I take the shirt, wrap it in a ball around my hand, and then throw it in the trash. One down, a million more memories to erase. I turn to walk back downstairs. “Is everyone coming over tonight?” I ask as my mother-in-law looks up from cutting the chicken.
“Yes, I told them to be here at six,” she says as I nod my head.
“Good,” I say to her as I run through the conversation that will happen tonight. “I’ll go get the kids,” I tell her, walking out and making my way to the bus stop. Sitting on the sidewalk, I bring my knees to my chest and rest my head on them. He never picked the kids up at the bus stop, even when he was home. I get up when I see the yellow school bus coming down the road, and I smile when I see Daisy hop down the last step. “Hello, lovebug.” I bend to kiss her, then stand, looking for Lizzie, who comes down the step wearing a sad little smile. “Hey there.” I smile.
“Hey.” She turns, heading to the house.
“Is everything okay?” I ask her, holding Daisy’s hand.
“Yeah, Mom,” she says. I know something is wrong, but I just let it go. We all grieve in different ways, and the only one who really doesn’t understand is Daisy, who just this morning wanted to know when Daddy would be home to put her star decals on her ceiling.
“Grandma is at our house cooking,” I tell them as we walk ever so slowly home. “How about we have a girls’ weekend on Saturday and Sunday?” I ask them, and they both look up at me. “What do you say? Pizza, nail painting, Disney movies, and Chinese food with only us girls?”
They both smile, and I see my Lizzie’s eyes light up. “So Friday, as soon as the bus drops you off, it’s on.” They are all smiles when we walk into the house, and Judy is there to greet us.
“There are my grandbabies.” She holds out her arms so they can give her a hug. Lizzie gives her a side hug, quickly patting her shoulder, while Daisy puts
her small arms around her waist.
“We are having a girls’ night on Friday,” she tells her. “So you and Grandpa can’t come.”
“But I’m a girl,” my mother-in-law jokes with her, “so I can, but Grandpa can’t.”
Daisy shakes her head. “Nope, just the three girls,” she says, walking around her to put her lunch bag on the counter.
“Please start your homework,” I tell her as she grabs her green plastic binder and brings it to me. “Let’s see what you have.” I open it, checking the things that she needs to do while I get her situated. I look over and see that Lizzie has retreated to her room. I make a note to check on her later when it’s just us.
For the next three hours, they do their homework, I prepare lunches for the next day, and my mother-in-law finally finishes dinner. Lizzie and I set the table, each of us helping the other. “Thank you, baby girl.” I kiss her head while she wraps her hands around my waist.
Adrian, Ethan, and Elliot all walk in at the same time. Elliot goes right upstairs to take a shower while the other two grab a beer and sit on the couch in the family room to watch the news. When Elliot comes back down fifteen minutes later, he kisses the girls hello, squeezes my shoulder, and then goes to kiss his mother hello.
We sit down at the table, holding hands all around as we say grace. The conversation is about everyone’s day. I pick at the food on my plate more than I eat. Looking over at Lizzie, I see she is doing the same thing. “Eat,” I tell her, and she just shrugs her shoulder.
“I’m not very hungry,” she says, not looking up. Instead, she’s scooting things around on her plate to make it look like she’s eaten, but I know for a fact she’s only taken two bites.
“Are you sick?” Judy asks, putting a hand to her forehead. “She isn’t warm.”
“I’m just not hungry, Grandma,” she says, then asks to be excused.
“I have homework to do,” she says, taking her plate to the sink. I watch her walk upstairs, then look at Elliot who just nods at me.
“I’m finished too,” Daisy says, slipping out of her chair and carrying her plate to the sink. “Can I go play?” she asks, and I just nod.
“So,” Adrian starts, “the lawyer called me today and let me know the will is ready to be read. Sammie, we need to go see him on Friday,” he says, and I look up at him.
“Why didn’t he call me?” I ask, surprised.
“I didn’t want you bothered with any of this. You have enough to worry about with the kids.” He smiles at me.