• “Gentle, Terrible, Wonderful” (from our founder’s journal)

    This evening, a baby boy was abandoned at the front gate of our site in Masaka.  No note, just a basket of clothes.  As I have spent the day processing this reality, I was reminded of something from my journal, written years ago on a similar day.  I share it again below.  –Dr. Nathaniel

    “Someone has abandoned a small child at our gate,” Tonny said to me last Monday.

    I assure you such a sentence causes the mind — and heart — to slow.

    Reaction stands-by as realization clambers to do her job.

    Like a docent assessing a new portrait. An expert reluctant to admit that this painting confuses him.

    Is this a dark masterpiece painted with a hidden message of hope?

    Is it a happy work — in the darkest of colors?

    Surely it is not a window’s reality that must actually be processed by this beholder.

    “His name is Marvin,” my assistant added. “That’s all we know.”  And so, another baby joined our family. We think he must be about one-year-old. Maybe one-and-a-half.

    In the past, as my staff and I have discussed such realities, we have always come to the powerful conclusion that, perhaps, the person who deposits a sweet orphan at such a gate as ours does so with a courage unlike any other.

    Rightly or wrongly, they feel (even know, somehow) that perhaps it is the best possible future for the sweet child. Probably not their own baby.  (Though, maybe Marvin’s mother is the one who carefully placed him here. I try not to contemplate too much. To think too far.) But they seem to know that the child will soon need a new caregiver. Somewhere inside sensing their own goodbye.

    Anyone is welcome to visit our screened-in-porch-office, but this soul had not the heart for a referral, or perhaps not hope for her own tomorrow. His.

    Maybe their dramatic, rather final departure from the child is really a compassionate bon voyage.

    Towards hope.

    A gentle, terrible, wonderful send-off for their Moses-basket.

    Through the reeds of uncertainty and hopelessness.

    Towards hope.

    And life.

    I am sorry.

    That such a reality exists — for some — wherein a village gate serves as a solitary place of hope.

    I am desperate.

    With the reality that Marvin’s mom and dad probably died months ago. That their surrogate was likely sick. Or confused. Or hopeless. Or?

    I am heartened, however.

    That our gate.

    Is here.

    A symbol of hope.

    A place.



    Though the darkness surrounds.

    And never goes away.

    At least.

    Not yet.

    “I know how people in exile feed on dreams of hope.” 
    –Aeschylus, 420 BC

    To see a picture of Marvin, now an active young student, visit my Facebook page.  He is third from the left in my cover photo.

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  • Joy in a stranger’s joy, and pride in my son

    rogers prospectingFrom Nathaniel’s journal:

    Yesterday, I attended the impressive opening reception of the Hansen Leadership Institute.  You may remember that one of our oldest girls, Dorah, won one of the highly coveted fellowships last year.  And this year, our oldest, Rogers Dunigan, won one of the 15 international spots–out of an applicant pool of more than 700!

    Alas, he wasn’t at the reception yesterday.

    You see, early this year, when he received news that he had won, he immediately went to the passport office in Kampala.  He completed his application and expected a passport to be issued in short order, just as had been done for Dorah last year.

    And we waited.

    And we waited.

    Time was becoming critical.  After many weeks, he received notice from the Hansen Institute: if he could not secure a passport within four more days, the Institute would need to give his spot to an alternate.

    Two days later, he received a message that his passport was ready!  Excited and delighted, he made his way by public means, through the bustling and congested streets of Kampala, to the passport office.

    After waiting in a long line, he finally reached the counter.  Without ceremony, the document was handed to him.  A combination of relief and elation came over him as he opened the most legally significant document to ever represent his life.

    As soon as he opened it, however, he became crestfallen.

    “What’s the matter?” someone asked.

    “My name is spelled wrong.  Dunigan has one ‘n,’ not two,” he answered.

    He placed the document back on the counter and slid it to the agent on the other side.

