“I have to tell you something,” whispered Boy as we lay in bed. “No one else can hear.” Girl, lying on my other side, immediately rolled nearer to hear what the whispering was about. Such is the nature of whispering.

“One: I don’t want us to die,” he said. “Step two,” and then he mumbled a second thing which I didn’t catch. Then he said, “Step three, I want our house to stay where it is.”

Not wanting to miss his musings, I asked him what the second thing was. He repeated his answers.

“One, I don’t want us to die, but I know that we will. Step two, I want to get old. Step three, I want our house to stay where it is, and I want us to stay in it.”

“I want you to get old, too,” I said. Satisfied, he rolled over and put his head on the pillow parallel to the side of the bed, the one that provides a buffer zone, perched at the bed’s edge above the floor.

Responsible as I am for his very presence here on Earth, here in this town, here in this house, here on this bed, here in this family, there is so much beyond my control, so much that will happen to him whether I want it to or not. The pillow keeps him from the edge, and it comforts him. Its presence comforts me. He sleeps, and I give the still-awake Girl one more kiss good-night before I leave.

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