Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lives, Legacy and memories.....

Hello dear readers, it has been a long while since I have had the time and mental fortitude to write a new blog post. Please forgive me for not finishing The Story of Boy~ the rest of the story will come....this I promise you......but today my heart needs to talk about a different subject: Lives, Legacy and Memories.

Gentle readers~ it is with deep and soul crushing pain that I was told on December 21 that my eldest sister had died. Details were sketchy and confirmation would not come for nearly 24 hours. But just like THAT she was dead, gone. My sister was never really able to escape the tragedies of our childhood.....the divorce of our parents....the mental and physical illnesses our mother suffered, the unspeakable horror of abuse at the hands of our step mother, my own mother's parade of abusive is a LOT to overcome. Never EVER have I, or will I, take for granted the fact that I *seemed* to have been able to make a better life for myself and my four living children. It is a battle with which I still struggle~ tho I have made better choices in my later years~ I *still* know that the demons of the past are there.....lurking and waiting.....and at times like these I feel like I am dancing close to the black hole of tragedy that is our family. I truly feel with every fiber of my being that if I dance too close to the darkness I will be sucked in and swallowed whole.

My mother was just 37 years old when she died......I was 14, my baby sister 11, my brother 16 and my eldest sister 18. She had a heart attack~ herculean efforts were made to save her~ but her heart just would not recover and beat normally~ less than 15 hours after she spoke her last words to me~ we, my siblings and I, agreed that enough was enough....when for the 50th time her heart rate went in to an unsurvivable rhythm~ we agreed that it was torture to keep shocking her back to life. My 5th stepfather did very little *right* by my mother or us....but I must give him props and credit him with allowing the 5 of us to talk about what was happening and decide together what our mother would have wanted~ and honor those wishes. As her heart failed for that 50th time~ we made a circle around her hospital bed~ and we hugged and laid hands on her~ and we watched as the monitors all flat lined....and a caring nurse turned off the alarms~ but you could still see~ her heart had stopped for the final time, the ventilator was turned off and she slipped away~ peacefully and painlessly.... especially in consideration of the torture of the last 15 hours~ trying to save her. We would all agree later that she did not die in that hospital room~ she died in her bedroom~ moments after she told me she had a terrible headache and she asked me to rub her back......when I realized she was not breathing ~ the herculean efforts began~ but she was already gone.....

When the call came about my sister~we all believed that she had suffered the same fate~~ because she was named after our mother, she lived her life almost identically to how mother did, she suffered glaringly identical  medical problems~ at 45 my sister had already suffered a heart attack....but she had survived....she had nearly bled to death with a bleeding ulcer~ but she survived that too....she had high blood pressure~ her 23 year old son (after struggling for years to escape) hung himself 3 years ago ~~ miraculously she survived that too~~ she worked too hard~ smoked too much~ drank WAY too much coffee~ and she did not take care of herself. She was also married to a very abusive monster of a man who mistreated her and her children terribly....identical in almost every way to my mother's life. Don't get me wrong~ many times various people (myself included) tried to help her try to escape this man, the life, this fate..........and she would leave him for a time~~ and she enrolled in school~~ but she *always* went back.

Ironically~ she DID leave him three months ago....and she had stayed away.....and she was trying to sort out her life.......and I am told she was happier than she had been in years~ I pray this is true.

We have been told that she did not suffer a heart attack~~ she suffered a pulmonary aneurysm that ruptured and she drowned in her own blood~ this brought me terrible images of her choking~ struggling to breathe~ before succumbing to the relief of death. I pray this is not how it actually happened.

In the days that have a followed~ details of her final months and days have trickled in. Details of the life that she and her children lived. Details of the horrific sexual abuse the monster subjected her and her daughters to. Details I would rather have never known. Details that I am sure will be the source of nightmares for me in the future.

I have been asked to try to step in and take her children away from the monster. I am not sure I have the mental fortitude to do that~ especially given their ages and the trauma that such a fight would inflict on my OWN small children just 7 and 4. I am not sure I can invite the devil himself into my home~ I am not sure if I would be any help at all. I am sure that such a fight would take me closer to the black hole than I have been since I escaped my OWN abusive relationship with a man nearly 20 years ago.........I am sure such a fight would devastate me ~ hearing from her daughter first hand what the monster did to her~ I don't think I can survive that.

