Dear Father …

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Dear Father:

My name is Mary-Ellen Bucko … You might remember me … but, You probably won’t … You never knew me by that name … you never called me by that name …

It’s not my Family Name ….

Do you remember my Family ? …  they remember you …

You were my Family’s friend … My Mother’s Confidante … A friend to the Family …  and I was your favorite …  your favorite, and your familiar … and ultimately, your forgotten…

I tried to Forget you …

They told me to forget you, Father … they told me to not look back …  but I never was a very good daughter … I was defiant … I never could Forget you … God knows I tried …

So, here I am … writing to you …

You and I have a lot to talk about …

It’s been a long time … A lot has happened to me… it’s been a journey, these last twenty years … it’s been an adventure … I’ve gotten older … my face has gotten older … not my eyes … my eyes are the same … I still have the same large, innocent, childish brown eyes … Just like you remember …

Twenty years has gone by … the last time I saw you, I was nineteen years old … you must have been in your late sixties … I remember it like it was yesterday …

I can still see you …

… I remember everything … every detail of that day …  twenty years later, I still remember… Most memories would be a little clouded by now … Not mine …

I remember it was cold that day … January in New England… you said Mass for a funeral … I never expected to see you again …  there we were,  my Family …. crammed into that wooden pew  … in that freezing cold church … Crammed together for Heat and Comfort and hopefully a Healing …

I looked up at the pulpit and there you were … Dressed up in your funeral whites …

… I wasn’t supposed to look … They told me not to …

My Mother told me not to… she told me not to look … before the wake… long before the funeral… she told me not to look at you … and I would be fine … it would be easier …  all I had to do was not to look … I shouldn’t spoil the day for everyone else … all I had to do was look away and shut you out… and you wouldn’t be there…

… But  I never was a very good daughter … I was defiant … I turned around and there you were … I saw you …

… I remember You looked the same… almost exactly the same as the last time I saw you… fine white hair … pink round face of freckles… broad stomach … stooped shoulders … wild animated hands …

… You hadn’t changed at all …

You looked the same … Almost exactly the same … as the first time I saw you …

… When was the first time I saw you, Father ? … In Bellingham ?  … that’s right … it was Bellingham …  Bellingham, Massachusetts … there was a family party … dozens of cousins scattered everywhere … I was six years old … I looked up and saw you … you were talking to my Mother …

… I remember the way she looked at you … they way your eyes locked in on her … she was glowing ,… when she spoke to you, it was like she was the only person in the room …

… And the party ended … Real life set in  … I went back to school the next day… you went back from wherever you came from …

… Suddenly we were moving … I remember … I wasn’t happy about it … no one asked me if I wanted to move … We had to move, said my mother … we need to be close to your Grandmother … she’s sick … she needs me …  so there we were … there we were in a new house with a bedroom of my own … right next to my parents … I remember it felt cold in that house … very cold … I could never seem to get warm…

… Suddenly it was fall and I was in a new school … my sisters adjusted very well … I was wedged in a second grade class with a new teacher … a teacher who told the entire class on the second day of school that I was Mentally Retarded … I remember … I wasn’t happy about it …

… Then my Grandmother died …

… I remember how you helped my Mother … helped my Family … talked to her … sang to her … held her up when she couldn’t hold herself … you were so attentive and generous and kind … and loyal … amazingly loyal  … always by my Family’s side … always supportive … always there … you stopped by every day …

… I remember the pride you gave my parents … the presence … it was a privilege for you to come over … and you visited us so often … they must have loved you …  they trusted you … trusted you with their Family …. trusted you so well they let you come over whenever you wanted … they even gave you a key to the house … Now you could come and go as you pleased …

… I was in third grade by then … Nine years old … I was usually the first one home … the house was still cold … I could never get warm … it wasn’t unusual for me to shiver … it wasn’t unusual for me to come home and find you there … I never had to look for you … You were always There …

… I was always the first one home to find you … and I found you …

… In the Kitchen…

… In the Living Room …

… In the Bathroom …

… In the Bedroom …

… In my Parent’s Bedroom …

… In the Bed …

… My room was next to theirs … I could see you when I came home … stretched out on the bed … I could hear you calling to me … there was no way to escape it … You were right there … I could hear you …. Calling to me … come in for a minute, won’t you ? … come in here with me … Hello, sweetheart … Hello, my baby … my sweet baby … tell me about your day …

You must be tired… a long day at school … you walk all the way home … you must be very tired … do you want to take a nap ?… do you want to lie down a minute ? … would it help you feel better ? … would you like to lie next to me ? … would you like to come closer ?

