There are so many secrets locked in my head, behind doors that I have been unwilling to open. For the last few weeks, I've been looking at one of those closed doors.
I think it took this long to look at it because I thought it was not about my father. Being angry at my father, finding new and never before thought of reasons to hate him, to hurt him, to justify my anger, that was easy. I had decided a long time ago that he was the reason for all of my problems. The more proof I had, the better.
My mother has suffered from depression all her life. When I was little, my sister was put in charge of me. She changed my diapers, fed me, dressed me, played with me. She was nine years old when I was born and I suppose my younger brother and I were like living dolls for her to play with.
She has always been a wonderful sister. She took good care of us. She comforted us when we were hurt, cheered us up when we were sad, and I have always loved her much more than a child loves an older sister.
When I was eight years old, I began to hear talk about college. My sister was going to leave - to head off to college. All summer, she prepared for this event. Things were bought, set aside in a corner of her room, for her to move out.
I knew she wouldn't go. She could never leave me. I was certain of it and I did everything I could to prevent it.
Even as I watched her pack her things, watched her close a suit case, watched my older brother carry boxes down the long stairway, I knew she would not leave me.
I was sure.
My father went out to the car, carrying the last of her things with him.
I stood in the kitchen with my brothers and my mother, and my heart pounded in my chest. The familiar “I can’t breathe” feeling swept over me.
I moved in front of the door. I was not going to let her go.
She couldn't leave me.
She just wouldn't.
I stood in front of the door and screamed, “I’m not letting you go!”
My mother told me, “Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
A look of exasperation came over my sister’s face. She had tears in the corners of her eyes. “Dad’s waiting.”
I stepped out from in front of the door.
She hugged my mother and my brothers.
I refused to hug her.
She walked through the door, and she pulled it shut behind her, and – in my mind – that door has been shut ever since.