I can’t stay in that town very long without feeling nauseous from the oily, pervasive knowledge that he had walked those streets, stayed in those places, eaten at those restaurants. The last funeral wasn’t his, it was his wife’s, he died over sixteen years ago. I have avoided coming here when I am able, for casual way they talk about him, even the ones who knew what he did to me. This time, it raised questions along with the painful struggle to suppress the memories.
In the months following my revelation to my parents (nearly a year after the time he spent with us), my parents spoke with every female member of my dad’s family, children and adults alike, looking for other that my dad’s father had abused in the same way. We never found another; it was only me.
So, why me? Why was I singled out at seven years old to be the victim of his perversion?
I am grateful that I do not remember the majority of his stay with us well. The first two and a half days are crystal clear, but everything following come only in nightmares and during post-traumatic episodes that fade quickly once they are over, leaving only a shadow of panic in the back of my mind that lasts for weeks or months. The abuse began the day after they arrived, late morning or early afternoon, durning our “nap time.”
Had it happened before that?
I only remember seeing them together once before that on a family vacation to New York. Usually it was only my grandmother who came to visit us. I don’t remember him during that visit, but I barely remember that visit. I gathered that we went to see them at least twice before they came together to see us, so did it start then? Is that why the abuse started so quickly after they arrived?
But again, why me? Don’t people like that usually have several victims? In the year that it took me to tell my parents, shouldn’t he have taken a new victim? I am grateful that was not the case, even though I question why it was not.
I know that I will never find the answers to these questions; even if I could, they would do me no good. Being the only one in a place where everyone tells their stories of him so casually makes me wonder, was there something wrong with me before he ever touched me?