The plans were underway, no-one bothered to include me or even ask, was it that they knew I wouldn’t be interested in attending, or was it something more sinister? Could it be they didn’t want me there for fear of contention?

December 20th, 2016 – Was the last time I spoke to and was physically in the presence of my grandmother. The judge requested I address them both before giving him (grandma’s husband) his sentence. I stood alone as the judge spoke directly to her, then to him. After the judgment was read, I wiped away tears, addressed the court, thanked my attorney, acknowledged the judge, smiled a crooked smile at the court detective, shook hands with the police officers, nodded at the clerks of courts as they smiled with approval, picked up my pocketbook, sighed a deep sigh of relief and walked out the doors of the St. Thomas Parish Court. Grandma attempted to say something, but I had no interest in hearing what she, they or anyone had to say at that moment. It was all over, it was finally done! Twas a bittersweet moment, my mood melancholy (to be explained later) a victory though a small victory was better than the alternative. On the outside, Aunty Jo awaits to greet me. 

October 16, 2019 – My aunt Jo (another of my grandmother’s husband victims) called to inform me of the party and asked if I planned to attend. NO! A sharp, resounding no-followed. I was aware of the party at this point, I overheard conversations between my mom and aunt. I was astonished that she had the nerve to ask, I was even more astounded when she revealed she was thinking of attending and was praying for me to have a change of heart. What?! Was this the same woman that resented her mother from childhood, the same woman that this man raped from age 5 until her menses began in her late teens? Was this the same woman that I spent countless hours having conversations with about the anger she had welled up inside her and had to listen time and time again as she vents, allowing her that needed and uninterrupted space to grieve to speak, to release. Was this the same woman?

Aunty Jo’s phone calls became even more frequent. My aunt and I developed a budding friendship in recent years. I was afraid of her and resented her at some point in my life, but the day she decided to take a stand and break the news to her youngest sister (to avoid my having to tell her) that yes, her dad was a rapist and had indeed not only raped me, but her, my mom and others, was the day our relationship drastically changed. For once I felt as if someone understood and came to my aid. We spent a myriad of days and hours being each other’s sounding board. Even at times when mom (both mom and Aunty Jo served as witnesses in the case) was still going through a less than supportive phase. Aunty Jo was my go-to.

She understood. She wasn’t trying to convince me to drop the charges or to think of anyone else. Her support and willingness to listen was a source of strength and inspired me to push, because not only was I fighting for my younger cousins, and some older ones too, but I was fighting for me, for we, for us. All of us suffered, and still suffer in silence because of what that man did. There were days my aunt would call in fits of rage over something her mom (grandma) had done or said. Oh, she resented her, yet, continued to show up for her. She continued to care for her as best as she could. But, that resentment bordered on hatred. So, here I was completely in awe at the fact that this woman (Aunty Jo) was relentlessly trying to persuade me to attend the 80th birthday celebration of the women she felt no connection or attachment to. Something had shifted.

With each phone call she had another reason, another bargaining chip as to why I should attend. I wouldn’t budge. I made fun of her, asking if it was that serious when she mentioned, she would go on fasting and prayer for my changed perspective, I asked why it meant that much that she would go calling my name to God. She laughed. Two days later she called again with another attempt. This time to tell me my aunt and uncle from Australia were expressing their disappointment in traveling that far and would be robbed of the opportunity to see me. Something begun shifting, I was starting to give thought to the idea. ‘Flying overnight to Jamaica the night of the party might not be so bad’, I thought. That would ensure my seeing the cousins/relatives I hadn’t seen in years, spend a few days catching up and depart without a fuss.

Aunty Jo was still not pleased, but she reluctantly agreed. That was my best and final answer. She will have to settle for that or did she?

My phone rang late one evening, towards the end of October, It was Aunty Jo. This time she called to ask if I would be attending the wedding. One of my cousins from Australia had now decided to get married in Jamaica. What trickery is this I exclaimed? She knew at this point she had me. This cousin and I grew up together, I referred to him as my cousin/brother. I had not seen him since 2008 and he along with his girlfriend that I desperately wanted to meet would also be attending the party. The party was scheduled for January 25th, 2020 they were to be wed February 2nd, 2020. We would have approximately a week to play catch up and hang out between wedding preparations with not much time to spare before they would be off again. This would also afford me the only opportunity for my sons to meet their cousins. I was beginning to cave. I once again assured Aunty Jo I would give it some serious consideration.

I agonized over attending. I was not comfortable, why would I want to go? Why would I want to be around them? Why should I subject myself to the discomfort of being around relatives that had the most vile things to say about me publicly? The aunt who called me/us lying bitches on Facebook even after her dad confessed to her face what he had done to mom, my sister, and me. The cousins that publicly labeled us dogs and threatened to stone ‘me’ wherever/whenever I’m seen. The aunt that admitted she didn’t feel compelled to do anything to protect us (my sister and I) because mom had not done so(something I still struggled with), grandaunt’s who all had something to say about my approach (a couple of whom knew about me being raped before my speaking but didn’t help) other relatives and friends who have been supporting and supportive but were hushed about their support, everyone was slated to be in attendance, and the kicker – so was grandma’s husband. Why, why would I want to, why would she request me to go?! 

I had to make a decision, time was winding down, the headcount needed to be finalized and dear Aunty Jo would not stop calling! I needed clarity, some reassurance, I needed help to process all the thoughts and emotions I was feeling, things I thought I had dealt with and left in 2017 reemerged. Here I was three years later faced with deciding on one annoyance of a question – To Go or Not To Go?… To be continued. Join me as I/we Journey 2 Free, 

From my heart to yours,