1/8 23 AI

I remember very vividly the day that I told my sister Lisia that her only niece was going to be deaf. Lisia is my older sister and practically raised me, so has always been a somewhat more pragmatic character than I have ever been. Alys was given the Corellian adaptation of Lisia's name and the two of them are sometimes too alike.

She was, as expected, sympathetic. She recognized my need to cry and endured all of the distress that I had been leaving unsaid so that Alys would not overhear. When I had finished pouring out my heart over a strong cup of tea, she reached across the table and squeezed my fingers.

"Ive, love," she said. "Look at it this way. You will never have to complain about your noisy child."

She was wrong, of course. Fairly quickly, Alys began testing her hearing loss by making a racket and seeing how much of it she could still hear. When she could no longer hear her own voice, she would talk just to feel what sound was again in her throat. She still hums to herself, though more often than not, it stays on the same pitch. I think she misses hearing her dulcet tones even more than I do.

But I digress. What made me recall that conversation was tonight's birthday celebration. It was true that most of the conversations passed without a single word spoken, but having four hyperactive seven- and eight-year-olds signing frenetically at you for attention can be just as overwhelming as a small room full of screaming children. The mothers were fairly understanding and tried not to talk over each other.

Lisia arrived from Imperial Center this morning and we had no sooner returned from an early birthday breakfast than Edam called. It must have taken a good portion of his week's wages to make a live comm call rather than leaving a message, but I could tell that Alys would remember this more than the package that he sent later today.

Lisia and I left Alys in the study to converse with her Papa while Lisia interrogated me verbally about how well we were doing here. She seemed to be satisfied with all of my answers, since I did not pretend that this is easy for either of us. Lisia's husband died a few months after Yavin and they had no children together, but she still does an excellent job of mothering me to death. When we returned to the study, Alys was telling Edam about how I was happy and liked being a teacher. She 'graciously' let me have a few minutes with him so I could tell him the same things and a few other important things that Alys could not say as convincingly or verbally.

I had a short day at the Mekthamas today, since they are leaving for a family funeral on Chandrila tomorrow and will not return for a week. This also gave me the chance to bring chocolate cupcakes with blue icing--Alys' favorite color--to class. I had ensured beforehand that this was as much a tradition on Corellia as in Alys' last school. I am glad that Alys has not yet outgrown such sentimentality.

I went to the spaceport to retrieve the off-world mail that I had been anticipating while Lisia decorated the house for the evening. As soon as Alys left school, we went to Dila's, a dress shop that I had promised to show her. She found a suitably festive blue caten dress with a scalloped hem and a wide sash around the waist. Edam's package contained a dark-blue overcoat that I know he found while away on training last year. Alys seemed please with herself that she was able to coordinate the two.

By the time we reached home, there was just enough time to finish the food preparations and do Alys hair in a crown of braids before her friends arrived. She played a very gracious hostess, but acted just like a seven-year-old. That was something of a comfort to me. She liked the doll that Tyla brought for her, the holos from Emali, the board game from Miri and the gift chip to a local candy store that Kiratta provided. Lisia brought her a new shoulderbag for school, several sets of clothing that I know we would not be able to afford on a Colonel's salary and a lapel pin with the crest of the Avenger on it. Being the uptight, educational mother that I am, I got her some of the books that I had loved as a child and a written RSVP to take her out for a day of whatever she wanted to do within reason.

When the cake was served, the happy birthday song signed and the guests shuffled off to their respective homes, Lisia helped Alys bring her new things upstairs while I cleared up. I was wise enough to use disposable dishes so there were no plates to load or shattered bowls to sweep up. One of the other officers' wives reminded me when Edam was promoted that on a Colonel's salary, we could probably afford a housekeeper. With only one child to mind, I will never give in to that temptation. Cleaning is more cathartic for me than leisure time, since I can take control of one thing and feel as if I have accomplished something.

I will leave this here for the time being. The birthday girl needs help with a project for the writing lessons at school and perhaps I'll convince Lisia to help me finish off some of the leftover cake.