“Did you see her?” Delphie asked.
“She misses you, Dad, and us,” Jacob said. “She said you, Dad and she belonged together like me and Jill, me and Val, Val and Mike, and Jill and Mike. That’s what I remember. The four of us. The three of you.”
“Does she know…?”
“About you and Dad?” Jacob asked. “She isn’t upset or jealous. I think she loves both of you so completely that your relationship makes more sense to her than to either of you. Mom is… such a great being, so loving, so kind. I think all of that couldn’t be held in by a physical body.”
Delphie cried in earnest at his words. Jacob sat holding her hand and watching the fire. After a few moments, her tears began to slow.
“I usually feel so close to her, but since you were injured… It’s like she’s mad at me that I let you get injured or…”
“She’s been with me,” Jacob said. “I’m… Well, I’m not as well as I look.”
Embarrassed by her display of sadness, Delphie wiped her eyes. She drained her tea cup.
“Why don’t you go and talk to her?” Jacob asked. “She’s right here.”
“Thanks,” Delphie said. “Can I get you more tea?”
“I’d love some, but I can get some myself. Go talk to Mom,” Jacob said. “I didn’t tell you anything you don’t know.”
Delphie gave a slight nod.
“Do you think of me as a kind of parent?”
“You’re my Delphie,” Jacob said.
“Sam said you and Val were always our kids – mine, Celia’s and Sam’s. I…”
“That’s true,” Jacob said.
“So Katy’s mine too? I’m her…”
“Grand-Delphie,” Jacob said.
“Love you, Jakey.”
“Love you too.”
Delphie went to the door of the room. She stopped for a moment at the door. Turning to look back into the room, she was about to ask another question. Deciding against it, she went to her room to ask Celia instead.
Tuesday night — 7:30 P.M.
“Uncle Mike? When does Mommy come home?” Katy asked.
“You just asked that, sweetie,” Mike said.
He and Katy had spent the night playing Legos, laughing, and watching cartoons. He was giving her a bath.
“Before I go to sleep,” Katy said. “Like always. Except when I stay with Aunt Megan.”
“Right,” Mike said.
“If I tell you something, will you promise not to tell Mommy?” Katy took the wash cloth from Mike to scrub her face while Mike washed her hair.
“Nope,” Mike said. “There’s nothing that you should ever keep from your Mom.”
“But if I tell her, she will cry and cry and cry,” Katy said. “I hate it when Mommy cries.”
Katy closed her eyes so Mike could rinse her with the hand held tub sprayer.
“All done?” Mike asked.
After letting the water out of the tub, Mike wrapped Katy in a bath sheet. He carried her out into the sitting area of his and Valerie’s apartment. Valerie waited for them with mugs of hot chocolate.
“You can tell us anything. And we will always love you no matter what. But we won’t promise not to tell your Mommy,” Mike said.
Valerie took Mike’s warm bundle of Katy and rubbed her dry. While Katy weighed her options on her fingers, Valerie helped her into her pajamas. Valerie had just finished combing Katy’s wet hair when Katy sighed.
“Ok, I’ll tell you,” Katy said. “You know how I had another Daddy?”
“Uh huh,” Mike said.
He lifted Katy onto the couch then gave her a mug of hot chocolate. Valerie smiled when he gave her a mug of cocoa. He winked at Valerie.
“Well, he’s going to take me away from Mommy and make me live with him. I won’t ever SEE Mommy again.”
“Why do you say that, honey?” Mike asked.
“He told me.”
The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…
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