Posted by: alegra22 | July 26, 2010

Monster (unedited)

stop child abuse by Aryche

 

All day my body is curved around my baby. He rides on my hip, his hand resting on my breast, his arm slung over my shoulder. I am once again transformed into a  one-armed pourer of tea, maker of ba-bas, masher of potatoes. A one-finger typist.  

In less than an hour, I have two near misses with my children. I hear the ‘beep-beep’ of the microwave and I am leaping from my chair, across the room, screaming, “No!” because already, my instincts know what I will find: my daughter has put in her bowl of noodles, with the metal spoon, and turned it on. I give her my scariest voice. I try to make her understand how dangerous this was, how she should  never, ever do it again. My scary voice makes something wilt inside of me – I want to give up, this parenting business is so high-risk. I want to curl up around her, ask her, “Please, please, just listen.Don’t get hurt.” She looks at me blankly, pink clouds and scorpions with butterfly wings dancing through her mind.  

Later,  in the kitchen, I am making a bottle for Joaquin and I hear him squealing like Zaviera is tickling him. The squealing increases. Again, my instincts send me flying just in time to see Zaviera, poised like a pro-wrestler with her hands on the corner of Joaquin’s play pen, jumping down on his stomach with both feet. I yell, “NO ZAVIERA!”, yank her out, my insides turning. She tells me I’ve hurt her ears. I tell her that I know I have. She needs to listen because what she was doing was very, very dangerous. I feel like I have a tight fist in my brain as I go over it and over it, again and again, until I am sure she understands what has happened, and then I hug her and say, “Wow, you were just having fun and then Mommy hurt your ears because you didn’t even realize you could hurt your baby brother!” She nods appreciatively, climbing on my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck.  

Inside, terror still snakes around my organs, the back of my brain whispering, “What if…what if you didn’t make it there in time.”  I feel the perfect curve of my son’s skull as he rides on my hip, and my mind tunnels backwards to a dark place it doesn’t want to go. Because as I type this, my five month old nephew is in a coma and his brain is dying.  

He is five. months. old.  

 If he survives, he might be blind, he might not walk, he will be brain-damaged. Everyone is trying to be positive. It only makes me want to scream and throw things and say, “There is nothing to be positive about!” I don’t scream, I don’t throw things, but I do raise my voice. I swear when I speak to my husband. But I know, I know that we are all just surviving. All of us are free-falling through the horror grasping at platitudes, grasping at small things, cups of coffee, the babies, the details.  

 My husband asks for prayers on Facebook. I write several of my close friends privately. I do not go public. Because, you see, my nephew didn’t fall. There was no accident. He was beaten by an adult. There is a shame streaking through me, inky, ugly, staining everything. I keep asking my husband, “Who? Who did it?” We have answers but we don’t trust them yet. The police are still gathering evidence. I want to punch the system in the face. All of us are retreating back into our respective corners of ‘what if.’ There were so many choices along the way to this moment.  

Today, I was a curved, one-armed woman, because my husband went up to the hospital to support the family who are keeping vigil. I could not go. We both knew this. We both knew as much as I wanted to wrap my arms around my extended family, to kiss them, to tell them i love them, that I would look at that little baby who is breathing because of a machine and I would be claws and snarls and rage and fists and hatred and sorrow and denial and shame. I would not be the woman I need to be for the family I love.  

My friend, who is a pastor, asked me how I was doing. I began to tell him, but the words trainwrecked – I could see it happening but I didn’t know how to stop it. I don’t have the words for how I am doing. He asked me: Are your eyes diamond-shaped right now?  

He was trying to make me laugh, to draw attention to the fire burning bright in the center of my brain,  but as I lay in bed tonight, still hearing my mother-in-law’s voice over the phone, the sorrow in it something that moved into my heart with an ancient fatigue, I thought of diamonds: hard, sharp, valuable, able to cut glass.  

And I thought, “Yes, my eyes are diamonds tonight.”  

I am going to ask my pastor friend about judgement and Jesus and God. I want to understand the difference between discernment and passing judgement and when to act and when to wait.  

He also said to me something about God hearing my heart and that to trust justice would be served. If he had been in front of me, I would have grabbed him, shoved my face into his chest and screamed until there was nothing left inside of me but quiet. I am sure he would have patted me on the head and made a joke and then we would have sat down and had a good, long, proper talk.  

Tonight, while I held my baby in my arms, he cooed in his sleep. My daughter buried her face into my back. I thought about the fact that there is someone walking around now, someone breathing and eating and talking and doing whatever it is they do, that also beat a five month old baby and put him into a coma. Whoever that person is, I want him accounted for.   

And tonight, what drives me to slip out from under the perfect weight of Joaquin’s body, my heart pounding, is the knowledge that there is not just one monster out there. There are many. And now, it isn’t ‘out there’, it is the history of my family. It is a story my children will carry.  

I want to pray for what is best for my nephew, Cesar, and his soul. Not what we need. What he needs. He has suffered enough.  

