Dad was the first to leave.
Before he went out the door, he came into my room to tell me that I could ring him to come home at any time and that it was totally understandable if I couldn't face staying by myself in the house only a month and a half after...yeah.
I nodded, smiled, told him I'd be fine and he left, looking like he wanted to cry.
He looked like that a lot these days, it made me want to cry too.
A few hours later was Mom, taking Becca to swimming and Dean to his party on the way.
Dean ran into the room to give me his fully charged Nintendo DS before he went, granting me permission to play any game I wanted in his absence.
Although I was touched by his sentiment, I couldn't help but think of the fights we used to have over him letting me give his copy of the new Super Mario a whirl.
So Dean just offering it up was far from normal.
But I thanked him anyway, hugged him and watched him scamper off.
Becca came in next to give me a big hug and hold on much longer than she usually would have.
That definitely wasn't normal...but it was nice.
"You'll be OK, right?" she whispered in my ear, still hanging on tightly.
I shut my eyes, wincing against the pain of her unintentionally tugging at one of the welts on my back.
What was OK?
Was OK normal?
"Yes, I'll be fine, don't worry!" I laughed, shutting the cyclone of thoughts out.
Becca smiled at me and ran off.
Mom was the last to dip her head into my bedroom.
She looked at me, curled up on my bean bag with a book I was pretending to read, and smiled approvingly.
"You'll be alright then?" her voice shook.
I nodded and willed on a reassuring grin.
Mom didn't seem convinced. She just pulled her lips into what she must of thought was a friendlier smile.
"I won't be too long-" her tone was apologetic.
"Nah, take your time!" I waved my hand in what I hoped was a nonchalant way. "I've got everything I need right here."
Mom paused, stared at me, seemed to think for a moment and then spoke again.
"You really have shown an amazing amount of courage Frankie, you know that? Your dad and I are so proud of you, I-"
"Yeah," suddenly I desperately wanted her gone. This was so far, far away from normal that it was making me feel upset. "Look, you'd better go, you'll be late."
Mom hovered in the door for a moment, looking surprised and slightly hurt.
I averted her gaze until she sniffed and straightened up.
"You're right, I will be!" she said conversationally, trying to bring the atmosphere back to regularity. It didn't work. "I'll see you later then Frankie, OK?"
"I love you."
"Love you too Mom."
She gave me one last smile and moved out the door.
I settled back in my bean bag and shut my eyes, letting out a heavy sigh.
It was all so difficult...
I listened to Mom gathering up her things in the kitchen. I heard Becca call to her from where she and Dean were waiting in the car. Mom called back that she'd be there in a "quick second" and heard her walk briskly towards the front door.
"Oh Frankie," she suddenly shouted up the stairs. "I forgot to tell you - there's a six-pack of Pepsi in the garage!"
And that was it. As the front door closed, my panic attack began.
All because of a stupid can of Pepsi.
Dad was the first to leave.