The tile plastic tile felt cold and unwelcoming against my small, dirty feet. I hung my tiny body from her legs and stayed silent. I knew from experience that for my mother, the best thing to do was wait until she was ready to speak. It felt like hours before she finally looked down at me, a sad smile on her face. Her tears made paths from her eyes, over her cheekbones and rolled down under her chin. My eyes made their way up her face and was greeted with the horror of a bloody, ugly, swollen, gash above her eyebrow that was slowly trickling blood. I remember crying. Crying large, hot tears that left salt trails behind. My young self felt my mother’s pain like a shot to the chest. I was smart enough to realize, this was no softball injury. This wasn’t some accident our family could look past like it was a small debacle. That night, the girls slept in one room and the boys in the other. Separate but in equal amounts of pain.
A few months later, we sat outside a courtroom, holding our Aunt’s bony hand. Our Aunt kept saying over and over, “Nothing’s going to change, everything’s going to be fine.” The judge’s gavel rattled our lives forever that day. My father walked away with once a week visits and he left my mother with too many emotional scars to recover