ONCE UPON A TIME
Once upon a time, there was a girl, me.
Once upon a time, I grew up and found a family to love. I so needed to find one. Mine had gone away, stolen by time and sickness and circumstance. I was alone, and made myself not so. This is how it happened.
Gram and Papa left. Papa first, not suddenly but quickly and readily, then after a blissful year or two of lunches and shopping and road trips, Gram followed, slowly and reluctantly. Followed? No. She wouldn’t have willingly sought him out, but she might have passed him on the street and chatted about the kids for a minute, in the ether. She might have even cooked some soup right there, since it’s the afterlife and all, and who needs a kitchen to create soup when you’re not bound by earthy physical law? The soup would be as far as she would go. They did not love one another when they died.
With Gram and Papa gone, there was nothing left to do. The gardens continued to grow, but why pick tomatoes that no one wanted to eat? Everything had been an act of love and respect for the family. Painted windowframes, weeded sidewalks, trimmed trees, and retrieved newspapers had all said Love. Grades earned, meals cooked, laundry folded, and floors swept had all said Respect. But Gram and Papa were gone, and no one else noticed the weeds or lack of them in the cracks of the front walk.
When the friend from far away came for lunch, he hugged me on the hill at school as though he was drowning. Only Papa had died, but Gram would soon leave, too.
His wife had begun to openly hate him. She had fallen in love with everyone else. He didn’t know how to parent his two small people alone. He was without family and friends were here, not where he lived.
This was a place for me. He was alone and heartbroken. I could help. I needed help, and I needed to be loved. I needed to take care, to be with, to feel present and necessary.