My brother (who is visiting me for Christmas~ he came just 1 day before we heard the news) wants to attend her funeral......I don't think I even have the mental fortitude to do THAT. You see~ that family, MY biological family operates on a level of dysfunction such as I have spent a lifetime avoiding. And EVERY SINGLE interaction with them is a test of my strength and my sanity.

When my nephew hung himself~ I raced to my sister's side~ and there I stayed for 10 long days~ and I did as much as I could to help her through the grueling task of burying her child.....financially, physically and emotionally. And in the months that followed I tried to help her get away from the monster~ and she did~ she was in a safe house~ he did not know where she was~ she had people from her church helping her out (the very same people who paid for EVERYTHING related to my nephew's funeral that I could not)......and she lasted 3 weeks......and she took the children and she called the monster and she went back.....for the thousandth fucking time: SHE WENT BACK. I washed my hands of it then (not of her~ I still had contact with her) but I stopped sending her money, I stopped paying her cell phone bill, I stopped listening to her complaint's of how bad her life was. And three months ago when the call came late in the night from her asking if she "showed up on my doorstep" would I let her and her children stay with me ~~it broke my heart~ but I had to say no.

My first priority belongs to MY OWN FAMILY~ my children, my husband and me. None of my children have ever experienced the terror and torture of being physically or sexually abused God willing THEY NEVER WILL~~~~ and  for this reason and a thousand others I can NOT willingly expose them to that way of life.

My sister lived and died very much the way our mother did. Only in death did they escape the trauma and torture (some of it self inflicted) that was their way of life.

I have always chosen to try to live my life differently. And I don't always do it perfectly. I try very hard to always try to be the very best version of myself. I learned LONG ago that their are many dangers I am just NOT willing to subject myself or my family to~ it is self preservation, it is in honor of my mother and my sister that I try to learn from their tragedies.

It is my hope that my children will have different lives. That my legacy will be one of not only surviving but thriving even when life is cruel and unfair. That my children's memories will be filled with hope, and love and peace. It is the best I can do with what I have.

Love and light~ Ginger

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Story of A Boy Part 9: A Leap of Faith

The story of a boy….well, he was much more than that to me……
Part 9: A Leap of Faith

This is the 9th in the series. 

Before I begin; let me say that this post will most likely not be funny. And it might contain information that upsets you and not in the usual way with offensive language and politics…..but in a human, sad and guttural way. I may very well ramble at times and for all of these things: I am genuinely sorry. Please read Parts 1-8 before reading this. It will just make more sense that way.

William’s due date came and went……and it seemed to me that I was the only one that noticed. I was very, very, very sad……actually about mid-October I decided that I could no longer crawl out of the rabbit hole alone. I called the hotline that the hospital had given me~~ and digging out all of the hospital paperwork was like ripping my heart open all over again……I was reminded that I HATED the paperwork~ because all of the discharge instructions were written AS IF I WERE STILL PREGNANT.

At the time I was discharged I was somewhat numb and I remember being hurt and angry about it…and I remembered that it hurt me deeply…. and I remember that I had thought at the time that I should write a letter to the hospital and strongly encourage that they should have discharge paperwork specifically for mother’s whose children did not make it. Reading “please go to the hospital if you think your water has broken or if you have a fever or if you have contractions….blah blah blah”  was SO VERY VERY VERY painful…..and overwhelmingly sad. Well, I never did write that letter. It was just too much……it has taken me 5 years to be able to write THIS. I just didn’t have the emotional energy to take on the hospital.

Anyway~ I had already BEEN attending Empty Arms meetings~ but they were only once a month….and that was not often enough~ I needed to be able to talk about my feelings and cry and act a fool and have someone **really** listen. So I started working with a therapist and for the first time in my life I was put on antidepressants. Both of which helped immensely. The cloud of everyday crying and every night crying myself to sleep ever so gradually lifted. Don’t get me wrong: I still thought about William every single day…….and there were plenty of days that someTHING~ a memory, a thought, a hallmark commercial~~ would put me into a tailspin and I felt like I was going to be strangled to death with the grief…….but I was no longer paralyzed daily with grief. Life has a way of not allowing you to stay there for too long. I returned to my very full time job… DS at home was two and a ball of energy and love~ and he needed his mommy~ and I **did** the very best I could to be the best mommy I could during this time.

