I’ve spent my whole life worried about Beth – would she marry? Who’d she marry? Would she be able to find a job? What kind of life can she have? And now, I have to wonder if she’ll have any life at all – anything is better than dying, right? I can’t be sure about that. I can’t be sure at all.
And, for the first time, I’m worried about Jo.
When we were little, I would hear noises downstairs and send Jo to “investigate,” as though that tiny little eight year old could stop whatever imagined monster I’d put in our kitchen. What’s insane is that she could. She’d never come back scared or sad or lonely; even when she came back chilled in the winter she’d put her toes on me and laugh at whatever face I made. Jo wouldn’t know it, but she’s been my rock her whole life. I mean, yes, Jo is unreliable at everything that doesn’t matter, but nobody loves like Jo.
A few days ago, she was crying about her hair, and I wish she wasn’t, but I understood: Jo’s always done what she needed to (or wanted to) on impulse and weighed the cost later. I understood that she didn’t regret it, but she didn’t know how much she was giving up until after it was all over. When Beth first got sick, Jo said that she knew it was her fault, because she didn’t make the house visit to the Hummels – Beth did. But now, Jo is talking less and less. I’m not sure she’s said a word today. For the first time, Jo is weighing the cost now, and I don’t think she can pay Beth.