When I picked you up at nursery school, you were barely a toddler, still in diapers, Samantha had spent the day
with you, in your pockets. She was the runt of the litter. The rest of the babies had been selected by other families, earlier in the day. Samantha was the last one, and you volunteered to take her home with you even before I arrived at the end of the day to pick you up.
That night, and every night, she slept with you, suckling on your thumb, probably too young to be separated from her mother. Through the years, she hid for everyone, but came out when you called her. When the earthquake pushed us out of the crumbling house, when the place was turned upside down with a new foundation and new buildings, Samantha found her spot in the garage and wintered there, coming out for you every morning when you walked back to the construction site to feed and water and play with her before and after you went to school.
Samantha was eighteen when she died in a car accident.
You had grown up together.
A friend brought you Newkie.
Newkie and I talk about you every morning and every evening when she cuddles up in bed with me, just the way she cuddled up with you.