Here's one story about today:
We're in the H@ppiest Pl@ce on E@rth right now, happily exhausted from a day spent largely princessing about. Curious Girl's way of approaching any new situation is to decide in advance an activity to focus on (princesses) and then to repeat activities to get herself used to things. So today, while other families were busy trying to cram as many activities into the day as they could, we went on the same few rides multiple times, and spent several hours in the princess area, listening to stories, standing on a ridiculously long line to meet the princesses (but what joy at the end of the line!), and watching various royal ceremonies. The princesses do a great job of storytelling and interacting with little guests, and the emphasis in all the patter is on some basic royal lessons: follow your dreams, tell the truth, use good manners, and have hope. If you do all that, you can face whatever comes. And, of course, you'll find true love and live Happily Ever After. But the big emphasis is on dreams and hope.
Curious Girl is eating it up. She wore her Cinderella dress to the park today, and she got her hair done all princessy fancy, with glitter and little flowers and a bun. She was tickled by the way everyone called her princess (even some other children), and happily pretended her way through the day. The twirling tea cups may be rated a very tame ride by all the guidebooks, but I got a thrill watching my fancy Cinderella daughter exclaiming, "yeah, baby!" as the tea cups spun.
She's beautiful, and she loves being in a place where there are princesses around every corner (if you don't leave the princessy part of the park, that is. Our brief foray into a neighboring park was met with G00fy fear. Go figure. Minnie Mouse, not scary. But G00fy, scary).
I can't tell how much she is actually attending to the stories the princesses tell. She knows the basic outlines of all the princess stories, of course, but as her version of them all is a big princess girl power confab in the castle where all the princes are invariably unavailable (having served their purpose to create a big wedding party at which it is possible to dance with one's mothers, and sometimes to help make a baby), I don't know how much she attends to the messages about hopes, dreams, love.
Here's another story about today: Quiet Friend just passed away. We're surrounded by these messages of hopes, dreams, love conquering all, acutely aware of the ways in Quiet Friend would be happy and healthy today were if possible for hopes, dreams, and love to cure him. He died peacefully, Mississippi Friend tells us, but he died after coming through years of cancers that just wore his body down. His mother never left after his last hospitalization, so the room we helped restore went to good use, even if it never housed the people caring for him after the bone marrow transplant we all had hoped for.
Quiet Friend was a good, good person. Not easy to get to know, but well worth knowing. Smart and classy, he had a self-confidence that carried him through the world. He was great at Taboo--as Mississippi Friend once said, that's how Quiet Friend talked in regular conversations. He had an amazing vocabulary and just loved words. His brain tumor took a lot away, though. Not language so much as motivation. His work history turned spotty after he got sick. For months on end he'd be too sick to work. But the work he did do was wonderful, even when he was too tired after doing all that work to do much at home (which made living with his illness hard for Mississippi Friend). But what strength of will it took to get that work done. Quiet Friend was a force in the world, a force finally worn away by too much illness. But I will remember him, quiet, sharing a picnic with all of us, being on the beach in Florida on a vacation we took together, before Sofia, when Mississippi Friend and Quiet Friend's son (now 7) was an infant, cooking most of the food for Curious Girl's naming celebration, coming out to our holiday party even when his chemo exhausted him. So many memories run through my head tonight.
I'm glad he's no longer in pain, no longer struggling. But I miss him, and Politica and I are both broken-hearted to be so far from Mississippi Friend tonight.
Hope couldn't make him better. I can't decide whether I'm angry at the lights of the resort flickering out my window, or comforted by them. I know I am comforted by Curious Girl's response--surely a subject for another post. I told her a few days ago that Uncle Quiet was dying, and she's been thinking hard about all this. When Politica called Mississippi Friend tonight, CG said, "tell her we still love him, and it will be all right." CG's empathy is a gift.
We do still love him. And Mississippi Friend, whose grief I can only begin to imagine. Life surely isn't fair tonight, not even in the H@ppiest Pl@ce on E@rth.