Published on June 11th, 2019 | by Kristine Jepsen



I get all the kisses, right?
Because if I had lots of brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t get all the kisses. Bryce and Elle have to share the kisses. There aren’t enough for both of them to have all the kisses.

No, they get plenty of kisses from their mom and dad. And hugs.
But you’re right. If you had brothers and sisters, you would have to share.

And we would be always whining about getting snacks. You would have to get us snacks and we would be whining and whining.

Well, you do plenty of whining all by yourself, little missie.

But I had baby brother. In your tummy. But he died. Before I was in your tummy. Right?

Who told you that?

Lulu. Her mom said I had a baby brother. But he was dead.

That’s true. You did have a brother. He died before you were even born. Do you want to know what his name was?

But I didn’t die.

No. You were just really, really tiny.

I was one pound.

Plus 13 ounces. You have to say the whole thing when you tell people: one pound, 13 ounces.

I was so tiny I had to have shots every day. But I didn’t cry. The doctors took care of me. What was my doctor’s name?

Dr. Costokos. And you had another one named Dr. Yuvienko. Kind of tricky names.

I was so, so tiny.
But Frank died. We dug a hole for him by the little tree. You had to dig it bigger because he was so big. His legs didn’t fit. He purred when you put him in.

Right. It was an accident.
Frank couldn’t see very well anymore and he ran in front of Neil’s truck.
He purred when I folded his legs up because there was still air in his lungs, like a balloon.

And then we had to cover him up. I helped you. The dirt went right on his fur. And his tongue was pink. Why did you pet him?

Because we had Frank for a long time. I had Frank way before you were born. Before any of our dogs were even born.

Jenny’s our neighbor. Lyle died. He got shot in the shoulder, and he died. His gun went to his shoulder when he was hunting. And Jenny was so, so sad her dad died.

Lyle was Jenny’s husband, not her dad.

And he was Dad’s best, best friend.

Well, one of them.
It’s important to have good friends — more than one — so you can still be together if one of them dies.

But Grandma Verna is dead. She got sick in the hospital and I gave her kisses.
She died, and she is never, never coming back. Oooooh, I just wish I could see Grandma Verna.

That’s right. I’m glad you got to give her kisses before she died.

Why did she die?

Well, she was very old. She got sick, and her body couldn’t get better.
Her body stopped breathing first, and then her blood stopped pumping. Your body has to breathe air into your lungs and have warm blood from your heart to stay alive.

And eat healthy snacks. Hummus makes you big and strong.

Yes, big and strong. And broccoli and kale and Brussell’s sprouts and spinach.

Yuck. I don’t like broccoli. I only have to have three bites. Right?

Well, you should have more, but I’m glad you try lots of foods.

Look! Look at that little calver out in the pasture. See, Mama? He’s prob’ly lost. Awwww. Where is his mom?

I don’t think he’s lost. Mamas keep pretty good tabs on their babies. They know where they are even when the babies can’t see them.

Baby calvers drink milk from the mom’s gutter.

The ‘udder.’ Yes, calvers nurse from the udder.

So they can be big and strong and not die. Right?


You fed me from your udder, too. Right, Mama?

That’s right. You nursed when you were a baby. But I don’t have an udder.

You just have nipples, right? Dad has nipples, too. Did I nurse from Daddy’s nipples?

No. Just Mama’s. The daddy’s body doesn’t make milk for the baby.

So I won’t die?

Well, you will someday — everybody dies sometime. Hopefully a long time after me — a long time from now.

Right. Not for a long, long time.

Mama, when are we there?

Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

(Top image photo by Dave Poore on Unsplash)

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About the Author

Kristine Jepsen is a grant/writer and farm business owner in Iowa. Her nonfiction landed a spot in the AWP Writer-to-Writer mentorship program and has won the Diana Woods Memorial Award at Lunch Ticket and the annual competition of Parks & Points. It appears with HuffPost and River Teeth: A Journal of Narrative Nonfiction among others, and has been published or is forthcoming in the anthologies of Blind Faith Books and Proximity Magazine. Her hermit-crab essay, Jaw Wiring: What You Need to Know, won the 2018 Flash Nonfiction Contest at Sweet: A Literary Confection and is available as a chapbook. More at

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