Cade texted that he was on his way and would be bringing dinner. I was happy I wouldn’t have to cook; I was exhausted. Looking after a toddler and a newborn would do that to a person. My mom decided to get a tubal ligation right after my sister was born. She had decided to months ago and I was happy she followed through with it. After they were both released from the hospital, I brought them home. The entire delivery and hospital stay my mom seemed off and as soon as we got home that night, she left without telling me what she was doing. She hadn’t been back since.
I was pretty sure that she was going through a manic episode. Her behavior was exactly like the ones she had in the past. I couldn’t report her missing because then child services would get involved and take away both my siblings. I told Leo about her, and he put a word out. So far none of his contacts had seen her. I also told Marcus and Diego. They were keeping an eye out as well.
I was brought out of my thoughts when there was a knock at the door. I went over and opened it. Cade was standing there with McDonald’s.
“Hey, thanks,” I say as Cade passes me a bag of food.
“No problem. How are you?” He asks as we walk to the kitchen.
“Tired,” I say with a huff as I sit down.
Then Tomás comes running down the hall chanting “Cade! Chicken nuggets! Cade! Chicken nuggets!”
“Shh, remember Tessa is sleeping,” I tell him as he gets closer.
“Oh yeah!” He says and starts to open his happy meal.
“So, are you coming back to school soon?” Cade inquires and starts eating his meal.
“Yeah, the plan is to come on Monday. Maria is going to babysit in the day for real cheap. She’s having a hard time getting a job since she just got out of jail. It’ll help both of us.” I explain.
“That’s good, let me know if you ever need help. If she falls through last minute, I could get Rita to watch her for the day. You know so you don’t miss more school.” Cade says anxiously.
“Thanks, yeah I’ll keep that in mind. Anyway, how was school this past week?” I ask.
“Okay, I guess.” He mumbles.
“I got to miss school!” Tomás says proudly.
“Really and what did you do instead?” Cade asks.
“I watched tv, played with my toys. Oh, and we went to the park! That was realwy fun!” Tomás explains.
We keep talking about our week until we finish eating. Cade tells me to take a break while he and Tomás clean up. I’m too exhausted to argue so I go and lie on the couch.
I must have drifted off because I’m awoken to Cade shaking me. “I hate to wake you, but the baby is up and crying and I don’t know what to do.” He says nervously.
“It’s no problem,” I say and go check on my baby sister Tessa-Marie. I notice that she needs her diaper changed. Once I change her, I carry her out to the living room where Tomás and Cade are playing with some toy trucks.
“What time is it?” I ask with a yawn.
“8:30,” Cade says while giving me a concerned look.
“Tomás it’s your bedtime, could you go brush your teeth and change please?” I say.
“But Cade’s here, I don’t wanna!”
“How about I tuck you in and read you a story?” Cade says.
“Otay, come help me then!” Tomás says.
Tomás and Cade leave the living room. I go to the kitchen and make Tessa up a bottle while holding her. I made the bottle too hot, so I let it sit for a while holding Tessa. She gurgles a bit while playing with my hands. I still can’t get over how good Cade is with Tomás. I have never met anyone who just knows when to step in and help with my little brother. Although most people don’t care enough to even try.
After holding Tessa while sitting on the couch for a while I check, and the bottle is cool enough so I start to feed her. As I’m finishing her feeding Cade comes out.
“Tomás is sleeping,” he says while sitting down next to me.
“Thanks so much for doing that. He’s been a handful this week.”
“No problem, I like helping you guys out. Have you heard from your mom at all?” Cade asks looking around to check that she isn’t home.
“No, Diego spotted her at a motel, when he tried to talk to her, she acted like didn’t recognize him and ran away,” I tell him.
“Oh my god,” Cade says in shock.
“Yeah, it isn’t her first time doing this. She’s in a manic episode, eventually, she’ll come home.” I say sadly.
“You’re so strong, Lola. I don’t know how you do it.” Cade says.
“Sometimes I don’t know either,” I reply honestly.
We sit in silence for a while as I finished Tessa’s feeding and burp her. The whole time Cade watches. He looks a bit scared of Tessa. Which initially I find a bit funny.
“Want to hold her?” I ask once I’ve finished burping.
“I’m not sure.” He says.
“I can talk you through it. She’s a pretty good baby. Not too fussy.” I say hoping he’ll say yes. Once he holds her, I’m sure he’ll loosen up.