    He would not be traveling to the United States after all.  He would not be a fellow.

    When he told me this story that night on the phone, I said, “I think it would be okay to use it as it is, as long as the air tickets and visa are issued with the same spelling.”

    “But then I would lose my heritage.  My name, your name, means more to me.”

    I swallowed.

    And so, Rogers was not at the reception yesterday.  Another young man, his alternate, was there instead.  And elated to be.  I congratulated him, and found joy in his joy.

    And pride in my son.

    Rogers is spending his summer as an intern in Uganda, getting him one-step closer to finishing his degree in business at one of Africa’s Top Ten universities.

    And our futures, emboldened by our heritage, promise us so much.

    Thank you for making these deeply nuanced stories possible, where we sort out life’s opportunities from life’s deepest meanings. –Nathaniel 

  • The (FREE) first chapter of Nathaniel’s new book:

    cover treeBelow is the first chapter of Nathaniel’s new book, “We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life,” now available on Amazon.com.

    These short stories capture his dissertation findings. The book also includes a study-guide and analysis that might serve educators, counselors, clergy and aid workers in the region.

    (The title comes from a Luganda phrase that encourages living in the moment.  The mahogany lives longer than most trees in the area.)

    We hope you find it of meaning and use.


    My name is Thursday.  They call me that because I was born on a Thursday.  I hate my name. 

    The year is 2001, and I am 15 years old.  I grew up in a classroom.  My mother was very young when I was born.  Until I was old enough to go to school on my own, everyday she would use a kitenge to tie me onto her back, and carry me to school.  There, she would lay out the kitenge on the cement floor in one corner of the crowded room where her mom, my grandmom, was a primary school teacher.  I still remember playing in that corner, and the feeling of being wrapped up on her back as she made the long walk home on the red dirt streets of Kampala.  Motorcycle taxis, called boda-bodas, zipped past us on all sides, hooting at us with their squeaky little horns, while giant Maribu Storks lumbered around us, picking at the garbage piles that lined the streets.  When we would get home, Mom would either give me sugarcane to chew on or a cup of milk chai to drink, depending on whether it was the hot, dry season, or the cold, rainy season.

    When I completed Primary 7 at school, my grandmom also retired from teaching.   This meant that there was no money for school fees, so I have had to sit at home since.

    I don’t know who my father is, and that disturbs me a lot.  When I ask about him, I am ignored.  This means I don’t know which clan I belong to or anything about my lineage. This is a problem.  It also means that I don’t know which clan I cannot marry into, and I don’t know where I will be buried.  You see, I am meant to be laid to rest with my father’s family, but I don’t know where their graves are.  Many times my friends have found me seated and keeping quiet.  When they ask me what’s wrong, I reply, “I am having my own problems,” like that.  But these days they are used to me because whenever they find me like that, my grandmom calls me and tells me, “No, don’t think of that,” and she tries to encourage me.

    There are many people in our small house today.  I don’t know exactly how many.  The house is made up of seven rooms, and as always, every door is closed.  We received a visitor two days ago; a woman a bit older than Mom.  They told me that she used to work here as a housemaid.

    When you first enter our house, you find a room lined with furniture.  To the left of the door is a large, stuffed armchair covered in maroon and gold fabric with gold tassels dangling from each arm.  Next to it is a sofa with bright blue and green stripes.  This one is my favorite because it extends to the corner and is under the window.  When I can’t fall sleep on the mattress that I normally share with my cousin, I come to this sofa, and it always makes me sleepy.  There is another sofa just like it on the opposite wall, but there are doors on each side of it, one leading to the kitchen, and the other to the bathroom.  I hate sitting there, let alone sleeping there.

    Along the wall that connects the two sofa-walls are two more maroon and gold chairs, one on each side of the door that leads to the hallway.  We have only a few things hanging on our walls.  One is a photo of Oprah Winfrey.  My sister cut it out of the newspaper.  There are also our baptism certificates from church, a photo of Pope John Paul II, and a photo of President Museveni.  (They were giving these photos out at school before I had to stop going.)

