"Dress up!" E yells after I give her some playtime options. I dutifully follow her to the basement, hoping I can play at least some of my parts lying down.
She pulls on her sister's Cinderella shoes and a bejewelled tiara and says "Me princess. You prince. Come marry me."
I laugh and ask what I wear as her prince. She finds me a black skirt and I rest it on my head like a veil which makes her giggle.
"No. Me doctor. You sick," E says, face serious, eyes focused. "You need shot."
When I open my eyes wide at this scary turn of events, she pats my arm. "Don't worry Mommy. I be very, very gentle. Pomise."
She rummages in the dress up bin, pushing aside layers of tulle and silk to find her stethoscope. She listens to my arm for a long time and returns to the bin.
Instead of finding her yellow plastic needle, she pulls out a glittery silver wand and taps my head, gently. "I'm Glenda. You Doroffy. You want to go home."
"Yes, I do," I say solemnly not missing a beat. "I miss Auntie Em and Uncle Henry."
"No worry, Mommy Doroffy. You can go home. Kick your heels."
I stand up, close my eyes and click my heels on the basement carpet.
"Dream of home, " she instructs.
I do. I imagine a place where I am myself, all parts, easy and hard, lovable and not so much. A place where I am safe, loved, surrounded by the warmth and flotsam of children and pets and a partner who gets me. I open my eyes and there she is, my E, waiting for me.
Here I am.