“Dear God, please help Mamaw understand that real freedom is about caring and sharing with your family and who you love. Please help Pappy not be sad and help him be okay that Mamaw is going away . . .
Then the sweet talking that only happens at bedtime. She is snuggled up under the covers with the stuffed animal chosen tonight, petting a cat who somehow knows she needs him right now, in a dimly lit pink room, with soft music playing. Her night light is a 2 foot Christmas angel, dressed in white, holding a candle lit by a small bulb.
“I love Mamaw, but is it okay if I like Pappy more?”
“Yes, sweetie. I know you love Mamaw, but you do more stuff with Pappy, so it makes sense that you like to spend time with him more. He does lots of fun things with you.”
“I know you’re supposed to love everyone in your family, and I really do, it’s just that Pappy really understands my imagination and he’s the best drawer ever! He can draw anything! He even helps me draw hard stuff.”
“I know. I love Pappy’s drawings too.”
“Even though some of my family lives in Georgia, I still love them too. They live far away and I love them, so now Mamaw will live far away and I can still love her. But some people in my family are more fun to play with than other people. Like TeenageGirlCousin is lots of fun and CollegeBoyCousins are lots of fun to play with but that doesn’t mean that I love them more, it just means I like to play with them more, right?”
“That’s exactly true. I know you love your family and that you love Mamaw too. But I understand that some people are more fun to play with. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the people you don’t play with. I know you love your Mamaw, but I also see how much fun you have with Pappy, and he really does understand your imagination. You’re right.”
Thinking. Petting the cat.
I kiss her soft, sweet smelling cheek , say goodnight and go into the office right next to her room to wait on her to fall asleep. Minutes pass.
“Okay. Goodnight honey. Love you.” (yes, sweetie, I’m still here)
“Love you too.”