"That's at least eight dollars." Jack arches his brow, pokes at a lump in my hand.
There, like a freshly hatched egg, a tangle of coins and bills, a snarl, curled, rumpled, pressed and softened, the money, he had hunted it out of the four corners of his drawer.
"That's at least eight dollars," he says again, voice resplendent. I unfurl my fingers, count it with my eyes: a five, two ones, change. Lucy peeks around Jack's shoulder. "For Lucy's pants," he adds, "that she wrecked." She gazes at my face. He holds his eyebrows in that perfect arc.
I trace the crumpled bills, the linen-y green crushed around dimes and nickels, a penny, a quarter. I pull my eyes from the small heap in my palm, and there, Jack, face radiant, eyes splendorous blue.
In that split second of lucent blue, I see it. And then again in the shrug of his weightless shoulders when I say, "But don't you want to buy something with this?" Hope, hope unbending, the confidence of a man, all his boyish features hung on blink-less sacrifice. Love.
And so I look into his azure eyes and nod before he scampers off, Lucy in tow, adventure wild around their ankles. What could I do? I took the money. I tucked it away and memorized the resplendent resolve of his sacrifice.
3834. "Mom," Lucy trills, "can alligators run faster than people?"
3835. "I want to jump into your arms, Daddy," she chimes.
3836. Craig finally solves the mystery: our dishwasher is leaking.
3837. He rearranges the kitchen, tears up floor boards, peels back linoleum, opens the bowels of the dishwasher and does triage on the leak.
3838. He rearranges our world to hopefully salvage the soggy subfloor.
3839. "I tooted, big one toot," Myra reports. "I want to SEE big one toot."
3840. "Thank-you that Daddy's tall enough to put the star on the tree," Jane prays after we dress the tree.
3841. "I really like that one star," Myra narrates.
3842. We snuff out all the lights and then illuminate the tree. "OOooooooh. Do it again, ok?" she says.
3843. "I taked this off my foot," she hands me a small brown bead. "It's a mole," she asseses.
3844. Picture, printed pictures, yay! Thanks, Rosie.
3845. Strawberry, raspberry tart.
3846. "It might be illegal for Myra to be a pirate," Jane oversees, "because you never hear about pirates in America. I mean it might have been ok a long time ago when Indians lived here, but not now."
3847. "Where's HOLA?" Myra queries. "I want to do HOLA." Spanish. "When you're four you can do Spanish," I answer. "I'm FOUR," she says. "Mommy, I'm FOUR."
3848. Books, glorious book-finds. A whole stack of art and history, literature, science.
3849. When the kitchen goes sideways, Craig takes a day off and I end up getting to see my mom.
3850. "Mommy, make me safe," Lucy calls as she gallops into the kitchen and interrupts a game of tag to hug my legs.
3851. Craig's mom drops by with pears for the kids.
3852. We carol at a nursing home in town. Amid the ancient tunes and well worn faces, Christmas becomes real.
3853. I gift shop with Jane. She gives strong opinions about what people will like. We take up the art of gift giving.
3854. Joey gobbles up leftover sweet-taders, lunges at the spoon for more.
3855. I ask Myra to listen carefully, "I want you to go find some --," I pause. "CANDY," she nods. "Socks," I say.
3856. "Jane, can I scrub my hair myself?" Myra asks as we suit up for baths. "Yeeeessss," Jane concedes. "Your breath stinks," she adds.
3857. When I tuck Lucy in I find a length of toilet paper folded in to a kleenex in her bed. "I got toilet paper too," Myra calls from the bottom bunk, "in my tummy."
3858. A Christmas card, a family Christmas card.
3859. The kids and I arrive on time to two events this week and almost on time to a third.
3860. Craig continues to anchor our family in confidence and character. I rest easy that he makes our burdens light.