We’ve kicked the ball over the fence. Well, Cayde has actually, in a spirited game of backyard soccer. We’re at my brother-in-law’s house and the Chargers game is on in the vague background. We do a spirited march next door–me and Cayde and my niece, Bailey–in hopes of retrieving the wayward ball. The doorbell is answered only by the yapping of a small dog, most likely something ridiculous, but we can’t see past the pebbled glass entryway to know.
A single-prop plane passes overhead and we look up instinctively. “No luck, kiddos.” A dance back across the grass and I stoop to pluck a dandelion. Bailey’s beaten me to it–she has two in hand–and Cayde follows suit.
“What are you gonna wish for?” At first Bailey protests because telling would mean risking the wish. Spit on your palm when you see a hay-bale-truck, wish on the falling star, close your eyes and blow out the birthday candle–just never tell.
But she changes her mind. “I want a Barbie play-set,” she announces matter-of-factly. And she looks really cute in her dress-up dress–a velvet thing–with two dandelions in her hand. Cayde chimes in: “I want the Pegasus Bey-Blade.” The Bey-Blade: it’s a newfangled toy with a cartoon to match.
“Nooo,” I say, “C’mon–wish for something better.” And Bailey thinks and finally responds by saying she wants a first-place medal in her next feis–an Irish-dancing competition. She’s an earnest dancer and medalling is important. Cayde says: “I want to be the best student ever and get awards at every assembly.”
The plane lands somewhere behind us and both Bailey and Cayden *pfoof* at their dandelions; I’m strangely relieved when the heads remain intact and only a few dandelion fuzzies float over the grass, wishes speeding ground-wards. These are suddenly tall orders and the wishes, they weigh both heavy and light in the grass, little fuzzy pollen-somethings.
I’m talking to my friend, Ryan, later. A good way to end a Sunday: with the light going down correctly, and a phone cradled to my shoulder while walking up and down the driveway. Mid-conversation, I get a text and I check it while just talking. And it’s an important text because it involves someone dying. But–in this moment–I just close the phone and let it blink back into darkness somewhere in my pocket. I refuse a sob or even a hiccup; I keep talking.
I hadn’t spoken to Ryan in a while. There were wishes already heavy in the grass, most likely soddened by sprinklers at this point, and my friend on the other end of the wire and a light that was nice. But there was also someone–in that same moment–steadying a thumb to text the words: ‘Reagan died comfortably and peacefully this morning..”
In which case, you have to note something, something of the moment to acknowledge that the universe just happened, quite unfairly, and what is there? but a dumb sunset and the notion that wishing for a ‘Barbie playset’ was just really very much ok.