CHAPTER SIX – 1996
The happiest days of our life… and your favorite apartment~
You were three years old with chubby cheeks and little hands. We used to call you mitts. Your uncle Tony gave you that nick name. He and your father called you mitts because you could grip a beer bottle and a basketball with one hand. I used to call you my little cookie monster hands. I think you knew all along what was happening. I think you could feel me. I know you felt me. I look at the picture of you on your third birthday and it’s the first time I don’t see you smiling. So many years later when you were around six years old you asked me about the man with the kids, “Mama, what happened to them… what about the little girls?” I pretended like you were crazy. I didn’t want to acknowledge that question. I wanted to erase that moment from your life. I wanted to give you your third birthday back. That year was completely robbed from you… it was robbed from me. I punished myself so much for not being there for you. I hated myself for making the worst mistake of our lives.
When you asked me about Terrance… I wanted to die. I couldn’t believe how much of the details you still remembered from way back then. You told me, “Mama, I didn’t like that guy. One day when you were at work and he was watching us. He made me eat tuna fish right out of the can. He wouldn’t let me get up from the table until I was done.”
I had no idea how he treated you when I wasn’t around. Whenever you and talked about 1995 I always ask you the same thing, “Baby, did he ever put his hands on you?” you always tell me no. I have carried that moment your entire life. I would spend everyday after that moment trying to make it up to you. I desperately wanted you to forgive me. I wanted to fix it… erase it. But that moment did happen and I can’t run from it.
You’ve been served
February 14, 1996
Our life was finally looking up. We were happy. It didn’t happen immediately… but eventually I told Joseph about all that I had been through with Terrance and the divorce. Why I wasn’t around as much. He just listened. This other mother fucker was still hanging around. I told Joseph about the restraining order that I just filed. He asked me how he could help. I told him that I wanted him to be served in Boston at his job. The hard part was that the paperwork would have to be handled in Massachusetts. The great thing is that Joseph was from Boston so he took care of it for me. He paid the fees and took care of it. I was so grateful. He even helped with the move. You and I were starting over. We had a fresh start. But there was one more thing I needed to do. I planned it perfectly. I booked a 10 day trip to Margarita Island for the day that I knew Terrance was going to be served. I figured if he came looking for me I would be out of town.
Joseph picked me up at 3:00am and drove me to Logan Airport. Of course, I almost missed my flight. Once we were there he asked me if I wanted him to check on our house. I left him the keys and asked him to water my plants and I was off. I needed to get away (more like runaway). I left you with abuelo, abuela and your dad. They would take care of you while I was gone. I knew you were safe. Once I arrived to Venezuela I was a mess. For the first five days I was homesick… I missed you so much. I had never been apart from you for that long. I found a picture of me holding you in that apartment. You were still 3 years old. I had just returned from Santa Marta, those 10 days must have felt like years for you. I didn’t think for a moment how my leaving town so suddenly would have affected you. I didn’t stop for a second to wonder how you would feel. So when I look at you at that photo I see so much happiness you were filled with joy. Mama’s home… your smile was wide, eyes bright. You didn’t want to leave my side. We were inseparable from that moment on. So I’m left feeling like shit – thinking about how beautiful and innocent you were. How happy you were to have me home. But I wonder how scared you must have felt. Did you wonder if I abandoned you? Did you fear that I’d never come back? Has that moment marked you?
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