In eighty-two when I was puckered pink and pushing free into the world, 53 others were leaving. While my mother and father cried tears of amazement and joy and cradled my face in their palms, the mothers and fathers in France placed their hands together in prayer and grieved the abrupt departure of their children killed on a bus.
A year later as my lumbering legs were strengthening and my curiosity carried me, I walked from splendor to splendor testing my new-found freedom in the form of one awkward foot in front of the other. I walked towards the opened arms of my parents and for the first time in years, an American hostage was able to exercise his right to walk to arms of safety after being held hostage in Lebanon.
At three, my fragile heart crumbled and split as my father went one way, and my mother, the other. A dam in Fiemme Valley, Italy burst and killed 2-300. An anger unleashed in me with the unstoppable force of strong waters.
1986 my heart was recovering and legs steadying once again. I waltz into Kindergarten at 4, wearing pink biker shorts, shirts with oversized buttons, and began my school career of good grades and red marks for loose lips.
In 1991 when the world was aghast at the confession of Jeffrey Dahmer, I was molested by my step-brother. For so many, the world would never be the same.
At 11, the second hand was added to the clock, making time that much slower as my step-dad began visiting my room in the night.
At 12 there was a worldwide day for peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina as the monster in my own home quit making advances for a little while. I told, he was on good behavior and misdiagnosed with an unsubstantiated sleep disorder. There was hope for peace, for a future, for forgiveness and restitution, but the conflict lay like unsteady fault lines ready to collapse. There would be more suffering.
The year 2000 was liberation day for my 17-year-old existence. Mono stricken, I grabbed my diploma and ran. Lebanon was experiencing an emancipation of its own. Israel withdrew its army after 22 years of its first invasion.
Two years later, at 19, Alicia keys won a Grammy for her song "Walk On." This was the time I had to leave college to stand trial against the man whose hands were to protect me. The anxiety, panic attacks, and terror overtook me. I was a tomb for several years. The justice I sought and was granted, did little to make me feel better.
2003 I was gifted a small boy. Bone and breath, he was mine. Almost losing him at 5 months gestation, I prayed for a miracle, and got it in the form of my full-term, firstborn. This same year Dr. David Page announced the completed sequence for the Y-chromosome, and better understood the essence of a man. DNA is an abstract magic to my mind, but the magic of a boy-child was unfolding before me. As I understood his essence, I began to heal of old scars.
The same year the U.S. celebrated its first African-American President, I married a man with stars in his eyes. He was hopeful, gentle, compassionate, and hated injustice. The earth went around the sun for 8 years as Justin and I held hands, pushing through the darkness of the world, of our own hearts. Birthing 4 more children, we were all trying to make our world a better place.
Suicide attacks, car bombs, famine, protests, chemical weapons, displaced migrants, refugees, calming our 5 children's worries of this scary world they are inheriting. Fear creeping in, hope becoming stronger. I've survived. I've persisted. I'm qualified by my scars to teach my children to be relentless in love and reconciliation. In a time of self-centeredness, I find gratitude lining my wounds. I can teach my children to stand up for the hurting, the desolate, the homeless, hopeless, the abused. I was a little of all of them stitched together forming the ragged and beautiful skin that makes my bones groan for justice and my voice so very strong. My kids will have a voice, and they will use it.