i don’t remember the time my sister got into my father’s chemicals that made her legs burn. i don’t remember falling into a door hinge and getting stitches. i don’t remember disney world, learning how to ride a bike, or if i ever saw my father hit my mother.
the earliest years of my life never happened…not to me. it’s as if i were born at the age of 7, a 50 pound baby, entering in to a world more painful than my own mother’s childbirth. if i had known then what i was bound to experience, i’m sure i would have stubbornly positioned myself feet first, or clawed my way back up the birth canal to my mother’s womb. i don’t remember being in her womb, of course, but i know it was safe. i yearn for safe places.
i do have one memory. i think i was five or six. our living room had a sliding glass door that looked out onto an extended carport, where i would often play with neighborhood friends. on this particular occasion, my father was there, gutting a fish he had recently caught. my father loved to hunt and fish. there was something about it that thrilled him. to this day i don’t understand killing for sport, but it was one of my father’s loves and loving did not seem to come easily for him.
i wonder what my father thought when he saw me, his first born child, with her wide eyed face pressed up against the glass. i wonder how much love he had in his heart for me then and how that love compared to his love of fishing.
i’m not sure what i was thinking in that moment or why i remember it. perhaps watching him carve in to that fish at such a young age was a traumatic thing for me. or maybe everything in my life points to that shared moment between my father and i — a relationship obstructed by a single plate of glass, close, but far away. whatever the reason is, it seems appropriate that my earliest memory is of him.
as i become an adult, i try to shed the memories left. still hardly a day goes by when i do not think of him or i do not struggle or learn or feel things because of him.
the beauty of my memory is the way God has used and is using and will use those things for good. to make new memories full of tenderness and tenacity and healing and love. there is no other God in any other religion who will so lavishly and freely promise such beautiful things.
so on nights like tonight i remember those promises and pray to trust He will complete His good work in me.