I want to pray to understand what to do with this rage I have that so many monsters continue free, unaccounted for, and how easily we excuse them. There is a quote from Albert Einstein that I have been carrying around with me for years. It is there, woven into the novel I am writing. It is here with me tonight as I grapple with looking at all of the ways my instincts were alerted but instead of leaping up across the room, I said, “It isn’t my business. I have no control.”  

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
Albert Einstein  

Tonight, this is what I know how to do. I know how to write.

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Responses

  1. That sucks about your nephew 😦 Who would hit a child..a 5 month ole none the less.

    I was going to say something funny about Sol using Zaviera as a distraction..but I don’t have it in me now.

    • Dan, it is nearly impossible for me to wrap my head around it. And from the sounds of it, it was the recent boyfriend of the baby’s mother. It makes me sick even typing this. Ugh.

  2. Oh Alegra, I’m so sorry this happened.

    I used to be part of that system you want to punch in the face. I left for many reasons: the system is broken, there are too many Monsters, too many people making excuses for the Monsters… the list could go on forever.

    I’ll be praying for your nephew and your family.

    • Thank you for the prayers, Cathy.
      I admire the fact that you were able to work in that area – my dad is a psychologist and has evaluated thousands of child abuse situtations – I don’t know how he has done it.

  3. Sending thoughts, prayers and good juju your way.

    • Thank you Pete xx

  4. AC – I know that yesterday, today, and tomorrow are about Cesar and what’s best for him. That’s as it should be. I for one will be sending him all the calming vibes possible in hopes that he finds peace.

    At the same time I’ll be thinking of you, Dan, and the kids.

    Alegra, your response to this crisis is so defined by your brilliance as a parent that… well… I smile to know that you balance out the evil in the world is all.

    You really are one of the best people I know. If there’s anything you need stateside, please ask.

    Stay strong.

    David

    • David,
      This brought me to tears. I really can’t thank you the way I want to, it’s like you just showed up at my doorstep and gave me a hug.

  5. I’m so sorry for that tiny little one. I just want to hug and kiss my little ones for the rest of the day.

    What you did here, reminding the rest of us how fragile and beautiful and more-important-than-anything our children are, was incredibly moving. You may not be able to save your nephew, but you’re doing your part to change the world.

  6. Made me cry. For Cesar and for you. All I can say is, give the rage back to God. When I found out Courtlen was being beaten by his step-mother, I called CPS and then had to give it to God. I remember, in ceremony at Sun Dance, looking into the sky and screaming in my heart, “WHY?!?” over and over and over.

    I demanded God take it back and deal with it. That I couldn’t. That while I tried so hard to fix things and help, it was beyond me. By the time I was done screaming in my mind (its a silent ceremony, Dancers don’t speak), a peace came. It was always for God to correct the issue and Creator has many tools to do the job. I accepted that I can’t always be that tool needed and that I had to let go and let God.

    Give all that rage, fear, anger, outrage, frustration, everything back to God. It is all valid. Those emotions are real. Just try not to hang onto them.

    I go now to light candles for Cesar and for you.

  7. My thoughts and love to you and yours, Al. I know the details and therefore this is so much more difficult to read – there is nothing left to say that can soothe your rage or comfort the baby.

    String. Them. Up.

  8. Hey Allegra,

    Your writing has touched me. I am so sorry to hear about your nephew. What a vicious thing to have happen. I wanted to tell you about what I went through. I suffered at the hands of another human when I was younger. It happened for years between 12 and 15 and it was incredibly sad and destructive. The whole fabric of my life changed from the moment that man made the decisions he did to use his force in a negative way against me.

    I want to let you know life changed in a lot more ways than you might imagine, and maybe this might give you hope. The toll his choices have taken are many and varied, however recently beautiful things have been borne from this situation as well. I pray the same will come in time for your family, however hard it is to imagine yet. That’s the most important part for you to know. It’s taken a lot of work for me to come to terms with what happened but finally fifteen years down the track and a journey through the court system later, I can see God’s hand in all of this and there are lots of gorgeous things happening. I am able to help others in similar situations or provide compassion but it goes deeper than that. I don’t know whether this is making much sense but I wanted you to hear that sometimes there are still miracles to come from even such dire times and that there is hope.

    Love masses and masses, my heart goes out to you all.

    Helinor. xx

  9. Allegra, it is deeply upsetting to hear this. I can’t even begin to understand why things like this happen. The story has really touched me deeply and my thoughts are with Cesar.

  10. You know I’ve been praying for him since this happened. I’ve been praying for you, too.

    Sending you love, hugs, and strength.

  11. As I sat down to read this, my child was being Mr. Magpie and creating a cloud of fog around my brain ( I know you know) where I could not hear my own thoughts.

