An Angel by My Side
Remembering my friend
Born February 1963
Died between 1971-1973
This post is about a little girl whom I will call “Susie”. I have changed the names to protect the innocent because nothing was ever proven in regards to what I have written. This is a true story that I have wanted to share for a number of years. I wrote this over 5 years ago and it has only been read by a few friends. I ask that you read it with an open mind and be aware that it is told from my perspective and memory of approximately 8-10 years of age.
Although National Child Abuse Awareness month is April, I was moved to post this today. I was referred by a friend to listen to a specific artist on YouTube yesterday. This morning, I listened to the song I was referred to and stumbled upon a video called “Alyssa Lies”, original song by Jason Michael Carroll.
As I listened to this song and watched the video, tears streamed down my face. My 3 year old niece was in my lap and was listening to the song as well. I tried to hide my tears and covered my mouth to stifle the moan that was trying to escape from deep within me. This moan, has come up before. You see, approximately 39 years ago, a small child was the Alyssa from the song I was listening to….from the bruises to the funeral…she, was Alyssa. This death was ruled “natural”. No one was proven guilty of anything. I grew up and didn’t think about my “Alyssa” very often because although I remembered her, so much has faded. It all seemed like a blur to me as a child because there was so much I didn’t understand. When I was in my 30’s and had two children of my own and my daughter was the same age as my “Alyssa” and I; it all came rushing back to me and I finally had the opportunity to think back on this and wrote down all that I could remember. Writing this down was a part of my growth and my journey. ~ Roz
For quite some time now, I have thought of Susie often. Susie and I were best friends in elementary school in a small town in South Carolina. I can remember we are approximately the same size and I can still see the sad look that was on her face the majority of the time. Sometimes she comes to school with burns, welts and belt marks/scars on her body. These scars were visible, there are old ones too. Why, I wondered did no one else notice them? Once, she showed me a burn, a new one, the she said she got from the iron, courtesy of her grandmother.
I see us playing in the swings but mostly, I remember one day in particular. It was early morning, it was sunny and I see the both of us sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, she has on a light blue dress, white bobby socks, shiny black patent leather shoes and ribbons in her hair. She has many scars; old scars on those skinny legs of hers. But, I digress…She has her knees drawn up to her chin and I can tell she has been crying. She says to me, “I hate it here; my grandmother is always mean to me and kind to my sister and beats me for any reason at all. I miss my mother!” She begins to cry again and I try to console my hurt and sad little friend. I tell her, “Susie, you should tell the teacher, someone will help you.” She just shook her head, no. She finally speaks and tell’s me that no one ever believes her. Now, years later I wonder what made me think that someone would help this child. At the time, I believed it so much that when I got home from school that day, I asked Mom if we could adopt her. I told Mom, “You love us, why can’t you love Susie too? She gets beatings all the time; you don’t treat us that way. Why does her grandmother beat her and put marks on her all the time? I have seen them Mom!” My mother turned around and looked at me, then said, “Don’t you say such things, her grandmother would never hurt her. Don’t you ever say such as thing again!” I knew then, in my heart, that adults would not believe us and dropped it.
I remained Susie’s friend and played with her when the other kids would not. She wore pretty dresses every day and always looked like she was going to church. I guess that is because her grandmother was raising her and it seemed so proper. If she got dirty at school, she became sad because she knew what was going to happen when she got home from school and her grandmother saw that she had messed up those pretty clothes.
Susie had an older sister who dressed the same way but they looked so different from one another I wondered if they were sisters at all. Another incident occurred when she showed me the burn that she said her grandmother did with the iron. Her sister told her to stop telling lies on Grandmother and she was going to tell. Susie turned to her sister and replied with so much conviction, “I don’t care, tell her! She beats me anyway and loves you! Tell her whatever you want to tell her!” All I could think about on the way home that day was that she was really going to get it this time. Her conviction convinced me she was telling the truth. Her defiance also told me that she had been beaten so much that she would take it because she was used to it. She had given up.