    Off of the hallway are four rooms that we use for bedrooms.  Grandmom’s room is the last one.  I have only been in her room once in my lifetime.

    In the kitchen, cooking is done on a charcoal stove on the floor.  We do our washing outside, by hand.  I wash my clothes and my mom’s, except for her underclothes.  In Uganda, everyone washes their own underwear.  I am told that even President Museveni washes his own shorts!

    Dinner tonight was my favorite: rice, beans and avocado.  I am not sure who prepared it, but they used enough garlic and salt to make it perfect.

    We were gathered in the sitting room after dinner when my grandmom suddenly said, “That one is your real mom,” she used her lips to point to the former housemaid, our visitor.

    “What?  What do you mean?” I ask.

    “After she stopped working for us, she went somewhere and got pregnant.  After you were born, she brought you here saying she couldn’t manage you, so we decided to be Good Samaritans and take you up.”

    Nothing further is said to me.  And I don’t know what to say or do.

    One of my uncles switches on the radio.  It’s 11pm.  Everyone begins to listen as the announcer reads personal notices, hoping to hear messages from family upcountry.  People often go to their local office of the national radio station, and pay a few hundred shillings to send greetings or death announcements to family in other parts of the country.

    I find myself staring at the former housemaid.  “She’s not my mom,” I think to myself.  “She can’t be.  Why is my grandmom trying to deceive me?”

    I get up and go outside.  It’s very dark.  The electricity has just gone out again.  This is the fifth or sixth time today.  I have lost count.  Street vendors at the corner are lighting candles to illuminate their wares: matchboxes, batteries, candles, tiny bars of soap, salt, and flip-flop shower shoes.

    I hear a baby crying next door, and in the distance, the sounds of lorries beginning their late night trek across eastern Uganda to collect imported items at the Kenyan border.  Items that originated in Europe and India, then shipped across the Indian Ocean to Mombasa, and then through the entire expanse of Kenya before finally reaching Uganda.  Some of the items will remain here, while others will be taken to the Congolese border to the west.

    I make my own journey down our dark street, and call out for my friend in the direction of his house.  No response.  I call out several more times.  Finally, he opens his front door, and comes to greet me.

    “Yes, Thursday!  Ki kati?  What’s up?”

    “Don’t call me that.  You know I hate my  name,” I say.

    He then calls me “Baambi,” a term of endearment in Luganda.  He says he’s sorry, and then adds, “Ki ki gwe?  What’s wrong with you?  Are you again thinking about your father?”

    “Worse,” I say.  “Can you imagine?  They have just informed me that the other woman is my mom.”

    “Who told you?  Which woman do you mean?  Be clear,” he demands.  And I explain.  He takes my left arm by wrapping his right hand around my wrist, and he pulls me to the broken stoop in front of his house.  We sit.  The uneven concrete has captured some of that afternoon’s rain, but I don’t care.

    “I feared telling you who she was,” he says.

    “You mean you KNEW?”

    He raises and drops his eyebrows in one dramatic movement.  This means yes.

    “It’s not true,” I say.  “I won’t believe it.  I refuse.”

    “There’s more,” he swallows.  He’s no longer looking at me. “She was impregnated by one of the men in your house while she was a housemaid there.  I don’t know which man, but that’s why they have raised you.  One of them is your father, and the one you call Mom is your sister.”

    I shook his hand free from my wrist and walked away, but I didn’t go home.  “None of this is true.  People are just lying, the usual sadists trying to cause damage,” I tell myself.  I wait outside until my house has gone quiet before I reenter.  Once inside, I lay down on the blue and green sofa, but tonight I fail to catch sleep.  They expect me to believe that behind one of these closed doors is a stranger who is my mother, and an uncle who is my dad.

