The pink taffeta dress I’ve been wearing for the last 13 hours has been hung in my closet. I am standing in jeans and socks in the middle of the family room, yelling at my cousins and trying to pick up random bits of food, paper plates, blankets, pillows, and clothes from all over the house.
The year is 1988. It is the late night of my sister’s wedding day. Our house is filled to the brim with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and other visiting dignitaries. My parents aren’t yet home from the church – they stayed behind with a few others to finish the reception clean-up.
I am quite literally LOSING MY MIND with the mess, with the disruption, with the chaos, with the sheer number of people in every room of the house. I can’t believe how messy and out-of-control everything is. I can’t believe that I’m the only one who cares enough to try to PUT SOME DISHES AWAY ALREADY. And I say as much, to some passing cousins. They are smart. They do not engage the RED FACED WHIMSY. They go upstairs to find an unoccupied television.
My Aunt Chris walks in, me mid-meltdown. She quietly ushers me into the front hall bathroom and shuts the door. I feel like a caged animal. I pace the bathroom. She stands there, blocking the door. I yell. I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE HORRID SHAPE OF THE HOUSE!!! WE MUST CLEAN!!! WE MUST GET THINGS IN ORDER!!! I continue with more yelling. More exclamation points than I’ve ever used. Aunt Chris is something of a master drill sergeant. She does not engage the RED FACED WHIMSY. She pulls me to her shoulder, to her chest. She forces me into a hug. She begins to rock side to side, back and forth. She tells me over and over and over that things are going to be okay. This is when I start to cry. She tells me that I’m not angry about the messy house or all the people in the house. She tells me that I miss my sister and I’m worried that everything is going to change. She tells me that it’s okay to be mad. She tells me it’s okay to be upset about the differences that are going to come. She tells me that I’m not losing my sister. She tells me that I will see my sister again and we’ll have fun and we’ll still love each other and it’s all going to be okay okay okay. It’s all going to be okay.