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Ripped Apart

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

When I was 9 years old my life changed forever. My parents had been arguing a lot which was apparent to even my sister and I. She was 7 and I did my best to protect her from the shouting and smashing of items by hiding in the basement or under our beds. One spring morning in 1989 everything boiled over.

We were hiding in the closest in my room and had moved the dresser inside it forward to use as a barricade between us and whatever or whoever might open it. My sister and I would sit bundled up under a blanket gently whispering and trying to distract each other but often finding that difficult. An uncomfortable amount of time went by without any noticeable sounds until we heard the door to my room open. After a momentary pause, presumably while they looked under the bed, the door to the closet opened too. I could see the top of my father’s head and his frazzled hair just barely peaking over the dresser. He was a tall man at roughly 6’2” and we were crouched low trying not to be seen.

“Come out here you two, your mother and I need to talk to you” he said in an unfamiliar tone. He still sounded angry but there was a sense of finality in his worlds. Knowing it wasn’t wise for him to have to repeat himself we stood up and struggled to move the dresser when he leaned in and with one swift motion shoved it to the side. Seeing his face for the first time since this all began I could see frustration and emotional turmoil in his eyes.

“Come with me” he commanded. Holding hands Amy and I followed my father down the hall and to the left into the living room. Much of the furniture was moved or on its side as if a brief earthquake had occurred. Off to my right in the entryway to the dinning room there was a small pile of shattered glass. My mother stood close to the door, behind her on the porch was a box and a few trash bags. Her arms were crossed and her dyed platinum blond hair was matted down as if it had recently been soaked with water. I’d known her to be an emotionally turbulent woman in nearly ever instance of my childhood but in this moment you could see there was nothing but bottled fury.

They both kept their eyes trained on us not once looking at each other. My mother spoke first, “I am going to spend some time at grandma and grandpas house” turning to look at me she added, “your sister is coming with me and I want you to come too”. Not knowing if that was a question or not I simply put my harm around my sister and pulled her in close to me to indicate I wanted her and I to stay together. My father spoke up, “DOyou want to go with your mom Dave?”

“I don’t want to go anywhere right now and I want me and Amy to stay together” I answered. Still not looking at each other but seemingly to share the same emotion of frustration they both took a step towards us. My mom grabbed my sisters arm with one of her hands and wedged the other between us prying her apart from me. Feeling my sister literally being ripped away from me elevated this already tense moment to one of trauma. My dad placed his hands on my shoulder and spun me towards him but I tried to break free and grab Amy.

My sister turned to look at me and ours eyes locked as my father held me in place and my mother carried my sister out the door. She nearly tripped over the bags on the porch in her hurry to get to her car. She put Amy inside then briefly came back hastily grabbing the items and shoving them into the passenger seat. I could feel a river of tears gushing out of my swollen eyes as I just yelled, “WHY?!” with no answer. They drove away and my father, never good with dealing with emotions went downstairs to deal with the situation in his own way and leaving me along staring out the door.

Unsurprisingly this led to the divorce of my parents. I saw my sister a few times briefly in court and in short lived failed attempt to work out a custody agreement. Then in what is likely the greatest injustice of my life my mother and father ceased all communication with my sister staying with my mom and I staying with my father. This went on for 17 years without any communication between the two groups. I thought of her often but this was before the internet was widely accessible so a few failed attempts to find her in the white pages were all I had available to me. Post internet I could not find her either as I later found out she had moved away to Montana and changed her name. Finally in 2007 I got a message that simply read, “Hi, my name is Amy and I think I am your sister.”

My sister and I with our kids


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