Essential

My daughter works at a home goods store and, after a period of COVID-19 layoff, was called back to fulfill essential curbside orders. None too excited about this, she has taken to sending snaps of the most (non)essential items of the day. I thought, hey man, let’s turn this into something to make the kid chuckle. Here is a completely fictitious super short story about why that item was essential.

Dear Jetty,

At 11.8 years old, I was waking up from the worst day of my shitty life. And it was my new “grandpa” doing the waking, you in the twin bed a few feet from mine.

“COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO KIIIIIIIIDIES!!! IT’S COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO TIME!”

Utterly terrified, I looked up and my entire body instantly flushed at what I saw and I could feel sweat spritz out the pores under my arms. But you were not affected, simply telling me, “That’s Grandpa Robert. He does this.”

So there I was, removed from my home for the first time in my life, though I’m not sure how it took so long. They brought me to the Bush family home at 1 a.m. and I hadn’t met anyone yet. You were sleeping when they showed me my bed. Still, you treating this visual and audio assault as inconsequential comforted me.

It was the first time I had ever seen a man’s dick and it was attached to an old man screaming “COCK-A-DOODLE DOO” with a vitality I surely didn’t have as a crying baby. And, Jetty, there you were telling me, “He does this every morning, but I promise he’ll be dressed 75% of the time.” Not this time. This time, all he had on was a goddamned fierce flannel hat with furry fucking ear-flaps. And his dick was swinging. I thought I might be a lesbian in that moment.

He left as soon as he had finished proclaiming that it was rise-and-shine time on the farm, you proceeded to orient me to the foster care system. I was guarded for weeks, but you talked my fucking head off and I was secretly grateful. You told me I’d learn to love Grandpa Robert, and the rest of the Bush’s and you were right. You became the absolute love of my life, the big sister I always needed. Being a part of the Bush family with you for the 6 months I was there was the most normal I ever knew.

I never wanted to leave. I didn’t believe my mom could get clean, but after rehab, they made me go home anyway. She didn’t stay clean and I was shuffled from home to home for the rest of my childhood. It fucking sucked, but you were always there, Jetty. You called, you texted, you kept me under your thumb. When you were released into the wild upon adulthood, you visited and took me out for coffee. You were supposed to be my best friend forever.

But next-of-kin? C’mon, Jetty. I’m a 19-year-old college student. I don’t know why you had to get into the shit you got into, but here we are and you’re dead in this shoebox and I’m broke and I’m your next of kin. And all I can think is about seeing crazy Grandpa Robert’s dick on my first day of foster care and how much you comforted me and wondering if you knew how important you were. You were important and someday my ship will come in and I’ll think of a better way to mark your existence. For now, it’s this shoebox and this galvanized metal rooster.

Rest in peace, my angel.

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My name appears within the "Lifetime Learning Credit" entry in the dictionary. It's my only claim to fame.

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Melissa Singer

Melissa Singer

My name appears within the "Lifetime Learning Credit" entry in the dictionary. It's my only claim to fame.

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