I haven't written very much here about my son. He is currently in his final year at an university in Boston and is graduating with two degrees in engineering, a Bachelors and a Masters.
Last night he came over for some conversation, a meal and to watch a movie. We watched The Last Station. And he liked it. I had already seen it a couple of times. He mentioned that he had gotten in touch with Cynthia Auckerman, a journalist whom we had met back in 2005. By searching the internet, he finally was able to read articles written about him by her. This is one of the articles that she wrote after meeting us on our trip back to his childhood...
Child abuse: a personal view
By CYNTHIA AUKERMAN
Published: Sunday, January 2, 2005 8:18 PM EST
On the evening of Aug. 12, 1991, four-year-old Jonathan raced to the site where his brother had been struck by a vehicle. Jeremy was lying stomach down, but his head was facing upwards, twisted in a grotesque way.
One young life that had been lived in chaos was over, but Jonathan's life was about to get even worse.
Jonathan lived in several locations, including Union City. Now adopted and living in Rhode Island, he visited the local area this summer to explore his childhood memories.
Now he's writing about his experiences in the hopes of dealing effectively with the burdens that chaotic childhood left behind. And maybe - just maybe- his story can help other hurting people and those who are trying to help them.
"My mother began to treat my brother and me as though it was our fault that Jeremy died. Every chance she got, she blamed us for the accident. Being so young, I believed what my mother told me because I trusted her. Now I realize that's what you do when you are a child; you automatically trust your mother."
Here's a lesson. No matter the degree of abuse or neglect, the child's bond with his mother is intense.
Even before the accident, life was already a kind of hell for Jonathan. After the accident, Jonathan's mother spent increasingly more time away from the four-year-old and his nine-year-old brother. The two boys were left to fend for themselves when the mother left them home alone for long periods of time.
The mother increased her use of drugs and alcohol and there were "grungy" men in the home.
"The smell of those men made me feel like throwing up," Jonathan says.
The physical burden of caring for himself at a young age wasn't the only hardship Jonathan faced.
"I had nobody to talk to about my grief, and at the age of four, I had to deal with the loss of my beloved brother on my own."
He began to feel anxious, confused and scared when the mother was around because she turned her anger on her surviving sons.
Before Jeremy's death, there were times when the mother was not drunk or high. At times, the mother made Jonathan feel loved. After the accident, the mother became a cold and unattached person who could not love her surviving sons.
"I was four years old without a loving mother. I fell into a feeling of hopelessness like a big black hole. I could not rely on my mother for anything, and I had to rely on my brother more and more as a parent."
His mother's degeneration led to the family having to move, with one stop being in a trailer in Union City.
Less than two years after his brother was killed, Jonathan watched his trailer home burn. With his mother screaming in the background and sirens wailing, he realized the dogs were still in the house. One dog survived, but the boys later learned their mother's boyfriend broke the neck of the other dog. The fire apparently was the result of a domestic fight between the mother and her boyfriend.
Jonathan's life was about to take an even worse turn. His mother decided to move in with her mother and stepfather. Jonathan's grandmother had abandoned her own daughter when she was 11.
Another lesson: child abuse and neglect is often handed down from one generation to the next.
Leaving her two sons alone with the grandparents, the mother pursued her lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse.
"The abuse my brother and I endured from these grandparents was more emotionally damaging than either the fire or my brother's death," Jonathan says.
He is not yet comfortable with sharing that part of his life, except to say that his brother and he had only each other.