"What's my husband gonna be like?" Jane leans on an elbow over a bowl of oatmeal. I slide scrambled eggs onto my toast.
"You should look for someone like your daddy," I say and rotate a triangular egg onto square toast.
"But what's he gonna be like?" Her spoon tings against the bowl. She tilts her head.
"Well," I prop one toast on the edge of my plate, pick up the other, "you can't know what he's gonna be like, but you can start praying for him." I reach for the plum jam and spin the silver lid. "I started praying for Daddy when I was just a little girl."
She wrinkles her forehead, "How little?" I notice how narrow her shoulder look in that jersey t-shirt, her careless mop of curls.
"I don't remember. Pretty little." We smile. I pop the lid off the jam. She carves a bite of oatmeal. The day carries on as if another pearl has not slid on an invisible string.
Then it's Sunday and I shout and grumble that we're late again. I jab the make-up puff at my cheeks and lean over the white bathroom counter, frown.
Lucy wanders in to use the toilet. There at my elbow, I hardly notice. Blue polka-dot and hand-me-down, she twirls her skirt. And then I hear, snippets of rolling monologue, her three-year-old shrug, "It's like you don't want to go to church." She flushes the potty.
The trip-trop of her black shoes and there I am, alone.
We haul to church, furrow still between my eyes.
And then we come to rest like toys left out. We swing our legs in the back chairs of the sanctuary, squeeze shut our eyes, worship. I peek at Jane. She doesn't notice, but there balanced on her knees, a paper. Half sheet crumpled and white: I've learned that Jesus is good. He takes care of us.
I press my eyes shut, gather the words, droplets of dew on a string.
He is good. He takes care of us. Someone like her father.
2040. Jack's observation, "The Devil is really powerful, but God is more powerful-er."
2041. How Myra thinks every book is a Bible.
2042. How Jane graduates to a young reader's Bible and tells me, "I love this Bible."
2043. How Lucy points to the blind man lowered through the roof to Jesus and says, "Is this how it will look in heaven?"
2044. Her running monologue as I sit next to her, "Jesus is God's son. And we love Jesus. And Jesus died for us."
2045. Her furrowed brow, "Do you think God has our last name?" And, "Maybe when we get there we can ask him what his middle name and last name are."
2046. How when I hug Jack he stands on tip toe and kisses my chin.
2045. How he leans on my shoulder, "I just really like talking to you."
2046. And when I ask him his favorite thing about Daddy, he doesn't even pause, "How he goes to work for us."
2047. How even a boy sees the provision.
2048. How when I ask if the washer is done he says, "You don't have to do it. I'll do it for you."
2049. Jane's prayer, "Jesus, thank-you for making us righteous. And help us to be righteous-er. Amen."
2050. How Jane continues on her Bible, "I kind of like that it's not a picture Bible 'cause then it has more details, and the other kids won't take it."
2051. Her sigh during laundry, "I'm practicing patience right now. It's not very easy."
2052. How she grins when I hand her a grocery sack of little booklets from Great-Grammie, "I know what we could do with these. We could give one to all the kids and they could write things that they enjoy in life in it."
2053. Lucy, her book in hand, "How do you write, I like that Mom snuggle me sometimes?"
2054. And how she calls, "Mommy, watch this!" and then jumps up and down and clucks her tongue.
2055. Jack with his booklet, "You can write names in here if you want as long as you don't write them in cursive." And his serious eyes, "Then you can take it to the hospital with you."
2056. Visiting with Jane during naps.
2057. A phone call from Great-Grampa.
2058. Prime rib stew and the hands that made it.
2059. Blackberry pie.
2060. Myra flying in the swing while Jane pushes her to the sky.
2061. Ginger cat cookies.
2062. Swimsuits for the girls.
2063. Raspberry jam.
2064. Bags of frozen fruit.
2065. A mug with a lid.
2066. Refried black beans.
2067. Dark chocolate.
2068. How Jack passes potatoes to Myra to pass to me to cut so even she can help.
2069. How when Craig vacuums dirt off the floor Myra claps her hand and shouts, "Clean!"
2070. Baby inside with hiccups.
2071. Myra outside barefoot chasing the chickens.
2072. A slow day where cousins play freeze tag and soccer, dig worms for the chickens and rally youngest to oldest.
2073. The presence of each of our children, a stamp on each day.
2074. Indulging in extra cuddles and kisses and blessings for each one.
2075. Being under the protection and leadership of such a good man.