Don't Break the Ice
a.m. glows like a coal on the alarm clock on our headboard.
It's that neon red that implants itself on your brain if you stare at it
too long. In my sleepless state the
numbers feel alive to me. They're
watching me, measuring me, controlling me. 3:38
a.m. There is no other light on in
the house, or light anywhere for that matter.
The night sky is black and a quiet rain falls.
Its steady rhythm dances me to sleep, but not Philip, not tonight.
Philip is running a temperature. 101
degrees, 102. He cries hourly, but
won't nurse, can't sleep. I have
been rocking with him since midnight, both of us fading in and out of sleep but
never falling. I dream about you
taking Philip from my arms, placing him in the bassinet, then carrying me to
bed. I jerk out of the dream,
clutching Philip tighter. It was
this I feared most, this waking up without you.
You were always here within arm's reach.
Your warm body, your earthy smell, your sharp toenails.
God, how I took them for granted.
It's been a hard week. Abby
and Eric went back to school on Tuesday. Its
always tough getting back into a schedule, especially when none of us seems to
be a morning person. Eric's fine,
but Abby walks watching the toes of her shoes.
Her bangs hang in her eyes and she refuses to let me cut them.
She's wearing her hair long again, she pulls it in front of her to hide
her small breasts. She doesn't have
much to say when I ask her about school. All
I can seem to get out of her is that it is boring, or at best, o.k..
I hope it's just an eighth-grade girl thing.
Emma had another fit tonight. She
forgot her doll, Rosie, outside in the sandbox.
She didn't realize until bedtime, until after Rosie had been out in the
rain for three hours. Rosie's
rain-soaked cotton stuffing felt like lead.
Emma wanted Rosie in bed with her and she wanted Rosie dry.
An impossible situation. I
tried to talk her into letting me put Rosie in the dryer, but this only made her
more hysterical. I feel so powerless
when she gets like this. All I can
do is let her scream until she exhausts herself, and falls asleep.
Just thinking about it makes me want to cry now, but I'm too worn out.
So I sit here rocking our baby, our three-month old baby you've never
seen. Tears run down my face, drip
from my chin onto Philip's fevered forehead like the rain off the roof.
Driving at Night, 1992
something different about driving at night.
The car, so shiny, solid and obviously man's invention during the
daylight, is transformed into a cocoon, a protective shell at night.
Especially cold nights. As
the heat kicks in and surrounds me, I feel safe. Held tightly by my seat belt, I
When I was a kid, as I walked to and from school, I used to talk to
myself. Never a conversation
exactly, just little situations in which characters needed a voice.
I did get carried away sometimes, shouting for my characters--which may
be why no one else wanted to walk near me. Lately, since I've starting taking
drives at night, I've been having conversations with my dad.
I've had more conversations with him this fall than I did when he was
living. It's been fifteen years
since his death, more than half my life ago.
I remember how we used to ride like this when I was young.
You would drive and I would get
to sit in Mom's seat. You would ask
me about school, or basketball practice, or piano lessons and then we would sit
silently, aware of each other but unsure of what to say.
There is one night I'll never forget, the night you took me, instead of
Eric, to catch moths.
It was early summer, past midnight and the night air was still very warm.
We drove with both windows rolled down and I could hear the crickets over
the noise of the engine as we entered the woods.
We drove slowly through the dark tunnel made of trees for what seemed
like miles until we finally reached a clearing.
You left the lights on as we parked and you pointed out
the moths flying in the path of the headlights, Silver-spotted Ghost
Moths. I said I could see them, but
I couldn't. We then made our trip
into the woods, each with an ice cream bucket and a paint brush.
The bucket was filled with a maple syrup and beer concoction you
discovered. We moved with a
flashlight from tree to tree,
painting the beer syrup on the bark. Then
we went to the car to get the jars to put our
catch in. I wanted to bring the net,
but you said we wouldn't need it. The
drunk moths hovered close to the trees, flying so slowly I could catch them with
my hand. They died happy, you said,
I imagine the questions my dad would ask me and answer them honestly,
straightly. "So why don't you
marry this guy, Paul?" Because,
Dad, I'm frightened. I don't know if
I'm afraid he'll die, or afraid of spending the rest of my life with him.
My father understands why I'm not ready to marry.
He knows how much I count on being alone.
He knows how much loneliness has become a part of my life.
