5:30 a.m.

I woke up to the sound of my phone alarm chiming. I’d fallen asleep on the floor, makeup on, yesterday’s clothes clinging to my skin and hair matted into a nest around my face. Dirty tissues were strewn about my room, but I was too tired to care. I threw off the single sheet that kept me warm through the night, and I made my way hazily downstairs to start packing the cooler. 

I packed my little sister’s favorite ice cream (strawberry) along with my brother’s (chocolate), not straying from my task until they were both nestled perfectly within the ice. I sliced apples, thin and even, and packed them neatly into a container. I slid water into the cooler, as well, in the tiny pockets of space that fit the bottles just right, before folding up towels and blankets into perfect rectangles and placing everything gently into the trunk of my car. All this was done without a sound, until the clock reached 5:50, and I woke up my little siblings and led them quietly out the door and into the car. 

We drove along silently at first. I tried to lift the mood by putting on some upbeat music: the playlist my siblings liked the most. I used to play it for them all the time the summer before I left when I would drive them to the beach. My brother sat stone-faced, not singing along. My sister sat in the back, oblivious and playing with her toy bunny. When we got to our spot, at a hidden little segment of the beach that no one really went to, it was still dark. Juliette, my little sister, ran into the sand ecstatically while my brother and I trudged along, bodies and minds weighted down by grief and fatigue. We set up our towels, wrapped ourselves in blankets. I pasted on a smile and offered my siblings some ice cream, and then we watched as the menacing void of pre-dawn sky shifted into softly glowing pastels.  

I used to do this a lot – not go to the beach, but get up this early. I’d wake up at 4:30 am and just enjoy the silence, the peace. Especially when everything around me was sad. 

By the time the sun had completely risen and I had gotten my siblings, safe and warm, back into the car, the mood had shifted just a little. It was a small moment, but it had a big impact on us all. I wanted to show them that they weren’t alone, that their sister didn’t leave them. There was still somebody taking care of them. We got home, and my sister and I made hot chocolate from scratch. I told her all of my secret ingredients, and she smiled mischievously because I gave her top-secret information that other people didn’t know – she was in on the conspiracy. I laughed at her innocence, at her childish bliss. I wanted to be more like her. 

I think that the concept of “family” is incredibly complex. Sometimes, families actually suck. I have a big family: some not blood-related, some no longer with us, some living far away, some utterly broken. Although it’s not perfect, and we’ve been through so much, I do know that I’m not alone. At the end of the day, even when it doesn’t seem like it, there’s at least one person who’s got my back. Again, families are complicated, and flawed, and hurtful at times, but they’re important. And the good memories you make with them are important, too. If any of y’all have struggled with family tragedy, I’m deeply sorry. However, I also encourage you to find beauty in it. I’m convinced that beauty can be found anywhere, even in something as seemingly small and common as taking your little siblings out one morning to watch a sunrise. Cherish the memories you have with your loved ones, and do not let them go. If you hold on to the love they give you, and the love you give to them, that feeling of home will stay with you no matter where you are.  

Author: Emelia Bosarge

Hi! I’m Emmy. I’m a writer, an artist, and above all, I am a creative. I love Greek Mythology, Hozier, bagels, and anything and everything that can teach me something. Through my blog, I hope to extend the same love of curiosity and different perspectives that I have to my readers.

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