And now we are four

  

I don’t come to my sister’s cabin nearly as often as I could.  Not nearly as often as I should.  It’s beautiful; it’s above 5,000 feet elevation; it abuts a state park and is just a few miles from a beautiful national forest.  She has always extended me and mine an open invitation.  Conifers hundreds of feet tall surround it.  She has spent many of the past eight or so years sprucing it up, so that it reflects her family’s dual Norwegian-American heritage.  The problem is that it reflects her family for me, too, or rather one young member of it who’s no longer here.

After Erik died, it was nine months until I visited their cabin again.  We were up in the area for the winter holidays with the beloved’s family at another cabin; my sister was away, and I had come to borrow some stray kitchen implement.  When I entered the place, my heart was so heavy I could hardly breathe.  I saw him everywhere: at the kitchen counter, helping mix pancakes with my sister and me; on the couch, highlighting the beloved’s mezzo-soprano parts, with her direction, in her copy of Der Rosenkavalier.  I saw him intent on a video game, or constructing an elaborate Lego space station.  With his younger brother, he was playing with my eccentric Christmas (or Jule) gifts to them: funky, home-made “spy kits,” consisting of high-powered magnets and  mini-flashlights attached to retractable key chains. Outside, he was crouched behind a snow bank, fumbling excitedly for snowballs.

I gathered the pots and pans we needed, and stayed away for a long time after that. Even after my sister began to come.

Read moreAnd now we are four