STM and I were in the living room putting together our new IKEA love seat. You gotta love a store that sells love seats in a box and whose instructions have zero words. We spent much of the long weekend re-arranging and building furniture, and getting decorated for Christmas. Our dining room is now a cute family room off the kitchen. We had it this way years ago and then got conventional and made it back into a dining room. Thing is, we don't dine.
Now the room you walk into when you enter the house is the dining room. Weird, you say? Yes. We are weird. For years I've fought the floor plan of this house and the non-conformity of my husband. Now, slowly, I'm learning to surrender. I'm lucky to have a house with so much flexibility, I tell myself. And it's true. It's the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome, as my friend, Susan would say. You know the children's book where the mouse asks for a cookie, then needs a glass of milk, and, and, and and pretty soon nothing is as it once was just because the mouse wanted a little cookie. Same thing. Moved the denim furniture into the new "family room," moved the dining room table into the old entry space, needed something for the spot in the living room from whence we stole the denim stuff. You get it.
Woohoo was out with friends and STM and I were spending a thrilling Saturday night putting together our new IKEA stuff and watching the Beavers get beat by Stanford. Rojo was pulling up college fight songs on YouTube and making really loud, annoying and repetitive guttural sounds in time with the bands, something he'd pretty much been doing for four days straight, but who's counting?
Phone rang. STM's mom. Her elderly and in very poor health sister had just passed away. We knew at Thanksgiving that she had gone into a Hospice and it was only a matter of days. Still. A huge loss for my MIL, as they were very close. They spoke every single Saturday morning on the phone, even though over 2,000 miles had separated them for years. Just that morning, in fact, my MIL had called and one of her niece's had put the phone up to her failing mother's ears and let my MIL talk to her. Makes me cry just thinking about it.
STM got off the phone and told Rojo and me, "Well, she died."
"I don't feel sorry for her," I said, "she's got to be in such a much better place, but I feel sorry for your mom and all the other people that loved her."
"Are you going to die?" Rojo asked me.
"Someday," I said, "when I'm very old."
"What about me, am I going to die?" he asked.
"Yes, when you are very old."
"But don't die without me, okay?" he said. "Let's die at the same time."
I instantly thought of a disturbing conversation I'd had with a woman that is the mother to a grown son with extreme disabilities. When she grows too old to take care of him, she plans to put them both in her cry and drive into the river. She can't bear the thought of him alone in the world without her.
I get it.
"So, do you promise you won't die without me?" Rojo persisted.
Obviously not being something I could promise, I tried diversion. "What about Daddy?"
"Daddy, too," he said, "and Flicka. We'll all die together. It'll be a PARTY!" he said, hands clapping, one leg kicking out in celebration, a huge smile across his dimpled cheeks.
* Photo from www.rosesuk.com