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I’m sorry I don’t come home anymore

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Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

Dear Roobug,

The sun sets over the hole we dug together in the backyard and the place on the side of the street where I park my car.

I am not home.

I’m working late at the HOP, spending some time with my boyfriend, giving a few people rides, eating by myself, doing homework at the library, getting pulled over at 1 a.m. going 73 mph on a 55, you know, teenager things.

I want to say it has nothing to do with you, the reason I stay out so late and leave so early, but that would be a lie; I’ve never had to tell you those.

I’m not sure when it happened, but I have memorized your face. Perhaps it’s because of all the face-to-face talks we’ve had every single day, or maybe one night when you were sleeping, and I couldn’t help watching the world’s greatest miracle. All I know is, I could carve a sculpture out of marble with only my fingernails and somehow come out with a perfect representation of all of your features.

You wake up, and I see your grown-up-but-still-my-baby eyes fluttering. Eyelashes and eye shapes that belong to our mother, color and squinty-ness of our father. You clear your sinuses with one sniff, and it crinkles our father’s nose. Beneath that is a little white line that goes diagonally towards the top of your upper lip, the scar you and I cherish from an accident with the dog. Lips underneath, the shape of our mother and the fullness of the Mansfield side, not to mention the loud, filter-less voice that comes out of them; that’s all you, baby. Full baby cheeks that have contoured out since you were younger, perfect for some powdered cheekbone structure while you go through your makeup stage, frame those lips. You have one little bump, mole, or whatever, on your left smile line that has always been there. Your eyebrows simply just don’t exist, but the little gold hairs that are there cascade towards your temples like a babbling brook over some protruding rocks, the way the water falls to one side or the other as it chooses its course. Your forehead ends where your roots begin, the brightest color on the planet flows in its frizzy, natural state with perfect waves that aren’t quite curls. This hair always either covers completely or reveals your perfectly proportional ears with a sister cartilage piercing and two lobe ones.

I look at you and see our parent’s features, but I only see my baby.

On Mom and I’s drive to visit the college I dream of going to, every mile we got away from the house I could only think of as another mile away from you. My heart sank when the trip ended, and we were an hour and a half away.

The rest of the day just didn’t feel right, but I knew that’s what it was going to be like.

In just over a year, my reality is going to come crashing down on me, and I am just trying to soften the blow. Sadly, I never knew it would affect you, too.

My plan was unconscious. Spend more time away from home, and maybe that’s what college will feel like. But I knew it was always my Rissa that kept me away, knowing full well I was going to have to leave my heart in Grand Rapids when the time came.

I have no idea how the logic pieced together, obviously I didn’t want distance, if my panic attack when you said maybe we shouldn’t be sisters anymore had anything to say about it. I just wanted to realize what my life would be like when my baby girl wasn’t close anymore.

Every night you texted asking when I’d be home. You said Mom was worried, and I should’ve known to read between the lines. Our mother worries, but she has prepared herself for this. The moment I get my license and tear off onto the road, she’s been thinking of that since I was a baby.

But you, Roobug, I’ve never given you reason to think I would ever leave. So when I did, it shook your world. Your home of three became a home of two before it needed to, and I did nothing to stop it. Your resentment for me grew like the sunflowers we planted when I was in second grade. I lost all of your trust and didn’t even know it. I was oblivious until the night of our big fight, the one that ripped me to shreds and made me think of you every day in every class and each mile I drive again. We tore each other apart and made each other whole again the morning after.

I hugged you and realized I hadn’t felt your presence in weeks. I kissed your forehead to wake you up, and the smell was foreign for the first few days. It didn’t take much, but I had to relearn my baby.

I might go off to college, and we might have an hour and a half distance between us, but our relationship can’t stop there. I won’t let it.

I don’t want to know how it feels to think of you and not be able to create you from memory.

I don’t want to know how it feels to not remember the last time I saw you fall asleep or wake up.

I don’t want to not be the one who brings you home cold chocolate chip pancakes at the end of the night.

I don’t want to forget you.


I’m sorry I left you.

Love with everything in me,

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2 Responses to “I’m sorry I don’t come home anymore”

  1. Anna on May 4th, 2017 7:44 am

    Kati- that letter brought tears to my eyes. It’s something that I can relate to on so many levels. My sister and I don’t get along that well, but when we do, it’s limited. Your message taught me some things; like to cherish the time that I have with my sister, because you never know how much time you have left. And your strength and determination is something that I strongly admire about you. Stay strong, Kati. You’re an amazing person!


  2. Julie on May 7th, 2017 6:54 am

    I too cried happy tears that you got the chance to make it right and realize the collateral damage you would cause before it was too late. I wasn’t so lucky. My baby brother that I took care of for years felt abandoned by me and angry with me. Our relationship is still not close like I wish it was. And the baby brother that was 15 years younger than me never got to know me and we are strangers. I am so very glad you didn’t loose the closeness with your sister. Thank you for sharing this story as it is a story of hope and love.


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