I still so desperately wanted to be pregnant again…..but the sting of the last IVF cycle (which ALONE could cause a nervous breakdown) failing….and the knowledge that this truly would be our very last attempt to have another baby….had me a little gun shy. We had two embryos left in cryogenic storage and DH and I had discussed that the cost and emotional energy to do another fresh cycle just was not within us. So this was IT. The pressure that put on me was nearly my undoing……..but we cycled for the last time and on November 27, 2007 we traipsed again to the Cleveland Clinic and for the fourth time we transferred two embryos. It was different this time…only one of them looked promising….both had thawed but one was not really multiplying. But rather than “dispose” of it….they transferred it to me.

The two week wait to find out if I was pregnant was quite possibly the longest two weeks of my life. I had the blood work drawn….I had no more sick time left~ so I had to return to work after the blood draw…..I HAD to be AT work when the call would come. Now when you have **this** much anticipation of the outcome of blood work drawn at 7 am~~ you have SUCH an anxiety about it~ the day feels literally like each second is an hour and each hour is a day.

At one o’clock I could no longer wait~ I knew the Cleveland Clinic had my results~ I feared that they had not called because the news was bad.

I shut my office door, sat at my desk phone in hand~ temporarily paralyzed~ and then I took a deep breath and I punched in the number. Again with the ~this is so and so and I am calling about my blood work~~ and the endless wait for the nurse to come to the phone….I could hear my heart beating a mile a minute.

The nurse who answered my call had known our story. She knew what we had been through and she knew this was our last shot. She asked me if I was sitting down….my heart sank……I eeked out ‘yes’.

She said “please don’t be alarmed but your beta HCG (the pregnancy hormone) is 1,040. Now don’t panic… does not mean that both embryos took”. I said wait, what? She said the three sweetest words I could have imagined “you are pregnant” and I thought I might pass out from the relief……and I sat in my office chair and I wept ~ tears of relief and joy, I wept.

Coming next: The Legacy Begins

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Story of a Boy Part 8: From Numbness to Anger

The story of a boy….well, he was much more than that to me……
Part 8: From Numbness to Anger

This is the 8th in the series. 

Before I begin; let me say that this post will not be funny. And it might contain information that upsets you and not in the usual way with offensive language and politics…..but in a human, sad and guttural way. I may very well ramble at times and for all of these things: I am genuinely sorry. Please read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 before reading this. It will just make more sense that way.

I awoke alone in the hospital room May 30, 2007. I remember waking before the sun was up~ and thinking momentarily that it had all been just a bad dream~ a nightmare of the worst kind. I reached down to my abdomen~ where what was~ just 24 hours prior~ a glorious round, firm, pregnant belly….an outward physical manifestation that represented my son~ inside me~ alive and growing every day.

But it was not a dream. It was a living, breathing, horrible nightmare. And there was no firm baby belly. There was mushy yucky flabby belly that bothers you even IF your child is alive and healthy. And in the bed there was blood. And attached to my arm there were IV’s…….and instantly it all came flooding back….he was not alive. He was dead. He was not growing and healthy wrapped in the warmth of his mother’s body. He had been taken to the morgue and I imagined that he was cold and alone there. And part of my soul had died with him. And even though I cried and cried and cried: heaving sobs that shook my entire being………he was not there. And never again would he physically BE there.

I called my husband, checked on our beautiful boy at home….the boy who, in the weeks and months that followed, quite literally saved my life and brought me back from the true cliff of insanity. All was as well as could be expected on the home front. My husband would take our son to preschool…..he would be by later in the day to pick me up from the hospital……what clothes did I want him to send in for me to wear home………and no it didn’t rain last night~ so the roof did not leak…..and how did I sleep……and is there anything else he needs to bring me…....and on and on and on the planning and preparations went. And despite my quiet tears: I felt numb. Like I was walking through a haze and I was never really sure what was happening in the physical world.

