Are they dancing near the ocean?
True, I have in my decades of life learned a little bit of decorum. I don't skip nearly as much as I did a couple decades back, and that isn't only because my left knee has grown annoyingly fragile and my dogs get disconcerted when their human moves erratically. I refrain from blurting out all the questions in my heart--though I do still blurt one or two, and have very little fear of seeming stupid or ignorant--if you don't ask questions when are you going to get answers?
So, when the sprite with the long yellow hair and bright blue eyes, perched happily on her dad's shoulders in the grocery store line caught my eye, I smiled back at her. And she chirped up, "what's your name?" I told her, and she told me hers. And then she asked "where's your mommy?"
Her mommy was in front of her in the line, and I glanced at her, and at the stalwart young father who was acting as a nice horse for his little girl. The direct answer would have been something along the lines of "dead". And indeed, dead nearly 10 years. But that didn't seem like the sort of answer to give the little girl--I mean, did she even have a concept of death yet? Was I the one who was going to introduce it to her? I said "oh, my mom isn't around any more", which, as I said it, was bad enough. I could see my little blonde friend pondering.
"Why isn't she here? Where is she?" she asked, reasonably enough. Remember, kids do view me as one of them, and this little one is never, probably, far from her parents--she was wondering why I was wandering around without the help of a mom, I am certain. Before I could answer she said "well, if your mommy isn't here, where is your daddy?"
I gave the listening mother a glance that said "help!" because...well, my father has also been dead a decade now. She stepped in and said "I think her daddy is with her mommy" I smiled, "yes, that's right". The little girl--her father later told me she is only two and a half--asked "Where are they?"
The mother then said "oh, maybe they are together at the beach. Maybe they are dancing." Seems the child loves to dance. I smiled. "I'm sure they are having fun" I said.
The girl stared at me a moment, and then she said something I've carried with me a few days. She said "It's okay. If you need a mommy and daddy you can have mine. I share a lot!"
I smiled, though tears had sprung to my eyes, and thanked her for her very kind offer.