Tuesday, April 24, 2012


April 21, 2012

I dreamed you last night.

Singing in the front row of a choir.  Your hair was still long, pulled back in a pony tail.  You were 8 or 9. 

Seeing you, I held my breath.  You turned your head to me, your eyes met mine.  You stopped singing for a moment.  Smiled.

“I dreamed Andrea last night.” I told Steve as I came down the stairs this morning to the smell of brewed coffee.

“I know you were dreaming something.”  He said.  “You were making all kinds of sad noises.”

“I am really sad this morning.”  I told him.

“I’m sorry baby.  What can I do to make it feel better?”

What can anyone do to make this all better?

A bandaid.  Kiss the owie.  An ice pack.  A heating bad.  An ace bandage.  A cast.

My pain is on the inside.  Where it can not be seen.  Where I need to let my mind work on it, my heart heal.


I felt pure joy looking into your eyes for that moment.  Seeing your smile.

And then the pain of letting go again.


In my dream, you were about the same age I was when my Dad met Willa. 

Willa hated me the first moment she saw me.

I was too bossy.  Too big for my britches. 

I was trouble.

I was a perceived threat to her oldest daughter, Linda Jean.  My dad’s oldest child, her oldest child.

I was a matter of survival.  Crawling out the window of the bedroom my own mother had locked us five kids in.  Roaming the streets of High Point.  Shoplifting penny candy when the clerk turned her head the other way.  Testing my neighbors’ houses for unlocked doors, sneaking in to raid their refrigerators, their cupboards.  The cupboards at my house were bare.  Hiding my bruises from fights with neighbor kids who taunted me, and when my crying wasn’t enough, kicked me, punched me, pulled my hair and spit on me.


Linda Jean and I were in the kitchen.  Arguing like sisters over something.  Linda picked up a knife, waved it threateningly towards me.  I grabbed a pair of scissors from the counter in front of me.

Willa walked in.  Took the scissors from me, and began punching me, hitting me, kicking me until I peed my pants.  When she grew tired of hitting me, she grabbed me by the hair, dragged me though the dining room and living room threw me outside, slammed the door.  “Your father will deal with you when he gets home.”

I sat on the grass, my back against the telephone pole, smelling the wet urine drying, evaporating, the smell concentrating.

The smell of injustice.  The smell of powerlessness.  The smell of fear.

“Your father will deal with you when he gets home.”

My father did not get home til supper time. 

I sat out there the whole day, my back against the telephone pole, peeing myself because I was not allowed inside.  Hungry, because I was not fed.  Terrified of my Dad coming home.

My dad, his black belt.  Summary punishment.  No chance to explain. 

The sharp sound of the belt as it met my skin—Thwack.



“must never”


“point a pair of sharp scissors”


“at anyone.”

Thwack, thwack, thwack.

I held my tears as long as I could. 

I do not know what hurt worse, the belting or the fact I felt I had done nothing wrong. 

I was defending myself.


“Wait til your father gets home.”

Every day I walked home from grade school at Holy Cross Elementary, thinking “If Jesus could die on the cross for me, I can bear these beatings.”


“Wait til your father gets home.”


Walking home from Holy Cross Elementary, my bruises stinging under my crisp white blouse, my plaid uniform jumper.


“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.”

Humpty Dumpty is sitting on the wall built around my past.

“Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”

Humpty Dumpty is trying to not to fall, to get pushed in to all the inner walls contain.

Teeters on the edge.

“All the King’s horses and all the King’s men………”

“Do you have any idea how much strength it takes for a 16 year old to take herself to, turn herself into the juvenile detention center to get away from home?”  My therapist asked me this question.

“How much strength it took to get from where you were to where you are now?”

I am sitting on the couch, kiddy cornered to her.

My body knows.  My mind does not want to remember.  It wants to just keep progressing forward.  But I get drawn back in.

And I am about to fall off the wall.

Adversity has not made me stronger.  It has made me tired. 


Two weeks before his heart attack, my Dad called me.  “I need to talk to you and Linda and Karen.” 

“Dad, I’m in the middle of a crisis here, my house is torn up from water damage.  Can this wait until I can catch my breath?”

“I’d like to do this soon.”  He told me.

“Just let me know when and where.  I’ll be there.”  I told him.

My sister, Karen is ambivalent.  Linda does not want to go.  She does not want to hear excuses.  There are none.

There is only what happened.

“What’s the harm, Linda?  Let’s hear what he wants to say. Karen and I will be there.”

We all agreed to meet on April 3.  6 p.m. at his house.

April 3, 6 p.m. Dad was in a four bed ward at Madigan waiting for heart surgery.

I am in hibernation.  Staring blankly at the wall.  Trying to hit the delete button.  Delete.  Delete. Delete.

I can’t find the places all the memory is hiding in my computer. 

It will never be fully deleted.

Standing at the sink, Steve came up behind me.  Put his arms around me.  “This is tearing you up, Babe.”

“It is.”  I told him.

“It’s just like on an airplane.”  He said.

“An airplane?  What are you talking about?”

“Oxygen mask.  You have to put yours on first before you can help anyone else.”  Steve explained.

My therapist.

“You have no reserves.” 

“I used to be strong.  Be able to handle anything.”  I told her.

“You have no reserves.”  She says again. 

She is right.

Since you died, I have no reserves.

And then you came to me in a dream this morning smiling.

I put on my oxygen mask and  I breathe. 

Love you baby girl.  Mom.

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