    But I do not.

    To read the rest, simply purchase your copy or Kindle version at Amazon.com. 

  • Fastened Together in a Bunch

    [From the early pages of Dr. Nathaniel’s African journal.]

    wild-flower-bouquet-ribbon-vintage-outdoorToday, I shall be sad.

    Somehow, strangely, the phrase brings me hope.

    Perhaps it is the implied boundary. Though I think it is something else.

    I think it is an embrace of this part of me — of us — which is quite real. True. Genuine. Heart-whole.

    An understanding. At last. Again. That when our emotions are picked and fastened together in a bunch — like the perfect bouquet they can be — should be — then each bloom emanates its own aroma resulting in the special perfume which is us.



    Today, I shall be sad.

    I shall be sad because — while there is love — much comes from a commitment to unconditionality. Not to reality.

    Today, I shall be sad because of the little boy who rarely smiles. Pathetic,” they say. I say. Because, while ailments of body have been treated, the aches caused by an unknown evil remain. Perhaps forever.

    I shall be sad because of the forlorn old woman who always carried an empty basket; her only desire to brim every other. But they’re all empty now. So she will be alone.

    Today, I shall be sad because even when you do unto others as you would have them do unto you — they may not. Because selfishness hurts.

    I shall be sad because these treads in my climb aren’t worth it. Ruinous even.

    Today, I shall be sad because hope does not always deliver. Because good added to good may not produce more good. Because bad things DO happen.

    I shall be sad because it doesn’t all even out in the end. Because bad people don’t always get theirs. And because good people often do.

    Today, I shall be sad because. Because I am. 

    Tomorrow, the breeze will feed my spirit with life. And the candlelight will warm me again.

    The goodnight kiss will electrify. And the conversation will make me laugh.

    The song will be mine. And the cuddle will be splendid.

    The kids will giggle. And I will delight.

    The raindrops will refresh. And the smile will be enough.

    But today.


    I shall be sad.


    In fourteen days, it will be three years since I lost my first baby, Milo. I miss him so. I still grieve. But our hope is great enough to light the dark places the make us whole.

    Even good. 

  • “An Invitation to Stay Long” (Nathaniel’s reflection on visiting the homes of his friends in Uganda)

    bananaPerhaps what is most intriguing to me about Ugandan homes is not found in a study of the exteriors, or a look around inside, but rather the perspective from their internal view to the outside.  I like to unlatch the window shutters – raising the hut’s eyelids – perceiving the world from within the living organ that is the home’s existence. 

    In rural Uganda, the view is often of banana trees.  The trees are truly lovely images, and the matooke (plantain) fruit is absolutely the delicacy of choice.  The plantations are abundant, providing nourishment and culinary delight even in the absence of prosperity. 

    The great-matooke-view is made even more special by the scene’s soundtrack.  The wind gives crackly voice to the leaves, while the steps of animals and people pad a similarly crisp-tune on the carpet of dry and fallen foliage underfoot.

    All the while, one is offered the loveliest of hospitality.  A visit to a Ugandan space quickly convinces the guest that kindness and manners are not merely taught here – but that they are heart-motivated.  Instinctual. 

    The vitality of this land does not only come from its plantations, channels and vast lakes. 

    But it springs forth from a noble humanity that is viscerally kind spirited – where gentility actually feels genuine.  Where emotional vulnerability is not feared, but broadcast.  Where poverty is not often seen in the soul.

    And where a stranger is always welcomed with a nearly whisper-quiet exchange of respectful greetings, and an invitation to stay long.

  • Please, Daddy. Baby, Please.

    (From the early pages of our founder’s African journal.)

    Every evening, about an hour before dinner, and about thirty minutes before TV Time, Dorah (age 11) comes to the window above my desk.  She stands on tiptoe, and peers through the bottom pane.  And everyday she has the same message: “Please, Daddy. Baby, please.”

