Life is Like a Child Mornings in the country always start the same. Colors appear into the darkness of the night like a precocious child with a set of crayons. Slowly, sleepily, the sun climbs into the sky and settles into place. It's beautiful. Every morning I used to watch it. Before Luther and his brother and sisters awoke, I would take time to watch the miracle of the sunrise. Sometimes it felt like the sun was infusing me with the strength to make it through the day. Lord knows I needed it. When Luther's parents died and the responsibility of three children fell on us, I woke up gasping each day for weeks. I just felt like everyone was sucking up the air that used to exist in abundance. Where had the air gone? Where had my freedom gone? A husband and three children already. I wasn't sure if I wanted my life anymore. Then, right when I started to breath freely again, we found out I couldn't have children of my own. Once again I woke up gasping. Luther would hold me until I could breath again. "It's okay, Betty. We'll figure something out," he would murmur. We? There was no we in this equation. I was barren and with each step I took, I felt it. But I never voiced my angry thoughts. I just nodded my head. I couldn't let anyone know how dead I felt inside. I had to be strong. I had three motherless children that had to be taught how to live in something other than a sharecropper's shack. Goodness, I remember the first time I took the girls to the doctor. Freddie just up and hit the poor man! She said he was trying to feel her up. I was so embarrassed. She was so righteous. When I told her that the doctor "feeling her up" was part of the examination her righteousness faded away and sheepishness took its place. It took all I had inside not to laugh at the look on her face, but I kept on my stern countenance. Looking back, that was the day I knew I loved Freddie as a daughter. I can't remember when I started to love and accept Penny and Nat. I just know it happened. I also realize now that that was the day when my stomach unclenched just a little. I felt the tiniest ray of sunshine in my heart. I guess I wasn't dead inside after all. Or maybe I was and they brought me back to life. Sunsets in the country are just as beautiful as sunrises. It's like somebody pulled the shades down on the sky. First the sun slowly dips below sight, then all colors follow, like children who don't want to be left behind. It's beautiful. Luther watched it everyday and he told me. Riding home on his motorcycle every evening he would look at the sky because he knew I could not. It is true. When the sun was setting I was always cooking or checking homework or breaking up a fight. Teenagers demand a lot of attention. They drove me crazy. But we were so happy, so in love. When I got home from work their school bus would be pulling up. As soon as I opened the car door the word Betty would be yelled in three different tones all with the same Arkansas twang. After I patiently listened to such catastrophic events such as; nobody wanted to take Penny to homecoming, someone would always say, "So how was your day, Betty?" "Same as always. Who wants chicken for dinner?" would always be my answer. Now don't think I cooked chicken every night for dinner. Chicken was always everyone's favorite. I always evaded that question; not that it was that difficult not to answer. I couldn't tell the kids that each day was heaven and hell for me, although sometimes I think a better name for Monday is Hellday, and that goes for everyone. I was a third grade teacher who had never had a third grader, just teenagers who were hers by default. Third graders have the smallest voices, smaller than kindergartners I think. When I walked down the hall and heard their angelic whispers and giggles, I almost believed it was my lost children promising to soon leave my cursed womb. For awhile I hoped, sleeping with fingers crossed, peeing on sticks that could change my life. They didn't. For weeks afterward those same angelic whispers sounded like little demons laughing at me. I could never tell the kids or Luther about that. In the hospital the sunrise and sunset look the same. They look like they don't matter. Because they don't. When Luther tried to tell me about the sunset I would close my ears like an insolent child. I only listened to the kids tell about their day. Later on I listened to the nurse. She came to me like an angel because I had lost my child. My beautiful little brown promise was gone. I loved her before she was born with such fierceness, such tender fierceness. I loved her so much she decided to join me too early. To this day I still don't know how I knew she was a girl. Then the doctors performed the complete hysterectomy, killing all chances of my ever giving birth. The nurse told me about adoption. Funny the thought never came into my head before, but now it was nestled there like my child once had lived in my womb. Luther and I agreed to adopt in order to have a child of our own. Once again I felt my stomach unclench just a little. Luther Brian Warren. That name tastes so sweet to me, like those candies children love so much, even though I've been saying it for the last twenty-seven years. I never thought I would have a son. I never thought I would be able to. I remember the day Penny and I went to bring him home. He was so light and his head was so big. Best of all, he was so mine. For days I couldn't stop sneaking peeks at him. At night I would sneak over to his crib and breath on him, thinking that maybe my strength would flow into him. I don't know if it worked, but he's still here. Of course, he was always a strong baby. Just like his mother. I admit, I did spoil him. I gave him things that the other kids didn't have. We took him on trips and bought him so many clothes. For his sixteenth birthday party we threw him a big party in the field next to our house. All of his friends came and had such a good time. They were all so impressed with Brian's new car. For a moment, I felt a twinge of guilt when I remembered that the kids rode the bus all through high school. The feeling faded when Brian hugged me and said, "Thanks mom! I love you." The kids never called me mom. So I forgave myself and continued to spoil my one and only. Lucky for me, he turned out okay. So many years have passed. They have flown by like children running a race. I have so any happy memories and unfortunately, sad ones to accompany them. The kids grew up and had kids. Now my house is filled with nieces and nephews: Robert, Torry, Yvette, Nakita, Jovanda. There are more. So many I can't remember their names. Why, just the other day I called Jovanda Nakita. She said the same thing she says every time, "Aunt Betty, I'm Jovanda!" I have grandchildren, too: Leialana and Alex. They look just like their father, same big heads. To fill the void Luther left when he died I have numerous play daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. All of them call me Aunt Betty or Mamagee. When Leilana gets mad at me she calls me Mamagee Betty Warren. Sometimes I think my life has come full circle, with equal amounts of pain and happiness, but then I snap back to reality. My life isn't over yet and I've had more happiness than pain. My life has been like a child. It has constantly grown and changed. Now I am a fat old woman with salt and pepper hair. That's what I see when I look in the mirror. But when I look in the reflection of all my children's eyes, I look just like them and I am just as happy.