After my mom, sister and I take a walk, the baby naps in the Pack and Play upstairs in my sister’s childhood bedroom. I sneak away into my apartment over the garage. My sister is on the phone with her fiancee.
I kick and roll and beat on the comforter, I whine and moan and scream no no no. I pour Vaseline into my nose, my mouth, the Anbesol a coat for one gust at a time. I see there’s no choice: the roof my mouth pulsates so I take a Diaulidid. The sores in my mouth and nose bleed, bleed, bleed. They wrecked my pillow in Vegas the other night. I am so exhausted.
My mom texts to tell me it’s time to come back because we are eating for my father’s birthday. I cannot and do not eat but I sit at the table (I have always been made to for which I am glad.) Sadie cries. I pick her up and bring her downstairs, careful to walk slowly, careful not to fall.
We eat dinner and my father is happy, my parents back together, always in love (they have never stopped; there was just so much more than love). My mom is not drinking. I am slightly under the haze of the drugs.
We FaceTime my brother and tell my dad we bought a new canoe for the lake. My sister presents the flourless chocolate cake. I burst into tears accidentally because a piece of my dry lip falls off as I brushed my hand to my face. I get it together. We cheers. We sing. We adapt and adjust like we always have.
The baby is 6 months old and she waves and I love her, and them, and the way we could be perfect, even though I am always broken, I am always making them wish I could be okay.
This is how we have always been, me the oldest, the younger ones knowing how to handle my sickness. They are the closest thing to understanding it without having it. They are family. The best family. They are love.