    I remember my first morning in Uganda when I ordered a cup of coffee, the young waiter said, “Yes, please.”  I thought he had confused my request with an offer.  But, in short order, my cup of java arrived.

    A bit surprised, I looked at him and said, “Oh. Thank you.”

    He said, “You’re welcome, please.”

    So, it wasn’t long before I learned that please is the direct translation of a Luganda word meant to lend a genteel quality to any phrase.  It is as if he was saying, “Yes, I will be happy to get you some coffeein a very nice way.”

    And, “You’re welcomein a very nice way.”

    Kind of pleasant, actually.

    Anyway, everyday just before TV Time, Dorah peeks at me through the window. And everyday she says the same thing: “Please, Daddy. Baby, please.” Not asking me for the baby, mind you, but instead telling me that she has brought one of the babies to me.

    By this time of day, all my kids have finished with school, had their naps and snacks, finished their chores, and had their baths.  And Dorah seems to have figured out that I love to hold the babies.  She also adores cradling our little ones (as do most of the kids — so there can be stiff competition), but Dorah seems to be even happier with the opportunity to bring a baby to my arms.

    I’m not sure why, but it pleases her.

    So, she brings a baby to my desk, and gently places her onto my lap.  Along with a quilt.  And a toy-rattle or two.  And then I continue with my typing (though one-handed now) as Dorah runs off to play.

    Of course, as she passes the window on her way to the playground, I look up from my work (and my baby) just long enough to say, “Dorah?”

    She stops, raises herself once again on tiptoe, and says, “Yes, please?”

    To which, of course, I say, “Thank you, please.”

    And our life here in the village continues.

    Strumming its powerful rhythm of hope. 


  • That Really Is Best

    Below is another early entry from Nathaniel’s African journal.

    christmas2Three sweeties climbed down from my friend’s Land Cruiser: Godfrey, Charles, and Viola.  Their friend, Kasumba (pronounced “Kuh-SOOM-baw”), lives with me.  They adore each other, and my friend brings her little neighbors to visit us whenever she can.

    I had not told Kasumba (age 10) that they would be coming.  In a land of unpredictable weather, severely bad roads, and unexpectedly-expected trauma, one never knows if plans will actually come about.  I didn’t want to disappoint him.

    But they came!

    Very happy.  Big smiles.  Expectant spirits.  Excited.

    The reunion was grand, as usual.  They brought Kasumba’s favorite homemade snacks for him.  A huge cluster of bananas and a jackfruit for us.  And a hand-woven wall hanging for me.

    The day was spent with three extra sweethearts mixed in with our gang.  I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all.  Good food.  A nice nap. Gifts, laughter, and celebration.

    Too soon it was time to leave.  Standing near the Cruiser, saying my goodbyes to my friend, I watched as the three heads popped out of the house, one by one, and came to the car.

    Viola first.  She was holding one of Kasumba’s toys.  A Christmas gift to him, now given to his “sister” (as he refers to her — though they are not related).

    Then Charles.  Also carrying one of Kasumba’s finest.

    Lastly, Godfrey.  His face was radiant, for in his hands was Kasumba’s favorite of favorites: a big semi-truck, complete with trailer and lights.

    My Aunt Carla had given me money for my birthday, so I was able to buy each of my kids a big toy like this for Christmas.  Oh, how Kasumba loves his!  He has played with it constantly, running it across the squared tops of our driveway curbs, down imagined highways, up termite hill grades, and across bustling sidewalks.  He has regularly cleaned it with the pride of a real long-hauler.  And, every night for the last two weeks, he has repacked it into its molded plastic wrapping.

    It’s his treasure.

    And now it’s Godfrey’s.

    “Oh!” my friend said. “Should they be taking your toys?”

    Our toys? These are more than toys!   I thought to myself.  These are our best!

    And I was so proud of my Kasumba.  He also knew that these were more than toys.  They were the very most he had to offer.