He isn't condemning and angry like my step-father.
He just listens and accepts that this is where I'm at.
Easier to do when you're dead, I guess.
My life, our life has changed so much.
We were an ordinary family. You
know, the kind of family that goes to the drive-in, takes family vacations
camping at Yellowstone and Wisconsin Dells.
We went to church and MacDonald's and wanted to go to Disneyland.
We watched the Smothers Brothers, Mission Impossible, and Masterpiece
Theater on T.V. We owned a station
wagon, ate dinner together every night at six, went for bike rides, and had
picnics at the park.
After Dad's death we became a
poor family, without a car, receiving handouts from everywhere.
I hated most having to open the front door to boys I knew from school
dropping off a bag of groceries from their mothers, who waited in the car.
Whenever I saw them in the halls at school I would turn around, or
pretend like I'd dropped my pencil so they wouldn't see me.
And then Mom married Owen. I
was a freshman in college at the time. I
drove home with Eric, my older brother, for the wedding over fall break. That
spring they built a house together, and I packed up my childhood memories and
I watched a way of life die with Dad.
I felt my mom struggle and suffer in silence, always trying to appear
strong and stable. I gave up
touching. I felt like a tea cup,
balanced precariously on the edge of a table, knowing that with the slightest
disturbance I would fall and break. I
did everything I could just to hold on.
Yet I don't always resent his death--I keep hoping that it's worth
Dinnertime, 4 years old, 1978
threw away the Don't Break the Ice Game today.
I don't know why. Kato, our
cat, didn't pee on it like he did on my Sesame Street puzzle with Big Bird. And
Philip can't eat the ice cubes because they are too big.
I know. We put some in our
Kool-aid and he couldn't put
his in his mouth. I could. Two of
them. One in each cheek.
Mom says it's time for supper.
Dad used to eat supper with us. Every
night. He would come home from work
and then we would wait a little bit until Mommy said 'Dinner's Ready' and then
we would all sit down. Daddy sat in
the chair next to Mommy. But not
now. We are saying our prayer now.
"Our father, who..." everybody says.
"Where is our dad?" I
"Shh..Not now honey," says Mom. "We're praying."
"But why isn't he here?" I ask.
"On earth as it is in..." everybody
"I want my daddy to eat with us!"
"Emma, dear, he can't," says Mom, her eyes still closed and her
hands folded tightly on top of the kitchen table.
"Emma, Dad's dead," says my sister, Abigail.
She always knows the answers.
"Where is my daddy?" I scream, kicking and hitting the floor.
"Why won't my daddy come home?
I want my daddy to eat with me! I
want my daddy! My daddy!
Daddeee! Daddy come
Finally, I can't scream anymore. I
can still cry, but only a little bit. Mom
carries me to her bed and holds me, under the covers, tucking the blanket in
Trying to Remember the Funeral, January, 1986
I finished college, I lived with my mom and step-father for a summer.
One afternoon I came across a box of photos tucked in the closet of the
spare bedroom. I sifted through
them, glancing at the faces and scenes, trying to recognize something, someone.
One of them was a 5x7, now nearly ten years old, taken at the funeral by
the local paper. I searched the
familiar faces, trying to find mine among them.
I'm there, standing next to Eric. I
don't remember any of it. Nothing.
Not the memorial, the service, the burial, or the display at a bank in
St. Paul of my father's needlepoint, butterflies, moths and model trains.
Nothing. I don't even
remember what day he died, or what day he was buried.
All I remember is that it was January.
The gray January morning must have been cool, but not cold, for sleet
fell and blurred some of the images in the picture.
The coffin was set on a mechanical machine that looked foolish,
impractical stuck in the sleet and slush and snow.
In the center of the picture, just beyond the coffin, was my mom,
visibly pregnant with her coat tightly buttoned around her bulb-shaped
body. To her left was my sister,
Emma, barely tall enough to see over the casket.
But she's there, both her arms wrapped around my mom's leg, her body
pressed against it, her little white muddy boots marching on top of my mom's
black leather shoe. My older brother
Eric stands a half a foot taller than my mom, his posture straight and proud,
his eyes downcast. I'm next.
I recognize my face, my long brown hair, and my powder blue ski jacket,
but I don't know this person. She
stands in the picture, slightly turned away from the camera- not a profile
exactly, just far enough to the right that her eyes are hidden, her heart
trapped behind her tightly folded arms.
