Simpler, Easier, KinderShe used to be a princess, straight out of a fairytale, trailing spun gold and winged butterflies behind her. She ruled her kingdom from her Daddy's shoulders, beautiful and resplendent in her youth. Perhaps it would have been simpler to watch her run free with innocence draped on her shoulders like a superhero's cape. Simpler. Easier. Kinder to shield this tiny girl-child from the world and its inherent evil. Her fall from grace was a beautiful disaster. There is some sad poetry in the slow tumble of limbs and the tangled waterfall of honey blonde hair. There is something untouchably lyrical in the transformation from child into something not quite adult. She no longer perched on her father's strong torso with his hands clasped tightly around her ankles, protection of the highest form. Daddy was otherwise preoccupied. With work, with her mother (and later, his girlfriends, some of whom asked to be called "Mom"), with his own life. No time for a forgotten princess of a forgotten land.
savedShe did it over Spring Break, while I was on vacation in Mexico. As I was sipping a piña colada, a magazine tipped open on my lap, my best friend took a deadly cocktail of Tylenol and pilfered wine. She left a note, tightly fisted in her hand, for those she left behind. In it, she divided up her belongings, said the necessary goodbyes. She didn't tell us why. We don't know why.
That's what keeps me up at night. Not the teddy bear she'd had as a child that sits on my shelf. Not her text messages still saved on my phone. Not even the horrible funeral, her body like marble in the coffin. It's not that I didn't save her. It's that I didn't know she needed to be saved.
This.Jenna is six and in love with Peter. Peter and Jenna are best friends. They do everything together. When they play house, Jenna is Mom and Peter is Dad. Carlie and Joanie are usually the babies. Mom Jenna and Dad Peter tuck them into the pretend bed in their pretend house, pulling the pretend covers snug around them. Then, they go to their room, just a few steps away. Jenna kisses Peter, a chaste peck on the lips, the kind her mommy and daddy give each other in the mornings. She calls it gross when they do it, but when it's Peter, it's not gross at all. They lie down next to each other and Peter puts one arm around Jenna. This is what love is.
Christian is eleven and head over heels for Sammy. Sammy is his next door neighbor and the prettiest girl he's ever seen. She's small and cute and fragile. They push each other on the swings. She helps him with his homework, the math parts that he claims to not understand. In truth, he loves math. Really, he's very good at it. But he likes Sammy