    So he did.

    “Yes, of course.”  I said.  “They must take them.”

    I patted each head on its re-ascension into the vehicle.  I helped with the seat belts.  I closed the door and waved goodbye.

    Another inside-smile.  Of course they should take them.

    That really is best.       

  • 10 Q’s 4 U

    We have asked the members of our leadership team to answer ten questions about their lives. (If you’d like, share your answers with us as well.) The AidChild magic is created by the efforts and partnerships of so many. We hope these will offer you insights into the layers and nuances of our work. (Look for more soon, and see Henry’s below.)

    martinSsenyonjo Martin
    Senior Accountant 
    (Pictured in AidChild’s Headquarters Offices in Masaka)

    1.  What is your earliest childhood memory?

    It is when I got missing from my parents and I slept at stranger’s home for a night.

    2.  If you had the choice to eat anything in the whole world, what would it be?  

    It would be chocolate cake. 

    3.  You are happiest when you are doing what?

    When am on a road trip to a new place with my best friends. 

    4.  Whom do you admire most in this world, whether living or dead?

    I actually do not have a specific person in mind, but in general I admire so many people that have achieved much for themselves in terms on wealth and knowledge.

    5.  When power is off, what do you like to do most?

    Have a chat with my family members at home. 

    6.  When power comes back on, what do you do first?

    I scream, “Yay, it’s back!”

    7.  What do you most value in a friend?  (What traits or characteristics?)

    Unconditional trust and love. 

    8.  What talent would you most like to have?  And why?

    An extraordinarily creative mind because it can help me achieve so much in life.

    9.  Tell us one of your best memories about something that happened with one of our kids. 

    It happened sometime back. I was swinging on the swings in Masaka with the little kids like Cathy, the twins, and others. So fun and simple.

    10.  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

    I had a chapatti.

    joanJoan Mutesi
    Nurse Practitioner, Nkumba Clinic and Home

    1. What is your earliest childhood memory? 

    I remember when I was about four years old, my mum asked me to pretend to go for a nap after lunch–with my elder siblings.  She had a party that she was going to. But since she wanted to take only me, and she didn’t want the others to complain, she asked me to then sneak out of the house quietly so that none of them noticed, and we went.  I had so much fun at the party, but going back home everyone was annoyed and none of them was willing to talk to me.

    2. If you had the choice to eat anything in the whole world, what would it be? 

    I would eat matooke [Uganda delicacy of steamed plantain bananas], rice, and chicken.

    3. You are happiest when you are doing what?

    Praying, worshiping, fulfilling my obligations especially at my work, and when I meet my goals.

    4.  Whom do you admire most in this world, whether living or dead?

    I admire my mum for she has been a role model of strong woman and of what a loving mother should be to me.

    5.  When power is off, what do you like to do most?

    If am around people, I like to tell stories, but if am alone, I dose off.

    6.  When power comes back on, what do you do first? 

    Watch movies, listen to music.  I switch on the television or radio immediately.

    7.  What do you most value in a friend?  (What traits or characteristics?) 

    I always value friends who are honest, kind, trustworthy, faithful, truthful and loving.

    8.  What talent would you most like to have?

    I would like to be a flight attendant.  And why?  I always admire it for opportunities to travel around the world, meet new people with different cultures.

    9.  Tell us one of your best memories about something that happened with one of our kids.

    I remember the first time I arrived at our Masaka home, I met this incredible child name Kawalya Joseph, aged one year and half. On our first eye contact, something amazing happened as I held him in my arms.  He felt so comfortable as he lay on my chest even though I was a stranger to him.  It was so touching that as I carried him on my laps, we had a special bond.  In just a few minutes, he had started to sleep off.

    10.  What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

    I took coffee and bread.

    Jjumba Henry
    Lead Educator, Masaka Center (pictured here with our dear Simon Peter).  