… It feels so good … holding you … holding you next to me … you feel so good… don’t you love me ? … How much do you love me ?… To the moon and back? … To the stars and back ? … Oh, you feel so good… Do you want to be closer ? … Don’t you like lying next to me ? … Would you lie down on top of me?

… You’re mine, aren’t you ? … you’re my girl … my beautiful girl … my favorite girl … so small and sweet … oh I love you … I love you so much … I love you Forever … I love you best … Forever and Ever … You’ll always be my girl …. You will always be mine …

… Suddenly I was your girl …. Suddenly I belonged to you … Suddenly I was Yours …

… Suddenly I was in Fourth grade … Suddenly I was in Fifth Grade … Suddenly I was in Sixth …

… Suddenly you were part of my Family … A Celebration … You celebrated my Family … I remember you at the Table … Always at the table … I remember the gifts you brought us … the extravagant, expensive presents … all the plates of rich food … the flowers … the jewelry … I remember my mother’s face … I remember my father’s silence…

… You were always at the house … and I always found you …

… In the Kitchen…

… In the Bathroom

… In the Bedroom …

… In my Bedroom …

… You came over whenever you wanted … you had a key … you came and went as you pleased … I saw you every week … sometimes five times a week … when no one else was around …

… I was in Sixth Grade, by then … Twelve years old … I knew I was ugly … I knew I was stupid … and I knew I was Yours … I knew I was twelve years old … and I knew what to do …

… I was trained by then, Father … you had trained me well …

… I knew to hold still for you  …  I knew not make a sound … I knew what to say to you and what to touch …  what to take in my mouth … I knew every where to kiss you … I knew to submit and I learned how to obey …

… I knew what you did to me was Secret … I knew what you did to me was sloppy … and slimy … and Secret … Forever Secret … I knew it was uncomfortable … and strange … and sometimes it hurt … and I knew it made you very, very happy …

… The happier you were, the more you gave my Family …

… And  I knew not to tell … I knew not to tell anyone … There was no one to tell …

… You bound me, Father … You binded me to you …  bound me fast … you held me in check … you controlled my every move … you Mastered me … Maligned me with threats and slaps and a constant underlying sinister twist …

What do you mean, No ?!? … Why would you say no to me?? … I’m not hurting you, am I ?? … How dare you say no to me !! … I’m you’re only friend … no one else cares about you … You don’t even have any friends !! … You’re too ugly for friends … I’m the only one who thinks you’re beautiful !! … Do you see the way your parents look at you ?? … You embarrass them !! … You even embarrass your sisters !! … No one wants to be near you !! … I’m the only friend you’ve got !! …  You do what I say, or I’ll tell on you !! … I’ll tell your Parents !! … Maybe I should tell your Parents you were mean to me … what do you think your Father would do to you … he’d beat you so bad you couldn’t walk anymore !! … What would your Mother do ?? … She won’t help you … She doesn’t even like you !! … But I like you … I do … I really love you …What are we doing that’s so wrong ? … I’m just showing you how to love me, that’s all !! … Don’t you want to know how to love me ?? … I’m just helping you !! … Please, Baby … Don’t be mean to me anymore … Please… don’t be mean … you don’t know what would happen to you, then … Please don’t say no to me … You’ll be left all alone … No one will want you … Don’t say no to me … I love you …. and I’m the only friend you’ve got …

…  So, I said nothing, Father … I did nothing … I said nothing to no one … for years … and you grew even closer to my Family … I watched you wheedle them … you plied them … you plied my family open with gifts … and pried me open with words …

… I remember everything, Father … every encounter I had with you… every single moment …

… I remember every kiss … every grunt … every crevice where you slished your tongue … I remember the rough fumbling underneath, and your sublime delight when the hair began to grow …

… I remember the probing, and the prodding … I remember the pain, the frozen protest and every slick digit you slipped inside me …

… I remember the kneeling before you … your hands in my hair … I remember choking …

… I remember your voice … telling me to Come … always telling me to come … I never knew where to come … I was already there …

… I remember you told me to Look … Look at it … I want you to look … Look at me … Look at Me … Touch Me …