To the right of my mom is my grandmother, Irene.
She's my mom's mom. Her head
is down. Her hands and her
handkerchief cover her face. But
even through the sleet I can see the veins in her hands. Their strength, the
blood pumping through them. Next to
Irene is my other grandmother, Pearl, my dad's mom.
And next to her is her third, or maybe her fourth husband, Arnold.
They are both composed. Arnold
looks slightly uncomfortable, like his underwear is creeping up, and Grandma
Pearl looks tense. Her small, thin
body doesn't fill her winter coat. Her
legs stick out below it like popsicle sticks.
The muscles in her face are tight, strained.
She has this look that if you lit a match near her she would explode.
Her eyes are the only ones to look directly at the camera.
So I was there. I'm trying to
remember myself there. I hold the
photo in my hands and stare at it. Waiting
for something, I sit absolutely motionless. All I want is a flicker of a memory,
a smell, a feeling, a recognition of something... anything.
After a minute or so I give up. I
place all the photos back into the box, close it, and put it back on the shelf.
Carleton College, Fall 1982
been going very well. I'm a
sophomore now, and have decided to major in Physics and Theatre.
I'm still dating Susan, two years already, and am basically quite happy.
Or at least I should be.
I've been having trouble sleeping. I
had a horrible dream the other night about my roommate, John.
He died in it. He was caught
by a snake and eaten to death. I
couldn't see him because of the dreadful darkness, but I could hear him calling
for help as the snake slowly squeezed the life out of him.
In my dream I was happy. I
was happy it was him and not me that got caught.
Little things have been getting to me.
I yelled at Susan for being five minutes late to dinner last night, when
I am often three or four minutes late myself.
Susan suggested that I speak to one of the counselors here on campus.
She thinks I'm too hard on myself. I
think it could be anxiety about my mid-terms.
I have a 4.0 to keep up, I am so busy with the play this fall, and I'm
starting goalie (perfect shut-out record thus far) on the varsity soccer team.
I've decided to take her advice. There's
a good chance that it is nothing, and it can't hurt to make the appointment.
I can always cancel.
and Philip: A Spring Afternoon, 1980
go to morning kindergarten. I can
write my name. See.
E M M A. Philip and me, we
play outside every day after lunch, even when it's raining.
We like to play in the sandbox. Today we went to the front yard to play.
We don't go in the street. The
street is not for kids to play in, only cars.
We sit on the curb. I hold
Philip's hand because he is only three years old.
He is still a baby.
"Our dad is dead." I
"Dead," I say.
"He does not eat dinner anymore.
He does not come home any more. He
lives in Hebben now."
"Does he get hungry?"
"No. Gramma Renie says
he's at peas."
The mailman walks by and Philip says, "Hi.
Our dad is dead."
I say, "Yeah."
The mailman says, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."
We pick up rocks and make a pile of pretty ones to give to Mom. Philip
picks a flower, too. A pretty little
A bit later our neighbor lady, Mrs. Anderson, walks by with her dog,
Tiger. He's a nice dog.
He does not like to bite kids, just mittens.
"Our dad is dead," Philip
"That's not a nice thing to say,"
says Mrs. Anderson.
"It's true," I say.
"It's still not nice to say that to people.
Does your mother know..."
Course Mom knows. She's the
one that told me.
Winter of 1983
was very nervous when I got to his office. I
was so afraid he would think that there was something wrong with me when I know
there isn't. There can't be.
It just doesn't make any sense. He
asked me what I wanted to talk about. I
didn't know. It surprised me that
this was the question I couldn't answer. We
started chatting about school and my family.
I remembered my dream about John. The
dream interested him. I also
remembered Abigail's letter. She
had sent me a letter earlier this week that really concerned me.
For being such a bright girl, she can be so naive sometimes.
So many boys ask her out, but she never dates them more than two or three
times. I'm worried about her
reputation. She got asked by three
different boys to the Homecoming Dance and she turned them all down.
I don't know what she wants. So
instead, she went to a party where there was drinking.
She got drunk and wrote me this awful letter.
The counselor asked me why Abigail's reputation concerned me, and other
questions about my family. How many
brothers and sisters I had, about my parents.
I didn't say much. He asked
me about my health, eating habits, how I've been sleeping.
