nancy-venable-raine

I was not only a survivor, but a witness to my own survival. I saw, too, that however painful my feelings of the past year had been, The pain had not, after all, replaced other feelings, but only hidden them from sight. For traumatic experiences, “forgetting” is impossible, yet remembering is the last thing you want to do. I learned that some redemption can come from even the deepest of losses. The victims of rape must carry their memories with them for the rest of their lives. They must not also carry the burden of silence and shame.
—  Nancy Venable Raine -After Silence, Rape and my Journey Back
Every year I feel the anniversary coming even before my conscious mind recognizes it. When the air crisps and the leaves begin to turn, I get this thing about taking out the trash. About oatmeal. The eyes in the back of my head, the ones that are never shut, begin to burn like the autumn colors, filling me with emotions I still can’t encompass.I know how to mark my birthday, my wedding anniversary, even the anniversary of my brother’s death. But the day I was raped? How should I observe the passing of another year? After all, I did take the trash out yesterday, and just this morning - the morning - I ate oatmeal standing at my kitchen window while contemplating the wild plum trees in my California garden that were turning the color of orange marmalade … Of course, anniversaries are celebrations. Celebrate is what I do on my birthday, with friends and family who make a fuss that I outwardly protest and secretly relish. Celebrate is what I do on my wedding anniversary, when my husband and I slip out of the humdrum and go off and do something silly that makes us appreciate our routine again. And on the anniversary of my kid brother’s death, I call my mother and we retell the story of how he carried his pet alligator to the zoo when it outgrew the bathtub - in a paper bag on a Washington bus. I am never alone when I celebrate these anniversaries, because someone else remembers them, too. Is it possible to celebrate this anniversary alone, as alone as I was that afternoon?
—   Returns of the Day by Nancy Venable Raine (The New York Times Magazine, October 2, 1994)