I’m not tired or feeling rushed or put out by this detour off the Central San Rafael exit to find a bathroom for Zoe. I’m mostly glad that I took her seriously when she said she felt sick. Usually when she says that we’re on our way somewhere and while not always in a rush, I’m one of those people who are determined to get where they are going, leaving exactly enough time to get there.
So I’m glad now that after craning my head to the backseat a couple of times as I drove and seeing her pained face, even after I rolled down the window and told her to breathe, I’m just glad I had the sense to pull over and now here we are in the gas station bathroom, which is in fairly good shape, smelling of toxic cleaner, but aside from that, a perfect place for her to lose her breakfast in the toilet. Standing there behind her, one arm around her middle just to keep her steady as she heaves into the bowl, and another hand on her back rubbing it slowly, not wanting to distract her, but just wanting to comfort and let her know that I am there.
A small bit of vomit splashes out of the toilet and hits my bare feet in sandals. I don’t care, I’m just glad to be here, grateful to be here after all those years of trying to get away from my children because I wanted to be alone or work or do my own thing. This is where I want to be now, no place I’d rather be.
—by Laurie Wagner (reprinted with permission)