I let my self into Baby S' house around 11 as usual and see his Mom in the living room. I'm expecting a friendly conversation until she turns around. I notice that her hair and makeup isn't done, but it's her eyes that give her away. They aren't red and puffy like she's been crying, but they have subtly changed from bright and shining to the barely veiled crazed look of a person who is experiencing unmitigated sorrow. I've seen it before. Her mom is dying. She leaves for the hospital and I take Baby S out where he falls asleep in his stroller and I am glad to have my moms car, the quiet prius which I nicknamed "the shiny blue womb" for the day.
I swing by my house on the way back from the park to pick up some lunch and run into my own mother on the way out. I tell her what happened, give her a one-armed hug and tell her:
"I would be really sad if you died."
The sentence sounded so obvious and I felt like a little girl.
Back in the car I wish I could turn on some music to distract me from my thoughts, but I don't want to wake Baby S. I am surprised at how quickly tears fill my eyes, but I try to push them back because if I start crying a I won't be able to see the road. When I get to Baby S' house I unload the dishes while he sleeps, just looking for any way I can help.
I volunteer to work longer today so that Baby S' mom can stay with her family. Later that night I take Baby S to another park and he falls asleep. I didn't think to bring anything to do so I just sit quietly at a picnic table. I look down and see a daddy long legs climbing up my top. On any other day I would have jumped up and shook him off or at least swatted him away, but I am oddly serene and instead I offer the long legged spider my hand. He hesitates, afraid to take it so I scoop him up and set him free on the top of the table. I notice one of those tiny green spiders, so small you can hardly see it scurrying around. I spent at least ten minutes watching the way the daddy long legs walks. I don't like spiders but as I watch it move I see a certain elegance in the way its legs bend and curve.
It's a strangely normal day punctuated with moments of silence like reminders,
of what I am not sure.
The next afternoon Baby S won't sleep although he is very tired. I take him on a walk and he falls asleep immediately. As I walk farther from the main road the crunching of gravel is muted and all I hear is a trickle of a creek nearby. There is a beautiful house on Cedar wood Lane that is hidden behind trees and hydrangeas. At the very end of the road there is a giant gate painted gold an red with Chinese characters that looks like an entrance to a pagoda. My paces slows and I stare at the next house whose deck is covered with banzai and miniature maples. There is also a small peach tree sagging under the weight of two small peaches.
A couple weeks later I'm sitting on a red couch in my friends new apartment. I stare out the window at the red ashtray full of half used cigarettes and wonder if she's picked up the habit. She is sitting on the floor on the other side of coffee table with her legs crossed. She tells me about the second moment in her life where she didn't know her life would never be the same in an awful way that I've never experienced. She's had time to adjust so she doesn't have the same look in her eye, but there is still that internal silence despite drums streaming from her laptops speakers.