He wanted to know if I usually remember my dreams, if I wake up at night
and can't fall back to sleep, and end up pacing the halls.
I never mentioned pacing the halls. I
wonder how he knows.
I don't remember how we started talking about that day, I didn't want to,
but I ended up telling him about Dad. It
was strange to talk about it. It was
so long ago. The words tasted rusty
in my mouth. I hadn't talked about
him, or that day in years, maybe never. It
was like trying to cut the grass with an old push mower that has sat unnoticed,
weathered and unused behind the shed.
We never should have gone to the lake.
I didn't have to ski. Why
didn't we stay home that day? None
of this would have happened. Things
would be so different now. I could
have saved him. There must have been
something I could have done...why didn't I save him?
Why did I have to be the last one to see him alive?
"I could have saved him...I should have saved him."
I started bawling. I hadn't
cried since that day six years ago. I
rocked in the chair, sucking up my tears and cursing my own name.
I ended up taking the rest of the semester off, but I still passed all my
classes, barely. I went into a
crisis center for three weeks. I
didn't tell my mom about any of it, until the day I left the center.
I didn't have the heart to let her down.
She didn't need to worry about me. She
has enough to deal with at home.
November 11, 1977
knew this was going to be a hard day for me.
November 11, the birthday of my oldest boy.
I wonder if his brother Reed or sister Doreen even remember that today
was his birthday. I will never
forget the day he was born, my first little baby.
I was so afraid when I went into labor.
I wished the baby could just go on living inside of me.
It was a long labor, nearly fifteen hours.
I fell asleep right after I gave birth, and didn't see him until the next
morning. He looked so small and
I would do anything to change places with him.
He was such a good boy, such a kind father.
I'm the one who should be dead, not him.
I can't believe now that I gave him to my sister, Mildred, until he was
three. How could I have given up
those precious years with him? I was
too young to know what I was doing. I
think God is punishing me now for what I did then.
God knows I deserve it.
His wife and my grandkids
live about 40 miles from me, far enough away that I don't have to visit them
very often. I used to visit them all
the time. I do love those kids, but
I just can't stand to look at them--especially Emma.
She's so much like her father it's frightening.
Same intense eyes and unruly dark hair.
I ask God over and over, why can't it be me?
What do you want with my boy?
He loved Fig bars as a boy. That's
how I got him to leave go of Mildred's hand at the train station.
He didn't want to get on the train to go to Chicago with me.
So I gave him a Fig bar and promised him another if he boarded the train.
He took the bar and my hand and climbed onto the train.
Mildred left before the train did, so Mickey wouldn't see her.
I haven't been eating very well lately.
A piece of toast and a cup of coffee for breakfast.
I might have a cup of tea later, but usually, I just don't feel like
eating. I've lost a little weight,
the doctor says. I'm down to eighty
pounds. He teases me about becoming
a gymnast. I tell him I'm too old
for that, but he says 54 isn't too old for anything.
Today I ended up going for a drive. I
went to the mall to do a little shopping, but I couldn't find anything worth
buying at Woolworth's or Montgomery Ward's.
I thought maybe I'd visit Mickey's wife and the kids since I was so
close. I got to the house around
5:30. The curtains were open and I
could see them all sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner.
The windows looked a little fogged over, probably having spaghetti--that
was Mickey's favorite meal. He loved
my homemade meatballs and tomato sauce. He
would be 37 today, if ...?
I sat in the car, unable to
get out and walk to the door. I
couldn't go into that house, not without him in it.
I hope Laura and the kids didn't see me sitting out front.
I can't face them. What would
I say to them? That I hope I don't
have to live through another of Mickey's birthdays without him?
new husband, Owen: Thanksgiving,
had been looking forward to this day. Our
first holiday all together. My three
kids, who are actually in between Laura's kids in age, are coming for dinner,
along with my parents and Laura's mother, Irene.
It's one of my favorite holidays.
This morning, though, Emma, who just turned six, fell down the stairs and
knocked out her new front teeth. When
we couldn't get a hold of a dentist, Laura and I rushed to the emergency room.
Luckily they were able to put them back in.
No solid food for her for three weeks.
We got home two hours later to find the turkey still sitting in the
fridge. Eric and Abigail are home
from college, but for some reason are not able to read simple instructions yet.
