Last weekend, my family and I escaped to Williamsburg, Virginia, for a dreaded family reunion. (The five-hour long drive did not help.) After finally arriving after a shocking eight hours due to heavy traffic, I deeply inhaled on a Marlboro Light to ease my tension and anxiety from sitting in a car with my parents, listening to my step-father mutter four-letter words under his breath.
After unpacking and attempting to still settle my nerves, I was called to the lobby to venture out to the main historical strip for a quick dinner with my family in tow, including my step-grandfather who had yet to speak a single word to me (it wouldn’t be until the third day there until we spoke briefly). We arrived at the meek diner serving cold food when all I wanted to do was head back to my room to rest or interact with my nieces and nephew.
Let’s fast forward through the days spent viewing the historical sites to which my nine year-old niece deemed “boring.” Saturday evening was to be the real reunion dinner at a local spot near the hotel. For some background, my grandparents love the show Seinfeld and decided to have our own version of a “Festivus.” For said “Festivus,” each family was instructed to bring a family photo to be placed on a piece of cardboard to be displayed at the dinner. My grandparents also took some of their own photos from over the years to place up, as well. This is where I come to my true story.
As I glanced over the board and examined closely pictures from my childhood, teen years, and images of my grandmother as a young adult, I came across a poem I had written when I was 13 (I was big into poetry and writing in general in my teen years). After not remembering the poem, I quietly stood there to read it over and ended with a gasp and horrified look on my face. The poem reads:
A Fierce Fire
I could hear the screaming bacon,
As it started to sizzle.
It was my mother.
Come down stairs, girls.
I quickly got tense
For I knew it was time
For the family meeting.
It was coming.
My tears poured down my face,
Like a warm waterfall.
I couldn’t stand the noise!
I tried to remember the good times,
But like a fierce fire,
The bad ones burned them away.
I try not to cry
When they tell me the truth,
But I know that whatever happens,
My life will change.
As you may have guessed, this poem was about my parent’s divorce when I was five. It was completely fabricated, as I don’t recall them telling us about the divorce, but I was a creative soul at the ripe age of 13.
As if in an instant, the memories started flooding my brain of what I actually remember from the divorce and how it did actually affect me. The poem served as a reminder of how tormented and depressed I was as a teen, and yet no one noticed these symptoms until years later. It was my cry for help that went unanswered. Clearly my grandmother didn’t have the time to sit and read the poem, as I would assume if she had, she wouldn’t have included it, but you never know with her.
Seconds after finishing the poem, the depression came back “like a fierce fire” and I suddenly realized that I would have to sit in this restaurant filled with people I barely knew that had probably read it in shock for another three hours. It essentially ruined my night. I know it may seem silly to let something as trivial as a 13 year-old’s poem of sadness get to me, but I couldn’t help what I was feeling inside.
It still sits with me, almost a week later, about how my parents chose to ignore my cries for help, and continued to do so for most of my life. It brought back horrible memories of panic attacks and serious bouts of depression that were deemed me simply being upset. How could no one tell?
Eventually I will forget how this poem made me feel and I will go on with my life, but the question will always remain, “why didn’t anyone ever think to do anything?”