I was walking the dog this evening and processing about the day. It had been a wonderful day. It started right and stayed right. We were in bed late. The kids watched cartoons in the morning and played out of doors before breakfast (always on Saturday we have homemade muffins, usually poppy seed, and so it was today). Joseph and Rebecca came over. Joel and Joseph played Lego Star Wars II while Rebecca (Joseph’s sister) held Rose the guinea pig. Paul and Sam played out of doors with Matt from the street above. After breakfast, I ran and mailed our tax papers (we’ll get a return this year) and then the three older boys and I got ready to go down to campus. Shelly and Eliot stayed at home (Eliot had a fever and a cough and seemed a little low). He ended up falling asleep for three and half hours, giving Shel time to clean and straighten and just regain a sense of order. She was very relaxed when we got home.
P, S, J and I walked down to campus for homecoming. We walked and laughed. Joel had his (wood) sword. Sam and Paul alternated holding my hand. No one complained. I didn’t snap at any of them. We got to campus and found Matt’s family. My boys and he quickly teamed up and I was basically on my own for an hour and half, hanging out with Matt’s folks and other friends. We set in the shade, listening to the student jazz band, visiting. Caleb, about 2, picked up Joel’s sword and played with it, tapping against a stone (“I took the sword from the stone,” he told someone) and drawing in the sand. Then we got the boys and headed down to the volley ball game. The game was great. The kids chanted and laughed; Samuel said it was so much more fun than watching it on TV. Joel sat next to me, rooting for the Waves and saying “We’re going to beat that stinky team.” And we did – 3 straight sets and the no. 1 team in the country fell for the second time to in three days to our team. I talked with guy from the town who brings his daughters to the games. He was nice and talked just the right amount. The boys went off a couple of times, but never long and never far. Afterwards, we went out side and they played on the big tree near the fieldhouse with about a dozen other kids. Then Matt’s family, the boys and I headed over to Alumni park and got in line for free In-N-Out burgers. We were among the first. Joel said he only wanted the chips and Sierra Mist and that I could have his cheeseburger. We walked over with our food and set in the shade of a tree and ate. The kids ran off to play by the pond and chase the ducks. Matt’s dad and I talked and chided each other good naturedly. Then, after a good while, Matt’s family gave us a ride up to our house.
P and S went over to play with Matt. At the door, was a package of books from Amazon I had been expecting to arrive later in the week. So, while Joel and Eliot watched Bambi and Shelly did her thing, I looked at my books. Later, I set on the balcony, had a cold drink, and looked out at the sea. Eliot came out and attempted to water the plants and a humming bird braved the environment to take a drink at the feeder. I went back in and called my brother and we had a fun conversation. Then Shel gave Eliot a bath while I gave Joel a shower. P and S came home and the boys had dinner (corn dogs and beans).
I was taking the dog for a walk afterward and processing about the day. I don’t know why I thought it, but I had the sense that if something were to go amiss at that point, no one could take this day away. It was perfect. (I’m a pessimist – I don’t have many of these types of days.) I came back in. The older boys had showered. Shel and the boys picked up the kids’ rooms while I took care of the dishes. Then, while Shel vacuumed and I read from one of my new books, the boys (Joel holding Rose the gp) set and watched “The Batman” (I had taped it earlier for them). Then Joel said, “Mom, Rose is not moving.”
Shel came up and saw the guinea pig's lifeless body and let out a surprised “Oh!” I got up and came over and took Rose from off Joel’s lap. Her eyes were open and she wasn’t moving. I took her to the kitchen. The boys stayed watching TV – I don’t think they realized. I laid Rose down on the counter. And just looked at her. Shel came over and we decided to bury her. I found a shovel and went out back (I am pretty sure some condo rules would be violated; so let’s just say this part is hypothetical). The kids came down when it was time and Joel and Paul were sobbing. Paul broke out in the Doxology. Eliot asked “Why did little Rosey die?” We prayed, thanking God for the time Joel had Rose and asking Him to make confusing things clear in His time.
Then we got the kids ready for bed. Joel had to have medicine on his stitches (another story), P and S took their asthma medicine, Eliot went potty. After P and S headed down, Joel and I set on the kitchen floor and cried. His tears fell upon my arm, and I thought of the old expression when a girl or boy was kissed, “I’ll never wash my cheek again.” Shel came and sat down and stroked Joel’s feet and Eliot climbed into her lap. There we four sat, on the kitchen floor. The look of sadness on her face was difficult because I remembered how happy she was to have gotten Rose for Joel’s birthday a little less than a month ago.
We went down and put the kids in bed. Shel stayed with Eliot and Joel for a little while (though Eliot is now moving, stair by stair, up to our level, as I write this). I put a couple of drinks on ice and set down to write.
Before he went to bed, Paul asked why it had to happen. “One minute, Joel was so happy with Rose on his lap, saying her name.” One minute, I was thinking about how perfect this day was, the next I am holding my son while his tears stream down my arm. It was still a perfect day.