"Mom, can you do prayers with me?" Lucy nuzzles her face against my side. Drips of dishwater slide down my arm. I wad a fresh towel in my hands, mop dribbles up my forearm.
"Sure," I say. I lean down and whisper through the curtain of her long hair. "Jesus, I pray you bless Lucy and protect her while she sleeps." She presses her head to my lips. I whisper on, a substance like water between us.
"Jesus, please help me not have bad dreams," she says. And even if I do, please help me not to forget about you," she nudges her closed eyes against me. "Even if they feel real," she adds.
I hug her, her small frame leaned full into me. "Ok, go get in bed." She pads off down the hall on the balls of her feet.
Morning comes and along with it chores, summer work. We rake out the girth of our closets, snag missing socks, rumpled t-shirts, rogue papers, stubs of pencils. We separate the sheep and the goats. We smooth and fold and stack the long arms of winter clothes, toss out the holed knees of jeans. We pack away the sloughed off skin of winter, and form tiny stacks of summer clothes in our drawers.
"See, you have to have space around each stack or you won't keep it neat," I say. They nod more as thank-you than agreement.
Dusk settles, dinner dishes clatter to the sink, and Lu nestles her face up under my elbow.
"Prayers?" she says.
"Sure." There in the veil of her hair we whisper hope in our savior.
"Jesus," she prays, "please make angels sit on my bed. And make it so even if it feels like I'm there in a dream, I know you're there. Amen."
"Amen." A hug and a nudge and she half down the hall, prayer trailed in a wake behind her.
There in the crest, I note an empty space of strength around us, a circlet of neatness, submission. A simple bowing down. There before the sink, we bow down to our Lord.
5442. "It's really sad when adults grow," Lucy says, "'cause then they have to go give all the clothes that they used to be wearing to someone else."
5443. A friend passes hand-me-downs to us.
5444. We start the season of summer barbecues. Rain marks the first one. Holed up inside, the kids trolly through picnic games and the adults visit late into the evening.
5445. Myra and Lu take a break from cleaning. "What are you two doing?" I say. "I'm a dog," Myra says. Lucy nods. "You are supposed to be cleaning," I say. Everyone stares.
5446. Raw sugar, white balsamic vinegar, a fabric ruler, the staples replenish.
5447. My aunt sends me an e-mail on gardening. We catch up electronically.
5448. Jane and I go on a date of errands. I remember again, she's one of my favorite people to visit with.
5449. Craig and I go on a date. We by rice, 25 lbs.
5450. Joe sits by me at church. He reaches his pudgy hand inside mine. We hold hands.
5451. Cerissa and I sit on her front lawn and watch the cousins bike ride up and down the block. Sirens of laughter and squeals of enjoyment, the night slips in silent beneath our feet.
5452. Summer finds us ready for a season of cleaning and discipline, freedom really. We prepare to be free.