Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I knew that it would happen someday. I simply wasn't expecting it so soon.
An envelope--nondescript, labeled only with my name and address and the return address of our state's child welfare folks--was scrunched into a corner of my mailbox. I almost didn't open it right away; as it turns out, DCFS sends out more spam than classmates.com ... only this kind comes in paper form. I have become so accustomed to receiving mail from them that it barely registers on my radar. Since it was a slow mail day, I tore into the envelope and peered inside.
A sheaf of papers, clasped together by a single, straining paperclip stared back at me.
CONFIDENTIAL HEALTH INFORMATION
What is this? I mused, pulling the papers free.
They were exactly what they claimed to be. Oliver's health background: starting at birth, and continuing well past his placement here with us.
There was a rushing in my ears and a slightly acrid taste in my mouth. Put them back! my heart screamed. This was a surprise I wasn't prepared for. In truth, I see now that I really didn't want to know the particulars of what and when and how. Better to dream about the boogeyman under the bed than to grab the flashlight with sweaty palms and lean down, down, down to where he just might be.
I read the papers, heart in my throat and and a hot flush on my chest that made me open the window on a 55 degree day. It was what I had known. What I had feared. What I never wanted to see in irrefutable black and white.
This is the kind of hurt that makes your husband slam kitchen cabinets so hard that the glasses rattle. The kind of hurt that makes you vomit just from the sheer horror that your body must ---somehow--physically reject. The kind of hurt that makes you compose long, drawn out diatribes to judges in your mind. The kind of hurt that makes you hold a once-broken little body and never, ever want to let go.
I've been to see a doctor now, and the mysteries of the records have been unfurled before me like so many bad dreams played out in made-for-tv movies. Medical alphabet soup, I have discovered hides some very ugly truths. And perhaps that's how it ought to be; what kind of a person could stand the heartache of writing about the horrific specifics of abuse in real words?
I thought that nothing could make Oliver more precious to me. I thought that nothing could make him seem like more of a gift.
I was wrong.