Checked Baggage

13009696995_d346e1f88a_zBy Christiana N. Peterson

It’s evening and I’m about to meet my older sister in baggage claim. Trained by years of overseas travel in my twenties—and having lost enough luggage along the way—I have taken very little with me on the trip: my carry-on, my diaper bag, and my nine-month-old baby.

I regret to admit that I take some pride in meeting my family in baggage claim and hearing one of them say “this is all you brought?”

But today, I’ve brought heavier baggage than the visible kind: grief, anxiety, and a troubled sense that this trip will be different than every other trip before it.

My sister hugs me and takes my bag. I thank her for picking me up and until we get to the car, we are both silent on the subject of our parents. Usually my mom is the one who meets me here. But now, she is three hours away at a hospital with my father, who has just been diagnosed with cancer and is in unbearable pain. [Read more...]

God Help Me

Center-frayed I begin to ponder—in the way one probes an aching tooth with the tongue—whether my presence causes more pain to those I love than my absence.

It feels as if my hands and feet and jaw are pierced with hooks and strung with piano wire, and these wires pierce their hearts, so that no matter what I do or utter, I make them bleed. The more I struggle, the more I rend their flesh. There is no making things right. There is no making things whole.

Suicide is a tempting lie, and like other lies I’ve cradled in my palms—one more drink and you’ll forget; seduce her and then you will be truly known—it is a bold lie that dares me to believe it in spite of itself. [Read more...]