The last year of my mother’s life, I played her numbers every single day. After she died, I still played them, not the daily numbers—she changed those all the time—but the big jackpots: Megabucks, Megamillions, Mass Cash, Cash Winfall. “One of these is going to hit. It’s gonna hit big,” she promised. My brother Ronan described the lottery as “a state tax for the mathematically impaired.” (Yeah, I’d seen that bumper sticker too.) I looked upon the twenty bucks I shelled out each week as suicide insurance. If one of those numbers hit and I wasn’t on it, I would borrow Ronan’s gun, stick the nozzle in my mouth and boom!
Tonight, I was playing my mother’s Megamillions numbers: 2-11-14-41-42 with a bonus ball 11. The 2 and 11 represented Ronan, born February 11, 1974. I came along November 14th the same year. (We were Irish twins, and I was premature.) My mother had been ?? when she had Ronan, ?? when she had me. Because the ?? was common to both Ronan and my birthdates, she picked that as her bonus ball. “It’s also a lucky number in dice,” but she never approved of that sort of gambling.