers up through lashes long and dark.
My words, harsh boulders of words, roll back to me, sag my shoulders. For a crippled umbrella, a flop-armed, splayed on the lawn umbrella, I had crushed my children. I'd furrowed my brow, flung words like gravel, harsh and heavy over my shoulder. Oh, the weight of my will as I tilled and planted and foraged out the garden all in a huff -- she hid.
I suck air into my lungs, bend knee and meet eye, "Oh Jane, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have talked to you that way. Will you forgive me?"
Later, we bum it down on the farm. Lulie and I chariot out to fetch Great-Grammie for fried chicken and triple berry pie.
We unload in the driveway, and Jack encircles Great-Grammie with sun-browned arms. She kisses the crown of his head. We stroll inside.
Jack walks barefoot over gravel and calls after Great-Grammie, "You are just a precious, precious, precious girl," he says and grabs her at the waist. Into the old farm kitchen we go. All six, seven, eight, nine of us precious, precious, precious we go.
947. Baby Rose who puckers her lips all pouty and pink for kisses and how she says, "Mmmm-uh," on cue.
948. Lulie who kisses the back of my neck when I carry her piggy-back.
949. Children who trounce through the house all morning quiet as a mice when I awake with a migraine.
950. Jack who somehow writes Janie's memory verse out in four-year-old script while I sleep, and then presents it, "I wrote Jane's verse so I can go to her class."
951. Jane who tells me every church class is just better than the last and how if she just had know about that next one she would have been wanting it since she was born.
952. My children's friends who visit and play and whoop it up in the yard while us mommas, sip coffee and visit, eat pretzels and work another sprawling Springbok puzzle on the living room table.
953. Pete and Rosie safe home from their Hawaii honeymoon.
954. Stunning, brilliant, outstanding pictures of their wedding posted by the photographer.
955. Farm fried chicken, broccoli salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, home-canned beans, tripple berry pie, romp and tromp through fields and gardens, and the never ending bond of family.
956. Garden pots planted.
957. A rosemary plant, a bush actually, to replace the dead one from two winters ago.
958. How we tiddle and twaddle and visit on and on over the wedding at Mom's.
959. Dinner with my parents and dear friends, and how we all slowed and lingered to break bread, share time together.
960. Nephews who apologize for killing their Momma's tomatoes, and how their momma hauls them over to our house, still clad in pajamas, to apologize to us too.
961. New plants!
962. Rockie's spica cast off and her rollicking and laughing and all the plans to take her swimming this summer.
963. How her daddy bought her a stripey green swimsuit.
964. Jane and Jack who still as angels with me at the gallery meeting.
965. A night out in my new wedding wedges. And how funny if feels to be completely taller that everyone at the table.
966. A slice of the darkest, thickest, most heaviest melt in you mouth chocolate pie with black crumble crust. And the fresh coffee and conversation we share with it.
967. How I try to poke fun of Craig and tell Janie that he's good a communicator because he has a big face. And how she furrows her brow and nods and says, "Yeah! You BOTH have big faces." And we laugh and laugh, and she feels so grown up, and we just laugh harder.
968. How when we ask Lulie if she wants to get chickens at our house someday, she nods and nods and declares, yes, we should go to Costco and get some chickens for Gramma to COOK. And how we all think it's a splendid idea.
969. The light feeling of a headache gone.
970. A baby watermelon.
971. A note on my coffee maker from Craig set there for me to find.
972. How in a flash he takes me back to the day we met.
973. How still this day is better yet. How every day, with the full weight of all this hard earned love is better and better than each day before.