My husband brought clothes……and on the way home from the hospital we had to go to the funeral home. And I remember sitting across the desk from a very young but very, very kind man as he explained our “options” for our son’s funeral. And I remember nodding and agreeing all the while thinking WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THIS? WHAT FUCKING DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHICH FUNERAL CARDS WE CHOOSE? WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE DONE TODAY???????????????????????MY SON IS DEAD; I DON'T FUCKING CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS! And though my soul was tortured with pain, on the outside I only nodded…..and signed…..and picked the cards that would be used……and listened as he explained that they would pick up our son’s body later that day…..and looked through catalogues to try to choose an urn that would hold our son’s remains..…..and listened to the young man as he explained that it would be significantly less expensive to just go a buy a meaningful vessel as our son was tiny~ and his remains would be equally tiny………and thanked the kind man……all the while I just wanted to curl into a ball and die.

I remember trying to find something to wear to the funeral….I remember standing in front of my closet: looking mostly at maternity clothes…….and I remember thinking “HOW does a mother CHOOSE what to wear to her son’s funeral???”. How, how, how. And then all of the sudden I was obsessed with NOT wearing anything that would make me look pregnant. One of the cruel jokes of pregnancy~ even after you deliver the baby ~ you still LOOK pregnant. And while it was unlikely that anyone at my son’s funeral would mistake me for being pregnant I was nevertheless obsessed with finding an outfit that did not make me LOOK pregnant. So out I went to shop to find something to wear.

When I returned to my home I remember pulling into the driveway and seeing no less than 15 of our dearest and closest friends on our roof~ the tarps were gone shingles were being put in place with rapid and loving accuracy. And I stood in my front yard and I cried~ so moved was I that when you need people the most: they just show up. There is nothing quite like a tragedy to help you really find out who your friends are~ and we have some pretty amazing friends.

The day of the funeral arrived…we decided against the pomp and circumstance that accompany many funerals. It would be just a service at our church. We requested that people not send flowers~ but instead if they wanted to; to please make donations to either the March of Dimes or to The Cleveland Clinic.

I remember being so very, very sad when after I dressed my two year old in his little dress shirt and tie he said: I handsome like Daddy. And it was all I could do to say yes, yes you are and not dissolve in a fit of rage and tears. Inside I was screaming: your brother was handsome too~ for they looked nearly identical.

I cannot recall the drive to the church…..or what I wore (even though I had agonized over it the day before). But I remember walking into the sanctuary….where my husband and I had married, where our Dear Son had been baptized…into this beautiful room~ that before today had held only joyous and wonderful memories. And I froze~ at the end of the isle that I had walked as a bride full of joy not so long ago~ I froze. And I remember that my Dear Son’s Godfather was standing behind me~ and I turned~ I wanted to run away, I wanted to be ANYWHERE in the world but HERE. And he caught me in his arms and I looked into his face and I screamed “I CAN NOT DO THIS. THIS IS TOO HARD. I CAN NOT DO THIS”. And he held me and I cried. And my husband came from the front of the room where he had been talking to our Pastor, and together these two men who mean so much to me ~ each on one side~ led me down the isle.

At the end of the isle~ my sons were waiting for me. One handsome and so very full of life~ looking at me with sad eyes and not really understanding what was happening. The other~ dead~ tiny remains in a tiny silver box with his name engraved upon it. I picked up my boy~ full of life and love~ and I held him and he gave me the strength to sit down in the pew. On my lap he sat and he wiped away my tears as they flowed unchecked during my Dear Angel Son’s eulogy. And he gave me the strength to not run away~ to face our family and friends who had gathered there to help us through this day and the days that would come.

I can’t say that I remember what our Pastor said….only that I remember at the time thinking he had done a really beautiful job in choosing his words~ and I genuinely was comforted by them.

At the end of the readings and the prayers my husband, my DS and my two nearly grown daughters walked with me to the front of the church~ and our Pastor handed me the tiny silver box that contained the only tangible thing, the only physical evidence that our son had been. I remember clutching the box and thinking: this cannot be ALL that is left, it can NOT be. He was SO MUCH MORE to me.

The next few days were spent in numbness. Eat, take care of DS, write thank you cards, answer calls of people who checked on me, try to sleep….get up and do it all over again. I genuinely believe that I was completely just NUMB. The feelings of the hospital and the funeral and all of it~ they were just too hard to feel……and so I stumbled through the first two weeks~ each day so very grateful that I had a Dear Son at home…..and he needed me…..and he loved me…….and I was not alone……and I had a reason to get out of bed.

