I knew I had to get up early the next morning, but I still snuck into his room where we laughed and talked, like we always do, late into the night. I was sorry to be leaving home, but it was time to go back to school.
I love my brother. He encourages and supports me and is everything that a big brother should be. But he is also something that no one should be: sick with no health insurance.
I rocked back on the plush bedspread, leaning into the weekend. I was alive. I filled my chest with her lavender air as if I had just stepped outside.
And then suddenly she spoke, from the place where she faced the bathroom mirror. Her voice drifted across the hall: “My love handles are gone.”
"All I wanted was a shiny nose," I cried. She had to sit down because her giggles made her wheeze.
Every day we pass by friends, acquaintances, classmates and strangers, and all of us are wearing smiles on our faces. For some, that reflects feelings of bliss, joy or contentment. For others, though, it can be a mask.
I often think about my pain and the smile I wear to mask it. Most days, I am have the ability to express my troubles and fight the uphill battle against chronic depression. I tell myself, “You can do it! Just go and talk it out with your therapist.”
At least I had the ability to express myself and fight the battle; Helen did not.
B entered the exam room wearing thick-rimmed glasses, tattered pants and a polo shirt. He clutched a duffel bag of clothes in one hand and bags of hot cheetos and ready-to-heat ramen in the other. The physician, an intern, could not speak Mandarin, so a medical translator was used, via phone.
"What brings you here today, B?"
As a kid, whenever I felt bored in church, I passed the time by staring: watching the flashing emerald lights in my vision shimmer. I didn’t find this sight unusual, nor was I surprised by the ever-present ache in my head. Having nothing to compare my experiences to, I figured that heads just hurt and that you could make your vision glitter by staring the right way. The word migraine meant nothing to me.
“I’m done crying.” The eyes professed: to us, grandma, God -- everyone who failed him.
As a Jewish American, I recently celebrated my faith's new year. I followed tradition by going to the cemetery prior to the beginning of the holy days to pay my respects to my beloved paternal grandmother, mother and father. Standing in front of the Wall of Eternal Life, I read the prayer for the deceased--until a tsunami of pain inundated me.