I skipped this morning’s First Friday in Micah’s class. Artie went instead. This month’s project was a family tree.

Just seeing the faces Artie printed out for it last night was enough:
four grandparents,
two uncles,
two aunts,
two cousins
and the four of us
to make a grand and deceptively symmetrical total of 14.

Everyone smiling and happy, but only 13 out of the smiling and happy 14 still alive. Everyone but Mama. “Unfair!” as Lysle would say with a decided pout at that crazy irregularity. No one likes being the odd one out, the dead one out. Mama hated knowing that she would be. And I didn’t want to have to face all that in Micah’s classroom before 9 a.m..

At dinner Artie and Micah told me what they did. They cut foliage out of green paper, a trunk out of brown, and glued everyone’s face onto the tree they made.

That image consoled me.
Most of Mama’s ashes are buried under a beech tree. She is the tree they glued everyone on. She’s the overarching and embracing one, our family’s good spirit and keeper, the ancestress we all knew and won’t ever forget.
And in that there’s so much life.

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