“Um, I guess I’ll try,” Cade replies after a moment.
“Okay, place one hand behind her neck and the other under her torso,” I say and pass him Tessa.
He slowly takes her from my hands. Then he brings her towards his chest. I watch as he holds her. He Stares down at her for a bit.
“See not so hard,” I say with encouragement.
I see a tear slip down Cade’s cheek. All of a sudden, he passes Tessa back to me and says, “I’m sorry I can’t, it’s- it’s, I have to go.”
I take Tessa and try to talk to him. “Hey, it’s okay talk to me.”
“No, I’ve got to go,” Cade says while more tears stream down his face. I watch as he runs out the door. I sit there confused for a while.
I’m not sure what just happened. Why would Cade freak out after holding a baby? Did it bring back a memory? I was very confused and worried so I decided to text him.
Hey Cade, please let me know if you are okay. I’m sorry if I upset you or pushed you too far with holding Tessa.
I wait a while but get no reply. I play with Tessa for a bit hoping I’ll get a reply. I can’t stop thinking about what happened. I keep comparing his behavior to my mom’s. They both ran off without reaching out to me or telling me what was actually wrong.
When 9:30 hit I tried to call Cade a few times. It went straight to voicemail. I decide to go to bed since I was so exhausted. I put Tessa in the crib in my room and then got ready and went to bed.
It took me a while to fall asleep since I kept thinking about Cade and my mom. I eventually fell asleep. I was woken up a few times by Tessa but got a good amount of sleep overall.
The next day I took Tessa and Tomás over to Maria’s. She looked after them all day while I caught up on homework and sleep.
On Friday night I got a call from Kyle. Which I was glad for, I didn’t have his number so I couldn’t reach him to ask about Cade. I’m not sure how he got my number but I’m glad he reached out.
“Hey, Lola it’s Kyle.”
“Hi, what’s up?” I reply.
“Have you seen or heard from Cade since Thursday night?”
“He came over last night and left in a panic. He started freaking out when he held my baby sister. He ran out of here without saying where he was going. I’ve been texting and calling him but haven’t heard anything.” I tell him.
“Oh shit, I’m going to go look for him. He hasn’t been home since Thursday morning. I figured he was with you, but I got worried when he didn’t reply to my texts for over a day.” Kyle tells me speaking quickly.
“I wanted to call you, but I didn’t have your number. I’ve been really worried about him. Let me know if you find him.” I say getting anxious. He’s been missing for a day now.
“For sure and I got your number from the family cloud. Let me know if he reaches out to you.” Kyle says.
“Okay, is there anything I can do to help?” I ask.
“No, I’ll be alright looking by myself. Besides, you have your sister and Tomás to look after. I’ll better start my search.”
“Bye,” I say.
“Talk to you soon,” Kyle says and then hangs up.
By Saturday night I still hadn’t heard from Cade. Kyle told me he checked all of his old hangouts and asked around as well. Nothing had turned up.
My mom had shown up though. She came home extremely high around 2:30 on Saturday morning. She had been in her room ever since. I kept checking on her every few hours. She was breathing but whenever she was awake she’d yell and call me names.
I didn’t deserve this. I looked after her and her kids. I provided for all of us, and she was treating me like dirt. I knew she acted this way because of her mental illness but at some point, I’d needed to put my foot down. I didn’t have the energy at the moment. I wanted to find her a treatment program and tell her that she could either do the program or leave. But it was a lot more complicated than that. First, I doubted the courts would grant me custody of the kids, and second I didn’t have money to pay for treatment. I also felt like it was my fault she was doing so bad. If my dad was still around maybe she would have been better. Remember when I was a kid she would have manic and depressive episodes.
I was currently on my way to work the late shift at the diner. Someone called in sick and Maria said she could look after my siblings all night, which met I’d get to sleep through the night once I got home at 1 am. I was very excited about the uninterrupted rest. I just hoped I’d be able to get to sleep with how anxious I was feeling.
My shift was mundane with nothing dramatic happening, that was until I took the trash out a little after midnight after we closed. I saw a man slumped over beside the dumpster. I walked by him and threw the trash in the bin, I purposely made lots of noise, so he’d know I was there. He didn’t move at all, so I decided to check to make sure he was alright. As I got closer, I figured out I knew this man. I also realized that he was passed out and unresponsive. As I started to panic, I took my phone out of my pocket and called 911.