The PUS are just about all moved out now, with just their part of the cellar and what the realtor calls 'a few odds and ends' left upstairs to take with them. I can not fully explain how amazing it feels to be in this house and not be afraid of having to leave because of something they've done that will make me more ill. Or how it brings me peace to be able to take Lil Girl outside to draw with sidewalk chalk and not have to worry about someone pulling into the driveway and shooting us dirty looks, or worse, attempting to talk to me. It is bittersweet, to the extreme, to have this house be almost the way it always should have been - ours.
Only Nana is missing.
And she has been on heavy on my mind lately as we move into this final month of our residence here, how could she not be?
Her best friend came over to visit us yesterday. Because she's afraid that we'll move too far for her to come again, the visit was full of unnecessary goodbyes, (as we aren't moving anymore than 30 minutes away no matter what) but she also spent a good deal of time rehashing old hurts: cursing the PUS for all they did to Nana, cursing Nana for putting up with it, wishing she'd been able to convince her to do something about it. It was like listening to my own soul talking, especially when she said
"If we could've found a way, she'd probably still be alive today."
To outsiders, this statement makes no sense, I'm sure. An overreaction, perhaps, or wishful thinking to the extreme. But to me, it is a mere fact --> my grandmother, no spring chicken when she died at 84, would most likely have had a longer (and most definitely a happier) life if she hadn't had to battle everyday for just the air she breathed.
Stress, we all know, is aging. It's detrimental to your body on a cellular level. It hurts physically and emotionally. And my Nana lived in a soul crushingly stressful environment. It wasn't even just stress, it wasn't ordinary familial tension - she lived in a place where she was abused, everyday.
It takes a lot for me to write that. To know that it is true and to know that there were choices we all made - choices that I made - that enabled that abuse to continue.
I hope that in all my life, I will never do anything that I could regret more than not doing what I know was right. I hope that I would be strong enough, now, to know that having her mad at me for calling the cops - over and over again, if necessary - would be preferable to not having her at all.
"She wasn't beaten to death," you might say, "She died of cancer." And you would be right. She did. She did die of cancer, but she also died because her environment was toxic; because her son and his 'family' poisoned her everyday.
By ignoring her. By making her feel worthless and stupid and vile. By treating her as if she were little more than a bank - a bank where loans never had to be repaid and interest was never charged and you could insult the clerks at will. By hurting her heart and allowing their children to say that she wasn't their grandmother, or that they'd never really loved her. By screaming at her and calling her hideous names. By not caring for her when she was so obviously sick, and not caring enough to let anyone else have the chance to care for her either. By bullying her into believing all the wretched things they said about her (or us), and threatening her if she dared to stand up for herself (or us). By treating her as though she was invisible - by showing her that her opinion meant so little it didn't deserve to be heard, that her presence meant so little it wasn't even worth noting. By making it so that no one else could stand to come to her house, since it meant being in their presence, since it meant having to sit by seething while she was belittled or being belittled themselves.
(I would say here, in order to keep myself from becoming completely enraged, all over again, and because I am listening to the Harry Potter books on cassette tape, that she was Dobby, and they never gave her so much as a sock. If that makes sense to you, I think we should be friends:) )
They poisoned her, as sure as if they'd been feeding her arsenic, and 22 years worth is a lot of arsenic to swallow. It's a long time, and a lot of damage, and if every day you're living on a battlefield, using all your strength and energy to fight off poisons, you don't have any extra resources when you need them.
And that's really what happened to her - she just didn't have the resources she needed for that next battle, and it happened to be against a foe she couldn't best.
I'm not saying she wouldn't have had cancer. I'm not even saying she would have survived the cancer, really. I'm just saying that she would've had a better shot at doing so if she didn't have to also survive her 'son' and the rest of the PUS.
You may disagree, and I haven't written it before because, well... it sounds so stupid written down like that, even to me. But they wore her down, they wore down her spirit and her energy and her self, and when she got sick, she needed all those things and didn't have them. So yeah: I think that the damage they've done is immeasurable. And I am damn glad to see them go.
But today, alone in the house, as I heard the footsteps of Hippobeast PUS (the daughter - who's 22 now & who was one of Nana's frequent tormentors) thump on the back steps, I had a moment of "What's to stop me?"
My anger was so clear and sharp and focused that if I were capable of climbing the stairs, I
We haven't talked in over 12 years, and I assume that she thinks I am as horrific as I think she is, but in that moment I just wanted to be able to look her in the face and say: "Listen, you need to hear this from somebody, and it sure as shit ain't going to be your fucked up parents that tell you because they're even more delusional than you are. So hear this clearly, and know that it is true - YOU are wrong.
All those things you did, at first because your parents did them, and then later just because you could? The hateful things you said and the punishing ways you acted? Were wrong. Were evil and hurtful and poisonous and led directly to the dissolution of our 'family' and to Nana's death. And you can never make that better.
I can't go back and do the right thing - I can't go back and call the cops when I should've or actually send that letter to the lawyer the way I wanted to, and that will always haunt me. But you can't go back either, you can't undue the harm you did, the hurt you've caused, and I can't let you leave this house without letting you know that I hope it haunts you. Because it should."
It's probably good that I can't climb the stairs, because even as I was thinking about how great it would be to deliver this truth to her in person, I didn't, for a second, imagine that she would just sit there and let me say all of that to her. And that would've pissed me off even more, and things would most likely have escalated. (Although, seriously? Giving her the chance to punch me might have been worth any increase in pain because you know I would've called the cops then, friends.)
And by the time she plodded her way back down the stairs, I had calmed down enough to return to my Harry Potter and plot about how to 'accidentally' aim a Cruciatus Curse at them all instead, but the wanting is still there. Because I know that they still think they didn't do anything wrong.
That they will never think they did anything wrong - that they were the victims of a family that turned their backs on them, as opposed to the perpetrators that caused a family to be shattered.
And that's not okay with me. But I'm just going to have to let it go.
So, even though we still don't know where we'll be, I am definitely looking forward to thirty days from today, when I won't have to see them again. Or hear their false voices again, or suffer under their hands ever again.
And then? I shall have to settle for the Obliteration Charm instead, wiping them from my life once and for all.