My sister visited from Toronto this week. It was nice to have a distraction from what my life has become in the weeks gone by since that morning that the phone rang with the news about Sam. .
My childhood was rife with accidents- the mauling by our family dog at the age of three; the accidental overdose that same year when I ate a full bottle of baby aspirin. I fell down the basement stairs in a walker when I was one, and impaled a plastic rod in the back of my throat when I was jumping up and down on a bed with it in my mouth. My sister, Randy and I sat up late into the night having a few drinks and talking about those old days.
And how great it felt to laugh and reminisce on years past.. a time long before marriage, and children, and bills and mortgages. A time before growing up: sadly, from a childhood that made us grow up too fast. A time where my greatest worry in life should have been the repercussions of a bad report card. Instead, our childhood was one of fear, and terror. Yet, those years weren’t as bad the morning that my son died. That didn’t effect me as deeply as losing my son does.
I was the middle child in a family of three girls. We were never a very close family. Ours was a tumultuous and dysfunctional upbringing in a home all but destroyed by alcoholism. My father was an angry drunk : and an even angrier recovering alcoholic during the AA years. He eventually returned to the drink. My mom enabled him all those years. I was angry at her for most of my adolescent and early adult life for not taking us away from his rage. She was scared I suppose. 😦 She grew old and bitter before the dementia set in and even now, the anger still finds her some days in the nursing home yelling at some long past memory. My dad, continues to be dysfunctional, living alone and lonely in their house. He drinks himself to sleep every night. I don’t know how he is alive. I’ve long forgiven my parents for the lack of parenting, and for the lack of love that was our childhood. I suppose they did the best they could under shitty circumstances. I have no doubt that they loved us… in their own fucked up way. Alcoholism destroys families. It’s that simple.
When I was around 14, my father was hospitalized for a few weeks. My mom was a psychiatric nurse, and she told us he had a disease called alcoholism. It was sometime after that, that I found a suicide note written by him blaming his ” fucking wife” and his ” fucking kids” for everything wrong in his life. I don’t think we were told anything about that hospitalization, aside from that he was an alcoholic and that it was a disease. I remember the one and only family therapy session where the therapist asked if we had ever seen the dog having sex. ( WTF) And afterwards how my mother said we needed to start acting like a family. I asked for Barbies.. thinking everything was my fault because I didn’t act like a child by liking the kind of toys that little girls were supposed to like, and that contributed somehow to why we didn’t act like a normal family.
It was in that same house that my father was led away in handcuffs early one morning after a particularly violent fight with my mom where he destroyed every piece of livingroom and dining room furniture and every dish in the house. I remember my mom screaming into the phone ” he is going to kill me” to my dad’s friend as my sisters and I huddled together at the top of the stairs terrified and crying. He had gone to the basement to retrieve his rifle at that point. The kitchen cupboards and the walls had stab marks in them where he had gone after her with a kitchen knife that we discovered when we were returned to the home.
When I was 18, my uncle ; a prominant psychologist who was the head of the psychology department at Carleton University in Ottawa, put a shotgun in his mouth- leaving my grandparents grieving the same way I am now, except at least they were in their nineties and didn’t have decades left to face ahead of them. We found out in the months that followed my uncle’s death, that he had bought two boxes of shells the day he bought his shotgun in the days leading up to his suicide, with the intent of murdering his parents, his ex wife, my parents, my sisters and me. I’m not sure what changed his mind from a murder/ suicide, to just a suicide. But by whatever grace, he spared us.
So somehow, I am still here. I grew up. And I forgave. I married young to get away from all of that. I had four beautiful babies, and those four children, are that which I am most proud of in my life. They were good children. They grew up to be good and compassionate adults. I tried to pass on only the best qualities that I could since I didn’t really learn too many from my parents. I did everything I could to leave the kind of life I had growing up, behind. I was determined that the hell that was my childhood, would never touch my children.
I feel that I should be angry at the Universe, or God, or who or what ever is responsible for our existence. I would be warranted in being so full of hatred and anger right now and no one could blame me right? But I’m not angry. And I don’t hate any one. I’m just sad. I’m just, so damned sad. Sometimes I feel like life was just never supposed to be happy for me.
All the terror and fear that dominated my early life, has nothing on what I’m going through now though. They say we choose our life path long before we are born into the lives we live. All I can say, is that I must have been out of my mind.