I Never Doubted Your Beauty

Today’s Friday. It’s Friday? Yes, it’s Friday. I have to do more of the thinking now, even though Daria says, “Don’t think. It weakens the team.”

On Tuesday night, we decided it was time for Darla’s parents to make the two-day drive from Canada. Yes, she’s Canadian. No, she looks just like a normal person. On Wednesday, Darla called them. They packed the car – their cases were packed weeks ago – and left almost immediately. The same day, Daria’s four-year-old Sandro pulled a Houdini on the babysitter and the police were called. It didn’t go well from there. I turned a corner in the house and found Daria on a cellphone, turning a lovely shade of ashen I’d never seen before. After a series of frantic phone calls, she spilled the beans.

Daria: Sandro ran away from the babysitter and the police got involved.
Tata: No, Sandro was going for a walk.
Daria: No, he….right.
Tata: Is he under arrest? I always expected to bail him out but this kid’s a prodigy.
Daria: Your godson wouldn’t tell the police his name.
Tata: That’s my boy.

Her husband Tyler came yesterday to pick her up. The plan is for her to come back Sunday or Monday with at least two of her children. I hate this plan but the kids are so small time away from their mother is not something we can ask them to accept stoically.

In the meantime, Daria, Darla and I had formed a rhythmic, dependable tag team verging on a flat-tire roller derby; the idea of Daria’s leaving filled me with dread. For two weeks, the corps of minions jumping up when Darla appeared with some frightening pronouncement narrowed until it was just Daria and me with the italic M sewn to our matching t-shirts. Dara is really too young to be shoved into the fray, in my opinion. Yesterday, I had a few hours of near fright until Darla’s parents arrived. Then Tyler and Daria left. Dara and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

In any case, Daria left all her clothes, doubling the size of my wardrobe. I’d brought enough clothing for a few days and I’ve been here almost a month, I think. When I get home, I’m building a bonfire and burning everything I’ve worn to threads. You should bring marshmallows.

On her way out, Daria said, “I made meatloaf. All you have to do is cook it.” When we decided we should eat, Dara and I stared at the foil-covered loaf pan and cursed Daria. I took out the – don’t look, Suzette! – Joy of Cooking because I don’t make meatloaf. Gently, Darla’s mother Nina came to stand next to me.

Tata: Meatloaf…meatloaf…page 722…
Nina: I’d think we might cook at 350, maybe?
Tata: …we could do that…
Nina: For half an hour with the foil on, perhaps?
Tata: That sounds good.
Nina: And a little longer after that?
Tata: You have my full attention. Let’s do it.

And we did. Darla’s Dad Nigel talks medicine with Darla, which is a great comfort to her. This morning, Dara went to school. I sat with Dad. Darla did some work. Nina and Nigel returned the wheelchair to a hospital and picked up groceries. I am not frightened. We hung on through the white-knuckle ride because there was no other choice. Now we can let go a little.

Grownups have arrived.

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