When I was in 4th grade I read the book Lassie Come Home. My mom had given me a preview of what the book was about, and that alone brought me into such a funk that I feigned illness for the next three days so I could read the book and cry at my leisure.
Looking back, I have to wonder if a certain amount of depression hadn’t already planted its seed in my young psyche. My home was a hotbed of dysfunction and hostility, but knowing other families on my street who seemed to possess the same traits — if not worse — I never gave it much thought except that this was simply my lot in life. I hadn’t met many happy people, especially adults, in my life; even my paternal grandma, who could be quite jolly and loving most times, had a slightly dark side where her conservatism and Pentecostal beliefs could swath you in guilt in a matter of moments.
By the end of my 3-day run of phony illness and book-inspired tears (the part where Rowlie and Toots are attacked was especially heartbreaking for me), my dad was on to me, and accused me of being “nothing but a big phony.” The shame plummeted me into an even deeper funk, and by the time I returned to school my vulnerability felt at an all-time high.
Time heals most wounds and within a few days I was back into my routine. Besides that, my mother was pregnant with my brother Brian at that time so hope and newness were on the horizon.