Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Becoming a Free Range Kid: Part III -- a coming out story

So I don't ever really come out anymore. Not in the classic sense. Frankly, I don't need to. I guess I'm sort of type-cast. People recognize me as a lesbian.

But this post isn't about coming out as a lesbian. This is another type of coming out that I don't normally do. I don't like to do it and I rarely do. And sometimes it gets me in trouble (as it might here) in the sense that sometimes I will know someone for years before they find this out about me, and, well, it is awkward.

But I will come out here because it is relevant.

This post is about coming out as a survivor of extreme violence.

In 1970, on July 23rd in Omaha Nebraska, someone (we are still not one-hundred percent sure who) entered our house and murdered my 18 year old sister by stabbing her eleven times in her back and twice in her stomach (or maybe it is the reverse, I'd have to look at the records again to be sure).

I was the only witness, if you can call it that. I was not yet one year old.

There are a bazillion things I could talk about with regard to this, but what is important and relevant is that I am still a proponent of free range kids. What happened to our family while horrible and infinitely destructive was a fluke. We are still not sure if she even knew the person, although stories abound. The most prominent one is that she was babysitting me, took me out for ice cream, met some guy at a park and he followed her home.

This is not to say that the story doesn't scare the cuss out of me. As does the notification of an attempted abduction near Ten's school.

Sure. It does. To quote the Fantastic Mr. Fox (again). I'm not scared. I have a phobia.

But I'm also scared of cars. And bikes. And skateboards without helmets. And too much candy. And nutrasweet. And ACT scores that are less than 20. And airplanes. And drugs. And bad influences.

And lightning.

Let's face it. Life is scary. Now let your kids be free to grow up and maybe not harbor your same fears.


Brigindo said...

Thanks for coming out. One of my older sisters was abducted on the street when she was six and walking home from school by herself (normal in those days). She was not killed but molested (I'm not sure of the actual story/details as I was also one at the time and it was not spoken of and still is not in my family). Like you, I realize that as horrible as these stories are they are not the norm. In fact most violence occurs by someone who is known to the family or, many times, a member of the family.

I agree with you completely that you need to let kids grow up, sensible, but without undo fear. It is hard to do. It is hard to trust in the kindness of the universe when it is your kid but it is important.

giddings said...

Here's an email I just received from Cousin's mom:

I just read your blog about [your sister/my niece] I can't stop crying. After all this time, it still bothers me. It was just so sad and awful. You just have to wonder how we all survived. And yet were able to give you and [Cousin] the freedom you had. I never thought about the courage it took.

giddings said...

I think about the courage it took for my mom and her sisters and all of our family to move on too. The instinct to shut us into a little box and close the lid must have been nearly insurmountable.

Mwa said...

Words fail me. That is too awful. x

Unknown said...

All I can say is: I am so sorry for what happened to your sister, and so glad that you are here. Secondary to that but wonderful nonetheless is your ability to write, and share, and think.
Lenore "Free-Range Kids" Skenazy