Mary LeMay and I had been standing out on the sidewalk, carping companionably about the heat when the Talles pickup truck pulled into their driveway. Seeing their obvious distress, we walked across the front lawns to greet them. I'd seen Bodie and Andersol happy, I'd seen them tipsy; I'd seen mischief play across their faces, but I'd never seen them sunken in such emotional pain. Mary immediately reached out to touch Andersol's arm.
"A neighbor of our folks called us," Andersol explained, blowing her nose, "to tell us that our mother died."
"What?" I gasped. "Your mother, too? Was she ill? Your father?"
"Yeah, I guess she was sick with cancer for a couple years. That's what the neighbor said, though neither she nor Dad answered our letters or talked to us on the phone to tell us about it. We didn't know anything until she was dead. I always thought that one day they would open up and let us back into the family, but I was wrong."
Bodie continued, his lean face grizzly with unshaven beard stubble, with flickers of gray in the black. "The neighbor told us the time of the funeral, and we went to see if we could at least make peace over a grave. Dad greeted us, all right, at the cemetery, screaming that we had caused our mother's death by our perversions and threw mud clods at us, and said that we were no part of his family."
Andersol began to sob, and Bodie put his arms around her and wept also. Mary wrapped her arms around them both. "You poor children!"
We did feel like children again, helpless and at the mercy of an adult world that contained too much death, too many cruel acts. No matter how soured the relationship may be, I don't think any child ever stops wanting their mother or father to welcome them, or nurture them, or turn to them in love. Now, for the twins and I, the hope of redeeming the broken relations with our mothers was gone forever, and our fathers' lives far beyond our reach.
The three of us spent a good bit of time together, in the next few days, evenings that we were all home, most often just sitting in their living room or mine, Gabe touching our feet with his big paws or nuzzling for a hug. The TV was too loud, so we sat and listened to low radio music, and said little. We leaned against each other; the physical contact was helpful in knowing that we weren't alone in front of the gaping maw of Death. We had no words. Mary checked in on us frequently, bringing us little gifts of food, reassuring us of goodness in the world.
Oddly, her kindness prompted a sense of resentment in me, not against her but against God, who brought me into a life with a mother who wanted her children only to obey her directives, who was critical and angry and disappointed; a God who created the miracle of the Talles twins only to dump them into a family who refused to understand their closeness, who feared the bond of love that made them inseparable. Why couldn't we have had a mother like Mary LeMay? Someone who laughed and loved and welcomed and sympathized?
There were too many things in my head that I did not want to say aloud, but did not want to reside there with me. I made an appointment with Fr. Del at the church, in order to empty out those unhappy thoughts in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Fr. Del listened as I talked about my shame at my emotions of relief at my mother's passing and the anger and near-hatred I had for a lifetime of terrorism. I told him how tired I was of God's twisted plans and unkind surprises. He handed me tissues as necessary, and reminding me that my feelings were a natural part of grief, absolved me of my misery and recommended that I say hello to him after every Mass so that he would know that I was all right, and so that I would know that if I needed to talk again, he would be there.
I did that, and shared some of his wisdom with Andersol and Bodie; talking about our feelings with each other, without judgment, seemed to help us all. By the end of August, I felt stronger, even a little hopeful, ready to approach the world again, just in time to get pounded into the dust by the shock of the death of my sister's husband, Charles.