Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I sat down and wrote a letter

To Sandra Novack about her novel. I wanted to tell her how much the book touched me, and how in reading her story I felt a bit of a connection. After all I also have a childhood memory that is both strong and weak. I am not sure if what I remember really happened that way? Yet as the only witness to the accident, is what I remember how it really happened. I have these blocks, areas where I just remember little parts. Like my snow suit wet with something (was it water, pee or blood) I don't know. I remembered a lot of snow, really deep snow. Then one day it occured to me that I was only four, and deep snow to a four year old is annoying to an adult. Even a small one like myself.

Sandy wrote a blog post about memory, how her memory of the day her sister left the family is not quite right. That she remembers it well, but not quite right. I had to write her myself and talk about my memory.

This is what I wrote --

I read the post about your sister leaving home. It reminded me of my own child hood "memory" of the day my 2 year old brother got hit by a mail truck. I was the only witness and at the age of 4 had to tell the police what happened. I wish 48 years later I was able to look at the police report. Because my memories or the day are sparse. My grandmother & aunt (my mother's family) has always blamed me for the accident. I have no idea what happened that day. By the time I was old enough to request the accident report from the police it had already been destroyed. I hope some day your sister finds you. Just as I hope some day to get the answers I seek.

And today she wrote back

Dear Jan,

First: I'm very sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to be so young and to have such a traumatic thing happen. And it's certainly understandable how sketchy memory can be in the wake of difficult events. I hope you don't blame yourself. Accidents can and do happen, and they're no one's fault.

And thank you for your kind words about my sister. I actually thought to write to her at her old work address when I was in my early twenties--about 15 years ago. To my surprise, she still worked at the same place she did when she left home. She won't speak at all to my parents or other siblings, but she did write a few letters to me, explaining. I guess she did that because I was so very young when she left, and in that regard, 'guiltless' to her mind. But then she stopped writing. Last I heard she was going through a divorce and was moving. I don't know what state she's living in now.

So: Closure is a dubious thing, even when you get it...those holes are still all there. :) I guess the best we can sometimes hope for is to be at peace with things, enough anyway.

I wish you all very best.


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