I had just turned two. My older brother, Paul, was scheduled for out patient surgery on his eyes-fifteen minutes, maybe. Then he would start kindergarten. We brought a little kitten into the waiting room, and we took our seats. All four of us, my Mommy, my Daddy, and my baby brother. I held the kitten. Whenever my thumb got close to my mouth, my father cuffed me. “Too dirty,” he growled. Time passed. fifteen minutes, twenty, an hour, two. Nobody came out. Finally the nurse who was my mother’s friend peered in, she had been crying. “He died,” she sobbed. My parents both cried. I had never seen Daddy cry. They said nothing to me. I was good. I followed them out of the hospital. We left the kitten on the chair. They dropped me at a stranger’s house where I stayed for several weeks while they adjusted to the loss of my older brother.
I have never, in some ways, moved beyond this earliest memory, my abandonment. Seventy years later the headlines scream about our government tearing children from their parents. Some of these children are two, too. I feel their earliest memory.
These headlines, this summer have forced me to revisit this trauma. Nightmares have returned.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"