Abraham was finally disconnected from the machines early Friday morning (see note). and they took the organs they could use. His liver went to a fifty one year old man; one kidney went to a twenty four year old woman; and his other kidney and pancreas went to a woman, thirty eight, almost Abe’s age. There is a wonderfulness to those final gifts of Abraham’s that I am very happy about. Sunday was the services, which were to be followed by his cremation at some point.
So, he’s gone.
This morning I went to Stop & Shop. I came out and I could not find my car. I simply could not find it. It’s become an old bomb of a car so I knew it wasn’t stolen. It’s a perfect weather day here, so I didn’t mind walking around the parking lot – but it wasn’t there. I stopped walking and I pushed my brain. I finally remembered that I’d parked it in the lot of the shopping center next door. And then I cried.
Yesterday, I was trying to clarify something and I pulled out a big file with all my twenty seven years of Abraham stuff. In the file were notes from some of the years that Abe was in foster care. I don’t remember ever seeing them before or ever reading them before. So I read through them and they confirmed Abe’s bad behavior, his very bad behavior, before I got him….I learned that he weighed only three pounds and one ounce when he was born either two or three months (conflicting stories) premature….and then I re-learned the details of his history, most of which I had known. I read about his months in the incubator, and his first heart operation at four months and how he was put into foster care as a boarder baby (drugs in his system at birth) from there until he was returned to his birth mother at two and a half. Then nothing till the next reports when he went back into foster care at six. The mother reported that he was uncontrollable.
And then – and I know I’d never seen this before – I read this: “She admitted that she and the putative father attempted to force Abraham to remain in his bed throughout the night by tying him to his bed, then locking him in his bedroom. This did not work.”
I was horrified for Abe. But nothing got to me like what I read in the very next sentence. I was torn apart for my six year old son, whom I met six years later – another lifetime for him: “Abraham kept food for himself and also fed and befriended the mice.”
While he was tied up? While he was so completely powerless? Were the mice crawling on him? Were they even mice? Did he “befriend” them for real or just in his head in order to save his sanity? Were they on his face? Across his eyes? How do you stay sane when you cannot even use your hands to try to protect yourself? Who reported all this? How did it get in the notes?
I said a few posts back that even in death privacy has to be protected. It does. I said that it was a matter of respect. And it is. But the needs of the living always must trump the honor and the protection due to the dead.
Abraham – my much loved and now always to be missed Abraham – is dead.
I am writing about this – as deeply personal as it is for him – because we have to start getting it. There is no way to protect the kids from situations with parents like his unless we really go big brother and start licensing parents. There is nothing else we can do to stop it. If even that would stop it.
But it cannot be that there is nothing else to be done. It cannot be that such experiences doom people. I don’t accept it. I don’t believe it. It is not my experience of me: the experience of me that Aunt Rita and Msgr. Huntington gave me. When I was seventeen. Healing is a function of wholeness. And Abraham was whole.
I know something had to have happened to Abe’s thinking and beliefs about himself while locked in that room. How could it not? In the years after, our responses did not free him from what he took away after those nights. My son Irving (also dead) reporting to me on his own history of torture told me of a particular night and what happened to him. And he said to me, “Pop, I died that night.” He didn’t, but something in him, that we need to figure out, did.
Our responses – frankly, middle class – have not been sufficient.
Abraham is gone. But there are others still here. Still suffering. Still not knowing how to heal. Still not sure that they can heal.
That healing begins with our witness. Not our knowledge, not our information, not our theories.
It begins with our certainty: you are whole. But if we have not come to believe it of ourselves, then we don’t stand a shot of convincing anyone else.
Our healing – all healing – begins with our wholeness. For each and every one of us.
Abe is gone, but I’m not. And until I am, my stance is clear: we have failed our kids unless they leave us for their adulthood certain – absolutely certain – of their own wholeness.
Losing Abe is terribly painful, but despite knowing that I will never see him on this earth again, I remain the luckiest person I have ever met. I am, after all, his father.
Note: (I am exploring the reason for the three days delay from when the papers were signed.)