When my closest friend, who also happens to be the woman who has been my case worker for three years, tells me that she found a family member for me to live with in Pennsylvania, I am less than excited. I know that I should be, and she tells me that it will be healthy for me to live with someone who she deems "a responsible and loving adult", unlike my mother, but I cannot be. I have this slight hope that my mother's too many times broken promise that "things will get better" will someday come true, and that by moving me ten hours away, she and I will never get that chance.
I argue this with Helen, a short, brunette who always wears skirts too tight for her plump body, but she just knits her eyebrows in response. "What if she's done this time? She can start going to AA again- she was doing so well before, Helen!"
"Maggie," she slowly says, before rubbing her lips together, a small confirmation that I do not want to hear whatever it is that she has to say. "Your mother signed away her rights."
She continues to speak but I simply stare, unable to believe the words that she is saying, like I once read about Americans who had heard stories of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Unbelieving. I tune back in to hear her say that this woman is my father's cousin. "What's her name?" I ask, to try to see if I can remember her.
"Lisa," Helen states, watching my reaction. I close my eyes and rub my temples but no memories of a woman named Lisa come to me.
"I don't remember her."
She smiles slightly as she takes a step toward me, reaching her short, fat arm up to my shoulder, "We didn't expect you would. Your mother said that not only was your father's side of the family small, but they stopped coming around once he died."
I wince at the mention of my father's death. I have asked her many times not to talk about it with me, as I don't feel like talking about it. However, since this is the cause of my mother's alcoholism and drug usage, that's all my mother talks about. Therefore, something she, and my therapist, feel that I must talk about it as well.
She sighs before speaking after an awkward moment of silence, "I know it will be hard, Maggie. But you've already been through so much. This constant in and out of state care because of your mother, the switching schools. Living with Lisa will finally provide some stability in your life. This will be good for you."
"Will you still be my case worker?" I ask, already knowing that she won't be. She never was when I went back to my mom's house, so she definitely won't be now that I have a stable place to live. I won't need a case worker.
"Maggie," she sighs, "You know how this works. I can't come ten hours across the country to be with you. I have a family and a job here. You won't have to see a case worker or a therapist anymore."
My heart drops, at the idea of not having Helen in my life. For the last three years, albeit two months here and there where my mother was back home, promising that she'd quit drinking and quit doing drugs, Helen has been the only source of security, stability, and comfort I have known. And now, all in one day, my mother and Helen are leaving me.
As badly as I want to cry, I do not. I push the stray piece of brown hair off of my forehead and smile at Helen, as fake as I ever have, "When do I leave?"