Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt, Daryl’s past is revealed to Gerard and Grace.
“However, if there is one thing life has gone out of its way to show me about itself in the last few years, it is its own imperfection. Grace and Gerard notice I’m having difficulties breathing while I sleep at night so, to find out what is wrong with me, Gerard takes me to an ear, nose and throat specialist for an exam. I don’t know why I am there or what the doctor is going to do. For all I know this is just a routine visit but, very early in his examination, the doctor touches my face around my nose and my nose itself. A few seconds later, he rises from his stool, then goes to the waiting room to ask Gerard to come inside the exam room with me so the three of us can have a little talk.
The doctor’s demeanor is now changed, which is to say he suddenly went from quite formal, almost disinterested, to a little more cordial. Right there in front of Gerard, he informs me that my nose is fractured, that it doesn’t appear to be recent and that it would be helpful to him if I could tell him how it happened.
After a moment of panic where I feel cornered, as though I have just been caught doing something wrong, I come to my senses and recount to Gerard and the doctor the episode of my being thrown down the stairs in the D family’s house. Although I am holding back and keep my explanation to the specific events leading to my injury, the doctor has to focus intensely to keep his cool but I can still see he is angry. When I look at Gerard, I see a reaction he was unable to mask and a look I will never, ever forget. There is actual devastation in his eyes.
A surgery to fix as much of damage as possible is scheduled for a few weeks before the Christmas holidays. After our visit at the doctor’s, when we return home, I rush straight to the basement of our house to be alone. I remain there a while, silent and lost in my thoughts with Gerard and Grace giving me the space and time I need. Something tells me they too need some time and space so they can process this information. Surely they knew I carried on me the burden of a past but until now they had no idea what that burden was made of and how heavily it weights on my frail shoulders.
I had never before spoken with adults of the violence and humiliation I had experienced at the hands of the D family. Although it is somewhat a relief to finally let others in on a small part of my secret, the feeling of shame is overwhelming and with the emotions and images of these events back on the surface, the bones in my face are throbbing once again as I relive the memory of the pain. It will be a while before I discuss this part of my life again and even then, I will offer only bits and pieces, here and there. True that my silence about some of these memories may very well be because they are too tough to share with others. But I also like to think that some of it is also pride. Pride in having survived the way I did. Pride in being able to keep on living as balanced a life as I can live. Broken bones as a trophy. Not the kind of trophy you put on a shelf to display for others the courage you showed in battle. More the kind you get out of an old box every once in a while to dust off and look at long enough to remember all there is to remember. And back in the box it must go.
I am going to the hospital the day before the surgery. Before we leave the house in the morning, Gerard sits at the dining room table while I sit in a rocking chair facing him as we wait for Grace who is getting ready. After a few attempts to make me laugh, Gerard sees the anxiety on my face just as well as he can hear it in my voice. He stands, walks to a small chest we keep near the refrigerator, opens the top drawer and pulls a notebook which he brings to me. He opens the notebook and hands it to me, pointing to a specific line. It is a large black notebook filled with handwritten passages from the Bible. After I read the few lines he wanted me to read, he places the notebook back in its drawer. He brings it to me three more times before we leave, each time pointing to different passage. Gerard wrote these passages himself years ago as he looked for answers and comfort during a time of great sadness. It turns out a day like today, where they have to bring their child to a hospital, is a terribly familiar and difficult thing to do for Gerard and Grace.
Several years before I joined them, Grace…”
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