Thursday, May 8, 2014

Six, Eight and Nine

I have eleven siblings.

Three sisters.

Eight brothers.

Three of them died before breathing air.

Ramsey, Roman and Ryan.

I have a relationship with them even though they have parted. Their presence in my life is a part of who I am. In a way I have the best relationship with them, out of all my brothers. They are the only brothers I "visit" regularly.

I was 4 years old when Ramsey died. I grew up hearing about him. To me he was a little gold charm in the shape of a boy on a plaque that hung on the wall. My brother who died and was cremated and sprinkled in the ocean.  We would visit him in the summer. Drawing messages in the sand with sticks, and waiting for the waves to rush in and carry our words back out to him.

Ever try to hug the ocean? I have. I can remember wanting to give Ramsey a hug so he would know his big sister missed  getting to meet him.

In 1973 shortly after my eight birthday Roman died. My mama was five months pregnant with him. I remember the day he died like it was yesterday. Mama was in bed in her night gown in the after noon, kneading her stomach like it hurt.. My younger siblings were all watching TV and were starting to complain about being hungry. Our daddy wasn't home yet. It was getting late. It was past time for her to be making dinner.

I got up and made one of the biggest mistakes of my childhood.

Not knowing what was going on, I walked to her bedroom door and asked. "Are you going to make dinner?"

She reared up and began screaming at me. Already being so terrified of her at just eight, I immediately dissociated and tried to hide in my head as she screamed at me. Still her words penetrated the numbness in my soul and seared them selves there.


and then in the next breath she committed the most heinous act of child abuse she ever aimed at me.


I felt my feet back up and carry my body away, while my soul split open and died with a sorrowful exhale.

"I'm hundree" brother seven said to me as I stepped over him.

Mortally wounded I barked something at him and fled into the kitchen.

I was eight. Where the hell do you run to when your eight?

I walked a few laps around the kitchen table trying to stop hyperventilating. Her verbal barb lodged deep in my heart causing hemorrhaging with each heavy inhale/exhale.

I punched my ears trying to clear the echo there.


Good. I hope you do mama.

I felt my self fragment out. My brain re-compartmentalizing everything. Like a huge eraser sweeping over the chalkboard in my mind.

mama? MAMA!!

how is it possible to hate you so much, but need you just as much? I know you hate me. BUT YOU ARE ALLS  I GOT...YO THE ONWLY MAMA I GOT.

Behind me I hear again brother seven. "I'm hundree."

I turn to him. His little face so sweetly smiling.

Tears race down my face and I get him some graham crackers out of the cupboard.

Then I head back to mama's room.

I stand in the door way observing her until she notices me.

"What do you want?!" she growls

"Is there anything I can do to help?" I hear my self say.

She launched into another screaming volley. I stepped in and pulled her door closed.

went to my room and sat on my bed.

Daddy came home shortly after that and about an hour after that delivered Roman.

When he came calling for me. I was expecting him to punish me. If what mama said was true, I had killed his unborn son. I was scared he was calling for me to whip me with the belt.

He called several times before I came down stairs to face my fate.

He was sitting on the couch with a wash cloth folded in half on his left hand. "Did you want to see your brother?" he asked.

There was no anger or hatred in his words. Maybe mama hadn't told him?

I inched closer and he gently pulled back the wash cloth. Roman was reddish brown and looked so tiny laying the length of Daddy's hand. He has the imprint of the wash cloth on his still body.

such incredibly tiny fingers...and toes...

sorry brother. so very very sorry.

Roman joined Ramsey in the ocean.

The next year Ryan joined them.

The three golden boys on the plaque. The untarnished trio who came and went and didn't have to endure this life.

I was jealous of them for many years.  You could probably dust their memorial plaque for finger prints and still find mine there on the edges, left there as I checked to see if there was room for me to join them.

Each summer we went to the ocean and we heard the stories of how Ramsey, Roman and Ryan were there polishing the agates for us. I now wrote messages in the sand to all three of them. Mama never let us forget about them.

As I grew up I wrote them songs, poems and stories. You can find my brothers presence in my children's books.

In my twenties when my therapist listened to me retell of that painful night Roman was born, He sat quietly watching me with pain filled eyes. "You were not responsible for Roman's death." he finally said.

"I know." I whispered.  It took me many years before I let my self off the hook, before I was strong enough to repel that vicious accusation. But the damage was already done and the wounds carved deep with me.

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