Celia rocked back and forth in the recliner, her toe tapping the floor with each heave forward, a deep amorphous feeling of absentness within her chest.
She stared blankly into space, her mind flitting and floating from topic to topic, the grasshopper that jumped on her when she was seven years old, the family trip to the mountains to stay at a ski lodge, her brother’s negligence when it came to calling and keeping her from worrying. She hadn’t heard from him in well over two months, and it was nearing the longest stretch of time in their lives to go without contact.
Her cell phone let out a long, jarring warning tone: a tornado touched down in her area and she needed to seek safety as soon as possible. She switched her volume off, and continued rocking, tapping the floor and tapping the floor.
The roar of the storm passed her by, and she still didn’t hear from her brother.
I do feel better already. I’ve always been quick to respond either positively or negatively to antidepressants, which is great, because I stubbornly refuse to ask for a prescription until I’m already drowning. Every time.
Last night and today I’ve felt amazing, compared to the past few weeks, anyway. Mostly, I’m sure, due to relief that my brother is safe in solitary confinement instead of being shot or smashed up in a stolen car. Even when I am feeling better, I can’t help but imagine every single worst possible scenario.
It has been a rough few days for my family. And that’s the thing. I think the worst I felt was Sunday afternoon, while Abby was napping on the couch. I felt so bad for feeling good. I really hate when I do that to myself, but no amount of trying to excuse it seems to help.
Abby never naps on the couch because there are so many distractions in the living room, but Sunday she put her head on a pillow and covered up with a pillowcase from the laundry basket and asked me to sit by her feet, so I did. She went right off to sleep, and I just sat there with my hand on her foot and thought.
I thought how unfair it was that I could sit there with my precious sleeping baby while my mother cried at home because her youngest son was missing. How I could sit there and think of all these horrible things that could possibly have happened to him in the past twelve hours and yet…feel better than I had a week earlier.
It’s like the difference between situational and clinical depression. They may look the same to someone on the outside, but on the inside, there’s a huge difference for me. My heart was torn to pieces with worry for my brother, but I was still okay. I could still function.
And now, thankfully, I don’t have that worry holding me back. Abby was up five minutes after Ian left for work today, so I didn’t get the usual 30-60 minutes to myself that I need to recharge and be able to face the world, but I didn’t need that today.
Today I had spoons to spare.
I woke up at two this morning to Ian on the phone saying ‘yes ma’am, we will.’ It was my mom; my brother escaped last night with another boy.
I have to call the cops on my own brother if he shows up at my door. I hope he does. I just want to know he’s okay.
They have to happen to somebody, right?
You know my youngest brother, now fifteen, has been in and out of trouble since he was twelve. Stealing, breaking and entering, smoking pot, growing pot, selling pot, fighting.
My mom called me tonight. She had my stepdad take my brother’s girlfriend home after church this morning because she found out he got a tattoo. On his chest. Of a spider. From a friend. Hand-sized. I can only imagine what it looks like.
He told my mom he was going to kill his dad and then himself. He told her he had a gun. Then he went upstairs and got it, showed her it was loaded, and put it to his head. She talked him out of it, and he went out back and threw the gun in the canal.
My mom called my stepdad and told him and asked him to call the cops. When they showed up, he jumped in the canal, and they had to chase him all over the neighborhood before he fell off a roof and onto a pipe.
They had to take him to the ER for some X-rays, but I think he must be okay, because they took him to a mental health/substance abuse hospital halfway between there and here.
I talked to my mom last night, and she thought he was doing better. He hadn’t broken curfew all week, and he and his girlfriend were back together.
Some days life just keeps piling it on, doesn’t it? Nobody knows how long he’ll be there yet. At least it’s closer to us, if it’ll be a while. I love my brother, but I feel so helpless and far away.
Day two of relaxing, and I think I’m doing pretty well. I’m not worrying about anything, and I even feel valuable as a person. I don’t feel the overwhelming pressure to do something all the time, but I have more inclination to do so.
Yesterday I made cinnamon rolls. I highly recommend this recipe for the dough, but I filled them with 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon, and just thinned some canned vanilla frosting for the tops. I baked half and froze half, and we ate all the ones I baked between dessert last night and breakfast this morning. They were so good!
Today I made a chicken pot pie for dinner, and tomorrow I plan on baking an apple pie. Or maybe oatmeal cookies. Maybe both? We’ll see.
This was truly amazing though: last night the dishwasher needed loading, and instead of forcing myself to do it when I didn’t really want to, I went and read a book for a while. You’ll never guess what happened when those dishes didn’t get loaded ASAP…absolutely nothing. The world did not end. The kitchen did not spontaneously combust. My husband did not leave me. And after reading for an hour or so, I wanted to take care of that, so I did. It isn’t that I’m so proud of myself for doing the dishes, it’s that it wasn’t a big deal not to do it right away.
I haven’t been writing or painting to keep myself busy, I’ve been productively cooking and cleaning and organizing. I don’t know if that’s because I feel so good or if I feel so good because that’s what I’ve been doing, but it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I feel good, so why question it? So I’m not.
My hot flashes haven’t been too bad, and the only time I’ve cried so far has been when the homeless guy died in Groundhog Day. I’m back down to three blood pressure pills a day. I hope I can keep this up when I’m two week waiting. I think I can.