Tag Archives: #lostlamb

Crown Her Lamb

7 Feb

by Terry Rachel

I tried to help them by giving my time and care, but in the end, my mother and father’s passing came within three years of each other leaving a chasm deep and wide, an indelible mark that moved through my veins like an iceberg, and the boundless phantom pain that came and went, would haunt me for years to come.

My mother was the first of her siblings to die, so her sisters and brother were in agony and disbelief. And when they stopped visiting and calling the house, that’s when I saw my family ties begin to unravel. Thankfully, my brothers were still around, and I would visit and get together with them as often as I could. I was their only sister, the only daughter left. I desperately hoped we would stick together now that mom and dad were gone.

I returned to school and finished my degree that I had postponed for so long. I now had time to study.  I established my residency on Long Island, and after graduating with an undergraduate degree in Electronic Technology, I landed a job as a test engineer working for a semiconductor lab in Hicksville, New York.  I often thought of my parents, and how they would have liked to see me married, starting a family. But that wasn’t my future. I still wasn’t out, and I was ashamed to tell them I was gay. But they knew, and I knew they knew. And knowing it nearly killed them. I wondered if they would be proud that I had finally finished school.

When my brothers died, one in 1992 of AIDS, and another, nine months later in 1993 of lung cancer, my mind was gone, I couldn’t believe that God would rob me of two of the most special people that made up the very fiber of my soul. My world was rocked. I fell into a deep depression, and became a heavy drinker and drug abuser. My last living brother catapulted into a dead zone, walking out on his wife and two children. I became reckless and restless, getting into car accidents, or leaving the scene, driving while intoxicated, I was physically hurting, and verbally abusing whoever crossed my path. The woman I was living with of four years left me, the company that had once put me on a career track fired me on a Monday morning and escorted me out the door. Whatever inheritance I had left went to drugs and alcohol. My world had collapsed.

For about 13 years, I rarely heard from my cousins, my nieces or my nephews. My mother’s siblings were dying or already dead. My father’s only brother had passed, as did my father’s mother, my beloved grandmother whom I adored.  Days turned into years; it seemed everyone was getting old. Even my nieces and nephews had started to raise families of their own. I moved through the world very slowly during this time, having gotten a DUI and doing an overnight stint in jail really did the trick. I realized that for more than ten years I had abandoned myself to drugs and drink, wallowing in pity, I thought, How can I expect those who I did not call to call on me now?  But it didn’t end there.

By the time my last brother died of diabetes in 2008, I had given up all hope in God. I was mad at everyone. I kept lying to myself by continuing drugs and drink, and continued to lose job after job for my insubordinate attitude. I found myself moving further away from friends and whatever hometown roots I use to know.  I learned to live with myself, alone for months at a time. Why was I still in mourning, grieving the loss of my mother and father, who I affectionately referred to as the king and queen, and my brothers, as the bishop, knight and pawn. The pain wouldn’t go away, it just subsided. You look at the calendar one day because somehow that day seems significant only to realize it’s his birthday or her death day.  I had a choice to make, continue to hold back the tears and carry on, or run away.

Most of the things that I either inherited or bought on my own were sold. Some items were given away to people I didn’t know, while other belongings either went to Goodwill or bagged and thrown into a parking lot clothing bin. All the books sold. My record collection sold. I relieved myself of anything material, and hit the road. Between 2009 and 2016, landing job after job, and renting rooms in other people’s homes, I moved to eight different states. 

In Vermont, I learned people were resourceful; they actually pick the best foliage and sell leaves to tourists for $5.00 a bag. In Washington, there was no diversity. I kept asking myself, Where are the black people? They were none, at least none that I saw. In the surrounding waterways of Maryland, I learned to crack blue crabs, and I volunteered my time at Hospice of the Chesapeake visiting terminally ill patients with my dog, who was featured in a local newspaper. North Carolina boasted a blue sky every day, but I didn’t like the politics there, as I was sometimes called a Yankee. I did all my hiking in Virginia, as the mountains and waters converge, it is truly an astonishing sight to take in, often leaving me in wonder by its natural beauty, but the people there were snobbish and uptight, at least they were in what is considered, “NOVA.” While in New Jersey, I feasted on pizza from DeLorenzo’s, and did a lot of bicycling on the paths that met the Delaware River.  In Georgia, I got robbed three times within two months, and would never go back there even on a midnight flyover. In Connecticut, I traveled to Rhode Island, visiting Bill, an old boyfriend. We laughed and reminisced about old times in a lobster house near the water where fishermen sold the lobster to the restaurant, and lobster traps could be seen from our window.

Since I couldn’t hold a job for long, I would have to learn things quickly, so I learned all kinds of computer skills. I could easily do this because I knew I had to. Packing was a cinch since I had only clothing with me and maybe a few accessories. I kept a superbly clean business wardrobe, always presenting myself professionally. Because I was renting rooms, I often didn’t have kitchen privileges, so I was eating sparingly. Inside I felt like a con artist, but I chose not to make any predictions about the future, as the past and present were endlessly hard and difficult, so any thought about the future was uninspiring, as I now had become an adult orphan.

Later and now in my late 50’s, whatever milestones I may have enjoyed such as getting my master’s degree, buying a new house, a new job promotion, my sixtieth birthday, pretty much went unnoticed. In 2016, I settled down. My dog was still with me, but we would spend many holidays alone.  On those holidays, I would always make sure to make a day of it, hiking trails for long hours, bringing water and food in a backpack. The goal was to make sure the dog and I were completely exhausted from the day as to not let the sadness of being alone on a major holiday creep through. Ensuring I was exhausted, I would come home, eat something quick, and fall asleep.

 I accepted my situation but I also knew I needed something more, more for me.  I knew I needed to find grace, humility, and strength to carry on.  I needed to find peace. I needed to return to my faith.  I decided I would become a faithful follower again, and regularly attend mass.

About a year ago, now at age 65, I lost my dog. It was another kicker. She was my true friend. I prayed for peace. I began the mindful journey of reaching out to my nieces and nephews, trying to stay connected, trying to get things going for all the time we lost. My dearest first cousin encouraged me saying You have family out there, call them. I didn’t know what I would say. I didn’t know them. I was scared. I was reluctant to call them. What if they hear my voice and say, Oh, crawl back under the rock you came from.  I thought of my brother, the one whose life was ravaged by diabetes, the one who would take great pleasure in his philosophical beliefs, the one who would offer me one wise, last lesson, Remember kid, in the end, all you have is family. Yes, brother, yes, I believe you’re right.