The First Break

My earliest memory is of a window slamming down on my right index finger and blood all over the floor of the house.  I was around 3 and had been singing while looking out the window.  Most of this memory is really the memory of being told about this again and again with one exception, my underwear.

I remember waking up in the hospital wearing nothing but the light green terry cloth underwear I had been wearing at the time of the accident.  I was horrified to be there in nothing but my underwear.  When I mention this to my mom, she doesn’t remember it at all and I know that it’s my actual memory surfacing.

The window slammed shut and cut off the tip of my finger.  They reattached it and I’ve had arthritis in it ever since.  It doesn’t cause me much pain, but looks terrible; a knot over the first knuckle, a scar where they reattached the finger, and a finger nail that doesn’t grow much.  I hid this disfigurement most of my life, even learning to write with my thumb wrapped over the knot so no one would see it, including me.

When the story is retold over the years it becomes about my mom.  She went into shock.  At the hospital they put her in a wheel chair.  The only time the story side tracks from her is to include the part about my dad’s parents coming by, apparently walking in through the open door to find blood on the floor and then just going back home without trying to find out what happened.  The story has nothing to do with me.

I don’t know if the knot is from the injury itself or the infection that followed.  My next memory is sitting on the table in the doctor’s office while a nurse removes my stitches.  I don’t remember whether they hurt or not.  I can get the visual, but for the life of me I can’t pull up the sound from my memory file.

This memory is one of a precious few before I began school.  Once in school I am able to chart my memories more easily.  I attach them to school districts and teachers and am able to create a time line.  One I don’t really want to remember.

It was first grade when I realized I absolutely wanted to die.

I couldn’t tell you why, even now.  I remember the backyard of where we lived and playing with the neighbor.  I remember my dad was gone a lot and I think I mostly stayed outside and ignored whatever was happening indoors.  I can’t remember what my bedroom looked like or the layout of the house.  I just know that I wanted to escape… life.




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