But at my 2-week check up the numbness disappeared and the rage returned. After delivering William I had had a great deal of difficulty delivering the placenta. And they had a very hard time stopping the bleeding after the placenta was quite literally torn from my body manually. SO they said I had to have an ultrasound at the 2-week mark to make sure the entire placenta had in fact come out.

And as I sat in the waiting room of my OB office: surrounded by happy pregnant mommies and daddies holding there hands~ the rage grew. Then my name was called and I proceeded down the hall and into the darkened ultrasound room. The very one that just a few weeks ago gave me the single most happy day of my life. But instead of my son on the screen there was what the sonographer called “retained products of conception”. And then the doctor came in and explained that I would need a D&C to remove all of this retained business. JUST FUCKING LOVELY.

And then to add insult to injury when I asked her if I could go back to work after the D&C was done~ she said NO. She informed me that I HAD to take a maternity leave. WAIT WHAT? I have no newborn baby to care for, you can’t possible expect me to stay HOME for the next 6-8 weeks alone, WITH NO BABY. And she said a bunch of crap about how THAT didn't really matter from a physical standpoint….I had been very sick, I had in fact delivered a child, I would need this other surgery, I would not be released to return to work until at least 8 weeks postpartum. I was so fucking mad I wanted to punch her in the face.

So back to the waiting room filled with pregnant ladies I go, and I sit there for another 20 minutes while the scheduler called the hospital to schedule my D&C. And I was literally consumed with rage. It was SO SO SO hurtful to me to have to SIT there with the pregnant ladies. To have to return to the same ultrasound room where I had had countless sonograms that showed me my baby growing from a tiny bean into a CHILD. That I had to endure watching the screen that now only showed bits and pieces of DEBRIS. REALLY? Isn’t there a better way to do this? A back door to this fucking place? A way to arrange for the ultrasound to be done someplace else??

I have never been more angry in my life at the injustices that I have suffered through than I was that summer. I had a full-blown panic attack at Kohl’s trying to find the perfect frame for William’s picture. I remember so many days that I would lie in my bed and yell and scream and rail at God. How could this be happening? Hadn’t I suffered enough? What did I do to deserve THIS?

We had already booked and paid for a beach vacation that summer….and I spent the whole 8 days waffling between uncontrollable crying to blinding rage. I didn’t WANT to sit on the beach with my squishy, yucky, flabby, I still looked pregnant belly. I was SUPPPOSED to be gloriously BIG and BEAUTIFULLY pregnant STILL.

When I went back to work 9 weeks after William was born, I was shocked and angered to realize that the world had carried on without me. EVERYONE just went on with their lives. EVERYONE but ME. My son was dead and I would NEVER be the same person again~ and yet the world went on as if nothing had happened.

And then as summer turned to fall I became obsessed with trying again. I wanted, desperately NEEDED to be pregnant again. Tests and procedures and results all revealed that William’s loss was a “fluke”. It was extremely uncommon for the amniotic fluid to become infected in the manner that it did. The loss was a “one time” bad luck thing. Not caused by the fall or anything I did wrong they said……but I still was wracked with guilt that my body had failed William.

3 months passed and we were given the ok to try another frozen embryo transfer. The procedure went smoothly. And during the two-week wait to find out if it had worked I was actually cocky enough to discuss with my husband the procedure for donating our last two embryos… sure I was that I was pregnant….that I deserved to BE pregnant.

Blood test day came and I was so cocky I went back to work after having the blood drawn….so confident that the call that would come later in the day would bring good news. Well, it did not. I was not pregnant. I got the call literally as I was walking out of my office to go to an all staff meeting. FUCK THE WORLD, I HATE YOU GOD. Is what I thought.

And then later that day a coworker that I was particularly close to because she had lost a son as well~ said to me that she could not help but feel that this time….this fall……THIS was still William’s time. This is the time in which he SHOULD have been born and lived.

And she was right, it was still William’s time. And I was only just beginning to realize how profoundly this little boy would change our lives.

 Coming next: part 9: A Leap of Faith

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Story of A Boy Part 7: A Brief but Profound LIFE

The story of a boy….well, he was much more than that to me……
Part 7.

This is the 7th in the series.  And **this** my friends is perhaps the most important part of the Story of A Boy….for it is the part in which ~~in every sense of the word ~~HE LIVED.

