“Do you want to go see your mommy today?” I ask.
Madi squints her eyes up real tight like she does when she’s figuring something out. “I don’t know. It’s not very fun there.”
Madi and I are both sitting on the couch. She has her copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom splayed out across her legs. I loosen my tie.
“It’s been a few days, Madi. I know it can be sad, but we should go see her. ”
I scoot over closer to her. I think I’m supposed to put my arm around her or something. I pat her shoulder instead. I don’t know how to do this, to comfort someone, but it’s a start.
My sister Alice was always the jovial one. She would light up when she saw me, especially after I got back from a long business trip or hadn’t visited in a while. She made people feel special just for being alive.
“Is there anything you’d like to tell mommy?”
Madi pulls her legs up close to her body, and the book slides down to the floor, bending the pages.
Alice would know what to say here.
“How does it make you feel when we go see her, Madi?”
“Does it make you feel sad?”
A moment passes. She gives a subtle nod.
I swallow, wishing I had something to say. “Godfather” had been a celebratory term four years ago when Alice asked me. According to the doctor, it would not be long until “godfather” became just…
It doesn’t feel right to say it. It won’t for a long time.
“I feel sad too,” I said. “You know, it’s okay to feel sad.”
Madi leans into me, and I put my arm around her.
Despite the pain, I think this feels right.
I wrote this tiny story in a half hour during a meeting of the creative writing club that I co-lead with another teacher at my school. We gave the kids a prompt, and we both decided to write stories for it as well. Here was the prompt:
Put a character in a situation entirely new to the character, e.g., college, a new school, a new job, a new city/country. Let the character improvise a new identity, as most of us do when we enter a new world. This exercise should be about the new situation but how the character adjusts herself and her mind to the new situation.
As my wife Carol and I have started the adoption process, I think I may have been subconsciously processing the idea of suddenly going from “not-a-parent” to “parent” and how strange the associated emotions might be. I think I have a lot of the insecurities that the uncle/godfather in this story has, and I’ll have to face those when the time comes.