Frank says I must write this next. His memories of this part were less clear. Somehow these events burned into my mind. This became a huge stumbling block on my healing journey.
I don’t remember her name, except that it was beautiful. Her sister was a friend of a friend, whom, I suppose, suggested our home as a place to visit on her weekend furlough from a mental hospital. I suppose they have these weekends away to see how someone will do if released entirely. I don’t know if I knew before she visited us that she had been in the hospital. I think her sister brought her and stayed with us too but those details aren’t clear.
I do remember that she spent most of her visit with Frank and me. She was ethereal, wonderful in my child point-of-view. She took a long walk with us along the creek that ran beside our town. I remember her telling us, as we stood beside the dam watching the falling water pool in a bubbly froth over the rocks at the bottom, that she thought waterfalls were the most beautiful things in the world. She told me, that she would name a little girl Cascade if she had one or, (and again my memory is fuzzy) that she had a daughter named Cascade. It was the only time I saw her sad that weekend, briefly talking about this real or imaginary girl. She threw off the sorrow, spread her arms wide and shouted “Cascade” a few times while twirling. At about 10-years-old I was just amazed by her.
The weekend ended. I don’t know if it was that day or the next or even a few days later but it was that week when the call came. After returning to the hospital, she killed herself.
Mom took us to the memorial service. On the way she talked to us about what had happened. She told us that the woman had killed herself because she had enjoyed visiting us and she knew she could never have a life a wonderful as ours. Before we reached the place where the service was being held, she drove us past the hospital and showed us the window she thought the woman had jumped from.
I don’t know if there was a note, or if all this was just conjecture in my mother’s mind. It made an impression on me. I lived in such a strange form of hell as a child but was assured in this drastic way, that my life was wonderful, enviable enough that someone would die for lack of having what I had. I was devastated then, that I had somehow pushed this woman to her death. For years I couldn’t make sense of the bad parts of my childhood against this powerful picture. Somehow if I saw the bad, if I started to put the pieces together, I made her death worse, even, than it was. When I could no longer ignore the bad parts. When I matured enough to understand the abuse I had suffered I mourned her loss over again. The guilt I felt grappled for supremacy over the anger I felt toward my mother.
For whatever reason the mind works the way it does, whether it makes sense or not, this was the hardest thing in my childhood for me to recover from. Though I’ve processed it over and over, trying to make sense of it, even now, the idea that someone died, because they envied my childhood life, makes me want to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and pretend it was a good childhood. To somehow make her sacrifice worthy. Try as I may, I couldn’t possibly work that kind of magic. I hope, at least, that remembering this beautiful delicate soul, putting this in writing at last, will insure that wherever she is, she found the peace she sought.
4 Responses to “Misperception”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.