Archives: 2014 & Earlier

Longing for an Identity: Alone With My Questions

By Cynthia Orbes, 19
REPRESENT, NEW YORK 

For years and years after my parents died, I kept myself from remembering them. Each Christmas, especially, I felt sad and angry because my parents couldn’t be with me. But for the past few years, I’ve gone somewhere private on Christmas Day and let myself remember the holidays we had together. I’d always liked when Christmas came around, because my father was nice to my sister and me, buying us a lot of presents.

A lot of the memories I have of my parents are not so happy. When I was little, my mom and dad would yell at each other, and sometimes he would hit her. After he stormed out of the apartment cursing, my mother would cry.

When I saw her hurting I would start crying and hug her. Other times I didn’t know what to do. She told me not to worry about her, but I worried anyway. I felt angry with my father and I tried to stay away from him.

The most painful time for me was one night when my mother was crying and telling me, “I never wanted to be with him. I hate him. When you grow up, never get a man like him.”

When my dad wasn’t drunk, he could be kind and caring. I liked when he took me to school or to the park sometimes, or let me help him cook. When I finally learned how to rollerblade, he was coming down the street and said, “That’s my champ.” I smiled.

When I was in third grade, he died. I was more shocked than sad. I didn’t even cry. I thought about the times he got drunk and hit my mother, and I had no sorrow in my heart.

Later on, I realized that he wasn’t coming back. Then I missed the good times and wished he hadn’t drunk so much. I cried once because I wanted to have a perfect family like other people.

One day, a friend of my father’s told us that our father once said, “I have two beautiful girls at home and they don’t love me.” I wanted to cry when I heard that. It showed that somewhere in his heart he cared. I never thought he loved me or my sister.

I never got a chance to have a serious conversation with my father. I want to know what it was like for him to have two children. I wonder, “Did he love my mother? At one point?” And why was he drinking in the first place? He never talked to me about his past, and my mother wouldn’t tell me about her life, either.

About two years later, my mother died from a heart attack. I want to erase that memory. I thought that she was going to live forever.

Lately I’ve allowed myself to think more about my parents. There’s so much I don’t know. I hate thinking about my questions because I can’t get any answers. They are all lost now.

I do know a few people who knew my mother and father and might be able to answer some of my questions, perhaps sometime in the future. For now, it’s been enough to write down the memories I have.

© 2007 Youth Communication/New York Center. http://www.youthcomm.org.

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