Laura panicked. The turkey
would never be done in time for dinner. I
tried to control myself when Eric and Abigail appeared for breakfast at noon.
"No breakfast is served in this house after 9:30 am,"
I told them. Abigail retorted
with a "O.k., we'll have pancakes for lunch."
The afternoon was quiet, until Philip, the three year old, came riding by
on his Bigwheel, just as Laura was moving the roaster filled with gravy off the
stove. For fear of colliding with
Philip on his little bike, she dodged him and bumped into the counter.
Gravy splashed against the kitchen wall, running down behind the
cabinets, never to be seen again.
Thanksgiving. No gravy.
Emma can't eat and has a stomach-ache.
I have a headache. To polish
the day off, Abigail tells me she's vegetarian and she won't eat the turkey.
I tell her, if she intends on sleeping in this house tonight, she will
eat the turkey, and she'll eat it without gravy.
She stares me in the eye, smirks and walks away.
I don't think I'll ever be able to get rid of the gravy stain on the
hate math. Not one of my friends is
in my class, it's no fun, and the teacher is so boring.
To top it off, Eric had Mr. Matters, too.
You know, every single one of my teachers remembers Eric.
They all ask me if I'm Eric's sister.
They all tell me what a gifted guy Eric was.
They all want to know how he's doing.
So I tell them he's got his Phd. in Physics and is teaching at the
University. I tell them he's also
directing plays at a community theater and yes, he's married and has two cute
little girls. What I don't tell them
is that Eric has this nervous twitch and he never sits down.
Some teachers ask about Abigail, but not many.
Like Owen, I think they try to forget her.
I try to change the subject when people ask about Abby.
Everybody thinks so poorly of her as it is.
She has this way of doing very memorable, horrible things.
I don't know why she dropped out of high school during the spring of her
senior year, she only had two months left, and she was in the top five percent
of her class. But she still got into
college and did graduate. She also
stopped going to church, which really pissed off my Grandmother Irene, and she
moved in with her atheist boyfriend, which pissed off Owen even more.
It couldn't be much worse. Then
she quit her job as an accountant last month so she could spend more time
dancing and playing the piano. I
wish she would think about what she's doing to everybody around her--especially
me. I'm the one who has to hear Owen
go on about all the things Abby shouldn't be doing.
Eric and I are driving to Grandmother Pearl's funeral together tomorrow.
She died last Thursday of kidney failure.
Abigail says she's been slowly starving herself to death, even though the
doctor says it was a surprise.
Abby and I dropped in one afternoon about a month ago and found Grandma
asleep at the kitchen table. She
looked like a child, so small and weak, her lips parted and her forehead so
smooth. She was very angry at us
when she woke up and found us there, staring at her.
After threatening us and shaming us for frightening an old woman to
death, she invited us to stay for dinner. She
made scrambled eggs and toast. Grandma
Pearl just drank coffee. Abigail ate
her share of the eggs and toast despite the fact that they were cooked in bacon
grease, burned and runny at the same time. I'd
rather starve to death than eat cold, runny eggs.
I understood why Grandma didn't want to eat them.
I don't know what I want to do next fall.
I sometimes envy Abby. She
does what she wants to regardless of how practical it is.
I feel like I have to do what everybody else wants me to.
A lot of my friends are going to the University and they want me to go
with them and join a sorority. Owen
keeps harping on me about my grades--especially my "C" in math.
I wish I was more like Eric. Owen
harps about my clothes and my hair and my attitude.
He's one to talk. I can't
tell him I don't know what I want to do. He
wouldn't understand. He's the kind
of guy who always knows exactly what he's going to do, because its the exact
same thing he's done for years.
Spring of 1982
is having a tough time. Of all my
children, Eric will go the furthest, and feel like he has not succeeded.
He has always been the top of his class.
He's bright, athletic, and I think, even if I'm his mother, very
good-looking. When he was in junior
high I called him my "Renaissance Man" .
Abigail nicknamed him "The Saint" when they were in high school
together because he always did exactly the right thing.
But Eric may never forgive himself. He
feels so responsible for Mike's death. Mike
and Eric ran together most mornings, but that January morning Eric wanted to
cross-country ski. So they went to
Silver Lake where Eric could ski and Mike ran along side of him.
They were about 2/3 of the way around the lake when Mike fell through the
ice. Eric tried to pull him out, but
the ice was breaking up. Eric's skis
helped to keep him up, but the frozen, slushy water pulled Mike under.
