shooting stars

My father walked in the front door behind my mother, one more out of the place thing that my 12 year old brain was trying to process. The 1st being walking home from school to find my grandmother watching my young sisters, waiting for my brother and I. Any normal day my father would be there getting ready for work and I would be expected to watch my sisters and brother as left for work and before my mother came home. I suppose there had been other things that day that were different, like the way my teachers were looking at me speaking to me slowly, patiently. In fact my 6th grade teacher hadn’t even made a fuss when I explained I hadn’t finished the homework. He just calmly looked at me and said “I understand” As I stood in the hallway holding my 2-year-old sisters hand I looked at my father and I saw it. There was tears in his eyes. I started to feel sick. I had never before seen him cry, never saw him show any sort of sadness.  I knew what it was, the thing that my parents both had promised was no big deal, both made me belive was just a big misunderstanding, tried to shield my brother and sisters from was now all over the news. I could hear the television in the background. The reporter spinning tales of wrongdoing and reporting the court’s decision.

I looked at my father who was staring back at me and simply said ” guilty, they found me guilty”

That was the moment that my world collapsed. I didn’t see it at the time, because I simply didn’t know that marriages ended and families could become permanently broken. I didn’t know that there were mothers who couldn’t get out of bed for days and that fathers didn’t come home. I didn’t know the cruelty of people who you knew your whole life treating you different or pretending not to know you. I had yet to what it felt like to watch the police search your home and reporters interviewing your neighbors. Or how horrible it would feel to be laughed at and talked about. No, I didn’t know any of those things yet. I had been naive, I was innocent. Until that moment my world had been what I can only describe now as a fairytale. With long hot summers of lemonade stands, swimming, bike riding and forts, fall was an exciting new school year Halloween customs and a house full of family on thanksgiving. Santa was still the guest of honor and magically made every christmas wish come true. And my biggest worry was if Bryan Flagger liked me too.

However, I would soon find out how ugly the world can be. I would see first hand the collapse of a family. I would feel the pain and confusion of walking away from our home, our family and our life. I would soon become numb to the feeling of lose, my eyes would burn from all the tears, my heart soon be broken, my body simply tired of trying to hold a shattered family together and in time I would find hard to trust anyone.

I have often wondered if at that moment if one tiny word had been added, if my father had simply said ” NOT guilty” what alternate life would I have had? would I have gone to the same high school as my parents? would I have dated Bryan flagger. would I have gone college with the rest of my friends? would I have had the chance to get to know my grandparents? would I still believe in happy endings? and would my father and I still be laying out under the night sky watching for shooting stars?

Advertisements