Before I begin; let me say that this post will not be funny. And it might contain information that upsets you and not in the usual way with offensive language and politics…..but in a human, sad and guttural way. I may very well ramble at times and for all of these things: I am genuinely sorry. Please read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 before reading this. It will just make more sense that way.

May 29, 2007….the date in which my 2nd dearly loved, desperately wanted, son lived…..and died.

He was born amidst hurt, anger and rage….but once he was born…..there was only love. There were calls to be made, people to inform, relatives to tell…same as any birth of a new baby………and yet: profoundly different.

For we KNEW, 4 full days before he came, we knew, his life would be brief, his impact profound, we KNEW he was special. And into the world at 6:03 pm and a whopping 6.8 ounces and 8 inches long he came. And despite the odds….he came into the world ALIVE and then he LIVED. And He changed the lives of all who knew and truly loved him: for 1 hour and 47 minutes, he lived.

Before He was delivered into the world, my beautifully sweet and infinitely strong husband had said that he was unsure if he would be able to hold Him, our son, the child we had prayed for and loved and wanted. My husband had said he was unsure if he would be able to hold our boy; knowing what we did, that he would die.

And yet as SOON as He was born into the world, ALIVE and amazing…my dear husband almost immediately said: “I want to hold him”.  And his first words looking at our beautiful boy were~ “he is so warm” and “he is beautiful”.

He **was** tiny; no doubt about that. He was born amidst chaos and despair; no doubt about that. But he was born to a much HIGHER purpose; no, no, NO doubt about that.

I can NOT TYPE these words without crying, as those who loved me then and now will attest…..but I also can NOT type these words without gratitude: for the boy he was, and the HOPE and FAITH he always will be.

For an hour and forty-seven beautiful moments in time we loved Him in life…and forever we will love him in death.

We did what normal families of newborns do: we looked at him and guessed who he looked like most. We called family and friends to alert them that he had arrived. We planned for the days that would follow. We named our Son…after parents, grandparents and those long deceased, we named him. We took pictures with his siblings and extended families. And we LOVED him. For as long as He was HERE and long, long after: we loved him.

As my husband held this ~ our tiny son~ in his arms.~ loved, desperately wanted, prayed for ~~~our son….in my husband’s~ in his father’s arms~ he was pronounced dead.

I remember being in the hospital room alone with him. After family had gone home. After my husband, who has the patience of a saint, taking our almost 2 year old son  who did NOT have the patience of a saint home. ….and we were alone……..just the Boy and me. Footprints and measurements were taken. Hundreds of photographs~ meant to fill a lifetime~ but NEVER able to~ were taken.

I relive it in my dreams and in my nightmares.

The nurse coming to me and asking if I was ready for the baby to be taken to the morgue. As if ANY mother would EVER be ready for THAT.

I held him. I memorized every single feature of his tiny face and body. I told him over and over and over again how much we loved him. How he was part of our family. How we would NEVER forget. And when there was no other choice: I let him go. And after he was gone I would forever wish that I would have held him just a little while longer.

He is my son. He will always BE my son. Both my husband and I, profoundly changed by his existence and very brief life, carry his footprints on our person.

He is our son. And his name is William.

The Story of a Boy Part 6: Why I hate the #6

The story of a boy….well, he was much more than that to me……
Part 6.

This is the 6th in the series. And this is not really part of the Boy’s story as much as it is part of his mother’s story….

Before I begin; let me say that this post will not be funny. And it might contain information that upsets you and not in the usual way with offensive language and politics…..but in a human, sad and guttural way. I may very well ramble at times and for all of these things: I am genuinely sorry. Please read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 before reading this. It will just make more sense that way.

You see in The Story of a Boy~ we are up to his beautiful life……but we are also at #6 on the story enumeration. And as the mother of this Most Special Boy…I can NOT, WILL NOT allow his life story to be told as #6.

You see I hate the #6. And I am not just throwing around the word ‘hate’ here…. I mean I genuinely and with ALL of my being ABHOR the number 6………and I shall share the reason why. I shall try to be brief …..but brevity has never been my strong suit.

When I was 8 years old I was dropped off at my father and step-mother’s house for what was supposed to be a 2 week thanksgiving visit……….only my mother did not return at the end of the 2 week period… fact she did not return for nearly 2 long, painful, soul killing, horrible years.

