TW: suicide, child sexual abuse, depression
The darkness took over me when I was eleven. That’s when my mother got depressed and killed herself.
After her death, my life became a nightmare.
Her depression started five years after I was born when my dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He was the rock of our house and has always been a great father and husband until that time. He always did everything for us, and I haven’t been able to be next to him when he most needed me. I was only five when he started getting more and more tired, without patience or energy for playing with me or take my mum and me for a ride.
First, it was the weight loss, and everyone started noticing, then became the abdominal pain and blood in the stools and urine. He was always so sick and asleep. When he fainted, that’s when my mum took him to the hospital, and after a few exams, the doctors told my mum that he would have to get hospitalized because he has cancer, and it was spreading quickly and painfully.
I remember that I saw my mum getting back home that day without my dad and telling me he would have to stay at the hospital because “he is very ill,” she said to me. “Will he be okay?” I asked, not understanding what cancer was since I was only six years old. “I am not sure, honey.” That’s what she said to me; then she burst into tears.
The complicity between my father and my mother didn’t go unnoticed by anyone. They were the perfect couple, the perfect parents. I knew love since I was born. They have always been there for me. But when the deceased came into my house, that destroyed our family. My dad was dying, and my mum was becoming vulnerable and mentally ill. As for me, I got forgotten by both of them and got introduced into the wolf’s lair.
I don’t blame them. My parents were in a lot of pain, and I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for my mum to say goodbye to her love and becoming sadder, thinking about death daily.
On the other hand, it was very hard for me too, losing my dad and my mum almost simultaneously. When my dad died, she completely forgot about me. She was so involved in her darkness that I became a lonely child. That’s when my relatives had the idea to take me away with them, so they could take care of me while my mum would take care of her mental health.
My mother agreed to go to a mental health home for treatment, but it wasn’t helping her somehow. She killed herself in her room three months later. They found her hanging from a bedsheet and discovered she wasn’t taking the pills; that’s why she wasn’t getting any better. The day my dad died, she has already chosen to be with him somehow, and her way out was killing herself, forgetting she had a six-year-old daughter who needed her. But that’s what depression does to you; she consumes you in such a way that you stop thinking correctly. And it’s when you fall deeper and deeper into evil thoughts and bad memories that she gets the better of you.
While my mum was suffering alone, I got abused by my uncle Rupert, a fifty-two-year-old man that I always saw as a second father.
First, he started touching me improperly when I was in the shower. In the beginning, I didn’t know what was going on; I was a child, and he always made it look like that was normal. That’s why I never said to anyone. He has always been so nice to me that maybe that was a way of showing his love. That’s what I thought at the time when I was an innocent little girl.
When you are innocent, you can’t figure out what is right and wrong, so you think everyone is good to you and there’s no problem with what they do to you. But when you start growing up and realizing how twisted life and people can be, you start looking at your past, and you see that there was no love in anything, but wickedness, cruelty. And all the people you thought you could trust become your worst enemy. That’s what my uncle Rupert is to me now – an enemy.
The funeral was full of friends and family, all in black clothes, and I was between my aunt Rosie and my uncle Rupert, looking at my mother’s grave, crying, sobbing, thinking how I would live without my mother. I had already lost my father, and my relatives always told me my mum was doing good at the clinic when I asked, so it was hard for me to understand that she was dead by now. I was crying at the funeral, but perhaps because I saw everyone crying. In my head, I was sleeping, and that was just a nightmare, like the ones I had after my uncle started abusing me.
At twelve years old, I already knew I wanted to go away from my aunt’s house. I already understood that there was evil behind what my uncle did to me.
I spoke to my aunt Rosie about it, and she was shocked. She was the one who called the police. I never thought she would trust me, but she did, and that was my way out of that nightmare. But I was leaving one hell to get in another one.
When the police arrested my uncle, my aunt Rosie was so shocked that she thought he had done the same to her children. So, she started asking one by one, “Did Dad ever touch any of you improperly?” all of them shook their heads. “Have you seen dad doing anything weird or inappropriate to Sarah?” Most of them shook their heads, but Gloria, the older one, said: “I did. I heard Sarah crying one day; dad was in her room, I heard him whispering with her, something like ‘this is our little secret’ and Sarah said ‘uncle, please stop, you’re hurting me,’ but I never thought he was…” she shut her mouth, thinking about it. She couldn’t believe her dad was that kind of monster.
“Oh, my poor children, your dad is a mons….” Aunt Rosie started, stopping at the word “monster,” knowing how hard that would sound to the little ones, who were now fatherless even though he had not died. She would never forgive him for what he did to me. “Oh, my poor Sarah, my dear niece, I thought I was taking good care of you, but you were suffering under my nose, and I didn’t even understand why he always wanted to take you for a walk, give you a bath, etc.”
My aunt Rosie was found dead that night. She didn’t handle the grief of not protecting me like she promised my mother. They found many pills in her stomach, which sent my cousins and me to an institution for underage, but I escaped two years later, when I met a guy older than me, and he showed me a world full of color and love. I never thought I could see the light again; I suffered too much from my mother’s illness, my parent’s death, and the abuses by my uncle Rupert, but it seems that if you find the right person, you can have another chance from life.
