8p.m. I have earphones in, listening yet again to a General Conference talk while I put away dishes and wipe down the kitchen benches. Hatro's finishing up on a Wii game, Wong's tidying his room, and I'm looking forward to bed.
A distant noise has me cocking my head, pulling the bud from my ear, and I realise it's bellowing I can hear. Not angry tumbles of noise, but a pained deep roar, and just as I locate the throbbing alarm as coming from within my own home, Wong stumbles blindly down the hallway, face raised roofwards and tears streaming down his neck.
"What's the matter?" I demand, checking his arms, back, head for signs of injury or blood, "What's happened?"
His face is incredibly unattractive, a speckled purple and red ball glistening in a glaze of tears and sweat. "I..[sob]...was...[sob] cleaning my... room.. [hiccup] and if found thi-i-iiiis.." Wong wailed, deepening suddenly into the deep, forlorn bellows I'd heard before, as he holds up a birthday card. The one George sent for Wong's birthday last year.
I silently jabber a tangled prayer of desperation and pleading, edges tangy with frustration upwards, wondering how to deal with this new development. Wong's not cried like this before, and while the bellowing has faded, and I'm watching warily for strings of snot developing between his nose and my shirt, I sigh and brace myself for the needed conversations.
I hug him, then wipe his face clear. "The card?" I ask deliberately gently. "The card's upset you?"
"Yeah," he replies, tears blooming and cartwheeling off his face again. "I was just cleaning my room and there it was all of a sudden, and - AARGH!" I blink, because Wong's suddenly slamming the card on the bench, and smacking it repeatedly with his hand, then seconds later is crying into my chest.
Then he sniffs, pulls back, wipes his eyes and looks at me. "What do you want to do with it?" I ask, thinking I should have just tossed the damn thing weeks ago... "Keep it?" Wong's mouth morphs at that suggestion into something odd, "Burn it?" I continue, which sparks a surprised laugh out of him, then a look of consideration, "Just toss it in the bin?"
"I don't know," Wong says, "It just makes me upset to see it all of a sudden."
"Well, it's up to you. You can keep it" I repeat, only to see Wong shake his head against the idea "or get rid of it and never have to worry about it again."
He thinks about it standing right there in the kitchen, healing chicken pox still scattered across his face, belly and arms, his face slowly fading to its usual fairness. Wong's grown taller yet again, and I can tell his body is preparing to race towards his brother's height. Right now, though, he's just a boy wading through arguing emotions and messy thoughts.
"Can I burn it?" He asks, obviously intrigued. I'm all for it, except I suddenly hear the wind racing through the palm trees outside. "Yeah, but we'd have to be careful outside."
"Can I just put it in the rubbish?"
"Sure." He's standing still, just staring at the rubbish bin.
"If you put it in there, garbage day's tomorrow - then it'll be gone for good."
His face scrunches up, and he glares at the card. "I just don't know what to do! It makes me so mad!" He hammers the card with his fist again, then picks it up.
"I want to toss it," he tells me, "but I kinda don't."
I watch as he zones out a little, still facing the bin. Then he blinks, pulls the card halfway towards his chest, then breathes out, steps forward, shoves the swing lid and when he stands up again, his hand is empty.
"I'm tempted to pull it out again. Maybe I will. I'll leave it there while I think about it."
Another second or two, watching the lid swing to motionless.
"But I don't think I'll change my mind."
A short while later, and Wong's in bed. Hatro's already completed his own bedtime routine - face examination, brushed teeth, pulled on winter pajama pants, kissed me goodnight - and is setting up his night-time music as I walk past his doorway. "Ready for scriptures and prayers guys?"
I stand in the hallway, not seeing either of them but knowing we're all tied together, listening to the words. I read from Helaman, and I wrap my prayer around us all. After kissing Hatro goodnight, and fixing the blanket over the impossible length of him, I go to Wong's room, and lie down beside him.
"How you doing, snucklebum?" I nudge him, watching his profile silhouette, lit randomly by the hall light. I see the sudden gleam of silver as he fights tears again, hear him whimper once, and then he sniffs.
"I love you Mum." he states against my arm, resting his forehead near my shoulder.
"I love you too," I kiss into his hair, brain stalling and fizzing like sherbet about the next bit. I suck in a long slow breath, let it seep out, then quietly state "I need to talk to you."