They moved into the house on Maple Drive because they wanted to have a baby. They tried for several years, until finally, August 1991, a pink, wooden stork stood tall in the front yard, the announcement, and the name: Sarah Grace.
I was a well-loved child.
We could walk to the ranch at the end of the road to look at the horses, and our neighbors felt like family. Next door lived the Shelburnes: Johnny and DeeDee and their three children, Brandy, Bubba, and Ashley. DeeDee called me "Sarah Bird" because, since birth, I'd been elated by the porch swing—my dad would push me hard and fast and DeeDee would exclaim, in southern drawl, "She's too high! I can't watch!" and I would soar through the air, squealing with delight.
The Shelburnes had an above-ground pool and a big trampoline, so if I wasn't swinging, I was over the fence, in their yard. They held a lot of neighborhood cookouts—long tables piled with orange crabs on sheets of newspaper, and plenty of cheap, cold beer. These were party people, and they drank these warm days away, smoking cigarettes and playing horseshoes together. My father was in his element. My mother was too, for a while.
"She changed when you were born," my dad said, years later.
"I grew tired of calling Otis' Raw Bar every night looking for him," said my mom, "while I was home taking care of you."
For our five years together as a family, our living room glowed golden in the morning. I followed our two cats, Son and Cheese, around the house on my hands and knees as Tracy Chapman crooned on the radio. My mom made jewelry and my dad played guitar and they tickled me and I giggled and laughed and cried and screamed and slept.
I swung and swung and swung until I outgrew that toddler-sized porch swing.
Walking to the car one morning in that last season of my parents' married life, it was May, and a cold wind sent a chill through my small body. I'd been learning about weather patterns in my kindergarten class, and I remember thinking, perplexedly, "This doesn't feel like spring."
Sarah Vedomske is a woman who loves to write.