My aunt gave up her daughter for a chance at love.
Can’t remember which marriage it was – there were seven in all – but he didn’t want children, so she just asked around if someone would take M, then sixteen.
A few relatives tried, but my cousin, the depths of whose rejection is unfathomable, strayed to the dark side. When she ran away, no one chased her. She was dead by eighteen.
I was twelve when I got the news, and lacked the inner tools to process the information. M was always so vibrant, and fun – I couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting her. How does a mother throw away her child?
The marriage hadn’t lasted. At the time of her death, M had been living with a man. A few days after the funeral we dropped by my aunt’s house to see if she was okay. We found her in bed with M’s man.
This aunt was shunned by most of the family, understandably, except that no one stopped to question the source of the pain that drove her to such depraved actions.
When she was young – likely no older than her own daughter at the time she threw her out – her grandfather dragged her out behind the barn and raped her. No one stopped him, although one uncle got the shotgun and threatened. They killed my mother’s sister that day; Mom says she was never the same afterwards.
Great grandfather committed many sins, for which he was never held accountable. An innocent young woman bore the brunt of his sins and was punished for it. She re-perpetrated the sin, raping her own daughter of a chance at life.
In our family, the game of male/female relationships had a very sick and sinister side. We knew who we didn’t want to emulate and how ugly love could be.
Trouble is, no one knew the alternative.