The First Half of My Life
A SHORT STORY
Life is like a picture. I see mine through snap shots laid out in bits and pieces.
Snap Shot One: How is it at twenty-five I see myself back in time in my white dress and veil? No, not Halloween, but my communion! A bride of Christ.We feel all holy and clean and gladly accept the host in our bodies to be purified.
Snap Shot Two: The May procession. I was chosen to lead it as it was my birthday. The Blessed Virgin’s day.
Snap Shot Three: In my white gown with the red collar and red beanie (skull)hat. My confirmation! Hands held in prayer once again. We are now soldiers in Christ, I’m told.
The theme here is the Catholic upbringing, attending Catholic schools leading a Catholic life. It is a clean (white) life in Christ, in Christianity. No more white for years to come.
Adolescence comes around; then young adulthood exploring the world in a time that conflicts with everything that you were taught.
It is a sin to feel your body awaken.
It is a sin to want to explore that awakens.
It is a sin to drink, to smoke, to curse.
But the teachings are ingrained when I hit young adulthood in the turbulent late sixties and early seventies. Everyone was preaching free love and drugs.
I was considered straight lace and naïve. A mother hen to my sisters; always letting them know if they were doing something wrong.
I had a straight vision. Right or Wrong. Black or White. No grey for me. There was nothing in between for me. My friends made fun of me because at twenty I was still a virgin. Dates ended quickly when they found out or some thought they could change my mind. They couldn’t, it was my deep seeded belief.
Then…my older sister died. She was just thirty-two. She became a statistic in a state that had a lot of statistics.
Shot with one bullet through the head.
She walked in on her home being robbed. Lives changed forever that day. My parents, my sisters, my brothers and last mine. How do you deal? Death is for the old, right? It is not for the young. There must be some mistake. People said life goes on. How could they say that? It was not their sister or their child. Unless you’ve been there you couldn’t possibly know the pain or the loss you feel deep inside your heart.
I continued for a short while to live my good catholic life. Asking God how could You? Thinking He failed us. His promise was if we lived in His light we would share in its brightness and have a good life here and then in the afterlife.
A young person is dead! I see no light.
I started to become part of the times I lived in. I drank for the first time. I smoked for the first time and yes I experienced sex for the first time. I said sex not love. As I would later learn sex with out love is like peanut butter without the jelly, it just isn’t right.
For a year I was practically unconscious each and every night. I had changed. My parents couldn’t help us deal; because they were not dealing. You are not taught how to handle your child’s death. Bear your children and let them grow and live, to bear their own children. Wasn’t that God’s promise? We all pulled away.
In this time of self-destruction, my friends rallied and watched over me. Nothing they said pulled me back, but they made sure I got home safe every night.
After a year, my father sat me down. I was just turning twenty-one. He asked me if I intended to make it to twenty-two. Naturally, my answer was yes.
He said “Good because I couldn’t attend the funeral of another one of my daughters and live through it.”
It was a powerful statement that hit me dead center in my heart.
My father and I finally talked about my sister’s death, about the abuse and harm I was doing to my body. He asked where I wanted to be in a year, in five years and even through the rest of my, he hoped, long life.
That night I realized I was not only hurting myself, hoping the pain made me feel alive. I was hurting my parents. That was unacceptable. They had enough hurt to last a lifetime.
Snap Shot Four: I’m twenty-five and I am wearing a white gown and veil again. I married the love of my life and now we are going on thirty-three years together.
I still think of my sister everyday and pray for her soul and keep her alive within my heart. I also pray for both of my parents who are now deceased. I thank them for the foundation and love they gave me early in life so that I could survive whatever I encountered.
That foundation has lasted with me some thirty-eight years, after that horrible life changing event. I made peace with God and realized it was not his fault, life just happens. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I’m now in the second half of my life and I’m enjoying all the trials and tribulations that come my way knowing that I have the strength within me to deal with them.
Posted in memory of my sister, Florence.