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Phoebe, Our Daughter

I only hold you for a little time
but I loved you with all my heart
you are my sweet daughter and always will be
no matter where now you may be
I promises to keep you safe
I could not then
they would not let me
now with all my heart I do
I dream of what you could of been
the things we could of done
I would of been the sweetest mother
and given all my love
but that was not to be
Now others know you once lived
you cried you smiled
They know my love for you
You did not die alone
and you have not been forgotten
                        Olivia's poem for her daughter

How do you explain to the world that you have a daughter, that she was killed.  They ask questions, ones that if answered will at the very less shock. There is disbelief, there is horror and then denial.  People can't deal with this, and we are left alone.  How old would she be, they ask, 21 this year is the reply.  They nod as they do the maths in there head, then it comes that look, shock, confusion.  We nod, yes I had her when I was 11.  We worry they will ask the hardest question, how did she die?  We don't know how to answer that.  Should we say the truth, that as we held her, they slit her throat, collecting the blood as it poured over us, and then her tiny body was burnt away.  No we can not say that, that would be too much, they would never cope with it.  So to keep them safe, to take care of them we dilute the truth, we hide away our grief and just answer in the most vaguest way.  "We were too young"

For a long time this baby didn't exist for anyone but Olivia.  She was a non event, she was nothing.  We hid from the truth, leaving Olivia alone with her pain, denying the existence of the child borne from this body.  We had to, we know that, for no one was ready to deal with that grief, that anger.  But in doing so we were denying ourselves, and denying a child that did no harm but to be borne into a world that was perverted beyond measure.  She lived for an hour and then was gone, no tombstone marks her place of burial, no one speaks of her, that child without a name, without a memorial.  How could we acknowledge her, to do so would be to believe our existence, to remember the pain.  We were scared, we didn't want to know our past.  It was better lost forever.  But it was never lost, we could never truly escape it no matter how fast we ran it was just one step behind us, waiting for us to turn and look.  So we shut off the memory and kept Olivia trapped in the woods.  We would be safe from it.

But there comes a time when being haunted by the past is unbearable, more so that dealing with it.  So we released Olivia from her prison, and brought her into the village.  We did not know what she had to say, but we all knew it would be bad.  We thought we were prepared, but nothing can prepare you for the knowledge that comes from abuse.  We had said we would support Olivia, that we would listen and comfort.  But when she started to speak her truth, we ran from her, we denied her.  She was alone, standing in the middle of the village, tears streaming down her face.  For our offer of support had disappeared like dust and we had accused her of lying.  We just weren't prepared enough, so we turned away from her, trying to avoid the pain.  Eventually however we had to face it, we had to know it was a part of our life and that the way to deal with it was to accept it and feel the grief, guilt and shame.  It was only when all those that felt pain over what had happened were allowed to feel it could it be released.

Olivia was allowed to feel, allowed to remember and speak of her daughter.  After 17 years, she was finally able to acknowledge her daughter's existence, and give her a name.  This is Olivia's story, and that of her daughter Phoebe.

I remember the woman coming to me, pulling me aside, telling me what an honour this was, how I was a very lucky girl.  But I didn't feel lucky, I could tell in her eyes, something wasn't good, and I was scared.  She lead me to the altar, her hand gripping my arm tightly.  I knew that grip, it meant that running would only make things far worse, beyond anything that would happen if I behaved.  And I noticed my grandmother, that smoldering hatred, that look of anger.  I would not do anything to bring that wrath on top of me, so I walked quietly, obediently.  Once at the table I was strapped in, my legs in stirrups and my arms strapped down to the table.  I was then giving a number of injections and everyone waited.  First the chanting started slow and quiet, mumbled words in the background.  But as the first waves of pain hit me the chanting grew, in loudness and speed.  My body was soon wracked with waves of pain as I went into labour.  The more I cried out the louder and more excited everyone grew.  I still didn't understand what was going on.  I was only 11, and not sure how babies come into the world.  It was all so terribly frightening.  I thought I was dying, and that was what everyone was excited about.

The pain seemed to go on forever.  Then it happened, it's all a daze now, the woman telling me to push, the intense pain, the wild exhilaration of the group.  The next thing I am clearly aware of is that child being placed on my stomach.  Her tiny body wiggling slightly as my arms moved to hold her.  She was my daughter they said.  I was so tired, so happy.  I couldn't believe I had a child.  I lay there watching her, smiling.  She was mine and I would keep her safe, she would have everything I didn't.  They left me with her, lying there crawling her in my arms for about an hour.  It was the time I bonded with my daughter.  I was able to watch her, touch her, talk to her.  As the time went by she became more and more my child, and I could see more of her future ahead of her.  But then I noticed the way the group of people grew silent, having been chatting quietly they now grew hushed and came closer.  Then I saw her, in her dark robe, that robe we knew so well.  The panic ran up inside me, I had to do something, get away, but I wasn't able to move, tiredness and fear kept me rooted to the table.  I sobbed and begged, but she approached me unrelenting.  As the people broke into chanting again she took the knife, and slit open my daughters throat, A chalice was placed to collect the blood, but a lot of it ran over me.  She lifted up the cup and the crowd cheered, after taking a sip she placed it against my lips.  I didn't want to drink of my daughter's blood, but she forced it in place and tipped it so some ran into my mouth.

Finally she lifted the body of my daughter from me, holding it up in the air.  The words were spoken, the ceremony dedicating her soul to Satan was performed.  Everyone was so happy, so excited.  The daughter I had held and loved for that hour was now a servant of Satan and would never be at peace.  Her tiny body was then placed into the flames, and as they engulfed her I lay there sobbing.  It was my fault, I should of rescued her, I should of run.  I let my daughter die when I could of kept her alive.  I cried those tears knowing I would be punished for them later.  I was meant to be happy to perform this honoured task.  But I didn't care.  She was my daughter and I wanted to die instead of her.  I should of died instead of her.  No one would know she existed and know one would speak of her again.

It's now been 21 years since she was born, and 4 years since I first spoke of her.  She now has a name, and a place in our memory.  I like to remember that hour we had, but I can't without remember what happened next.  Where is her soul now?  I don't know.  I want to believe Skye when she says she has returned to the great Essence, that Satan doesn't have her and she isn't suffering.  I want to believe that, but sometimes it's just too hard.

I love you Phoebe.