February 4, 2012


Sometimes I like to pretend that I know you. That you call me up just because. That you are proud, as I am, of the things I've accomplished.

I like to pretend that when I was small, and so often sick, you would test my forehead with a kiss, that you would read me stories and make a pot of soup from scratch, just for me, your presence and your undivided attention coaxing me back to some semblance of health. It's all I ever needed, to get well: the smell of soup, and knowing someone cared. It's still what I need. It's still what I never receive, except for the one time, and then not from you.

I like to pretend our house was always clean and dry and full of light. That it smelled nice, that you smelled nice. That you smiled more often than frowned. That you loved me. That you loved anything at all.

My mind is strong. Even I can say that, and with confidence. I didn't just erase the bad things, as they happened; I made up new and better things to take their place. Not much better, but a little better. Rational, nearly palatable. Just this side of horrifying. Bearable, you know? Bearable, I thought. But I don't think that, anymore. I think I know exactly how Peeta feels when he says, "Real, or not real?" Dreading the answer, either way, for neither memory is a welcome one.

I wish you were real, and not a story I made up to keep my heart from breaking. I wish I knew I'd have a chance to make my stories true for someone else.


  1. I wish you would have that chance too. I know that you will spin some beautiful stories for those lucky souls, that they will never have to make up imaginary tales of their own to obscure the horrible, that they will never know how it feels to ask, "Real, or not real?' Because they will have to need to pretend except in play.

    I'm deeply sorry for the past, I wish I could change it.

  2. "In any good writing, you get to know a character through their struggles. It's how a character deals with things that tells us about them." {Colin Firth, on The King's Speech}

    Your words: are a person of such richness and depth. I don't have any worthy ones to respond. I wish I did.

    I believe Ailis and Noah hear their story-telling Mother and love her, still and always, unsevered by time or space. They got a really, really rare one. I am so sad they can't touch your hand, your face, and tell you they think so, too.

    I have a really hard time not getting angry at the adults in your life and how they chose to live. How could they not see? How could they not see You?

    Cathy in Missouri

    1. I am the first person in at least 5 generations of my family to put a stop to the cycle of abuse. I'll never understand why no one did it before, why I was the first one to say: not only is this NOT okay, this CANNOT happen anymore, and I will do whatever I need to do to see that it doesn't.

      Thank you for your kind words about my babies, and myself. You are a really nice person, Cathy in Missouri.

  3. Vera Kate - have you written (on this blog, or somewhere) about the process of breaking out, escaping the cycle? That takes more bravery - and determination - than most have. I would be so interested in hearing, if you ever wanted to write more.

    When did you come to realize that there were other ways to live life - different from what you had seen? Was there a specific event that "got you out" or that got the ball rolling? Did you have help, or did you have to go it alone? How did the family deal with your boundaries and changes?

    My mother broke out of the cycle, too...I don't know how many generations hers went back, but she escaped, too. She still bears so much of the pain in her heart - but she gave me so much better than she ever got.

    I hope it doesn't feel pushy to be asked. I know this is private information and I won't be offended if you don't share. I also know that someone does not live through what you have, and are, without gaining wisdom that is quite rare. I value hearing your voice in all of it.

    I am so glad you said it was NOT okay. It isn't.

    Grateful for you,

    Cathy in Missouri

    1. It's kind of interesting, I've been asked those questions rather often lately... though not much before. So I am thinking about it. Perhaps I'll have some answers -- or at least an educated guess -- someday.

      Perhaps it will even be a book, if I can pitch it properly.