My father warned me about drugs that people might try to sell me someday; he talked about white powders and colorful little pills. But he forgot to mention the darkest kind, the ones that strangers will pour into your drink when you aren’t looking. It happened to my cousin. She doesn’t remember the night. Sometimes she says it’s for the better, other times she cries because not knowing is more terrifying than the truth ever could be.
My mother warned me about beautiful men who might break my heart. But she forgot to mention that if they were drunk and they got angry, they might break my bones too. It happened to my aunt. He didn’t mean to — he swore to us that he didn’t. But seeing her so fragile, her skin so bruised, black and blue against the white hospital sheets… She is still beautiful, but all I ever see is that little bump on her nose that didn’t use to be there, not before she fell in love with him.
My older sister warned me about the importance of being in love with the guy I’d give my virginity too. But she forgot to mention that he should love me too. It happened to my best friend. She couldn’t sleep, she didn’t eat. All she could do was cry until I was worried she’d drown in her own tears. In the school hallways, he’d look the other way.
My grandfather warned me about men in dark alleys who might slit your throat, but he forgot to mention that sometimes it isn’t always other people cutting your skin. It happened to my little brother. From then on he always wore leather bands around his wrist. People thought it made him look tough; I know it was because he was broken inside.
My grandmother warned me that if I wasn’t nice to everyone, I wouldn’t have any friends. But she forgot to mention that even amongst my closest friends, I could feel left out. It happened to me. My laughter was hollow and I cried myself to sleep because sometimes being in a crowded room is the loneliest feeling in the world.
Yesterday my daughter was born. I hold her tight and love her hard and wonder, what will I forget to mention?