24 Hours


Yesterday I woke up feeling ill. My specialist has put me on a new medication, and I know I have to give myself time to adjust. It was bitterly cold and the sky was grey. Someone had smeared the sky with charcoal. My stomach was distended as the endometriosis grew, fed by this new drug, which I need. “Look at the big picture, Raphie,” I urged. Always look at the big picture. I felt the urge to scream from the pain, and the desire to clean and discard. I did both. Why the hell do we keep the things we do? Old numbers on scraps of paper, old ways of being. I put an angel who had lost her wings into the pile of donations. I had stored my maternity clothes in a special drawer. I looked at them, and wondered why I had held on so long. My subconscious must surely have been seared every time I went past that drawer, even if I was unaware. As I washed up, I exhaled heavily. A burden had been lifted. I then heard the ‘snap’ of my spine as I was dragged along the ground after my fall. It was as distinct as though it were happening then and there. “Oh my God!” I cried, bursting into tears. I sat with the memory a while. I assured myself that it was natural to have events, sounds, smells and more clamour to the forefront on the anniversary. On White Ribbon Night.

After school pickup, a friend popped in. She hugged me, and said how sorry she was that today was “the day.” It meant the world to have it acknowledged. This lady knows all about “those days.” The pain ramped up, and I was in a holding pattern of agony, fevers and chills. There was to be a meeting of gentle souls around the corner that evening, and I determined that I would go. I didn’t want to be home with my memories. The hostess is a vegan, and she had made this delicious main meal.

Tofu and nuts.
Tofu and nuts.

We laughed and talked about foster kids, homelessness, travelling, art and beauty. We sipped coconut water and made sure room was saved for this.
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I didn’t stay late, and I gave my gorgeous friend a tight hug and thanked her. My mind had been summoned to wondrous places, leaving that dark building on a winter’s night. The pain was softened by the graciousness of a nourishing meal and a room full of good people. I went home and hugged my little girl, smoothing her tendrils of honeyed hair. “May your world be markedly different, my darling.”

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Celebration, Sorrow, Gratitude and Everything in Between.


lived-to-tell
On this day, and on this hour, almost two decades ago, I was being bustled into a car, my head pushed down. I felt the cessation of life as I understood it. An event out of my control was going to slap me hard, and I would fall to my knees. Today is the anniversary of my being kidnapped. The bitter cold always reminds me, before I acknowledge the date. It was so cold… Life inside the old hospital-where I neither belonged nor felt at home- was contracting in. Within a few hours, the large ward and long staircases were replaced by a tiny bedsit, bars on the sealed windows. A butterfly already held in a glass jar was having her wings pinched by tweezers. Pins were about to be put in.

Tomorrow heralds the night I fell. I couldn’t fly, as my wings were pinned down. “I am embarking on the last adventure,” I reassured myself when my pleading was ignored. “This bastard has merely sped up my departure by sixty or so years. God speed to you, kiddo!” He hated the bemused smirk which spread across my face. I was holding my own. He hadn’t taken my power. He had tortured me in every way possible for several months, day in and out, but he couldn’t take my spirit. I was terrified, but even as I acknowledged my fear of heights, of pain and death, I kept my own counsel. July 25th is White Ribbon Night. I will commemorate those I have lost to violence. I will celebrate survival and hug my little girl. I will be haunted by memories and recall what it felt like to have soft rain tap my face on the way to the Catscan machine the morning of the 26th. I wept and I smiled. It is possible to have great sorrow and great joy coursing through your body at the same time. There is nothing like the anniversary of your kidnapping and attempted murder to inspire both. If you see me over the next few days, I will be the wild creature hugging everyone and throwing back her head in laughter. I will be the sorrowful girl keeping her own counsel and shedding private tears. I am both, and that’s okay.
http://www.whiteribbon.org.au