Joshua was my first and only love. He took care of me all these years, and we got married five years ago. He has always been my friend, husband, and lover. We were madly in love. Joshua showed me that a man could be kind, respectful, and love someone truly, madly, deeply. He gave me a beautiful daughter one year after we got married. His family was my family, and we were happy, like in those love stories we heard about where love always wins after pain.
Our love wasn’t like the stories; I lost Joshua to cancer, as I lost my dad. The darkness took over me again, and I got depressed, as my mother did. I was always sad, tired, and mad. My daughter was the only light in my life. I had no one else; it was just the two of us. Joshua’s family were too far away, in another state, and my cousins from my aunt Rosie had already moved out as well.
I never told anyone what was going on with me after Joshua’s death. I was fired from my job at the Mall. My best friend, Julia, was the one who tried to help me, and if I am telling you this story today, it because of her. She was the light at the end of the tunnel. She was the one who cared about my past and how to fix that darkness.
I was admitted to the same clinic as my mother. Julia took care of my baby while I was being treated. She visited me every day with my baby, so I could see her growing up and have the strength to fight for my survival instead of taking the easy way out – death. Maria was the fruit of my love with Joshua, so she was my reason to live. My mother chooses the easiest way for her darkness, maybe because she hasn’t seen the light as I did, and I can’t blame her. She had no one to help her see it. I had Julia. She did what was best for her at that moment. That’s why I will do what’s best for me now – fight for my daughter and me. I lost the love of my life, yes, but he left me something to remind me that our love is eternal, no matter what – and that’s Maria. Every time I look at her, I see him. He showed me real love when nobody else did; it doesn’t matter that our love for each other lasted only a short time. He left his print in me, and that print is our daughter.
I left the clinic two years later. Maria was already four years old. Julia picked me up from the clinic and took me to her house. She took care of my daughter and me, and soon we became closer and closer that I started seeing a possibility to love someone again.
We supported each other. I got a new job, and my daughter went to school with Julia’s daughter. They were so close that they always treated each other as sisters. And slowly, we became a family. I never thought I could love a woman, but Julia showed me that love doesn’t choose genres, colors, or ages. Love simple happens.
Julia has been married to a soldier who died on a mission in Afghanistan. As for me, she lost her reason to live somehow in the middle of her pain, but as she showed up in my life to make me see life is beautiful and worth it, someone also appeared to show her that pain and death don’t have to hold hands. “God puts the right people in your life at the right time,” she said to me once. And Julia was right. When I thought my life was over, after all that loss and pain in it, God gave me Julia, and she showed me that I could love again and be loved and that pain is just a phase of life to show us that we are alive and that we cannot take things for granted.
Today it’s Thanksgiving, my first Thanksgiving with Julia and our daughters. The girls are having fun in the living room with their dolls while Julia and I are in the kitchen, preparing the meal for tonight. Her parents are coming to meet my daughter and me, I must tell you how nervous I am, but I am sure they will like us because their daughter is happy with us. That’s what my mum always said to me: “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.” I know Julia’s parents think alike.
“Can you check the turkey, honey?” I said to her.
“I already did. Relax, everything is perfect, and my parents will love you both as I do.” She replies, leaving a kiss on my forehead. “Please, don’t be nervous.”
“I’ll try,” I said, checking again if everything was at the right temperature and well cooked. At this moment, the bell rings.
“That’s them,” Julia says, smiling. “I’ll get the door; can you bring the turkey to the table, sweetie?”
“Sure,” I reply.
Two minutes later, we’re all together, eating that perfect meal, smiling and telling stories about our lives, when Julia decides to call everyone’s attention for a toast.
“I’d like to toast to the most beautiful human being I found in my life after Martin.” She says, looking me in the eyes. “We both suffered in this life, but we found each other to heal that pain. When I lost Martin, I thought I would never love anyone else, but then I met Sarah and her daughter, and they gave love another meaning. They accepted my daughter and me as I accepted them, and I never thought I could be so happy like I am right now.” She continues.
“Thank you, Sarah, for making our girls so happy.” Her mom says to me, holding her father’s hand. Her father holds his heart, and we all thought he was going emotional, but when we see, he’s already lying on the floor, in pain. Her mom screams, I call 911, they arrive fifteen minutes later, and her father is hospitalized with a heart attack.
At this moment, all my pain gets back to my memory; I am at the same hospital where my dad has died. But I can’t let that pain and memories take over me because Julia and her mother need me now. So, I am praying to God that Julia’s father gets well, but unfortunately, my prayers aren’t enough, and he dies.
Julia is devastated, and her mother too. As for me, I need to be the rock of this family, and now it’s my turn to repay everything Julia’s done for me and to heal her and her mother too so that they can smile and live again because that’s the way life is, it can end in the blink of an eye. Still, it’s up to us to decide whether to let ourselves fall into darkness or move on.