The kettle screeches on the stove, ready to pour my tea into the “Worlds Greatest Mom” coffee mug that my son made for me in Sunday school. I reach for the slick metal handle of the porcelain cup and grab the Lipton tea bag off the meatball-splattered tile. On the counter, my laptop is perched with a pitch black and dust-collected screen. I turn it on to see my babies’ faces on the home screen, I miss them so much, but before I can see their faces scrunched together sitting on Santa’s lap, my Facebook page appears on the desktop. I look under the section that is labeled “People You May Know” and my sister’s face stares back at me. My sister, smiling and carefree, is ultimately a stranger to me as the years have diluted our time spent together. The older she gets, the further she is from the little girl that would confuse me as her mom.
I click down on the button that reads, “add friend.” My baby sister, the girl who was born with a blue face and fuzzy black hair, is going to college in two months. I always knew that she would get out of Tucson, that she would make it to a bigger city where her dreams could find a place in her life. In her picture, I don’t see the girl with chestnut colored ringlets and chubby cheeks like she was as my flower girl at the wedding. Instead, the vision of a young woman with sculpted cheekbones and stick straight auburn hair is perched on the hood of her car, laughing at the photographer. Her happiness radiates throughout her face. She doesn’t need me in her life, and it’s apparent that life has smiled on her, but I can’t fathom the idea that she will be moving on, moving on from me. I just wish I could see her, talk about boys with her, have a normal sister-sister relationship with her. I look at the calendar and see that my baby sister graduated last Wednesday. I feel a pang in my heart. How could they leave me out of this moment, irreplaceable moment that I have waited for since the moment I cradled her in my arms the day she was born. I don’t even know if she would recognize me anymore; I glance at my reflection in the mirror and see a petite, short-haired woman, whose skin is too tight on her cheek bones, and has surprisingly deep, black circles under her empty brown eyes. I was stronger than this, and she needs to know that, they all need to know that. I look at her picture and see a vision of myself before I was painted with assorted blues, greens, and purples by the hands and feet of someone who I lost my family over.
My body cringes as I remember last night and how I stood paralyzed, eyes squeezed shut as the stoking hot spaghetti sauce sizzled on my skin. Globs of tears plopped onto my cheek as he howled about how we have “had spaghetti three nights in a row! Isn’t there any other God damn food in this house?!” I look down at my forearms and the burns on my arms are blotchy and radiating heat. I’m really happy that the kids weren’t here to see that. Their absence haunts me at night, I feel the shadows of their existence in the kitchen as the laughter that always echoed off the walls is replaced with painful silence. It’s all Mom’s fault. She doesn’t understand that Matt loves me, he loves my kids and he would never hurt them. If he was hitting them I would know! The acid in my throat burns as I feel the vomit come again. I dunk my head into the sink just in time for the insides of my stomach to surge through my mouth into a brown gooey explosion. My nose burns from the stomach acid and I am consumed by the putrid rotting globs in the sink. I know I have messed up, I am not perfect and God knows it. But how could they not invite me to my baby sister’s graduation? The girl on the screen doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I can’t repair the damages I have done. My fingers clench the screen, and I close the laptop praying to God that she will reply this time.