When I was young, from four to six years of age, I had a fear beyond what any average-young child should have had. This fear wasn’t normal by any sense of the word but I have to say, fear of any kind isn’t a good thing. My fear was blocked and hidden beneath layers of denial, blurry visions and the ever expansive darkness swirling around these memories.
My sense of smell though, to this day, has never forgotten that stench of fear that permeates the nostrils just before death. I still smell this odor to this day, especially if I am near a cemetery after a person has been buried. I call it – smelling their death. It’s slightly different from person to person and animal to animal. Once this odor is experienced, it never goes away.
I finally came to terms as an adult with the fact that my innocence was taken at a young age, from a blank and faceless foe, devoid of any human characteristics but still as ominous to this day as it was in my adolescence.
Death, took my innocence away.
I know what it’s like to watch something die, close up and personal, hearing the noise of anguish and panic that happens when something has no choice but to surrender to imminent death and the aggressive pursuit of a predator, growling it’s warning before it seizes its prey.
Maybe just maybe, my memories are false and I realize that this can be the case but I must say, the reality of my memories, paints a very vivid picture. Now that the blocks are gone, I can see the moments in time that have become frozen and I can also come to terms with being a young victim of cruelty. Death is a cruel teacher, it’s never far away. This is what I remember so many years ago.
When a family pet dies, it’s a horrible feeling because they were a beloved part of a family. As a young child, this feeling of anguish is amplified tenfold because of how innocent their view of the world is.
By the age of ten, I wasn’t just desensitized, I was broken down to a point that I didn’t feel much except for that feeling of impending doom that every once in a while would take over me.
I have memories of animals dying from the hands of unknown people. To this day, all I can see is big hands, the size of Hulks hands, holding baby animals. I just see from the elbow down … not even clothes or skin color but more so just hands.
The cats or puppies were held from behind the neck but the little bunny rabbits were held by their long ears. They struggled and I struggled as I was being held in place, made to watch them … die. I’ll spare you the details on how but it was bloody and I had to hear the poor animals squeal and scream until their little bodies went limp. I would become just as limp, crying and feeling so responsible because I was told it was my fault.
If I closed my eyes instead of watching the animal die, they would kill another animal and tell me, it was my fault they killed it. I carried the weight of these little animals on my shoulders throughout my life. I was a guilt-ridden little girl and young woman up until I came to terms with what happened.
The best way to take away innocence is by making innocent eyes watch horrific acts of violence.
Let me back track.
To begin my story, me along with six or seven other kids were taken from a Catholic school we attended by men in military uniforms in a light blue bus. We would be driven to an underground facility. I vaguely remember a stench in the air; a smell like you would smell at a zoo.
Part of breaking our innocence was introducing us to failure. They brought about failure as a part of the training we went through by making us responsible for the baby animals or other animals dying. They were always going to kill them but we didn’t know that.
I couldn’t save the baby rabbits. I couldn’t help any of the baby animals they killed.
They would kill babies as a means to imprint onto us that innocence is easy to kill, we would be easy to kill but more importantly, they could kill or harm our parents if we told or said anything.
We were put up close, almost in harm’s way, from lions, tigers or other types of predators chained. They made us watch the seemingly starved animals kill their food. Usually, a live animal was dragged up to the chained and hungry cats. This is why Life of Pi is off limits for me, it brought back all the horrific memories. I cried for hours just watching a small portion of this movie. It was a horrendous trigger.
Fast forward to April of this year, 2017…
I saw a painting of bunny rabbits that I became infatuated with. It was only $30.00 so I decided to buy it.
The rabbits are eating peacefully and as I look at this painting, I feel peaceful. It’s a moment frozen in time just like my memories, with the obvious difference being nothing can hurt them.
For some reason, this painting is therapeutic for me. Maybe that’s strange for some people to understand but for me, it’s helping me heal from moments in time that in a way, I feel chained to. The comforting thought for me is the bunny rabbits will be in that moment, painted forever alive and not even death can change that.