"Jesus, thank-you that tomorrow I will feel really better," Myra prays. She squints her closed eyes, "And thank-you that Lucy telled Mom that I puked. Amen."
"Amen," I say, the shrapnel of the discovery still fresh. I rub Myra's shoulder, blow a kiss. Arms length from the bathtub, curled on a throne of clean towels, she pulls whitie-blankie up under her chin. Her face blooms dulcet.
Then it's a whirlwind of flu and puke and Christmas traditions slid sideways. Laundry and showers and bleach and puke in hair, and bleach, we split the holiday open, free fall through spume. Four out of five kids throw up. Craig comes home with a fever.
"I don't like BARFING." Myra says.
The hours page by, time slows, meters out the gentle pace of recovery. I acquiesce.
And then its Thursday, the children well. I hold Joe in my arms, his silver dollar hands babyish round. He strokes blue-blankie slung over my shoulder.
"A-ma-zing grace, how sweet the sound," I sing. Joe twiddles chubby fingers on my back. "That saved a wretch like me," the bedroom slung together with socks and legos, a t-shirt and jeans half under the bed, the hall light crystalline across the rug, I pat rhythm across Joe's back. "I once was lost but now am found," I sing. Jack slips in, slides an arm through my elbow. "Was blind but now I see."
"I'm coming in here to listen," Jack whispers between verses, "'cause it's kind of hard to hear when I start the vacuum.
I nod, sing on, my hand the metronome against Joe's back. Thunk-thunk-thunk, he's a drum. The boys lean on my shoulders, encircle my elbows. The melody envelops pillowcases and towels askew, jammies and rogue underwear, an unpacked diaper bag, a toy watering can under the bed. In the slow tic-toc of love, we sway, slow the frenetic beat of our hearts. Unflappable nourishment, the bass drum of love, contentment arrives.
5066. Jack stays up late to vacuum the house for me.
5067. "Im making a Christmas present for the chickens," he says. "A roosting bar. There isn't enough room on the one that Dad made, so we can put this one in there too."
5068. We celebrate Christmas with Craig's family. They surround us with love. We celebrate late and out of order, and it's perfect. Love finds a way. We ride on his wings.
5069. We spend the day in board games and long walks and sunshine sharp and orange.
5070. "I really like vacuuming and dust mopping," Jack says, "because it's for you." He nods to me. "Just because it's for YOU. I like that." I see the arcing strength of his father. The shoulders of his will grow stronger each day.
5071. We paint fingernails, the girls and I. I caution Myra not to muss her nails. "Also," she says, "probably, I shouldn't pick my nose. Last time I picked my nose and some of the polish came off."
5072. Purple polish. Home manicure supplies.
5073. Whipped cream cheese.
5074. I explain new year resolutions. Jack says, "I might try cleaning for you everyday."
5075. And now it's Sunday. Jane has a fever. Lucy has a fever. Invisible love buoys us up. We take it in stride.