My dad is not a monster.
In “An abridged history of my hate,” I wrote that I learned compassion for my dad by recalling pictures I’d seen of little boy him:
In the first image, I saw my dad as a little boy whose first grader’s eyes were full of light and hope. In the second, I saw my dad as a slightly older boy who still had a little hope in those dark eyes, but whose jaw had hardened in what I read as grim determination to survive what he suffered at his own home. In the third, I saw my dad in fifth or sixth grade. The light had been extinguished and the mirrors to his soul shuttered.
The way my mom told it, her difficult childhood was only a fraction as horrible as my dad’s, so that:
Seeing those pictures helped me understand how much he, too, had lost to hardship and abuse.
Kim (Little Bits of Heaven) and I have only known each other for months, but it feels to me as if we’ve known each other since before words. She writes with great love woven through with strands of bittersweet, her compassion today a conscious, considered departure from bitter befores. We don’t share a family tree, but to my heart, she is a sister.
A cool breeze on a hot day
Watching it roll through my daughter’s hair
A warm puddle for my cold toes on our walks to school
Waiting for my son to jump in
Dirt on my hands from planting seeds
Wresting to keep baby from eating them
After the storm
When we know we’ve made it through
Perhaps better than before
In the cold times
When our hearts are not hardened by our loss
But made stronger by our faith
When fire rips through our lives
And through the smoke we see the new
New beginnings, new life, new hope
Finding that someone whose laugh is worse than yours
But knowing it’s all you want to hear
Celebrating a sunrise
Because you’ve seen it one more day
Toasting a sunset
Because the clouds have gone away
A husband and wife
sit in near darkness and
discuss history and politics
over unfolded laundry
them on their
Why are you so angry
right now? The past is the past,
and now–now is what it is.
I am angry
because I thought
my suffering in childhood
was anomalous; to see now
that it was widespread,
systemic, is crushing.
It should never
But that was true even
before you understood it. Read more…
I read 41 books in 2011.
Of those 41 books, I marked three in bold as “top picks.”
Of those three books, I mentioned that I’d quadruple-bold one if I could.
I bought copies of this book to send to friends. I then looked at my own copy and decided it would do more good in someone else’s hands than on my bookshelf. I sent it off, too.
My review of the book was a single sentence: I run on the verbose side, but about this book I can only say: it is heartbreaking, breathtaking perfection.
My husband, Anthony, and older son went to the movies yesterday. Read more…