bruised angels

August 18, 2009

my favorite aunt was a victim of domestic violence.
bruised, battered and beaten
both physically and emotionally.

she woke up every morning in pain
and went to bed hurt.
in between ironing his shirts, brewing his coffee
and preparing his food.

she had two daughters and a son from her first marriage.
and with him, she had two more daughters.
witnesses to her sorrow-
they tried to protect her.
but they were too young to block the punches.
too young to break down the door.

his anger taught her son how to be a man.
her silence taught her daughters how to be women.

as an uncle he was among the favorites.
with us he was different –always kind and generous.
he would treat us to eat after church services,
take us to the park on sundays.

we knew who he was inside and outside of the apartment.
and most of us wondered what was going on with him.
what made him so angry? why would he want to hurt our aunt?

we would whisper behind closed doors-
listened to adults say he was “possessed by demons.”
i felt anger towards him.
despised his dual personality.
and wondered why the adults never stopped him.
they said, “those are marriage issues they must work on.”
“we just have to pray that God intervenes.”
these were just excuses…
the stuff i thought was bullshit.

but Titi and my cousins,
they lived it every day.
and only they can actually
express the truth.

we all carry the weight of our past
and some of our experiences we hope to bury along the way.
today, he is still an ex-husband, a stepfather and a father.
time has taken a toll on him.

what i admire most
is this family’s forgiveness.
they survived–
it has made them individually and collectively stronger.

they didn’t have to bury their past to lift the weight.
they simply acknowledge it as “part of life.”
they overcame adversity… and it seems as though God’s finest pencil
etched wings on each of them…

…and today, they are living angels among us.

**dedicated to the then residents of 105th street… i love you all dearly!**

~Sarahi Yajaira, 2009

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