Elias was home sick from school today. (He’s fine. Also he’s not contagious.)
I took him to express care and let the chatter in the waiting room wash over us without taking much of it in. He sat next to me on a Naugahyde loveseat and burrowed into my armpit. I reached around to rub his back, and said, “Aw. Sicky, sicky boy.”
I haven’t said that in years. My dad always said that, even to us girls, because his older sister said it to him when he was little in the 1930s. Sicky, sicky boy conferred both sympathy and status. If there was any chance you might be faking to get out of going to school, you didn’t hear sicky, sicky boy. It made me a little melancholy thinking about it. So I thought about something else.
Upon release from the doctor’s office, we went to the pharmacy. (Can I get an AMEN for modern pharmaceuticals? Bare hours later, he’s a different kid.) Then the grocery store, which is right next door. Elias was allowed to pick popsicles and cookies, and I added crackers and Sprite. I didn’t think too much about it until I was in the car driving home. His stomach wasn’t upset, so the crackers and Sprite were probably unnecessary. But whenever we were sick, Mom gave us crackers and Sprite. So for no apparent reason, driving down Benner Road toward home, I burst into tears.
This happened to me once before, sort of. I’d stopped at the neighbor’s house to drop something off. The bus had just gone by and my hair was still wet, and she looked at me and said, “I bet you got everybody else out the door and you’re going to work and you haven’t eaten breakfast.” Well, no. I hadn’t. Connie has kids my age and she reads people pretty well, I guess. She handed me two chocolate chip cookies that she was pulling out of the oven and told me to eat on the road. I got in the car and went to work and bawled as the chocolate melted on my tongue.
All of this feels ridiculous. Who cries about fresh chocolate chip cookies? And Sprite?
It has little to do with the food, of course, and everything to do with another kind of nourishment. I told Paul earlier this week that I’m feeling orphaned again. We tried to figure out if there’s some sort of anniversary I wasn’t acknowledging, but we couldn’t think of one.
I don’t know why I’m missing my parents so badly right now. I think, a little, that I’m just missing HAVING parents. When your parents are gone, there is no one left whose job it once was to keep you alive. There is no one left who is always, always supposed to have your back. That you’d automatically get in the divorce. The person you can call about that thing that happened when you were seven, or why your turkey burst into flames in the oven an hour before Thanksgiving dinner? That person is not there anymore.
Apparently, sometimes I want someone to tuck me into a fluffy blanket on the couch and give me a popsicle and tell me they’ll take care of everything. And I want to believe it.
Because ohmygosh this life thing is hard work. And this week, I am tired, and I miss my parents.