I had a dream last night. It was about my sister, Maggie. It’s been almost 9 years since my sister passed away but every now and then she comes to me in my dreams. Last night, she met up with me in a room filled with people and asked me to sing with her. I am a singer, though sadly, my sister never heard me sing.
In my dream, we sang together, a beautiful melody. She smiled and laughed with me, her face filled with happiness. I could feel her arms embracing me; I could hear her angelic voice harmonizing with mine. A dream so real, I could almost taste it. I was aglow until I awoke and realized she was gone and there would be no more singing.
To awake to the reality left me feeling empty and filled with sadness.
I wrote a song about my sister called “Maggie’s song.” It was my way of coming to terms with the immense loss of losing my sister. A sister I loved so much and knew so little about. Ours was a complicated relationship. Maggie and I shared the same father but different mothers. It was our father who abused both Maggie and myself as children and into adulthood. Though she seldom ever spoke about her experience, she did share it with me before she died. Her disclosure affirmed to me that I was not alone.
She lived a complicated life, filled with complex relationships and a continued cycle of violence. In many ways, she and I were very much alike and in many ways, very different. Those who have seen Chris and myself speak will know Maggie’s story, as I speak about her often. She has become a constant in my advocacy and holds an important place in my message to other survivors of abuse.
For many survivors of abuse there are questions that remain unanswered. Many of us are unable to speak with our abusers because they are out of our lives by design or by circumstance. For those whose abusers are still alive, there is often no conversation to be had, due to a complicated list of reasons. That list can be endless and so we go through life making sense as best we can of what happened to us and why.
When it comes to my sister Maggie, there is no answer good enough. I was tasked with going through Maggie’s things after she died. What I saw was a life of addiction and isolation. The newspaper read that she went to sleep one night and never woke up. That’s what the autopsy says and so that is what people admit. Though, most of you know that the nature of abuse is not as black and white. Far too many victims of abuse, including myself, will find themselves searching for reprieve through addiction. After years of this, Maggie lost the fight and with it her voice.
Many people have asked me why I continue to talk about an experience that brings up such upsetting emotions. My answer is always the same. I tell Maggie’s story because her life had meaning, more than I think she even realized. Through her story, others will know that they are not alone and that there can be life after abuse.
We must fight for each other and ourselves and never stop believing that change is possible. We must do the work and break free of our addictions, tell our stories and allow healing to take place. I believe that this is what Maggie would have wanted. I believe that she is up there looking down on me, joyous in knowing that people will learn from her life and that she will never be forgotten.
Amazing story…I’m in tears.
thanks for commenting, rachel. it’s so amazing to me when people take the time to leave a reply. sharing this particular part of my life has been very hard and to see people connecting to it means a lot. cheers.
my brother comes to me in my dreams too.. good and bad amazing song btw..
I will admit didn’t read the entire story because I’m afraid it will make me sad. I too know the feelings you first described, I lost my brother when he was only 16, and I was 13. He has been gone 8 years. And I can only remember having a few dreams about him since then. Its nice having dreams of that lost one, but to wake up and realize they are gone is a depressing feeling.
you should read it to the end, it may just make you smile. thank you aaron, for posting. your thoughts are appreciated.
Hi, Just wanted to tell you I too lived through alot of what you talked about. I really loved your songs and wow what a voice 🙂
thank you! love the feedback on the music too. cheers.
Cos I wasn’t sexually abused as a child,adult daughter of a mother who was unwell I never thought of myself as “abused”.I was in denial about the fingers broken in drawers,the fits brought on months after being hit round the head,physical misuse I couldn’t fight back wh paled into insignificance with the constant verbal abuse:I was plain,I was no fun,I was the most selfish person in the world,in truth I was a nervous wreck from the age of six (my dad died when I was 2)/1st suicide attempt at 13 w barbiturate o/d//Finally medical help,then at 14 Mum remarried leaving me to fend for myself on my father’s small naval pension.&I never thought I was abused!
you are not alone. thank you for sharing your story, for breaking the silence.
Your story reminds me of my dad. He passed away in april and I still can’t believe that I will never see him again. I also dream about him. In my dreams he comes back and for a moment it feels like i’m actually with him until I wake up and I realise that it wasn’t real. and I also feel empty and filled with sadness when I realise that he won’t come back to me again. Even though my dad used to hit me sometimes and I hated him for hitting me i can’t blame him for what he did. He only tried to do what he thought was the best and he raised me like he was raised.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Its the first time that I have talked about his death because I don’t want to admit that he is gone. It also helps alot to know that i’m not alone.
i’m so sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing your experience here and allowing others to read it. it certainly helps knowing that we are not alone. kudos to you for reaching out and allowing healing in….
Ah, the what if’s, Ophelia.
I miss my sister every day. If only we had known what we know now.
I admire your strength, it’s so great that you take your pain and turn it into something beautiful. Keep singing, you have an amazing voice, I’m sure your sister enjoys hearing it wherever she may be.
@sarah: I’m sure your sister enjoys hearing it wherever she may be.
thank you. the image brings tears to my eyes.
Why can’t these laws be written in simple English and not lawyers legalsleeze? Personally I believe rape, and child sexual abuse should be capital crimes. We would not need a law about whether or not federal tax dollars can be received by a rapist – PERIOD>
The law up to the point of no funding for rape, and kidnapping (crimes with witness and forensic proof) is fine. When you add in emotional elements (this is the falacy of Hate Crime legislation) is when laws like these can be used abusively against the innocent. The employees of Haliburton should be punished already, any supervisor who helped cover it up should be in jail as accomplises (sp?). Financial punishment of the company is like my 6th grade teacher who smacked everone on the back of the hand with a ruler because one person talked out of turn behind her back. GET the people that did the crime. those laws already exist enforce them. Pass a simple worded law that even the sleeziest lawyer can’t get around. I have three daughters and a granddaughter, I want a society that respects them and protects them and that ain’t going to happen with the current Congress.
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Beautiful tribute. I’m sorry I don’t have more words.
I really like what you wrote here – it’s very good. Thanks for posting this. Have a fun week!
It is sad sad sad….We six orphaned brothers and sisters were left with my mother’s family. Our guardians used us at will…My brother committed suicide in 1990..