My baby sister just returned home this week from a trip she and a friend took to New York City. We sat at the table this afternoon, eating mac and cheese and laughing so hard about Cosmopolitan magazine diagnosing us as being love-avoidant that milk came shooting out of my sister’s nose.
My mom’s brother and sister are in town. Tonight, they’re piled into my grandparents’ house, along with each of their pets. Close quarters, it is, with four humans, two dogs, and an ancient, cranky cat.
My neighbor, who is my sister’s best friend and really more of a sister to me than a neighbor, came home tonight. She survived her first year of college, and she is sleeping on my sister’s bedroom floor. One of them is snoring, my neighbor, I’m pretty sure. They’ve had so many slumber parties over the years that I can tell through the wall one’s snore from the other’s.
Everyone’s here. These people that I love with everything I am are nearby and I can reach out and touch them if I need to and it is proof for my eyes and heart that they are okay. Laughing and bickering and breathing and perfectly okay. Moments like this are few and far between. Soon, these people, my people, will leave again and my world will once more become this unsteady place where all the bad things can happen to any one of them. I will be on edge until the next moment I hear the snoring and the dogs barking and my sister laughing so hard she expels milk.
Then, I will exhale again.