… I remember Lying … I lied to you, Father …

… I never really looked … I never looked at you … I never really saw you … I didn’t want to see … I kept my eyes shut tight … I never saw … even when you moaned for me … even when you begged me to … I never looked …

… Even when I held It in my hands … Even when It grazed my cheek … I never looked … I never looked, Father … even when I swallowed It …

… And so it went Father … Our secret … a secret I kept for years … ten years … a relationship I hid and repressed and denied … just like you wanted …

… Until I was sixteen … I told the truth for the first time, when I was sixteen … I finally told my parents …

… I sat my parents down and I told them … I told them of our secret meetings … all the groping … and the grunting … everywhere your fingers and tongue had touched me  … I told them everything…

… But … I never was a very good daughter … I finally defied you … I told my parents …

… I remember the Silence that followed …

… I left the house … my mother went to talk to you … I don’t know where my father went … When I got home, my mother sat me down to talk to me …

All right … He’s gone … It’s over … you’ll never have to see him again …

And we will never talk about this again …

Your father and I talked about this … we won’t get you therapy … you don’t need therapy … No one has to know about this … you don’t need a counselor … you’re a strong girl, and you can get through this on your own … All you have to do is pretend it didn’t happen … We will never mention this again … The Family will not discuss it … We don’t tell Family Secrets …  You will never talk about it again… to anyone … ever …

… I remember the Silence that followed …

I remembered all the things you taught me, Father … Never to Tell … Keep quiet … we were a Secret … no one was supposed to know  … My Mother told me so … Not to tell … it was a Secret … you had me trained well, Father … I knew not to tell …

Even my Mother told me not to Tell …

And I submitted …  Once again, I submitted …  To a Secret … I obeyed … I never told anyone about you, Father … Not my friends … not my Family …  I never sought counseling and I never got Help …

I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about you …

So I didn’t … I didn’t tell anyone … I never told a soul …

I didn’t tell anyone when I lost my virginity a year later … and I learned that all men are not created equal … you barely scratched the surface, Father … this man truly hurt me … I bled for three days … But I bled in silence … I never told a soul ….

I didn’t tell anyone when I went to college … when I had my first beer …. My first shot of alcohol … my first exposure to drugs … I didn’t tell anyone how much I took … and it felt good … and I was finally safe … sheltered … shadowed under layers of drugs and booze and friends more than happy to help me wash it way …

I didn’t tell anyone about all the men … many men … dozens of helpful men more than happy to use and soothe me and then leave … at least they were happy … why shouldn’t they be happy … I already knew what to do …

… I didn’t tell anyone about the shame I covered … or collected … with every year the Secret grew darker … I didn’t tell anyone about the too many pills … the gashes to my wrists … the scars on my face …

… I thought it was helping … all the Hiding …. All the booze … all the men … all the scars … I would have done anything … Anything to be numb… anything to quiet the smallest part inside of  me … anything to wash the pain away …

I didn’t tell anyone about my own self-loathing … the anguish and the agony I successfully repressed … the frantic, unconscious life I was living … Living a blank life … Living angry … Living with a wound that grew deeper with every passing year…

Until I saw you again … on that cold hopeless day in January … I couldn’t help but see you … you were standing in front of me …

… I looked at you behind the pulpit and I could not look away … it was same face I saw in my dreams … same stature… almost exactly the same hands…

Want to know what I remember the most? … How unconcerned you looked … Detached … You almost looked Casual … Unaffected …  as if No Time had gone by … you looked as if Nothing was Wrong … You looked pious and perfect and altogether serene …

… Everything turned over inside me …

Watery blue eyes glazed over my face… you stared directly at me and didn’t look away … your eyes fixed and held me… your gaze pinned me to the wall … I could not look away …

My limbs froze and my heart stopped and I suddenly I was shivering … the smallest part of me began to scream …

And I did nothing… I said nothing … I was a good girl, that day … I watched you comfort my Grandfather and my great aunts and then it was over … we were at the cemetery …

My mother there … My mother was prattling and chattering … take a flower, she told me … take a flower home with you … you should have a memory to press …

I chose daisies … simple childish daisies … pulled a cluster from the basket and I turned to leave …

And suddenly you were there … standing right in front of me …

Your face was three inches in front of me … you were so close I could smell your breath … that familiar breath … the words that reeked of secrets and sardines and shame …

You looked me in the eye … and you told me Thank You …

I went back home to that cold house and vomited for an hour…

That was twenty years ago … and here we are,  Father … I’m older now … I’m trying to be an adult … but I’m still very much a young woman … I’m almost as old as you were… the first time you put your hands on me …

