"I don't think I'm ready for you to go," she says as she stands next to me in the dimly lit kitchen.
"Aw, you'll be okay," I say as I look at my feet.
"But what if you go to college, and some skanky girl tries to spread rumors about me or start a fight?"

I laugh and blink back some tears. I didn't like the idea of her being alone with no one to look after her. I knew she could take care of herself, but I had been there these past few years to make sure no one messed with her.

"You'll do great."
"Aren't you scared, Sam?"

And here I face my dilemma. Do I admit vulnerability for the sake of honesty, or do I bluff to stay strong in her eyes?

"Honestly...I'm terrified."
"I would be too."

She looks up at me with big, sad eyes. My heart breaks.

"Do you think you can come back for my birthday party?"
"I...I don't think I'll have a way to get back."
"Oh. It won't be the same without you."
"I know, I'm sorry."

And then I break down, my tears splashing down my shirt, exploding silently. She takes me in her arms, wrapping herself around me like some sort of comfort blanket.

"Oh, don't cry, Sam, don't cry," she says as her own tears splash into my hair.
"I don't want to go," I sniffle into her shoulder.
"You're going to do so great, you won't miss this at all."
"But I'll be so new and scared and what if no one likes me?"
"Who won't like you!? They're stupid."
"Come visit me?"
"Of course."

And standing there, holding me in my kitchen, she comforts me the way I used to comfort her, and makes me feel like everything is going to be okay, the way I've always tried to do for her.

Happy Birthday, Paula. Sorry I've missed it for the third year in a row. I love you.

1 comment:

a day in the life said...

You're my hero; always have been and always will.