    1. What is your earliest childhood memory? 

    My earliest childhood memory is following my big brothers to primary school and studying in Primary 1 classes without the knowledge of my parents.  I was supposed to be in nursery school.  This went on for a month.  The teachers later persuaded my parents to let me skip nursery and I remained in Primary 1.

    2. If you had the choice to eat anything in the whole world, what would it be?

    I would choose to eat game meat for a whole month!

    3. You are happiest when you are doing what?  

    When I am involved in an activity that is going to positively change or influence those around me and society.

    4. Whom do you admire most in this world, whether living or dead? 

    I admire Nelson Mandela for his commitment to change.

    5. When power is off, what do you like to do most?

    To play a game like football or rugby.

    6. When power come back on, what do you like to do first?  

    To listen to loud music indoors.

    7. What do you most value in a friend? (What traits or characteristics?) 

    I value honesty and reliability in a friend.

    8. What talent would you most like to have? And why?  

    I would like to have the talent of speech because speech has the potential to change people and society.

    9. Tell us one of your best memories about something that happened with one of our kids. 

    I remember little Cathy, 5, standing up one day during an interaction with all the kids and telling them to each take their medication on time like she does.  Most of the big kids were surprised that Cathy would say that (I inclusive).

    10. What did you have for breakfast this morning?  

    With the kids, I had a boiled egg, a banana, bread, soy porridge with milk. And it’s been another bright day!

  • Newly Fallen Petals

    From the early pages of our founder’s journal:

    I’m not sure how I feel about something that’s happened.  Something that is happening.  I don’t know what to do with it in my heart.  My mind.  Inside.

    There is definitely a positive side to it.  On the one hand, if feels very special.  And good.  On the other hand it is very disturbing to me.  Unsettling.  Not really good at all.

    How do I feel about this?

    With this issue, like so many, I find that my processing mechanisms are off.  The realities of life here seem to daily challenge my heart’s spirit in new ways.

    I think.  I react.  I overreact.  I respond.

    And then I don’t.  Don’t respond.  Don’t react.  Don’t think.

    Yet emotion forever moves within me like the distinct, quiet steps of a horseman on the cobbles of a street in darkness.

    I wonder, am I going mad?  I just don’t know what to do with this.

    Should I be proactive?  Should I stop it?  Should I address it in some way?

    Or should I leave it alone?  Let it go?  Continue?  Mature?

    Or fade.  Develop as it will.

    For now, it is stretched on the floor of my heart-garden like a drying carpet.  Or a picnic blanket anticipating a feast.

    No teacher has prepared me for this.  No sacred text I have read seems to articulate morality’s answer.  And my memory doesn’t re-hear the sensible voice of an elder speaking to just exactly this.

    Not that I am the only person to have ever encountered this.  Surely not.  Still, what should I do?

    It all started during lunch when the teachers were telling the rest of my staff and me about their morning. Cute anecdotes and special stories often provide the final, savory dimension to our noontime hour of flavor and sounds on the dining-porch.

    “One thing that has always surprised me,” Sarah said, “is how the children conclude their stories during show-and-tell.”

    “What do you mean?” someone asked.

    Sarah’s reply was the trumpet sound for my pensive-charge.  “Well,” she answered, “they always summarize by saying, ‘And if it weren’t for Daddy, I would not still be alive.’”

    Oh God, no.

    Oh God, please.

    Who told them this?  Why would my four-year-old feel the need to say this?  My ten year-old?

    While I am hugely gratified, and adore a heart grateful for life, what do I do with the realization that children, my children, are contemplating life and death?

    And me.

    After much thought, I may have decided to leave this untouched.

    Like tiny yellow daisies sprouting in a lawn.

    Or a breeze billowing the curtains of an open window.

    Whispers from the girls’ room in the wee hours.

    Newly fallen petals from the centerpiece.

    Like teardrops on the pages of a letter.

    I think this must be left alone.