I remember most the way that Mother's voice would blend into Father's. Mother was always the loving one. She was hopeful, optimistic; she thought each and every one of us would be fine. That we were all going to make it. Father was more pragmatic. He loved us all, of course, he just knew the odds. Of the forty-two of us, only ten or so would really make it on our own. I took solace in knowing that that time was still a long way off, but I still tried hard to listen to their advice.
"I just, I just don't understand, Father." I had finally broken down and said it. My Father explained things to us slowly, carefully, and with tremendous patience. He took time to give the extra detail that my slower siblings needed, but I had always understood right away. He had taken so long with one of them though, that I had zoned out. I hadn't tuned back in until Father was well into another lesson. What chagrined me the most was that he knew it, too.
"Fine," he replied. Patient as always, but I could tell he was frustrated with having to go over it again because of me. It was a warm Spring evening, a light breeze blew around us, and it took all my concentration not to lose myself to the freshly scented air around us. I fought to focus as he continued, "It all comes down to Honor. We all know the odds. Me even more than you. I only know of three of my siblings that made it." His voice got softer as he touched the memory. We could all tell it was hard for him, and we respected him more because of it.
"All of you think you're different. All of you think you're one of the lucky ones who'll survive. All of you think you'll all survive. But soon enough, as you get older, you'll wonder. When you hit the Change a lot of you will lose hope, too. You'll wonder what it's all worth. You'll feel discouraged, sad, and you'll wonder why you even need to give so much effort with so little hope.
"The reason why, even at your darkest, is Honor. You are our people's future. You carry our people's hopes and memories with you, and they are relying on you to give your hardest efforts to carry that burden. That is your Honor..."
His voice would give way to Mother's and she'd remind us again how loved we were. How important we were; how much she wanted us all to make it. And she was so sure we all would. We knew our lives were difficult, but we were still optimistic. We were still growing strong, and we were still strongly connected to them.
Then the Change came. We grew more, but as we did our connection to our Mother and our Father weakened. It was like the bigger and stronger we were, the more precarious the contact. It was frightening, and, sad as I am to admit, Father was right. That loosening made me doubt. Having been so close to everyone in my family for so long, I felt bleak sadness at the thought that I'd soon be alone.
We talked about it amongst ourselves when we thought Mother and Father weren't listening, but I think they always were. There were a few times when I felt like all I had to keep me together was Father's words about honor, Mother's about love, and the confidence they shared in us; different as they were.
It happened towards the end of a late summer evening Mother was telling us how proud she was of us when what felt like the hand of God ripped us out of our home, throwing us aside. Mother and Father were silent long enough that we felt even more distant from them. We huddled together, scared. Finally my Father spoke.
"I'm sorry children," he said with resigned sadness in his voice, "This day was always going to come, it just happened sooner than we wanted. Your Mother and I, well, one of the truths we never told you is that when you leave us, it is our time to sleep forever."
"You mean die?" one of my siblings asked.
"Yes." he said simply. "It is our peoples way. We prepare our children for their release, but once they are gone, there is nothing left for us. The rest is up to you. That day happened sooner. That's all. Just... sooner..." As his voice faded, we felt ourselves feeling more energized. They were giving their essence to us.
My Mother's voice chimed in, calm and demure, "Remember my darlings, I've always loved you. Always..." Her voice trailed off, too, and we never heard it again. But we also knew it was okay. It was what was meant to be. By morning we had all grown substantially, the last gift of our Mother and Father. A breeze came up and, feeling looser and more independent, we knew it was time to scatter with the wind to find our own destinies.
It was a rush like none I'd ever known could exist. I wanted it to never stop, but remembering my Father's words, I stopped myself from drifting when I found a suitable spot. I worked the soil. I put down roots. And I know I'm going to grow strong enough to one day raise children of my own, to tell my story to, and to carry on our traditions as I did.
The same morning that freedom came for the siblings, a man walked out to his lawn. The dandelions he pulled out the night before were still there, but they had all gone to seed overnight, and were already scattered across his lawn. Already dead, they'd given their life to their children.
With a deep sigh he knew that, although he had won the battle, he had lost the war.