There’s nothing like planning high school graduation receptions two years in a row to make a mom feel indispensable.

I draft a master to-do list for Ricka’s open house, and it covers even the tiniest tasks to prepare for the event. The activity of writing it all down soothes me. But it also transports me to the familiar territory of If I Don’t Do It, It Won’t Get Done which sits adjacent to If I Died, Nothing Would Happen Around Here, a treacherous piece of property to tromp around on, because self-pity lives there and she owns a shotgun.

I jot down more jobs, feeling compelled to ask the question—again. I set down my pen.

“What would you guys do if I died?” I say to Husband. And maybe my question is rhetorical.

He clicks through TV channels, no change in expression. “We’d fumble along until we die too.”

And fumbling along doesn’t include throwing parties or sending Christmas cards or repainting rooms for fun or any of the other extraneous things I do for my family. And for a second, it bugs me. Then I’m cheered. Fumbling along means paying the bills, finding something to eat, and covering the other essentials. Fumbling along indicates forward movement. It would be okay. In reality, Husband would make it more than okay.

I pick up my pen again and plug in the names of family members next to my list’s jobs, as superfluous as they are. Because while I’m still here, stringing up paper lanterns in the backyard feels super important.


For the story about last year’s hijinks of a bad back and broken toe while preparing for our first graduation party, click here. Enjoy!


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.