The Oldest Girl

Married at 15, having already lived a “full life”.  No quinceañera, no prom, no pictures to capture the accomplishments of her life. The oldest in a large family. Her Momma always busy, sick and/or pregnant. The daily chores overwhelming for anyone, let alone a little girl. In this culture large families were the norm. The eldest would soon be helping out around the house, especially if she was a girl. She did it all, and was a Mom to her siblings, more so than their own Mother. As if the household chores weren’t enough, she would be demanded to help out tending to the land along with her Father and brothers. How did she do it all? She would say with pride, “I was like one of the boys to our Dad.” She took pride in being able to do what the boys could do, at times faster and better. So why did Dad beat her so mercilessly?

Grown up and married now, with children of her own and her own household to tend to. You’d think this would have earned her freedom from all the responsibilities of her “childhood home”. No, not in this culture. The hats just kept piling on.

There was a “hardness” about her, yet the caring soul within her managed to come through time and again. Every now and then a tear dared to escape from her eyes, almost shattering that impregnable armor. With one hard swoop she would yank it from her face in defiance and resolve not to let this happen again. Who told her she shouldn’t cry?

I wonder if all her collections were part of her “living” in a world she had never known; she had never had? There was that miniature tea set in the midst of other miniature figures. There was her collection of Monchhichis (Japanese stuffed toys) – always sitting pretty on her especially made shelves.

Everything sat pretty, clean, protected. The stuffed toys encased in plastic bags to preserve their beauty. Lots and lots of porcelain figurines, especially dolls. She would clean them with care.

What was going through her mind?

What was brewing inside of her?

Forty plus one, was the number of her years. Such a short life! She finally broke beyond repair. Unanswered questions remain…how I miss this beautiful soul!

Images

Images, images…an onslaught of images; a constant replay.

What’s playing, “presently”, in the theater of my mind? My beautiful daughter being placed in that bag. Yes, it was just her shell! Yes, she “wasn’t there” anymore! Yes, yes, yes…I KNOW!!! It was all part of the “normal” process! I get it! I accept it! BUT the torture and assault of those images is relentlessly painful and gut wrenching!

Her frail, lifeless little body being placed on that gurney, with that black ominous bag. The zipper going up, up…closing…watching her little face disappear. I wanted to turn away, but that seemed “unloving”, and I wanted to “see” her face as long as I possibly could. I wanted to scream, “she will suffocate!” I wanted to STOP the process. I thought I’d vomit…maybe if I vomited that twisted feeling in my guts would be relieved…UGH!!!

I try to renew my mind. I try to “think” on things that are true, noble, praiseworthy. Really…I do! But somehow, the images return, over and over again. I am thankful for the times that the images are of joyful, memorable moments. I welcome the relief and joy they bring.

Always on the edge. People…noises…anything threatens to take me over the edge; to explode.

I wonder, “If the images stopped, would I stop missing her; remembering her?” “Are these horrid images better than not having anything at all?”

And so the journey continues…one day, one moment, one second at a time. Thankful for the grace to do just that…one second at a time!

“Cry whenever you need to. Scream. Shout. Lay on the floor. Sob in the shower. Be still. Run. Share without fear. Listen. Release your pain. Breathe. Be courageous. Throw away the map. Wander. Be real. Be compassionate. Read. Seek friendship. Be vulnerable. Don’t fear being broken.” ~ Zoe Clark-Coates

Finality

Your time was making its way,

we knew it was coming.

Inching its way…lurking in the corner,

ready to pounce.

That bag…dark, suffocating…so unnatural,

my mind reels at the memory.

A short walk…a distance both finite and infinite.

That van…door closes…gasp!

It drives away dragging every bit of my heart,

shattered, broken, pulverized…

Never to be the same again.

The Runaway

Running, running…always running. Have I ever stopped? Has it taken a different form? More than half a century of living, or attempting to live or what has it been? Am I still the same? Am I different?

Memories of a 9 (or was it 10) year old, “running away” cause her “no” wasn’t sufficient. Then shutting up about what happened because she was afraid of the outcome, of the repercussions.

Then her louder “NO” explodes into a cry for help, for understanding, for protection. She finally opens her mouth and speaks, only to be told to SHUT UP.

She runs away attempting to find a refuge, only to end up used and abused and cast away like a used, filthy rag. Really?! She was only 14.

My mind is filled with voices, lots and lots of voices…”SHUT UP!”, I scream.

I’m tired! I don’t want to run anymore. I just want to be STILL…

Dad

At 14 she already had her share of “life”. Just a little girl…her innocence a distant memory. She “decides” that home was better than the streets or was it?

Feet as heavy as led, step by step she makes her way to the front door of her home. Can she call it “home”? She hopes so…soon she’ll be rudely awakened. She’ll realize that this place will just be a “holding place” until her next escape. Where does she belong? Does she belong anywhere, to any one?

