It’s 10:10 and the legal guardian dad is briefly testing the girl for her history test, as he said he would.
The college student is dutifully cleaning the hamster’s cage and accessories with Chlorox, to kill any possible ringworm spores. She is loudly singing to "Bennie & The Jets" and Billy Joel’s "Big Shot" as the bathtub faucet goes on and off, loudly.
The family has just one bathroom.
How can it be that a song her mother loved as a high schooler, sitting in front of a portable record player and watching the LP spin, is on the daughter’s smartphone playlist now, a full 40 years later? Coincidence, or genetic coding?
The little sister is tired, wearing her new black Adidas shin guards though she didn’t have soccer today. She just ate some neon-colored cheesy, crunchy snacks from a bag and now says she might throw up. [A friend or two at school has brought them in at lunch and shared them, so she asked legal guardian dad to get some.] College girl takes a break from cage cleaning so Punch can pee and brush her teeth.
Junior Sis's blanket is missing, because the older Sis, proud to watch out for her, put it in the wash in case of stray ringworm spores. The tiny hamster was on the blanket the other day when the sisters applied a home remedy of brewed thyme tea with a Q-tip.
I don’t go to sleep like this, the little girl said. Her words are heard. The family members are her witnesses to feelings voiced. But her blanket, only just remembered, is still damp in the washer. The legal guardian mom gives her the soft pink Irish wool blanket they all love. It's so cozy.
The legal guardian mom is tired and ready to sleep. The old white shag doggy is tired, too. Someone will have to take her out once more.
There is rugged beauty all around. Sometimes just showing up is strong and beautiful. The legal guardian mom just watched the season finale of "This Is Us" and found the last image--a flash forward--stark and scary.
This is us, indeed. Freeze the photo frame. Life will not always be like this, so busy at 10:21 p.m. on a Tuesday night in March. Fifth graders grow up, guardian angels get old. College students move on to pursue dreams. All we have to hold is now.