We lived not far from one another, blocks I suppose. It was the kind of neighborhood middle class people turn their noses up at, but it was home. There were always kids. There weren't always kids that looked like me (white) or girls. When someone who fit both molds moved in, my six (seven?) year old self was instantly drawn to her. We were instant best friends. There was no one tighter. We were family. Her two younger sisters were the sisters I had always wanted. Her mom was far from perfect, but she was there, while mine worked and was gone.
My situation at home. Yeah, that actually is important to this, I guess. Mom worked a lot, my brother and I took care of our selves most days. He was 5? 6? and I was 7 or 8. It worked because it had to work. Her bf (eh) was there when he wasnt on some drunk bender. He worked too. And, ya know, molested me. Great man.
So I spent my days with my 'other' family. The dad was in the military. The mom was (is) epileptic. Grand mal seizures, sometimes many a day. Scary, yes, but she cared. She was around. Mom's bf wasn't there. No one was drinking. It was safe. I spent more time at their house in a year than I did my own, I swear. They never treated me like I was not family. There were so many dinners out and nights in that I could never ever count them all. Racquetball on base. The summer in Massachusetts. I don't know how my brother was taken care of during that time, but he was.
There was the same guy that sexually assaulted us both. What a bond to share, I suppose. In all the worst way.
Heck, we were blood sisters, both picking off a scab and then mixing our blood. I don't even know where we came up with that,
All good things, as they say, must come to an end. I told her mom what disgusting thing had happened to me at the hands of the man who still lived in my house. She told mine. Mine still does not acknowledge it, really. Instead, my mom saw it as a leveraging tool, that Jam(Vaughnie's mom) was going to use to take me away. I am fairly certain that was never the intent. She would not have needed the leverage. We were latchkey kids under 10. We had to watch the woodstove, cook for ourselves, there was the alcoholic in the house and mom's dope using. I don't think any other evidence would have been required...but I digress.
Jam, of course, was not the best mother in the universe either. Aside from a crummy marriage, there was the driving while epileptic thing. The raising kids while epileptic. I'm not really sure what she was supposed to do about it, but that was my moms ammo. All I know is that I loved that family. Again with the safe thing.
Then it all went away. Quickly, yet all too slowly. These are things I wish I could un-remember. They are things I wish I could forgive my mother for. They are images no 9 or 10 year old should see, things they should never feel.
Jam told my father what happened to me. He must have called my mother. I remember sitting on an upside down 5 gallon bucket talking to someone (an adult, though which one is blurry). I remember, for the first time, wanting to die. There was the walk around my dad's trailer park with Jam, knowing this was the end. There was Vaughnie (then Nikki) in tears. It's all in flashes. Hiding, wanting all of the pain to stop. Begging my dad to let her spend the night (The first and only time I had a friend over at his house). Her drawing shapes with her fingers on my back, how we put each other to sleep. And then the memories fade. I don't remember her leaving the next day. I am glad.
Her family, by this point, had moved out of the neighborhood, away from our shared sex offender, and onto base. I remember her coming by my house once, with her mom, and me sneaking to open the door. We all knew to be on the look out for mom's big brown whatever it was car, and it seems as soon as I opened the door it appeared. At 9 I had to slam the door in the face of my best friend, who I though I would never see again. She remembers it. I remember it. It was ... I wanted to die. There was the day she brought me her favorite book for my birthday and I had to meet her in the neighbors yard. It was quick. There was a phone number in the book, that I never got to call. A note. Love.
Or at the end of 4th grade, what I remember as the last time I ever saw her. Her mom (somehow) got me out of class, took me to the counselors office at school. There was a firedrill. Standing outside, I could see Nikki in the car, as distraught as I was, crying, sobbing, screaming. They would not allow her mom to bring her into the school. It felt like ... death.
And then they were gone.
I searched every way I knew how. I cried. I screamed. I told so many people about her. I had an ex once tell me that he found her and that she hated me, it was the best way he knew to hurt me. My mother and I still fight about it. Supposedly 'I will understand one day'. Her mom did eventually call CPS about me being molested, but I would not talk about it. Look what happened the last time I did. I looked for her everywhere. There were dreams, nightmares, all of it. Fifteen years.
So last Wednesday I found them. Accidentally. Nikki changed her name, she is now Vaughnie. I never would have found her. An acquaintance of mine happened to friend the younger sister on FB. When I saw that the name was right, my jaw dropped. When the mother's name was right, my stomach knotted. When the younger sister had the right name, my heart stopped. And when Vaughnie asked, after all of these years, if I was the girl that went to Mass with them, my world spun the oppositte direction. Yes, yes I am. I have missed you. Oh have I missed you.
The whole globe, the whole world, billions of people, and someone I only met for 2 days brings us back together. Vaughnie now lives 50ish miles from me. We are 'meeting' this weekend. It's not, but I wonder if this is what adoption reunion feels like. We have talked quite a bit. I hope that growing up hasn't changed us too much. I want my blood sister back.
Her family is fractured now. Mom and dad divorced. Mom has had some brain surgery that changed her as a person. The middle sister is trying to make it on her own. The youngest is not yet 18. And Vaughnie? Her and her mother do not talk. I don't know how to navigate this when I want to know them all so much but not be caught in the middle. I am terrified. I am fighting through emotions I had tried to forget.
And yet all of that LOVE is still there.
I don't know if I have managed to accurately portray what is happening in my head and heart, but let me tell you, its ... exhausting. And amazing. And scarry. and it hurts. and it feels like healing.
Is it Saturday yet?
With Love Always