Today is a time for joy, the death of my father. I have time off of work, three days, for this. It is a time well earned and one of the good things he has done for me.
Speak no ill of the dead, they say. Meh. How can that be when the dead are ill? I would not disparage the good dead with thoughtless tales but neither will I disparage a good death with unwarranted mourning. I will feel the release due me.
I include my past in Erica’s past but her past lays bare only the surface of my un-nurtured core, the surface of my ocean. To dive into it makes a morbid tale and I don’t tell it. The waves of my reality made me row for the shores, and far away shores they were too. I went farther than Erica ever did. As she sought to leave her father I did leave mine, father and mother both.
It is a complicit affair between the two that allows their children’s boats to sink. Neither takes up the task of pumping bilge, of stopping the floods, of saving those drowning. More important tasks must be attended to. Golden bracelets and diamonds must be bought and worn and shown about. Good names must be retained no matter the unruly behavior behind closed doors.
Unruly. How quaint. I speak of sexual assault and memories such actions cause, lingering obscenities, attachments. If the baggage of those memories are not assaulted, they will fester and change the soul first of the child and then the adult.
The sins of the father stain the children for generations. That is the festering. The parent’s young lives were wronged and they festered. The man grew and assaulted his children with warped views of love, prejudice, and hate, while the woman ignores, knowing full well the harm done but in this lies her security. The festering is planted in a new generation. It grows. The only cure is to cut it away and anything that might seek to nurture it. Leave it and all who accept it behind.
Death allows change. Where I have cut, I have lost. My family, like Erica’s, denied me and still do. That is not to be recovered at least not as the childhood playmates I once knew. My sisters are not cut and cleaned of the growth, the contagion is attached. Their lives grew to its mold.
One ran away and only returns with care, aware of the danger and hardened but not willing to cut. Another harbors anger, lies, and spite for her festering soul. Her face betrays her pain. No trace but the mask of who she once was. The third touches with a toe in the water, checking for the waves, seeing if the ocean will swamp her little boat of reality. It will and as soon as it does she rows for the shore she left. She returns to the water repeatedly seeking reality with a toe.
My reality I examined, cut, and healed as best I could. Telling Erica’s tale is cathartic. Sharing is too; I tell you, I did more than her and left my family. For any relationship with my parents or my sisters to be allowed I had to pretend everything was normal. I wouldn’t do that. Now I no longer have to pretend. He’s dead. My mother some years before, gone. The burden of pretending he isn’t a pedophile so I might have a conversation with my sisters is gone.
I have the freedom of no longer wondering if I should call him. It’s wonderful. I knew the only way I could ever achieve a lasting relationship with one of my sisters was to call him before he died. I had to extend the olive branch, pretend, lure them to me. I considered it but, in the end, I did not. What could I have said but lies? Truth is my shield from the festering harm. Should I have relinquished that shield to regain a sister? Would I gain a sister or would I gain a ghost of my past?
I, like Erica, know well the truth is not what anyone wants to hear. It cannot be spoken, not even to the sister who felt our father’s hands upon her crotch and admits it. It only happened to her after all.
I, like Erica, have come to understand severing a relationship with a parent also severs the family, like a branch laden with apples the parent and nearby children all fall together to rot on the ground together unless, by chance, the apples should roll away. God bless the hills in our lives. I ate the apple and rolled away from that tree.
With death comes resolution. A story is ended and my breath releases because I will no longer wonder if I should call. I was disinherited for rolling down the hill and not letting the decay cling to me. In this disinheritance, my joy manifests. Nothing binds me to the baggage of my past but my choices. I did choose to contact my sisters and let them know I harbor no ill will towards them but my mother had destroyed all means.
When she lived, she would not give me their addresses or numbers. “Let me tell them. Let me contact them for you,” she always said. In that way, she controlled all communication. She worried if I spoke to them I might show them the hills down which to escape. I might aid them with a boat and point them to a new shore. Because of her I have no address, no married names, and at some point my family has unfriended me on Facebook, the one link I had managed to maintain.
I’m with Erica at her table. I sit with Matilda, Cyril, Silas, and James. Sisters and brothers sit at another table and glance Erica’s way but turn when she notices. What they believe about her they were told by their mother. Her past is not the past they accept. Their reality is their mother’s. Erica sits with those who know her true past and accept her for it. The people who sit with us do not insist we adopt a lie in order to speak.
The loss of a family hurts but it doesn’t fester. It passes while I sit with those who nurture me and love me. I do not fear for my children like I do for my sisters’ children. The ills of my parents were left behind. My past does not make my choices. It follows as it should. Death be praised for the release it gives. I have joy in my heart. May my sisters find the same.