Eric screamed for help, but there was no one else around.
He refused to leave the spot, trying and trying to see his father under
the ice and break him loose, but Mike was gone.
In my dreams I become Eric, and I see Mike's face for an instance and
then he disappears. I wonder what
About a half hour later
another jogger came by and found Eric shivering, standing ankle deep in the
frozen water, a ski in his hand like a fishing pole, frozen tears and mucus on
his face. He went for help, leaving Eric standing there, alone.
I got the phone call an hour after it happened.
I felt my heart pause, heavy within me, and I struggled for breath.
As I hung up the phone my baby inside me, my Philip, kicked me hard on
the top on my uterus. Tears streamed
down my face as I sat hugging my belly, holding my love close to me.
weird cuz I never even saw him. He
died before I was even born. Abigail
and Eric were about my age when he died. They
had a lifetime with him. They were
lucky. They really got to know him.
Mom never talks about him. I
guess it would be hard for Owen--my step-father, to have to hear about him all
the time. I think competing with a
dead guy has got to be harder than you think.
Especially one that died young, and was married to your wife.
But it's still not fair. I
have no idea who my dad was, and it even feels like nobody really wants me to
Abigail will answer questions I ask her, but she says she can't remember
much. I wonder what drugs she took
that made her lose her memory so bad.
Eric, on the other hand, doesn't say anything.
He gives some vague answer--sounds like a politician.
It's like when I ask him a question, he's just finished a textbook with
the answer in it, and instead of talking about it, he shuts it.
The end. Time to talk about
something else, like the weather.
Emma found a box of Dad's stuff in the attic last summer.
It had comic books, cuff links, ribbons and pins he had won in high
school. He was in, get this, the
Latin club, the Glee Club (totally goofy), and he swam the 50-meter fly.
He was a great swimmer, even though the rest of us are scared to death of
the water. There were some
handkerchiefs with his initials on them, and an entire box full of index cards
that he had practiced his signature on. I
guess when he was about my age he thought he was gonna play pro-baseball.
Used to hang out at Wrigley Field in Chicago catching foul balls and home
runs. There's even a couple
autographed bats from the fifties. Very
Emma says it's hers, cuz she found it.
Ya right. She took it all to
her room. I
pounded on her locked door. "It's
not yours, it's Dad's." She's
very selfish sometimes. I went to my
room, knowing I couldn't talk logic with her and turned on my Nirvana tape.
About two weeks later though, when I was helping Abigail move, she handed
me a shirt and a sweater from her closet. She
says, "These were Dad's. They'd
look good on you." I put them
on and wore them all day, despite the fact it was 85 degrees out.
I'm turning fifty this December. I'm
amazed at all that has happened to me in these fifty short years.
I feel as though I've lived three lifetimes.
My own childhood spent moving from town to town as a military brat--until
my father's death. Then the sixties
that lead to my unexpected pregnancy and my life with Mike, and then life after
Mike. Each so distinct, so separate.
Each has joyful memories, each has pain.
I've learned that one can't control life.
Birth and death just happen. I
planted bulbs last week with Abigail. They
will come up if, and when they want to, despite what we have done.
Abby's doing well. She is
finally taking the time to figure out what she wants out of life, instead of
just reacting to it. I had four
children and they are each close to me when they need to be.
I can't force Abigail into church or marriage.
I can't ask Eric to loosen up, or to let go of his guilt.
He still worries too much, but the girls are keeping him so busy, I don't
think he has time to worry as much. I
can't change Emma's self-centeredness and anger.
She has always reacted with emotions first, thought later.
But she has come so far. When
I think about that little girl who threw temper tantrums at dinner every night
for almost two whole years, I'm pleased with the young woman I now know.
I can't ask Philip to apply himself, to try a little harder.
I just hope he doesn't ruin his chances of getting into college.
He is so bright, it would be a shame if he wasted it.
They will each figure life out on their own.
And they will feel strong and capable when they do.
I don't know what has been harder for me, the death of my husband or the
death of their father. I could only
be their mother. They could only be
my children. His death left a hole
in our family that will never be filled. We've
slowly tried to patch it, to mend it, but it is still there, visible where the
new patch doesn't fit, obvious where the threads don't match, and may not be
strong enough to hold. I do hope it