"There are FOUR," Myra yells. The duck pond glistening just beyond the bridge rail, she points, an exclamation mark emphatic. "Last time there were only three ducks. They had a BABY," she effuses.
"Oh, WOW," I say. We watch them, her excitement a foaming ocean lapping against me as she points and hops and bungles against my shoulder.
"They put their heads in the water like that because they don't want to look at us," she says. All three ducks momentarily troll the shallow water for niblets on the bottom.
"I think they might be eating," I say.
"Oh yeah," she says, "they're eating." One at a time they poke heads up then trollop back down, tails in the air. "OR," she says, "maybe they are scratching their beaks."
"Oh," I say. "I think they're eating."
"But they MIGHT be scratching their beaks," she says.
"Well," I say, "I guess so."
We watch them bob and dive and eventually flap their impossibly orange feet up on shore. Myra sidles as close as possible before they edge back into the water.
"Do you remember me rubbing your leg last night?" I say. Now back in the car, the afternoon heat swollen around us, we scroll the windows down, and pull out. Something of a breeze flaps across our sweaty foreheads.
"No," she says.
"Remember you came into my room and asked me to ruby your leg?"
"Oh, yeah," she says, "I forgot because I did my same thing."
"Your same thing?" I say say. In the rearview mirror, I see her hand's out the open window. She's cupping it to the wind.
"Yeah," she says, "remember? I pray and ask if Jesus will make my leg stop hurting, and then I rub it while I fall asleep."
"Oh yeah," I says. "That's good."
"Yeah," she says.
It hadn't seemed my careful massage helped much, but then this newly turned six year old has a way of fixing things herself. These middle born children, these unflappable ones, they're a mystery to me. They quietly formulate answers, blaze trails, and invent solutions without audience or fanfare. They observe more than they bluster. They're almost invisible unless you look directly at them, and they are becoming more rare every day. Strange to have a nation of so few middle borns.
5853. We go on vacation with extended family. Moments and memories ensue. They glide in on the wings of sea birds. They slurp in with the tide. They glitter and gleam in piles of agates. They howl and crash and encircle us with unending fellowship, mirth, and strength. The children begin to weave the matrix of family. We pull together and find the fabric of family surrounding us.
5854. After numerous beach adventures, treasure hunting unending, trails and waterfalls eternal, we slide/crash/collapse in to our own beds 2:00 am Thursday morning. Since I married Craig, we enjoy everything to the very last possible drop.
5855. Myra turns six. She becomes six as if it were the next very best version of herself. Best of all, she wears it without looking over her own shoulder hinting for compliments.
5856. We celebrate the Mother/Daughter Tea with Craig's mom in his hometown. The featured speaker shares the story of her life. We can hardly blink for how miracle after miracle unfolds in her life.
5857. The children share things they love about their mothers at the tea. "I love that my mom is kind, but she doesn't let me get away with things," Jane writes.
5858. The children gradually settle into their regular routines. We put things away and tidy the house.
5859. "If you stay out playing basketball," Joe advises, "you might get goosebumps." Myra nods. "They don't hurt," he adds.
5860. "The white eggs don't have a yolk," he confides.
5861. As we settle back into routine, we find the break has changed us. All the conversations of loving each other, sacrifice, giving when your tired and hungry and upset, they've made marks on the inside of us. We love each other more. We've made a little deeper groove of sacrifice.
5862. So it is, we give and that makes us love. I pray these bonds grow stronger each day.