I’m sixteen, tired from my shift at the snack shop with Dad. All I want to do is go to bed. I’m not even going to church tomorrow, I decide.

Is it 8:00 yet? Is that clock broken? Finally, I bag the freshly made hamburgers for hungry mouths at home. I walk the few blocks home in the cool November night.

Walking in, the food is grabbed from my hands. “Is your father okay?” my mom calls from their bedroom. “Yeah, but he was crabby.”

I lay on the couch, uniform and all. Just wanting sleep. But sometimes, we don’t get what we want.

My brother Gus yells out to me, “Mom’s calling you.”

“No, she’s not,” I respond. It’s a game we often play, but I’m not in the mood for any games tonight.

Gus retreats to his room downstairs, and I fall asleep. A couple hours later my dad’s large hands shake me.

“Where’s your mother?” he demands.

“She’s in your bedroom.” I answer with agitation.

Once more I try to get to sleep. But once again he’s at my side. “She’s not there,” he announces, “where is she?”

“Then she’s in the bathroom,” I yell.

Our house is not that big. Why does he keep bothering me?

In the morning, instead of waking up to Mom’s cooking, I wake up to a conversation.

“Dad, you’ve got to do something,” Gus, my eighteen- year-old brother pleads. “Something’s wrong with her.”

“She’ll be okay,” my dad mutters.

But she wasn’t okay. I was right, she had been in the bathroom. But what I didn’t know was that my dad found her fully clothed, lying in a dry bathtub with her arms folded across her chest, and her glasses on her head.

When my dad found her there, he put her in bed, where she belonged. Even when she fell out of bed, he somehow got her back into bed. And when she wet the bed, he still told himself she was going to be okay.

But wishing doesn’t change things.


Waiting with quiet patience,
praying for some response.
Why don’t you wake up?
Blurs of white uniforms, unaware and detached,

An insensitive sun shines apathetically.
They wheel in a machine to breathe for you.
Flashing lights have people running.
Words meant to reassure do not.

Silent silence.
The machine wheeled out,
I’m so sorry.

Tightened muscles, senseless sobbing,
Why didn’t you just wake up?

Three days later we stand before an open casket surrounded by a strong fragrance. Mom used to tell us,
“Don’t get me flowers when I’m gone.”

Unappreciated flowers sit everywhere.

As we stood saying goodbye to the one person who held our family together, I thought I could never feel worse than I did at that moment. But I was wrong.

About a month later, Gus was having lunch with my dad and me and he started talking. “Dad, remember the night mom got sick?”

My dad looked up. “Did you know she called Anne and Anne didn’t go?”

My dad’s eyes turned to steel. He looked over and pointed at me saying, “It’s your fault your mother’s dead.”

This is excerpted from Broken: A story of abuse, survival and hope.

Watch the Trailer for Broken.

Anne Peterson

Anne Peterson is a Christ follower, a poet, speaker and published author of 16 books. Through the many losses Anne has experienced in her life, she has felt God’s wonderful comfort. Her desire is to share words that will give hope to those who are hurting. Anne's tagline is: Life is hard, I write words to make it softer. Anne has also authored 42 published Bible Studies and about a hundred articles with christianbiblestudies.com/Today’s Christian Woman. 
 Many of her articles have been seen on Crosswalk.com For the past 28 years, Anne’s poetry has been available in gift stores throughout the U.S. as well as in 23 countries.

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