“I wanted you to be the first to know,” Rowan tentatively confided in me. “Two years after I’m gone, Kermit will run away.”
Watching my rapid blinking, she added, “Don’t worry, Mommy. He’ll be found by a nice family he likes, but he won’t have a way to tell you.”
Was this a symptom that the pediatric neurologist told us to expect?
“Honey, why is that important?” I asked, attempting to keep my voice from breaking.
“Because you were the first person to know me here.”
Since the diagnosis, my carefree, boisterous, eight-year-old has transformed into a wise oracle preoccupied with recording her ‘seeings.’
With every, “I wanted you to be the first to know,” statement, the cords of my self-control loosen.
“….five years after I’m gone, Daddy will move to a downtown apartment.”
“….eight years after I’m gone, sissy will get married.”
“….nine years after I’m gone, you will have another baby!”
While Rowan focuses on her project, all I can think about is our next step.
“Bring your recorder on the trip to swim with dolphins.”
“Record on the way to say, ‘Hi’ to Mickey and Minnie.”
“Bring it when we spin llama hair into yarn.”
“Use it between the books that I read to you.”
“Take it to the hospital in case you get bored.”
“Blink your eyes when you want me to hit record.”
“Please, Rowan… Keep talking—”
My binding unravels. Grief, like Jonah’s whale, devours me. I welcome it, fee-falling into numbness. The void lets me believe time can stop.
When Kermit went missing, I burrowed through Rowan’s memory box, frantically searching for the recorder. Until now, I’ve lacked the courage to hit play.
Her voice makes it seem as if Rowan is still with me. When I close my eyes, I can see her lopsided smile and feel her warm hand on mine.
“Mommy, you never asked how I know about the things that will happen after I’m gone.”
A short story entry for TFL Volume 20, Issue 2, Summer 2018