Dear little Antanika,
My memories that I love the most are the waking hours we would spend alone, we liked to be alone.
We were safe. Happy and free.
Our imagination was wildly vivid and magical. I rode with you through forests on small white ponies around magical castles and old ruins. We named our ponies and tied them up outside our house in the country and when we needed a drink or food, we galloped and trotted like we knew what it meant. We played down the back of the property, where the yellow wattle blossomed by the water tanks. We pretended we were fairys. We lived in the beautiful world of magic when we were alone. We spent some days sitting on the deck of the old farm house watching and thinking about the world. Till one day, we got our thumb stuck in the chair that caused us pain for days and yes, we still have the scar. We’d spend afternoons reading that one book over and over, the one set in Warsaw that someone, maybe our Dad gave us. We loved the idea of being in another reality even though we knew nothing about reality. We knew it was better than the one we were in.
We spent full afternoons changing bedroom furniture around because at nine, we wanted our room to look more sophisticated, more mature. So we could draw and write like the people we read about or like the people on TV did . We moved that small desk to the front of the old window in the huge bedroom that we shared with our little brother. Then on that particularly beautiful sunny day, we sat and we drew what we saw. The trees, the frame of the window, the road and the grass the old bus that homed way too many spiders. We were so proud of those drawings.
Then as we grew we began to write, we filed the pages of old school books, we hid the books filled with words from our mind under our bed or pillow and slept on them. As though sleeping on them would make them real, the stories and poems of a world that we didn’t even know. We wanted to be a vet or a journalist before we really knew what either of those things were.
Our days were so bright, we loved the adventure of our imagination and we liked the idea of life. We wanted to grow up and be amazing so that one day we could be someplace else. But until that day came, we wrote, we drew and we made up a life we could enjoy. We imagined big things for us. We knew we were destined for bigger better things. We were going to be great.
But when night time fell, our world was not only visibly darker, it was just darker. I still remember how it felt for you, I remember the feelings of shame, confusion and the hatred you had for it. I remember the nights we would lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. We begged ourselves to sleep so we didn’t have to wait for him to come and at least when he did come we were already asleep and we could pretend to stay that way. Night after night, for years and years we did this together. We did this, we survived this together, we did it together.
How brave you are.
How brave that someone so young could endure something like that, how strong you are. I don’t know how you did that.
I will forever be in awe that despite all of that you remained so polite, sweet and creative. You never allowed him to blow your little light out.
I have been waiting to write how I feel about you because I really haven’t known. I felt like for the longest time I have never recognised you, I never knew who you were and I have always felt apart from you. But I see you now. I see you in my own children, I see your creativeness flowing from me now, as a woman that finally is strong enough to let my little light go out occasionally because you couldn’t…
I am sorry.
I am so sorry I couldn’t help you more. I am so sorry that we had to do that, I am so sorry we couldn’t find our voice to speak out.
I imagine, myself now looking down at you in all those beds in all those houses. I cast down a little green vine down from a platform above your bed covered in light, flowers and pencils. You look up from the dark at my face and I hoist you up. Once you are here beside me, we smile. I bring you closer to come sit with me to giggle and squeak the way we did, we draw and we write together.
We are ok if we are together.
You are safe with me here on this platform and I hold you while you cry because you can, you’re allowed to cry now, you’re allowed to speak now. You are here now.
We wait for it to be over, then when he’s done and gone we hug and I tell you;
“We will be ok, I promise”
I let you softly back down the vine onto your bed where you roll over to finally sleep.
You are not alone. You can cry now. You are safe and I love you.