it's grae-rose's eleventh. this was written on her ninth. i could read it over and over and over plus once more after that...
when lillie was three months old, i took a home pregnancy test.
thirty seconds later, i blocked uncle sugar's view of the telly, waving my blazing fuchsia results in a grand panic.
what? is? this? i sobbed. WHAT? IS? THIS?
i'll not ever forget his reaction. he was holding lill's hands as she napped on his lap, and he calmly looked at me and back at her and back at me and back at her. and smiled. the loveliest smile i've ever seen that man smile, i think.
and he said, this is great...a new best friend for lillie.
and that was that. because grae? at least in uncle sugar's mind, you were made for lillie.
from the very minute you could, you've been her laugh track. and from the very minute you could, you've protected her. whether she needs it or not. and if she gets hurt - even just a little - you scream at everyone near until they fix her. and then you scream at lillie for being in a fix in the first place. and then, when all is well and only when all is well, you finally crumple and have a bit of a cry. because all is well when your lillie is well.
lill was sick last term and stayed home from school for four days. school tomorrow, lill! i announced as i passed through the living room and found her bouncing from couch to couch. but grae followed me to the kitchen.
one more day, mom. she pleaded. just give me one more day.
just give me one more day at school by myself. one more day that i don't have to follow her around and make sure she's safe and no one's hurting her...
grae! that's not your responsibility! you don't need to take care of lill, honey.
oh, mom. she's a fool.
i kept lill home. because even guardian angels need a holiday.
when your aunt lin was living her last summer, you spent july, august, and september just staring at her. you soaked her in until you were nearly overflowing. this was the summer you learned the greatest lessons about love and life. this was also the summer you found your temper. to this day, when you lose it, my heart races right back to that time. and i almost completely always understand.
lin was never without her plastic thermos of water. this water needed to be just right: the perfect temperature and the perfect amount of ice cubes. her nearly-destroyed taste buds could still discern the correct ratio.
only her husband and her mom could make that water for lin. until one day, lin reached for the thermos, and it wasn't there. neither was her husband. nor her mom. but grae-girl was there, and she'd been watching. without saying one word or asking one question, she made lin's water. perfectly, of course.
and lin would tell me, over and over and over. this one...my gracie-rose...she was made for me.
grae is our protector. our caretaker. she once stood up to a teenaged boy on her school bus when he called a little kid a jew. a few months later, she stood up for the same teenaged boy when someone else called him fat.
she lives wherever we choose to live, but if she had her choice, i know exactly where i'd find her. grae's home is where her grammy lives. a house full of her favorite memories and happiest times.
two years ago, santa surprised us on our flight from amman to chicago. one of his reindeer delivered a letter to the pilot, who then gave it to one of the flight attendants, who then delivered it to us. santa was sending us on one more flight...to disney world! can you imagine the girlies' reactions?
they sobbed. and grae became veryveryvery angry. i don't think she's ever forgiven santa for taking four days away from her time at her grammy's.
when a brand-new esmé would cry for her bottle, i'd let grae hold her while i got everything together. in less than a minute, that baby would be asleep. grae, giggling apologetically at my shock, would whisper, i think esmé thought i was her mommy! and i would whisper back, she wishes she was so lucky! both grae and i knew i was mostly telling the truth.
she saves every penny she earns or finds, dreaming of the fancy toy she'll buy on our next trip to the toy store. but then she sees the homeless palestinian kids on the corner. and that is the end of that.
she will love you until the day after the end, but she is a package deal, i'm afraid. for grae to love you, you must love and protect everyone she loves and protects. and this is not as easy as my grae-girl makes it seem.
so i'm thinking it's just not true. grae was not made for lill. she was not made for my sister. not for esmé or even uncle sugar. and it crushes my heart to write this, but she was not made for me, either.
no, grae. i think you were made for the world.