(These next bits are not for the faint of heart. They are not easy to write about. They are intensely personal. Please forgive me if I do not respond to any comments. I will not elaborate on any more than what is written. Thank you for understanding.)
You never really know someone until you live under the same roof.
March 1985. Five years after he died. I discovered I was pregnant. Somehow I knew the child would be a boy I would name Robert in memory of him. I wished he would have blue eyes and blond hair, secretly thinking it would never happen because we have brown eyes and brown hair. But a girl can dream, right?
May 1985. I graduated from college. I quickly packed up my life, moved to Dover, Delaware into a tiny trailer with the man I married the previous year, only visiting him on weekends up until this point.
The verbal sword matches began immediately. Oh I’m great with a sword of sarcasm, accusation, nagging. He was skilled in telling me how stupid, awful, useless I was.
June 1985. The trailer was too tiny. We found a small house to rent on the other side of town.
He played in a dart league on the USAF base. We’d go. I’d watch. He’d get drunk. I’d drive home. Repeat.
Accept this one time while I was driving us home, he didn’t like my skills. He took it upon himself to bend over, push the gas peddle to the floor as I screamed for him to stop, somehow keeping that car from careening off the road or into other cars. This is when the real terror began. I was 4 months pregnant?
November 1985. 8 months pregnant. A card game with the neighbors ends. He’s drunk. Really drunk. I’m not throwing the right cards. Suddenly, he goes berserk. Starts screaming at me. I scream back. Next thing I know he picks me up off the floor, throws me into the wall, and I crash to the floor (he is 6 ft 2, 210lbs. I am 5 ft 0, 8 months pregnant).
Terrified, I run to the back of the house. Why I didn’t run for the front door I’ll never know. It didn’t take long for him to find me in the dark back room, to rape me, to pull me up off the floor and violently shove me out the front door.
Crying hysterically, I climbed into our only car. I told myself I couldn’t leave. How would he get to work the next day? He would get into so much trouble if he didn’t show up for work. I replayed the scene over and over. It must have been my fault. I was too demanding, too nagging, too unsupportive. I hoped my child wasn’t dead. He didn’t move for a very long time, obviously stunned into a fearful stillness of his own.
I went back into the house after spending the night in that car. He acted like nothing ever happened, no remorse, no apology, only silence as he dressed in his uniform, went out the front door.
December 1985. The boy I wished for was born on Christmas Eve. He had blond peach fuzzy hair, blue eyes, a gift from the God I was refused to believe existed, who never left me even in my anger, protected me, my unborn child because of His goodness, mercy, and grace for a lost soul.
To be continued…