Faces of Hope

(Interruption: My 7-year-old daughter just walked into my office to read me her latest composition, "If I Could See or Be a Princess," which is about Ariel from "Little Mermaid" and ends with, "If I could be a princess, I would not leave my family to be with a boy.")

(Another interruption: Elizabeth, my 11-year-old, just walked in to ask me to open her coin purse -- she still does not know how to do it -- and  to tell me to sniff her arm because she had put some sort of lotion on there. Michael Kors lotion, she says. I smell nothing. We are going to a Christmas party, me and her. Christina would have been 11 too.) 

(One more interruption: It is time to go to the Christmas party. We do not stay long. Elizabeth wanders around our friends' house, and people marvel at what a big girl she has become. She talks about Harry Potter with two of the guests. She eats the chocolate fudge and talks about how good it is and also shows some guests her collection of plastic mustaches. Before we go, the host has her stand against the door frame and marks her height, like they did last year. Elizabeth is a good inch, maybe two inches, taller.) 

A last interruption: "Daddy," the 7-year-old, Katie, says as she barges into the room. "My stomach hurts."

"Mine too, sweetheart," I say, and I kiss her on the forehead and hug her too tight. And I can't think of anything else to say.