June 29, 2006

Heart Vomit

Warning: This post contains emotionally disturbing discriptions of family violence.

I have never felt an emotional reaction so strong that it produced a physical response within me. I’ve seen on TV when people throw up from nerves or fear or whatever, but I’ve yet to see a moment where my heart moved my other organs in that way. Until today.

I read a news story about a woman who drowned her 7-year-old son. And he struggled so hard against her (according to the coroner’s office) that his fists were clenched and seized up above his head even hours after the incident.

I didn’t even read much of the article. I immediately clicked away from it, and I paused for a moment looking away from the screen. And I began to gag. It was only momentary, and I did not get physically ill, but apparently, the very idea of a child having to leave this world believing that his own parent wanted to bring harm to him is a hot button for my gag reflex.

A few months ago I was almost as disturbed by a story of a man who threw both of his elementary-aged children out a ninth story hotel room window and then jumped himself. His wife heard their screaming next door and made it into the room just in time to see the father leaping to his death. And as she looked out the window she saw his body and the bodies of her children, still in their colorful pajamas, dead on the pavement below.

I’m not the squeamish type, but I’m hesitant to allow my imagination to drift into that room during those frantic moments. I can’t even fathom the confusion and horror of watching my own father forcing my younger brother out a window as he screamed for our mother, and then seeing him turn back toward me approaching with wild eyes.

It makes me ask the big questions. It makes me wonder about God. Not if he’s there, but if he’s good and if he gives a damn. I hope he’s weeping and retching as well. If he is, why doesn’t he move to end this grand experiment which seems to have failed so miserably. If he isn’t… That’s another imaginative room I’m afraid to enter.

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