Bittersweet childhoods. Bittersweet tales. Part of me wonders if it is possible to begin again at some point in adulthood as a new person with an entire abusive childhood set aside as if it never happened at all. Would I want to forget, to have an amnesia that meant (perhaps) I could set aside all I know of what happened to hurt me, if it meant I would also then forget all of the beauty, as well?
All that I learned as a child about beauty in the world around me. The music of a leaf, a single leaf, twisting at the end of its tiny stem as it hangs on for dear life but dances anyway. That the hanging on and the music and the dancing and life itself all happen at the same time. That one cannot happen without the others happening — at the same time.
One moment of time spent watching water swishing over and around rocks in a stream. Again, making the music, doing the dancing, passing by where my eyes rested for a moment. Just a moment. On that spot. And there comes the leaf! A season. Completed. Leaf. Swept by the wind to land to lay alongside a fallen branch. Settling there. For a moment. Being caught in a current. Swept away. Swept along. Heading — where? Certainly past my childhood watching eyes.
I look ahead, upstream. I look ahead, downstream. Somewhere in time I look for the completion of this task, this story telling task, looking forward to a time when the story is all told and something else will happen.
Being in the middle of a process that has not ended. Yet. Sometimes feeling silly, even stupid, for caring the way I do. The tale I tell myself. That somehow I can write something that gives voice to what some suffering child somewhere knows — a child I will never know — some suffering child without a voice — how can I begin to think I can ever speak for THAT child?
Do I try to spin a thread of courage into my tale, to somehow prepare the way, for some suffering child down the stream of its life to be able to speak of what is unspeakable? Unimaginable? To speak the truth of the harm along with the beauty? Making something a little more possible for someone else? Because I did it?
Because I can do it?
Because I have to do it? Have to not leave the beauty I found as a child in the world around me, in my own hands as I laid a crayon against paper and found a way to reproduce there the swaying flashing glory of the northern lights? A little deer drawn beside a stone with green grass growing around it? Dare I not question this task I have taken up, that I haul around with me, inside of me, because it’s not done yet?
Dare I believe that this story can be told, that it can be DONE, because I have done it? Sometimes, perhaps for many people, what is required is the surviving of the trauma — and then the never looking back. Never looking back. Never. Looking. Back.
What is it about me, in me, that sends me hacking my way back to rescue myself as a child? Why don’t I leave myself there? This is all a trek of the mind. Nobody makes me do this work.
When really I know it is best for me not to question what I do. I know I am going to do it anyway. Do it anyway hell or high water. Will I know WHY once I am done? It probably doesn’t even remotely matter. This must be a part of who I am. That I collected all the parts of my story every moment of the way through those years because the story itself called for me to do so. Tucking certain memories, collected, into a knapsack I spun and wove together out of lines between stars on moonless nights.
Carrying a story along with me as I was carried by it. Where everything good matters. Every fragile story about using berries on fishhooks to catch little trout because they were round and bright like salmon egg bait I didn’t have. Because fishing made me happy. Fishing for trout in a shallow stream pulling them out as they passed me. I caught one and that one did not pass me by. Small. I threw it back. Did it live or die? Only it wasn’t me who lived this story. It was my beloved brother. He had just turned seven.
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