She opens the door…heavy as a bolder, stuck like glue. She manages to take a step inside, then another. “Oh, he’s sitting on his couch…his spot!” He doesn’t move, doesn’t turn her way, doesn’t even acknowledge her. It’s as if she didn’t even exist. Maybe he wishes she didn’t. Maybe that would take away the shame and disgrace she has brought upon the family name.

She manages to make her way to the kitchen. Mom is busy, as always. She’s quite the homemaker. With a side look, she acknowledges her, but the frown confirms that there is no joy in her coming “home”.

Mom barks a command, “Go! Kneel before your father and ask him for forgiveness!” The girl turns and walks back to the living room, her feet even heavier than before. She approaches the strong man, still sitting in his favorite spot. She kneels. Through tears she manages to speak. Her shaky voice comes out in a whisper, “Dad, please forgive me for running away.” Silence! No movement, not even a flinch. Her mind raising with thoughts, “What will he say? Will he forgive me? Will he slap me? Well, if he did, I deserve it!” Finally, a slight movement of his head…only to dismiss her to her mother. Not a word…not a look…just a small gesture.

The heaviness! The hurt! The disgust!

She stands…walks away…her mind assaulting her with more thoughts. “Did he forgive me? Can I stay? What happens next?”

Shattered Routine

It was a “normal” day. Routine was in full swing. Time for dinner was soon approaching. I busied myself preparing and putting the final touches on dinner. My girl was upstairs in her room not feeling well. Checking on her periodically, something just didn’t feel right. My entire being filled with an uneasiness…call it mother’s intuition, I don’t know.

“We need to go back to the doctor,” I said. She asked for us to wait. So many things scared her or made her uneasy. Doctors were on her list.

Dinner almost ready. Final touches…I hear steps coming down the stairs. Her posture, her complexion, her tears…not good!

“I need to take you to the ER.” She said, “ok.” My stomach sank further. My body began to shake. “She said ‘yes’, this is not good”, was my thought. “Maybe it’s just a virus,” I calmed myself.

We entered that place where our lives would for ever change. The smells, the sounds, the faces. The face of a innocent little girl, pale, sweaty, scared. As a Mom, I so wanted to shield her from all of this, BUT I could not! My heart ached!

I held her, touched her, smiled and remained “steady”, calm and collected. I needed to! She looked to me to be her strength and assurance. I looked to Him. There was no other way.

Tests, needles, exams —– screams! Those screams! All I could do was hold my girl ever so tightly…BUT I could not stop them from “hurting her”. Oh, the nightmares…the agony!

More and more tests, exams, needles…the night passed.

Faces, nods, grim prognosis, papers…the feeling of sinking sand taking you under with a violent pull that can’t be stopped. You grasp, but there is nothing to grasp. Yet somehow, you know there is a Presence holding you tight.

The room! The test! The confirmation!

The looks…the news!

COLORECTAL CANCER

The weight of the world fell on us! Breath was sucked from our lungs! Yet, we were held by the One who holds the power of life and death in His hands.

July 16, 2016 – a date etched sharply on my heart.

A Little Boy

I knew a boy nicknamed “coco”. The nickname was not an endearing name, it was more of a play on words. He was nicknamed “coco” (Spanish for coconut) for his round head, and for apparently being thick headed. He couldn’t have been more than ten years old. He lived in a small village with his large family.

It was a typical stormy night. The downpour could be heard loudly inside the house, with its rumbling thunder, and lighting that could make an otherwise very dark night look like daylight. Was it a routine night? Was it a special night? Not really sure. The activity of the other family members gets lost as the memory of that little boy comes into focus.

There is a knock at the door. Why is he knocking? Doesn’t he have a key? This is his home, after all.

Home – a place one should always be welcomed. The place where love and protection should be.

Home – can you picture the perfect postcard with the beautiful cottage, surrounded with its white picket fence?

Home – is it a man-made structure? Or is it what or who is in it?

The door is opened. The little boy is standing in the pouring rain, soaked already, yet still “getting wet”. His round face with those big brown eyes with an expression of fear, terror, anxiety, pleading for help, like he was running, escaping from something…yet he remained composed. He’s crying, but not a sobbing cry to match the look in his eyes. It’s almost as if, even those tears rolling out of his eyes are escaping what he so desperately is trying to hold in. He is just a little boy, why doesn’t he cry openly and freely?

He is covered with “something”…well, it should be covering him, but it is just not adequate enough for the downpour. Yeah, nothing like the pictures of cute little boys with their yellow rain coats with matching hat and boots. Nope, this is far, far from that.

He finally manages to open his mouth to speak. Almost in a whisper, with a tremble in his voice he says, “I’m scared. I don’t want to go back. Can I just stay home.” He is still standing outside. My heart! My thoughts…can you please bring him inside? Can you hold him? Can you change him into warm, dry clothes? Can you make him feel safe?

Finally, he is inside! Yes, I can breath! Wait! He is being scolded for leaving that “scary place”. He is told to change and get some sleep, cause tomorrow he has to go back…