He woke in the night to a silent house
Not a sound was heard but soft breathing
He did not feel safe
Who were these people?
Where was home?

His tummy hurt, it growled softly
He wandered into the kitchen
On the table there was a plate of cookies
Made by his new Mommy
Lots of cookies…

His heart felt empty
So, he ate them all, except one
Maybe if he left one, she would not know

He wandered the silent house, searching
What was he searching for?
He felt lost

Finally he lay down in the middle of the floor
Clutching his Twinkle blankie that Becky gave him
Sucking his Tweety binky
His heart full of tears which could not fall
His heart, jailed, imprisoned by fear
He cried himself to sleep…


Another night, he woke again
His new Mommy could not stay awake
She could not see all
He wasn’t safe
He had to hide

Wandering again, he opened drawers
In his new brother’s room
Knives, lighters, money, games
His brother liked legos and Game boy
Unaware, the items ended up in his pocket
And placed under his bed
No one could find them there

Mommy had a shiny watch, very pretty
She had money on the table
He would keep it safe for her
So he picked it up and carried these things to his room
And placed them under his bed
For safekeeping…

His heart felt empty
He did not know what for
But he would try to fill the empty space
With pilfered trinkets hidden in his secret treasure
Underneath his bed
For security…
For love…

Finally, he collapsed in mid-wandering
And slept where he lay outside his Mommy’s door
Clutching his White Bear and his Twinkle blankie
Sucking on his Tweety binky…


Each night seemed an extension of the fearful day before
His soul contained an empty space
Which nothing seemed to fill
“I want my Mommy”
Echoed through his mind
Screaming, wailing, crying every night

“I want to go back”
“I want Becky”
“Leave me alone”
“Don’t touch me”
I want my other Mommy”
“Not you”

And my heart shattered into a million bits
Fallen on the floor, beside his
And wept

I held him to my chest as he screamed, bit, and fought
I sang love songs over his agony
We rocked, locked in an embrace of battle
As I tried to comfort the unbelievable burden
Of his grief

Until he eventually collapsed
Exhausted into sleep…


Another night…
I lay on a cot out side his door as he raged
He climbed the shelves and the furniture in his room
Seeking escape from his hurt
Seeking asylum from my heart
Seeking relief from the fear
Of love

Love hurts…

I had tried to hold him
I had tried to love him
I had tried to sing
I had tried to help
But he could not accept comfort
And he screamed

Faces glared from his mind
Loved ones walked away
Deserting him, abandoning, leaving him alone
It was going to happen again
It was just a matter of time…

And, eventually, I fell asleep
The salt drying on my face and burning my heart
While he huddled in a corner, underneath his bed
Where his stolen treasure lay
Seeking to fill the empty space


Repeated pattern…
The nights were blending into days
Where did they begin and end?
When would there be a break?
I struggled to hang on to hope
for him, for us, for me
But my grasp was slipping.

I could not stay awake for him
as the hours slipped away
And in the early morning light
Panic flooded over my soul
as I was unable to find him

Room by room, floor by floor…
Basement, garage, shed, backyard…
Closet, car…
Finally, to spy him playing in the neighbor’s drive
Cheerful and affectionate, smiling

And my fear exploded

I could not keep him safe
I could not see all
He would not let me fill his soul
And as he hid from me
I became convinced that I could not help him alone
Maybe not at all…

I made the call to the therapist
We found a bed
And I left him all alone just like all those before me
Just like he knew I would
Just like he told me so
Behind locked doors, with strangers and pills…

My heart shattered, another time
Into millions of broken bits
As, blinded by my tears, I drove away

He was only four years old…

**excerpt from 'Living in Chaos Survival: A Parenting Journey...' **Published through LuluPress 2004

by Betty Jo Hilger

Other poems of HILGER (64)

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