Susie and I had a disagreement one day, about what, I cannot remember. We were not speaking and I became sick a few days later with the “mumps”. My mother kept me home from school because of my fever and because mumps was a highly contagious childhood disease. When I heard the school buses passing the house, I ran down the street to meet my brothers and my neighborhood friends. When I reached them, Leila (my next door neighbor and friend) told me Susie had not come to school that day because she had died the night before. I froze in disbelief, looked at Leila, turned and looked at everyone else. No one discredited what she was saying, all eyes were on me, voices silent. I turned around and ran all the way back to our house as fast as I could. I wanted Mom to tell me that they were just kidding me and that little kids don’t just die in their sleep! I ran down the driveway, thru the garage and swung open the door. I screamed to Mom, “They told me Susie died last night Mom!!! Is this true? Mom, looking wild-eyed and confused tried to calm me down. She said, “go to your room, I have to call someone”. I now know that she called one of our neighbors who was related to Susie’s grandmother and found that the news was indeed true. She was told that Susie, who had been an asthmatic all of her life, had died from an asthma attack during the night. Mom came to my room, by then I was inconsolable because I had overheard her conversation, she told me she was so sorry that my friend had died. I held my head up and looked at my mothers face then said, “I told you her grandmother was hurting her and you did not believe me. Now she is dead!!” My mother took me into her arms, hugged me and said, “I am so sorry I did not believe you Rosalind. But you are only a child and you don’t know what goes on in someone else’s house. I cannot accuse people of things I am not sure of, I am so sorry she is gone but you know she had asthma.” My mother held me tight as I cried and tried to make sense of it all.
When the day of the funeral arrived, Mom would not allow me to attend. I don’t remember that day at all, but she did say that I had an absolute fit! She also said she was a little afraid to allow me to go even if I had not been ill. Back then, even as a child, I was very headstrong and she was probably afraid of what I would say to the grandmother. Today, I realize I probably would have accused the grandmother of murder right there in the church! I had so much anger, sadness and confusion at that time. A sense of loss I just could not comprehend.
I didn’t mention Susie to Mom for many years. I was in my 30’s before I talked about her again to anyone. My daughter was around 8 years old and told me about a dream of a girl in a blue dress. She said the girl was in a swing on a playground. Like a bolt of lightning, I could see Susie swing in that swing in a blue dress going as high as she could. I wondered if she was appearing in my daughter’s dreams.
This brought it all back to me and I while talking to my mother, asked her about Susie again. Mom told me that she had repeated my story of Susie’s abuse to the grandmother’s relative down the street the day I found out about her passing and this woman told Mom, that she had heard the same thing regarding the grandmother being mean to one grandchild and kind to the other. She informed Mom that the grandmother moved back North (Philadelphia, I believe it was) and had taken Susie’s sister with her immediately after the funeral.
For many years I blamed myself because I did not help this child who was treated so differently by her guardian than I was by mine. We had only known each other for a few years, but the impact of our friendship will remain with me forever. Who looks out for the children? This is a question I have asked for many years. There were periods that I did not think of Susie at all; really it was not until I had my own children that she came to my mind most often. I have no doubt that Susie has been with me for all of this time and that makes me smile. I loved her when she was most vulnerable, I was her friend when she thought she did not have any, I tried to help her when no one else would.
I am writing this now, at the age of 43 so that I can finally release the little girl within me who cries because she lost her best friend all those years ago. The little girl who lost someone at such an early age and having to have endure the experience of loss, grief and bewilderment. Although I cannot remember exactly how old we were, we were between the ages of 8-10. I tried to find information on the internet, to no avail. Each time I think of her, February comes up also, so I believe her birthday was in that month. I have gone over what could have happened to her, but today, I just want to remember her for her laughter, her kindness and her friendship. I have missed her and still feel the pain of losing her. Tears come to my eyes when I remember but this should not be. With time, the tears will be replaced. Growth and realization takes time. If she was indeed being abused, her passing released her from all the worldly physical ills and mistreatment. She was released to All That Is! She is free! I will never forget her as I feel her presence when I least expect it! That is a joy in itself and has no place for regret nor tears.
We must all be aware and watchful of those who are innocent and only want to be loved and protected. Be vigilant, be watchful and be proactive! If you suspect a child is being abused, do something. Every child has the right to be in a safe and loving home.
When I watched and listened to the video below, I was taken back to a time when I was an innocent; a child. I saw this video thru the eyes of the child who was the friend to Alyssa. Please take a moment to watch it and feel free to leave a comment.
Jason Michael Carroll’s ‘Alyssa Lies’ video has become an internet sensation. It has become an excellent communication tool for abused children to share who they can get help from their unfair situations.
“ALYSSA LIES” The Original Video in High Definition HD