Grandma would always tell me, "Make something of yourself or somebody will make a fool out of you". I struggled in school, but her relentless passion pushed me to heights I never knew I could climb. Today, as I count the blessings of my teenage years, I am also reminded of my long past parents. I try not to think of them, but my mind does not obey my will. It wanders back into the blackened past of my childhood, and the spilled memories of my loving parents.
The memories pull at me like a magnate to steel as I think about the years I spent with my parents while they worked as Christian missionaries in nameless Central American villages. I remember sleeping in the stillness of a rainforest or with the cacophony of an ocean pounding the beach. There I could dream all night in a fairyland far away from here and far away from my home, my young mind lost in the stillness of a Guatemalan night.
The silence, occasionally broken by a primate's shrill cry, sounded like loneliness looking for a place to hide. At nine years old, I had an uneasy sense of the jungle and even more so since father had begun to lock the door at night. My imagination worked overtime to solve the riddle of the locked door and thought that monsters may come to snatch me away at any time. This night as my mother tucked me in she accidentally dropped a candle and stumbled in the darkness. I could see her hand quivering as she stooped to re-light the wick. Her anxiety boiled over into my pot leaving me shaken. I called for my father but my mother said simply, "Quiet, he's gone out". Afraid of the answer, I could not choke up the words to ask, "Where Why".
The noisy crack from the jungle woke me to a crisp wakefulness. Three more explosions echoed through the room and ricocheted for seconds through my vacant head. I was alarmed, yet had only my fantasy of the events that were taking place right outside my window. The closed door loomed like an unsolved puzzle, beckoning me as I struggled across the room. I cracked the door like a gambler checking his hole card and stared into the inky depths. Suddenly, I heard my mother scream from behind a Banyan tree. Panicked, I squeezed between an old crate and a stack of lumber at the side of the house. I could hear my mother choking and struggling, and though I felt the need to go to her rescue, I was frozen in place. Locked in time.
My mother's last gasp of fright was followed by the surreal sounds of life making an unscheduled exit. I looked to see my mother's lifeless body lying next to the tree. My father approached and for a moment I had the unrealistic euphoria that he was the hero coming to save the village. He solemnly knelt over her body as the silence returned, broken only by my father's whimpering and the songs of angels. The orange glow of fire flashed from the jungle and my father repulsed in a series of awkward contortions. His body, thrown back from the gunfire, came to rest inches from my mother's hand as if she was reaching for an escort to guide her to heaven.
The next few seconds took hours to pass as I stared in a state of horrified shock. I watched three men dressed in black as they examined my parent's bloodied bodies. Their sneering and mumbling fell like water on a sponge, instantly absorbed by the thick undergrowth. I stayed motionless and could hear their voices go faint, seeping back into the night. I cried, never moving, until the safety of the