Milk reminds me of my little sister, Abby. She refuses to eat cookies without milk, and though she is almost in her 30s now, she still drinks a glass of milk with her dinner, like a good girl.
My sister has moments we call "Abby" moments--moments of complete hilarity and unbelievable foolishness. These moments are so funny mainly because my sister really is a very intelligent person. Really.
Here is an Abby moment: we were at brunch, studying our menus and deciding what to eat. The server arrived to take our orders, and asked if we had any questions. Abby, with every shred of confidence and poise, said:
"Actually, yes, I do. What kind of fruit is on the Strawberry waffle?"
THAT is an Abby moment. And there are a LOT of them. My sister is a highly entertaining person.
My favorite Abby story, though, isn't so funny.
Growing up, we had a golden retriever. Her name was Muffin--mainly because, at ages 2, 5, and 9, my sisters and I named everything after food. Abby's doll was named Cheerios. Our dog was named Muffin. We had a lamb named Cookie. I'm really not making this up.
In any case, Muffin was a truly amazing dog. She was our best friend. She was the heart of our family. And she lived to be 16 years old--extremely old for a dog, especially a larger dog. During her last weeks, we knew that Muffin only had a short time left: she was having trouble with her hind legs and was almost immobile. She was in pain, and we didn't want her to live in pain. The day finally came when we knew it was time. My mother, Abby, and I prepared ourselves to bring Muffin to the vet.
I came slowly down the stairs, ready to go, when I saw Abby sitting with Muffin near the front door. Abby had her hand on Muffin's belly, and in her other hand was one of our favorite childhood books, called Morris' Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells. My sisters and I had memorized that book; every word, every illustration, every tear or spot on the page.
And there Abby sat, trying to read it to Muffin though her tears. I asked her what she was doing, and she looked up at me and said softly, "Reading her a bedtime story".
And in that minute I saw pure golden heart of my sister, unchanged since the moment she was born. But I didn't completely understand what this moment meant for her until after we had gone to the vet, after we had kissed and hugged Muffin goodbye. While my mother talked to the vet, Abby went outside and sat on the curb. I followed her out, sat down beside her, and put my arm around her. After a few minutes, she said to me, "So, I guess this means we're grown up, now, huh?"
I hugged her and said that yes, I guessed it did.
But I knew, and still know, that my sister's golden heart will never grow up completely. While she is no longer naming things (like her daughter) after food, I know she will always have "Abby" moments. I know she will always drink milk with her cookies. And thank goodness for that.