Hi! It’s me! Lily!
Sabby gave me the day off from school today. She told me that I’m so happy and cheerful most of the time, and she forgets that I have my own… demons, is how she put it, and that sometimes they might come out and we all just have to deal with them. She explained that her demons are her feelings of inadequacy, Dave’s demons are his temper, Beth’s demons are her jealousy, and my demons are my… loneliness. She thinks that’s what it is, anyway. I don’t know if it’s the right word, but it doesn’t matter.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Usually I sleep like a baby (whatever that means) but last night I was just tossing and turning and had fitful dreams of things that were just on the edge of my consciousness and not breaking through. That’s the worst feeling, waking up and knowing something was important but not remembering it at all. I finally padded into the kitchen to find some chocolate, and Sabby was there, sitting at the table in her nightgown, with tears in her eyes.
I found two things of pudding and got two spoons and set one down in front of her. She peeled the lid off of hers, but just kind of stirred it around. She didn’t really seem to want to eat it.
I peeled the lid off of mine and took a bite or two, but honestly, I wasn’t too hungry either. And it was chocolate!
She sighed, fiddling with her spoon.
“I forget sometimes,” she said quietly. I was quiet. “I forget how much it hurts to not have your parents. I’ve had many years to come to terms with it. You’ve had a year. Or more. Or less. Who knows.”
“How did you cope with it?,” I asked softly.
She chuckled darkly, still fiddling with her spoon. “I didn’t. Not for the longest time. I was… a wild child. I did everything a girl wasn’t supposed to do. Drinking… other stuff…” She sighed. “Anything to take the pain away, even for a little bit.”
“Did it work?”
“No,” she said bitterly. “It never worked. It was never anything but a distraction. I had a hole in my heart that no one could fill. What’s a girl to do? People came into my life, and left, and came, and left, and the only constant was the loss… the pain…”
I was quiet. There wasn’t much I could add. But I understood.
“Eventually,” she said, “I was confronted with a choice. I could keep wishing for what I would never have, or I could move forward with my life and make the best of it. I think it’s worse for you,” she looked down, “because you don’t know. They might be out there. They might not. But I knew where they were. My foster parents took me to their graves every year.”
“Were they nice?”
“They were,” she said. “They were my rock. When I was being wild, and out of control… they never gave up on me. I always had a place to stay, I always had arms to go back to…. even when I made mistakes and got in trouble and sometimes didn’t even know what day it was.”
“So what do I do?,” I asked. I took a bite of the pudding. It wasn’t as good as it usually is.
She shrugged. “No idea. Maybe don’t focus on what you don’t have, but what you do.” She stirred her pudding some more. “I didn’t understand my foster parents before. I didn’t know why they kept putting up with me. I expected them to kick me out every time I came home drunk. But… they didn’t.” Her lower lip trembled. “I understand now,” she said. “They loved me . I didn’t understand. But they did.”
I stared at my pudding.
“And now I do.” She reached over and grabbed my hands in hers, and squeezed tightly. “I… we… can’t replace them. We’d never try. We’ll never be them. But we love you just the same. Don’t lose sight of that.”
I nodded. She stood up and went back to her room. Her pudding sat on the table, untouched.
I picked up both the puddings and put them in the trash. I went back to my room and stared at the wall until I finally fell asleep.
The next morning I came to breakfast, bleary-eyed. As I mentioned, she told me that today was a free day for me. I could do whatever I wanted. I could sleep all day, I could watch YouTube, I could just stare at a wall. And she apologized for showing me that song. It was too much, even though she didn’t realize it at the time. I just nodded and walked out onto the patio. It was a beautiful day, the temperature was just right, the air smelled good, and the birds would have been singing if most of them hadn’t already flown south.
I thought for a moment, and stood up, and walked back to my room. I put the song back on YouTube, and I listened.
Somewhere out there, if love can see us through
We’ll find one another, somewhere out there, out where dreams come true…
Mom, dad… I’ll find you. Someday, I’ll find you. I’ll find me. But until then… I have Dave and Sabby and Beth and David and Liz. And they’ll be my family. Somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.