Friday, July 17, 2009


Have you ever left something behind and never looked back? You move on convinced there was nothing to look back to. You live your life … past memories consigned to the farthermost parts of your mind … life is good now … it’s all that matters.

Then one day your past waves a hand at you. You stop in mid-stride … it looks familiar and it is beautiful! Your memories, long suppressed and denied, come back to you in trickles … then the tears come … the very ones you didn’t shed before, back at that time when you have convinced yourself that there was no reason to.

You catch a drop in your finger and you ask yourself what this is for? But you already know … deep inside you know what your tears are for … you are crying for that that is lost and you are crying for those that are missed.

My tears were for the childhood that I lost, for the young life that I missed out. I cried for my lost family, my lost home, my lost friends … and for the joys of childhood that I never again experienced.

This is what happens to children when parents decide that they have had enough. They become collateral damage, bemused onlookers to an event too incomprehensible for their young minds to grasp and beyond their power to stop. That’s when childhood ends. A child went to bed. A weary old man woke up.

But I survived. Oh yes! I survived and I did well. I didn’t travel that road where so many like myself have gotten lost in. People commended for me my strength, praised me for not letting my sorry past affect my present. “Of course!” answered confident me. “I couldn’t be affected by something that isn’t of my own doing!”

But did I really manage to escape unscathed? Could it be possible that the shards left by my broken family missed wounding me in any way?

I realize now that it couldn’t be possible. A blow like that couldn’t miss leaving a wound. I didn’t even know that the wound was there. The discovery of a scab was met by amazement. Like a child mesmerized by the newness of its discovery, I couldn’t stop looking and just like any child, I couldn’t stop peeling off a bit, just to see what wonders it might hide.

But I didn’t discover wonderful things. Instead I found a wound as raw and as fresh as the day when it was inflicted. Then the pain hit me. And I cried as I should have cried 28 years ago.

No. We can’t ever escape unscathed. We will always carry that baggage with us wherever we’d go. Some may be painfully aware of its burden, others carry on like I did, blissfully unaware of that extra weight.

Opening that wound left me wondering … has it belatedly crippled me? I hope not. Rather, I would like to believe that the pain that I have denied for so long is going to make me a better wife and mother. Pain at its most raw for the first time in 28 years strengthened my resolve to spare my own child from the same fate. I could do it. It’s within my own power this time. With God’s help I’ll spare her.

Life is good now. Happy with my present and surrounded by the warmth of my family’s love, I should stop looking back to that life of long ago. But there are times when I couldn’t help myself … I had to go back and remember that beautiful childhood that I so suddenly lost. My heart would then feel heavy with regret … and the tears would begin flowing again.

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