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We’ve been crashing in my parents’ home for months now. It’s not much, my parents’ house. But it is pretty lively. Two senior citizens (Ma and Pa), my sister and her 8 yr old, my niece and nephew who are both going through puberty and my other sister who always keeps to herself. Don’t we make for a lively bunch? It might be too much to take for others who aren’t used to extended families, but for us it is home.

Lunch, dinner, or any meal, for that matter, is always a big deal for us. And the round narra table of ours will be crowded with platters of dishes and a big heaping plate of rice. And yes, add the incessant chatter to that. But the big ol’ table can take it, she’s used to it.

As to our crashing in here, well, it came as a surprise to all of us. Even to me. But it was much to the delight of my parents. They always wanted to spend more time with Belle. And now, wish come true. Even under the drastic circumstances.

Belle’s at a sleepover tonight, with her dad. Oh, how I would love to go with her. But not tonight.

At dinner, the table was packed as always. Food, chatter, laughter, the works. But it was distinctly quiet. A little voice was missing.

I miss Belle.