I don't know how to start this, scattered thoughts, knowledge that in my own selfishness I ignored signs that grandchildren were being hurt. That pain will never leave me, and I deserve that pain the ache knowing I could have stepped in sooner.
When a two and a half year old looks at you, trying to tell you something, imploring you to take her away, and in your own selfishness, you push away the warning bells in your head. That long stare coming from that small face, her not wanting to get out of my van. Her mother standing there waiting, holding out her hands, the child only looking at me willing me to understand. There are no words to make that pain go away.
It didn't happen once, there were other times, "Go that way, go fast", her pointing the opposite way of the home she lived in with mom. The home, filled with strangers coming and going, drugs being used on premises, children watching, breathing, ingesting food cooked in that environment. Lies, teaching lies, drugs are a horrible thing.
Some of it I didn't understand, my generation didn't have the kind of drugs that my children grew up knowing about and or using. I didn't want to think a child of mine would do any thing like this. I didn't want to believe it was happening, and small children were hurt.
One year, that was all it was, one horrible year that changed the lives of two beautiful little ones.
I didn't want it to be true, so I ignored the signs. My reason, I was already raising one grandchild, I didn't want to raise another let alone two more.
Then the day came when ignorance truly wasn't bliss. The call from the landlord, eviction, a parade of men in and out of the home and on and on. With the eviction in progress we took the young girls. I still wonder why they didn’t call the police, it is the law when you suspect drugs are being used, but the children would have ended up in foster care, I couldn’t have allowed that. They came home with us.
I had co-signed the lease; we were responsible, cleaning, repairs, it was sickening to see the way the children had been living. The cost, my husband angry about the cost and the disbelief that it was all true, the things I had started to suspect and told him about.
I was angry so very angry about it all. I had to look at the ugly truth of what had been happening. While cleaning out the apartment we found drugs and paraphernalia in the toy box, under mattresses, all kinds of places and residue everywhere.
One child went to live with the other grandma, we kept the youngest.
The child wouldn’t sleep alone, so she slept with me and my husband slept in another room.
Then one night her nightmares started, I was reading when I heard these words, “grandma help me, grandma help me” over and over. I reached out, touched her head thinking to soothe her. Then, her eyes flew open there was no recognition in them and she started to shake, pulled her arms and legs into her body and said, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me”. I pulled back, “it’s grandma, its okay it’s grandma, I yelled for the older grandchild I was also raising. The 3 year old went into her arms crying, my husband came questioning.
When she was fully awake she came into my arms, wrapped her little hands in my hair, literally shackling her to me. She slept on top of me the rest of the night, her hands in my hair. This dream came six or more times, every time as she woke up she would wrap her hands in my hair and sleep on top of me. After the third time she would wake to my voice and crawl into my arms. She fell asleep every night with one hand twisted in my hair. My hair was already long but I had to let it grow out more so I could sleep too. Until the day she finally went home again, four years later, she slept with my hair in her hand.
I will feel guilt for the rest of my life for not opening my eyes and stepping in sooner to help those children. I love them very much, I am their grandmother, I was there for their births, I am their grandmother, I may not be the biological grandma, but I am forever their grandmother. I love them and I love my step daughter too, always and forever.