The following is a work of fiction I wrote to dust off my writing skills for domestic violence month.
Sitting in the hospital waiting for the doctors to come out with more information I tried to stop myself from crying. I couldn’t understand it… I was at their house the night before and everything was fine. Sure I got us in trouble because we didn’t have dinner ready when … That person … Came home. But nothing ended up happening I had thought. I explained how it was my fault, we just got talking about when I was a baby and all the funny stuff I used to do. It was nice to be able to chat about that, find out just how much alike my daughter and I were. Hearing it from the source is always more fun, they remember things so differently.
We had dinner… The three of us played some scrabble while we waited for my husband to come and pick me up. It wasn’t like this was new… But I thought they moved past it all, I thought things had changed. I thought we, as a family, had moved past the jail time, the 911 calls in the middle of the night… I thought normalcy had finally settled in our family. I had been so happy when they met… Everyone deserves happiness and I thought they found it in each other. They both had the same interests… At least they both liked to drink… That was always the problem before, no one understood how booze helped make the pain go away. It’s not like I supported it, but when your parent is hurting you allow them to fix it whatever way they can… For our family it happened to be drinking. I always thought I was the somewhat lucky one… I just got to clean up after everyone and had found a good man, I didn’t suffer the way they did… It didn’t affect me the way it did everyone else…Or so it always seemed.
Sitting, waiting for the doctor I started to realize how much wrong I had done. How I enabled this every single step of the way. If I was smarter, stronger or more aware maybe we wouldn’t sitting in this position. Maybe everything would actually be okay and I wouldn’t have to lie to my husband and daughter when they asked.
Maybe if I worked harder on making them sober, or trying to force them to see the problems I wouldn’t have to clean up this mess.
The doctor came out of the operating room, his face was dark and already I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I steeled myself for the bad news and stood up.
“I’m so sorry Mrs. Clark, but the bullet hit your Father’s spine, going through some of his internal organs. We tried to stop the bleeding but we couldn’t. Your Father past away, I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Three days later I stood in front of all my Father’s friends and the rest of our family, doing something I thought I had years before doing.
“My Dad was an amazing man. He had his own demons but always tried to conquer them himself. Losing him this way has cut into each and everyone of our hearts. He was always such a puppy dog, eager to please and happy to help. He loved his…” I choked up, not sure if I could make it through.
“He loved his family. He loved his granddaughter and all around him. I know if I could talk to him once more he would beg me to love and forgive his wife. For my Daddy I am trying to make sense of this tragedy and not focus on what was taken from us, focus on what he gave us when he was here.”
Hours after the funeral I sat down at my kitchen table looking at the report my husband brought home from work. It was the police report from my Father’s death; something I had begged him to get for me so I could have some semblance of closure and find out what really happened. The hospital was tight lipped; Angela wasn’t talking and when she did it painted a picture of a monster. Not my Dad.
My husband walked in and rubbed my shoulders.
“What does it say?”
“Well.” I wasn’t sure how to start. “It does document the amount of times she called the cops. But it also documents how he was the only one with injuries.” I knew the rest. At least the police report was correct, I was afraid it would paint him as the abuser, not the victim.
“All the 911 calls, all the beatings… It’s all here. I don’t understand how every time he was arrested or taken into custody no one batted an eyelash. Why didn’t anyone ever see what was going on?” Tears slid down my cheeks as I realized I should have done something. I knew things were going on but I turned a blind eye to it. I pretended like it was all okay, sat across from her at dinner time… Helped my Dad make a lovely supper… I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had completely enabled this to happen or just made things worse.
Was this all my fault? Was there something I could have done? Could I have forced them both into rehab? If I was better or faster, stronger or … Anything could I have saved my Daddy?
If society had believed him instead of laughing at him would he still be with us? What if I had taken things more seriously? When I didn’t see him for a week or two… Was it so bad he didn’t want me to see? All the times he tripped down the stairs, hurt himself working… Was that really what happened?
I got up and went into the kitchen. Going to the freezer I grabbed the bottle of rum from our last friendly get together and made myself a drink.
“I miss my Daddy.” I quietly said as I took a drink.
While this is a work of fiction, it is more common then anyone would actually think. Domestic violence doesn’t affect just women and the people trapped by it. It hurts every single person in the family. Sometimes echoing through generations like ripples on a pond