“Gout is something you get if you’re a character in a Dickens novel!”

“That makes no sense.” I reached across the table to grab another bread stick. Olive Garden style, as my dad calls them.

I broke my breadstick in half and dipped it in the warm shrimp alfredo sauce. I tried to push out the smell of the scallops and clams my parents were eating next to me. I listened to the chatter back and forth between my parents, chiming in when I felt it was appropriate.

I’ve had this since I was a child; family dinners gathered around the table, my brother on one side and my parents across the table. My brother went to college years ago, so for a while it’s just been my parents and I, but nothing changed. Every evening there were dinners around the table. But now I’m the one graduating in a month.

Even when I fell ill and sometimes felt like I couldn’t withstand being in the presence of food, we still gathered around the table to enjoy dinner (which usually ended up being a protien shake).

I fell sick two years ago. There are multiple illnesses eating away the insides of my body and stealing the nutrients my system needs to survive. We’ve had to adapt our dinners around this with many different diets. Gluten free, Crohn’s exclusion, etc. But we still made it to the table every night regardless.

I’m trying to hold onto this feeling. The feeling of family and being wanted. It’s hard not to feel like you’ve passed an expiration date after you graduate. Like you’re another thing sitting inside your parent’s home, rotting and taking up space. Especially when you’re medically and financially burdening them.

So, I take this time to close my eyes and soak up this feeling. Family. Wanted.