We never knew quite what to make of our mother, though the ultimate goal, it turned out, to solve her and align the rubix cube rubric of who we were supposed to be was tantalizingly unattainable. When the illness struck all us kids thrived, our pavlovian anxiety at all things left unsaid everywhere around us gave way as people's needs concretized, became more basic. "My leg it - the bone is sticking out," my sister dropped to one knee, forehead furrowing in empathy. She knew pain and had become a one woman swiss army of soothing techniques and first aids. Before my eyes, a slight of the hand with some thoughtfully nonstick gauze and tape and saline in a water bottle she pulled from her leather fanny pack. I kissed her on the lips, tightness I didn't know I had in my sinews and cracks rising like highway heat waves, dissipating in the grey morning.