    And then I read this. The horror of which I have been feeling in my own body for the past 24 hrs and trying to figure out a way to express a good enough empathy…

    And now the sound of my son’s voice is a relief, and I thank you for that, even though the cost is high

  12. Oh Alegra, I’m so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and of course your nephew. I have dealt and still am dealing with the loss of my 5 month old niece (we lost her to cancer). What happened with her was out of all of our hands though – I can’t even imagine the anger and sadness you must be going through right now – my heart aches for all of you.

  13. I am so sorry Alegra, that is very disturbing news. I can’t even wrap my mind around it, how someone could do that. You, your family, and that precious little boy are in my thoughts tonight.

  14. I love you Esposa,

    Marido

  15. I really want to thank all of you. Right now, I am feeling empty of words, I just want you to know that your comments have touched me, each one of them.
    I want to share this link, so that if any of you are praying, you have a face to think of and a prayer that he is found:
    http://tvnz.co.nz//national-news/police-seek-man-after-baby-injured-3675364?ref=facebook

  16. I have recently discovered your blog and am inspired by your talent everytime you post.
    Yesterday was one of those days- a full moon, deep into a long hot summer in Phoenix where it’s so hot we don’t go anywhere and dare not take our little ones outside. Being stuck inside with my 2 and 4 yr olds gets long and exhausting. Yesterday I had all I could take of being here.
    I held on till 5.52 when their father got home and I “got out of Dodge” to go to a First Aid Class I had to take for school.
    One of the things we learned in our class last night (taught by a paramedic) is when dealing with childhood trauma to think like a child and the other was the signs of abuse to watch for in little ones.
    Both thoughts were things I’d already known but hearing them again reminded me of just how fragile life can be – especially for a child.

    I used to work at a children’s hospital and met a child who’d been beaten within an inch of his life. His mother’s boyfriend “tried to potty train him in a day” – he was 10 months old. Both his legs were broken and he had countless other injuries… mainly severe concussions that left him with seizures and hours of confusion.
    He was the picture of innocence and sweetness during his recovery. He had bad days – as do we all, but he was everybody’s favorite child. Partly because he was a victim and partly because he had nobody else.
    Eventually he got a foster mother – who ended up adopting him. His mother and the boyfriend were in jail.
    She was SUCH a blessing to him. She changed his world.
    She had other kids and foster kids, but she spend her days making sure he got his therapies and went to all the rehab and meetings and treatments he needed.
    His life was a joy for him once she came along. The recovering and growing and learning were all he knew… all he’d ever remember.
    When he looked at his mom, he adored her. He worshipped her.

    When this happened, I’d been through a series of miscarriages and, still childless, was trying again to have a child. I spent much time and energy “with diamonds in my eyes.” We all did. Anybody who knew anything about him wanted to find the monsters and exact some kind of revenge… it seemed jail was too easy a place for anyone who could do this to a child… and innocent…this beautiful sweet baby.

    I am so sorry for the losses you’ve suffered. For the loss of trust for your own family members. For the sense of security within your own home that this has taken from you.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with me – on the other side of the world.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and your life.
    You have changed mine.
    You will all be in our prayers.
    I will also be praying for the people who did this – that one day, they truly comprehend what has happened. I pray for the mother of Cesar. I pray for his grandparents. I pray for the sense of guilt and loss that will surely come.
    I pray for answers to your prayers… for him, for you, for understanding.
    God IS good.
    All the time.
    even now.
    I pray your arms will hold this baby and show him that.
    I will ask my entire church to pray on Sunday.
    I will ask my 1K+ friends on fb to pray.
    Not just for him, but for you.
    for his cousins, your children and for you husband as you deal with this tragedy and as you move forward.

    Sometimes I have to go back and read your old posts to remind myself how good life can be.
    In time, you might want to do that too.

    Love and Prayers from the blogosphere,
    Stacy Kidd
    Mesa,AZ

    • Stacy,
      You are a beautiful, beautiful human being.
      Thank you for this. I am in tears as I write this. Just thank you.

  17. alegra, this piece was an act of bravery. I am so glad you wrote this. The pen is mightier than the sword…and don’t ask me who said that.
    My heart, my prayers, my lit candles all go out to Cesar and the entire family, but that does not reduce my rage or my tears. Thank you so much for being so frank and brave. I am so proud of you. I love you.

  18. thinking of you all.
    words. fail. me
    x

  19. My heart hurts for you, for Dan, for Cesar. I’ll be keeping you all in my prayers and I hope the justice system works like it’s supposed to with this one.

  20. Alegra, I just caught up with this awful news. I’ve been on the road and not paying much attention to my friends on FB and Twitter. This is horrible. We write fiction about these things and somehow feel that makes us feel safer. But it’s an illusion. We live at the behest of the unpredictable. I’m old enough to have witness things that make no sense in any moral terms. In a way, my life started that way with the freak military accidental death of my father, before I was born. When my infant son died of an infinitessimally rare heart deformity, there was no consolation anywhere in the universe. My agent of all people had this to say, quoting Shakespeare: “We are hostages of fortune.” And that’s about the way it is. My condolences to your husband and family; this is an terrible time for them, and for you. Hold those beautiful kids of yours close.


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