If They Stayed: A Letter to You by Kristin Ryan

I am still not ready to forgive. I am not that strong. I still wish for your ashes to swirl down the gutter. Demand you to be mixed with worms and shit and the vomit I kept returning to for ten years.

I will never forget the look on my husband’s face on our-on my, first date when he asked if he could put his arm around my waist, asked so I would not flinch and I still did. Did I scream witness of attempted murder? Because when you think about it, that is exactly what it was. My neck is heavy from wearing a medal I didn’t want. I am not a hero.

That night after hiding all the knives under my bed, the darts under my pillow, the cordless phone sleeping in the back of my jeans I was ready. But I am not ready to forgive you.

Your dying wish was for me to eat snacks with you as if it was something we always did. Once when I was seven, you shattered a glass table in the living room because I asked if we could
share a Reese’s cup. When you begged on your death bed I refused, the eating disorder raging like your alcoholism, your anger, your fists.

Thirteen years after the night I saved my mother, your wife, I confessed I had always hated her for staying with you. We were in the kitchen of her husband’s house, yellow walls and sunshine. I call him Dad, and he always kisses me on the forehead. The first four years he was in our lives he had to teach us we were deserving of love. Sometimes we still show up for remedial lessons on basic human needs.

Most of the time I don’t like being touched. Sometimes I still see your face. I can’t be in a room when someone drinks a beer. Sometimes I wake up in a panic and my husband has to calm me down, tell me that you’re dead and can’t hurt us.

In the kitchen with fresh flowers from the garden on the table, my mother told me she still has the photos from the police of what you did in the glovebox, to remember what she survived.

Once, I said I would bring you back to life just to kill you myself. So I could finally sleep, know that you were finally gone, that we were finally safe.

2 thoughts on “If They Stayed: A Letter to You by Kristin Ryan

  1. Pingback: If They Stayed: A Letter to You – Kristin Ryan | Palace Gate Counselling Service Blog

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