All the Ones We Love
Take Me to the Moon 6.23
Fearghus arrived home from a tough day at the hospital to find his mother’s ghost, staring out at the sea, much as she used to do after his father died.
“Mom,” he said gently, “Mom, what’s bothering you?”
“Today is Fox’s birthday,” she said, with somber finality.
Fearghus realized that milestones like this just highlighted how much she was missing by being on the other side, her frustration with the limitations of her new reality. It was surprising, how she had changed so much, in death, being more bitter and bored with her existence, than she ever was in life.
But dying and leaving behind a young child could do that to someone, Fearghus supposed.
He talked her into coming inside to see everyone, and hopefully join the birthday party, soon to get underway. Not only was it Fox’s birthday, but Fearghus was a full-blown adult today, too.
As Zoe sat and chatted with Fox, her mood improved. She could see he was happy and well-cared for, and it was impossible for her to stay pessimistic once she began to see how full of life he was.“We’re taking good care of him, Mom,” Fearghus reassured her, and gave her a big hug. Then, Zoe vanished.
“Are you ready for your party?” Alyse asked Fearghus. Fearghus quickly changed clothes.
Bring on the party, and middle-age won’t be far behind, he thought.
Alyse was happy to see not only her sister, Aubree, and her dad, but also, her sister, Isla, who she’d just recently run into in town, and met. She introduced Isla to Fox.
“This is my sister, Isla,” she said, “and your sister-in-law!”
Aubree had arrived at the party upset, and appeared to be peeved with her mom, Elodie. Isla and Alyse waited calmly while Aubree glared at Elodie, and eventually everyone decided it was a good time to get a drink or chat with someone else.
Cassandra Goth carried out her usual role as entertainer, tickling the ivories, and keeping to herself.
Soon, it was time for Fox to blow out his candles. With his cousin, Fiona on one side, and his sister, Felicity on the other, he puzzled over what he would wish for as he became a teen. He didn’t feel quite ready to leave childhood behind, and wasn’t sure what being a teen would be like.
Everyone encouraged him, and he took a deep breath, and blew out his candles.
Everyone cheered as he grew up, right before their eyes.
Fearghus came over to congratulate Fox on becoming a teen.
And then blew out his own candles.
Elizabeth, Fearghus’ cousin, led a cacophony of horns announcing Fearghus’ transition into full adulthood.
After all the celebrations, Alyse, realizing she may not have much more time with her dad, took a picture of them together.
After Fearghus blew out his candles, Aunt Elise arrived. She knew she didn’t have much longer to live, and in an uncharacteristically vulnerable moment, she reached out to Fearghus.
Fearghus was touched, and he tried to console her. “You’ll always be remembered here,” he said.
“It means a lot to me that you’ve led your life always doing what you thought was important,” he added.
Elise looked up at her nephew. She had so many regrets but she was glad that he understood her for who she was, a person who blazed her own trail, and somehow got lost somewhere along the way, but accomplished so much, too.
Elise laughed. “With or without me, the family’s still going on, isn’t it?”
Uncle Eric challenged Fearghus, Elodie, and Yuki to a game of Don’t Wake the Llama, and the party migrated out to the backyard.
“Be careful,” Elizabeth warned Elodie.
Just then, the whole tower tumbled and crashed, and Elodie grimaced.
Yuki and Eric looked sympathetic, but Fearghus was happy it wasn’t him that made it fall.
Meanwhile, Alyse had found Sakura keeping to herself on the pool terrace. She’d grown up following her brother, Misa, and Fox around, and now they were both teens, so she was sort of left with no one to play with.
“Where’s Grayson?” Alyse asked. “I know he’s younger, but maybe you two could play together.”
But Grayson was busy with his chemistry set, creating pyrotechnics that might provide future distractions when needed.
As the party wound down and the guests started to leave, Fearghus found his brother, eating cake in the kitchen, and their grandmother Delaney briefly appeared, as if to give her birthday wishes.
“Here’s to you,” Fearghus toasted Fox.
Fox finished his cake. He wanted to talk about girls and how he might get one to pay attention to him, but he felt a little shy to talk to Fearghus about that. He abruptly went to bed.
After Fox headed to bed, Alyse came down and lit a fire in the fireplace.
When Fearghus joined her, she leapt into his arms.
“Pretty strong for an old man,” she teased.