It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here.
- Joni Mitchell, California
Tonight there was dinner for three. Father, sister and I. None of us spoke. We all ate hurriedly, as if it was our last meal. I think we were all nervous, anticipating that she would walk through the door and wreack havoc. She didn't. She had left hours before.
I enjoyed my mussels and linguini but something was missing and it wasn't the fact that there weren't enough mussels. Dad told a story of the time I won an award at my 8th grade graduation. An award for the student that best typified the ideals and goals of the entire school. This was right after she had tried to tell Dad that I was the most terrible child in the world and vowed not to show up at graduation. I blocked that memory but Dad opened it up again for me.
Little sister came down to join us later, after she peeled herself out of bed. A depressed 12 year old? This can't be right. Other sister gets ready to leave and hole up at the boyfriend's because that's her only coping mechanism. Brother is at college but I can see his invisible sadness when he talks about her. It's a damn shame this thing.
I found myself breaking into the serenity prayer after I ate. I am not an overly spiritual person but I have been convinced that there are certain problems in life that cannot be solved with human will alone. This situation is undoubtedly one of them. I started, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and..." then I stopped. Which one of those virtues do I need here? Is this a situation I must accept? Or do I need courage to crusade against this dysfunction? This always has been the most puzzling question of my life besides the reason why I only wear one contact. I desperately need that "wisdom to know the difference".
Do I take every ounce of courage, faith and fortitude I have and try to make us all happy again? Why did I just say again? Have we ever been happy together? There have been moments of pure joy that we've all experienced, but they have always been followed up with pure hell. I mean, is it a coincidence that I haven't lived at home since the moment I left for college 8 years ago and still try to avoid going back? I am not sure.
In a perfect world, she would go get help. She would peel back the layers of pain like layers of an onion. They would make her cry. But the tears would mend the pain. They would give her peace. She would come back to us and say she was sorry. We would apologize too. From then on, we would work together to solve this thing. We are all athletes. We know what team work is. We could do it. I know it.
And there would be no silent dinners. And no depressed 12 year olds at the table. No sisters running away when things get tough. No silently sad brothers. No fathers who feel constantly powerless. And no me staying up at night wondering how I can solve it all.
It would be home.