I’m looking back over a hard year, Father … a year where I fell forward over and over again … scraped and scratched and clawed and sobbed … and survived… I’m limping away from this year … I don’t have a choice …

My family is still in Massachusetts … But I don’t speak to them … They do not speak to me … I never was a very good daughter … I was defiant … we don’t talk anymore …

… I didn’t talk to anyone …

… Until today…

Today I’m talking … today I’m talking to you … today I’m talking to everyone …

I look back over twenty years of secrets and stolen moments … and I look back at twenty years of Hiding … More than twenty years of collected Shame…

… And something inside me broke open … something inside me spoke … suddenly spoke … took me twenty years to speak … The smallest part of me finally found her voice … and she said: Enough … That’s enough … No more … Not again …

… Twenty years is too long to be ashamed … twenty years is too long not to have a sense of self … twenty years is too long to keep a secret …

… I cannot be ashamed anymore …

I’m doing the Unforgivable, Father … I’m doing the Obscene  … I’m talking about you … I am telling this story … My secret … Our Secret …  and I’m telling it Publically …  In company … I am talking about you … I’m defying you … I’m acting like you, Father … I’m being completely selfish …  I’m shining a light into the Horror and pulling it out of my head …

… This is the story no one wants me to tell … I don’t know how my Family will react … I never was a very good daughter … I was defiant … I am defiant …

… Father … I would rather be a Bad Daughter than a Victim …

I’m putting you down, Father … I am letting you go, and I am walking away … I cannot be your little girl any longer … I cannot be your favorite anymore … and I won’t be quiet any longer …

This is the only way I will Heal…

I’m talking about you, Father … Publically … Privately …  and I am getting help … I am finally getting the help I need … The support groups … the counseling … Salvation … I should have done this years ago …  you’d be amazed at how many little girls are like me … little girls subjected to trauma and then Silence … how many numbed childhoods … there are hundreds, maybe thousands of us … all of us told to keep quiet … keep it private … don’t tell a soul…

I won’t be quiet anymore, Father … I won’t keep this secret a day longer …

I’m taking you Public … I’m taking you Personal … and I’m taking my Pride back …

I can’t live in your shadow any longer … I can’t … For twenty years I lived within the shade you cast over the longest part of my life … for twenty years I lived in your shadow … and in that shadow is every one I have ever loved …

You’re dead to me, Father … you’re dead to everyone … because you died … you died years ago … you died the year after I was married … maybe you were right … It did kill you to see me with someone else …

I will never see you punished … I’ll never hear your apology… I’ll never hear your excuses …  and I will never know how many other you laid hands on … I will never know how many Lives you Malingned …

The silence I kept protected my Family’s pride … My silence protected their name … protected their worth …

My silence protected a Monster.

My silence protected you, Father … it protected a Molester of Children … A pedophile … I protected The Devil’s Own … I protected a Savage … Someone who robbed me of innocence and dignity and bought my self worth with Slavery …  I kept our secret and I lived with the shame …. I am as guilty as you are, Father … My silence protected you …  and now I live with the knowledge …

I am left only with a Knowledge … and a Wonderment … I am left wondering … How Many Others Were There …  you could never have been satisfied with only me … How many other children I could have saved … How many Lives could have been spared …. ?

I’m not just writing this letter to heal myself, Father … I am writing this for Them …

Because I’m sure, quite sure …. Very, very sure …. One of Them will read this … they must remember you … they must know you … there must be Someone who remembers Father Leo Riley … Someone who kept a similar secret … someone who was shamed into silence …

I want them to know they weren’t alone … never were alone … never will be alone … they only need to find their voice … they only need to push through the shame and find the courage to speak … tell the truth … talk about it … and they will find they will never be alone again … talking about it is the only way we can be Whole … I know … I’m sure of it …

And I am sure… quite sure … absolutely sure … one day, I will see you again … I’m sure you’re in Heaven … I’m sure you found a way … Last Rites work wonders … you’re too slippery not to find a way … God only know what you promised … I’m sure you made your deathbed confession … found your absolution … and you found the way home …

… I promise … I will see you again… I’ll see your face again as I walk through the Gates … I will hear your voice …

… I hope I do, Father … I hope I do …  I hope I see you again …

You and I have a lot to talk about …

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Posted on December 1st 2012 in Reality