My memories may well be scattered, perhaps even tainted, by the dirty little shards of pain, caused by the years of neglect and abuse. My memories are fluid, which provides a nice assist when it comes to the covering up, and lying to myself and others just to feel better. I must have misplaced the meaning of love somewhere between listening to my parents nightly alcohol fueled fights, seeing the shadows on the wall through depths of darkness that warned me evil was coming into my room, and the ridicule I met in school and on the playground. It was easy for me to find even my most outrageous lies believable when others couldn’t, because my reality was such a shattered one, that the lies made it almost seem bearable… to me. I have a sister named Dona, who is eighteen months younger, and somehow she was able to choose a different route to staying sane. She just blocked out years of her life and has practically no childhood memories whatsoever. Some might say she was the lucky one, in a way, because without the memories she could just push on with life. Without the memories there was no need for lies. Me, on the other hand, I learned to lie even before I learned to spell.
I also had six brothers. Chris died at the dentist office from a possible reaction to the gas they gave him, when he was only eighteen years old. I was ten when he died. Tony was shot to death on a busy Chicago street, during daylight hours, while on the way home to his second wife, who was pregnant with his third child. Another brother, Michael, ran away from home at fourteen and became a drug addict. He came out of the closet long before it was fashionable and died from Aids when he was just 39 years old. Andy ran away at thirteen and again at seventeen. Twenty years later he got out of the Navy and just walked away from the family completely, even changing his name. We cannot find him and he has never looked back. Like Tony, Bob had his issues with alcohol. Don dedicated his life to God and helping the homeless but he was not without his curse either. He died from Bone Cancer when he was only 43.
Now, it’s just me and Dona that are left. The ghosts of our childhood have all fallen away and what we are left with now, are fragmented, often disturbing memories and the weight of a lifetime of psychological trauma.