The screams roared down the hall and swept under the door of the tiny bedroom I shared with my four year old sister. My belly quivered. Not again.
I slid off the top bunk, opened the door and crept down the hall, my bare feet silent against the hardwood floors. Twisting the hem of my pink nightgown in my fist, I peered around the corner into my parent’s bedroom. Red velvet curtains shouted a warning from their vantage point high above the fracas.
I watched my parents’ shadows pantomime on the bedroom floor as they argued inside their bathroom. My ten year old body shuddered as something crashed against the wall. Suddenly my mom and dad stormed out of the bathroom. Just two steps inside their battle zone, I froze.
Chaos erupted. Behind me, all four of my younger siblings now stood in the doorway, wakened by the frightening noises we all dreaded. Their terrified sobs bombarded the room like a tragic symphony.
My parents never noticed.
Husband and wife shoved each other, angry words fiercely spewing like a faulty car radiator that was about to blow. Then, we all watched our parents begin a fist fight.
Someone needs to do something. I jumped between my parents, holding out my hands until one palm touched each of them. "Please stop fighting! You're scaring everybody! Please!"
That's when she did it.
My mom ran toward her nightstand and grabbed our heavy, black telephone. My jaw dropped as I watched her yank the cord right out of the wall. She’s breaking our telephone? Lifting the phone behind her head as though heaving a football, she threw it toward my dad with all her might. The phone plunged into the top of his head with an eerie thud. Blood dripped down my dad's face in a crazy, zigzag design. His hand flew up to the wound and he raced back to the bathroom, large circles of blood dotting the hardwood floor behind him.
The symphony grew to a frenzied hysteria.
Freaked out and terrified, all five of us kids followed our enraged mom as she ran into our living room--heading directly toward my dad's prized possession--his beautiful wood and glass gun case. With her defiant kick the glass enclosure was utterly shattered.
So were our hearts.
Sometimes it’s an uphill climb to normal. For me, normal always seemed far away, like a mystical dream that I knew existed, but would probably never find. Oh, I inhaled the scent of normal on occasion. Like when I visited of my grandparents’ house in Detroit for the weekend, where sheets graced every bed, Johnny Carson performed in their calm living room nightly, and my Gram cooked clockwork meals. Or the time I lived with my aunt and uncle in Arkansas for a year and learned a house could be pert near spotless, ketchup on crock pot pinto beans tastes extraordinary, and the true meaning of family.
My journey to normal started when I met Jesus, almost 20 years ago. It felt like I slowly started to wake up the day I entwined my fingers with His, and the mystical dream slowly shimmered into real life as we walked together. It hasn’t always been easy. But the cool thing about Jesus is He takes every step with you.
He knows our past, He knows our hurts, but I think what I like best about Jesus is He knows our hearts. And somehow, while we walk together, He gathers the shattered fragments and fuses them back together. It might sound improbable, but the girl who lived the scene above and the woman I’ve now become now barely recognize each other. And that’s close enough to normal for me.