Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In which one wishes one had been wrong

For a long time I have suspected that a member of my extended family was abused as a child.

Her memories of her nuclear family were so vastly different than the memories her siblings shared I just figured she had made up her happy memories to cover up (at best) a relationship where an adult shared too much of his or her adult ... errr, issues or (at worst) a sexually abusive relationship.

She has been unwell ... a disintegrating memory, a move to a facility (which was necessary but incredibly difficult and painful), and a lack of contact with a number of extended family and friends (again, painful but necessary for her adjustment to her new surroundings, according to her doc). All of this has combined with her natural tendency to be a drama queen and attention whore (to borrow a phrase), and the result was she took to her bed, refused food and drink, and waited, I guess, to die.

She was moved to a psych ward. Given intravenous fluids. Made as comfortable as possible.

A psychiatrist visited her. I don't know what or how it happened, but it finally came out: sexually abused as a child.

In a life that has been so goddamn full of sadness, pain, anger, misery, guilt, recrimination, accusations, rage, venom and pathos in the last few years, those are the 5 saddest words I can imagine typing about that life.

I don't know the stories, the details. I'm a former reporter -- I want the who, what, when, how and WHY. Who was it? Who knew about it? Who didn't protect her? Who let a little girl be so broken that in her eighties she is still done in by it?

I am not much of a believer in Heaven or Hell or an afterlife, but if there is a Heaven for me it will look like the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress and every question left unanswered in my life will be answered there, by the person best suited to answering it.

In Heaven, I will ask Thomas Jefferson if he loved Sally Hemings. I will ask Jesus Himself if He really is the Son of God. I will ask JonBenet Ramsey who did it. I will ask Amelia Earhart what happened.

And I will ask the people who knew about this if they understand the damage that was done to a little girl who deserved to remain innocent longer than she did.

I'm pretty sure THAT answer will still be inadequate, even in Heaven.

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