Me: (turning around to see Hank dressed in pajamas in the middle of a dinner party) Right. (to the table) Com licença (excuse me).
Dinner party guests: Good night, Hank. Boa noite, Henrique.
Hank: (yawning, waving)
Me: (opening the door to his bedroom only to find Molly fussing in her crib)
Hank: Molly is awake, too.
Molly: straining her arms to be picked up (Mama, y’all are loud)
Me: (picking her up and sitting on the edge of Hank’s bed) Hush, little chickens. Let’s get settled for the night.
Hank: It is soooooo late.
Me: It is not so very late, but it is late for you.
Hank: I can’t keep my eyes open a moment longer.
Me: You know how birthdays are, very special and all rules go out the window.
Hank: I am worried about Irina and Euclides. Maybe I should go and tell Ana it is late, she is having such a good time she might not know.
Molly: (yawning, eyes heavy)
Me: Don’t worry, Hank, they’re fine. You are a special boy who needs his sleep. Most kids your age can rage until dawn, but you turn into a pumpkin at 11pm. Even when you were a little boy we used to have dinners and you and Seamus (our dog) would come and ask for a bottle and tuck yourself into bed.
Molly: (asleep in my arms)
Me: Truly, We would peek in and you would have tucked yourself in and Seamus would be asleep on the floor right next to you and he’d lift his head and wag his tail to say “All is well. The boy is well looked after.” Our friends were always amazed that you were so independent, but all things are possible when you had Seamus as a third parent.
Hank: And he saved me.
Me: That he did.
Hank: Tell me the story again.
Me: You were about the same age as Molly is now. I was washing dishes in the kitchen and you were supposed to be watching cartoons with Seamus in the living room only you had a curious idea to play with the air purifier and somehow managed to pull the knob off and decided to try and swallow it. Well, I didn’t hear a thing and all of a sudden Seamus jumped over the baby gate and started barking at me.
Hank: And Seamus never barked.
Me: Never, ever and then he grabbed my pants and started pulling me toward the living room so, of course I followed him and there you were turning blue. (pause, because this story still makes me upset)
Hank: And you pulled the knob out of my throat and I vomited everywhere…
Me: And you began to breath and I cried and held you and Seamus collapsed next to me and we were both so grateful you were alright because you are so special and we loved you very, very much.
Hank: I miss Seamus.
Me: Me, too. Every day.
Hank: It was hard to leave him in America, but he found a special house and a special family.
Me: Karma and Elizabeth, (nodding) the very best family ever.
Hank: And he couldn’t come with us, because he was old and wouldn’t understand life in Setúbal.
Me: That’s right.
Hank: And he had other friend-dogs and he was so happy and it was very, very sad when he died.
Me: Indeed, but he could not have had a better life.
Hank: He would have loved Molly.
Me: (laughing) Yes, he would.
Hank: Don’t worry. You can go back to the party now. I am going to sleep.
Me: (putting Molly in her crib) Love you, Hank.
(tidal wave of laughter crashing against their bedroom door)
Hank: That, I think, is my very bestest most favorite book ever.
Me: You say that at the end of every Roald Dahl book.
Hank: Because they are all so good. I hope he never stops writing. There can never be enough stories!
Me: Oh, I am sorry to tell you that he is very dead.
Me: Afraid so. He died when I was ten. I still remember the day, clear in my mind. On that day all the children from all over the world lifted their heads to the sky and said, “(gasp) NO!” and burst into tears.
Me: So a friend of a friend told me.
Hank: (eyes wide) That means it’s not true!
Me: Nope, not a word.
Me: What is true is that I do remember and I remember being very sad.
Hank: How many more books of his can we read?
Me: I don’t know the exact number, but there are many and when you are an adult he also wrote books for grownups and he wrote the story of his life,too. It is a book called Boy. He lived an extremely interesting life. I can get it for you.
Hank: Yes… all the books, please. All the Dahl books. Every single one.