The address # of the house where my father and step-mother lived was 664……but in my childhood mind that house still lives within me as 666.

For this is the house where pure evil lived. This is the house where my childhood innocence would be trampled to death. This is the house where events happened that would forever change my sibling’s upbringing and mine. This is the house where 4 small, innocent children were beaten and tortured in every way possible. THIS is the house where hate lived. THIS is the house that stole the childhood innocence that was me and replaced it with fear, anger, frustration and DETERMINATION.

We lived there, my siblings and I, for just under 2 years. But even now~ some 32 years later……….this house still haunts me in my nightmares.

I hate the #6….I never, EVER buy 6 of anything. I avoid going in the 6th line at the grocery store: even when no one is waiting and the other lines are long. My husband laughs at this. It has become a running joke between us. But in my heart of hearts it is not funny. It is awful. It is painful. It is real. And it IS what I have spent a lifetime overcoming.

It is not easy living in a house where you are hated. It is not easy living with adults that would rather torture you than accept you and love you. It is not easy to watch your father, who himself has NEVER raised a hand to you, stand idle and do nothing while the woman he married and her family treat you like devil’s spawn.

And yet….this is how we lived, my two sisters, my brother and me……and there were times I was sure that THIS was the house in which we would die…all of us………and no one would notice.

There were bruises, cuts, stitches, broken bones and broken spirits that no one noticed….surely our deaths would go unnoticed too.

Not for shock value and not for hate or rage……but just because like the #6 there I many things I hated after escaping that house…..I will share just ONE of the horrific things….by far NOT the worst…..but one example of how we were treated during our stay there.

And so here is the reason that to THIS DAY neither spinach, nor sour kraut, nor turnip greens of ANY kind have been cooked in the homes of me or my siblings…….why, to THIS DAY the smell of them cooking brings me INSTANTLY and painfully back to that house of terror…..

I was 8 and my baby sister was 4. She was a tiny thing~ always had been. My brother was 10, my older sister 12 when we began the end of our childhood there at 664.

Neither myself nor my baby sister had ever, EVER had a strong stomach. We weren’t what you’d call “picky” eaters……..but like any 4 and 8 year old would~ we would turn our noses up at the thought of eating cooked spinach, sauerkraut, collard greens, liver etc.

Unfortunately, for us, these were items frequently on the menu in the house of evil.

The first time we were forced (and I mean FORCED in every sense of the word) to eat the above menu items…both of us (quite unceremoniously) vomited. Right there at the table we vomited. And our father sent us off to bathe and clean up and our step-mother glared at us with a hatred that I still to this day cannot name the source of.

And so the next time spinach was on the menu in the house of evil……our step-mother, with a snarl some might call a smile, scooped a heaping helping of the nasty cooked greenery onto both my sister’s and my (my other siblings too) plates. My father excused himself after he hastily completed his meal…….and my step-mother watched and waited.

Everyone else finished their meals and left the table….everyone but my sister and me. And we were not permitted to leave the table until our plates were clean. Well…..a full hour later…..two bites into the spinach my sister vomited……and (never being one to be able to see someone vomit without vomiting myself) so did I.

And my step-mother in her evil genius determination decided that my sister and I had vomited “on purpose” to avoid eating food we did not like. And she further determined that we would still not be able to leave the table until we had eaten everything on our plates……vomit and all.

And this dinner ritual repeated itself literally hundreds of times in the house of evil. I cannot begin to estimate the number of times we (the four of us~ because WHO can watch someone be FORCED to eat their own vomit without vomiting themselves) had to do this in the near two years we lived there.

But I can tell you that I have NEVER ONCE forced ANY child to clean their plate. We have a “one bite” rule~ try ONE bite if you don’t like it….you don’t have to eat it: PERIOD.

I can also tell you that my 4 living children have NEVER and God willing WILL NEVER endure the terror that we lived through in the house of evil.

I can also tell you that I can (after some years of therapy and distance from the house of evil) can eat RAW spinach, but I still HEAVE when I smell it cooking.

And I can tell you that I hate the number 6. I know it is irrational, I know it may not make sense…….but I do hate it nonetheless.

And so~ the story of a Boy and his BEAUTIFUL life will NOT be told in Part 6.

6 is where the evil lives.

And my boy, tiny, fragile and destined to change the lives of his family forever will LIVE in Part 7.