Ed remembers bits and pieces of that day. Just a toddler, he recalls playing on the floor with his mother, Jane. She had bought some cheap plastic dinosaurs for him at the dime store (or the Dollar Store in today’s language), and she looked on as he marched them around and pitched them in battles with his little hands.
It was hard for her to get down on the floor. She was pregnant with Ed’s little brother. Very pregnant. He and his mother were always talking about having a little brother, how they would play together, what to name him.
“Take your toys and play in your room.” His mother said this abruptly. Maybe he argued. He’s not sure. The next thing he remembers is playing with those dinosaurs in his room and hearing his father’s loud, angry voice.
|Otto Dix's "Pregnant Woman"|
Some time elapsed. His mother Jane came into the room, closed the door, and sat down with him. “It’s okay,” she said, “it’s okay.” It didn’t feel okay. There was something menacing in the air, and although that invisible menace sometimes receded, it would never vanish altogether. It always threatened to flood the air again.
Years later Ed’s older sister told him what she had seen hiding in another room. Their father had come home drunk. He had struck Jane and knocked her to the floor. While Jane was lying there, he kicked her repeatedly in the stomach.
His sister’s account of that day connected some dreadful dots for Ed. Memory being what it is, Ed had no further recollection of that day or how it fit into the days that followed. Instead, he recalls being told some time later that there would be no baby brother. He had gone to heaven.
Once Ed had heard his sister’s story, he knew that his little brother hadn’t simply gone to heaven. He had died that day or soon thereafter at the violent hands of his own father.
It took Jane almost ten years to leave her husband. She worked on forgiving her abuser for the rest of her life. Ed’s still working on it.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once. Especially for deep, enduring injuries to our hearts and our souls, we forgive again and again over time.