I cry at night. I cry during daylight hours, also.
But my daylight tears are dry and concealed by fake smiles and forced humour.
My nighttime tears are lonely for they escape while no other person is near.
They are like tiny fugitives sneaking from my eyes, burning pathways of despair and shame. Leaving damp roadways of pain and guilt as they trickle down my face and splash painfully onto my chest to form a tiny pool of anguish in the indentation directly above my heart.
Since my unplanned birth that fifth day of October, 1957, I have cried.
Are newborns aware of what their lives are to be?
Was I aware that my parents would nickname me “Boo Boo”?
The constant reminder that my existence was a nusence. An unplanned mistake most likely the result of intoxicated fueled lust.
Did infant Danny know that day that he was not wanted?
That of the three children of Mr. and Mrs. H.Verner it would be he who would be tossed to the wolves of foster care?
Was baby Boo Boo aware that by ten years of age he would have lived in thirty two homes?
I could guess he did by looking back at his life.
I never knew what it was like to say the words “Mom” or “Dad”. I can barely remember the first ten years of my life. Memories of physical abuse, tears upon my pillows and wondering why I didn’t have the same name as the people I lived with are clear.
Memories of bedwetting and pants soiled with feces. Vague pictures of being placed in galvanized wash tubs full of ice water, welts upon my legs and buttocks . All the joys of childhood.
Not a single memory of allowing any man or woman to force tears from my eyes. The true ‘boy who never cried’.
Recollections of many a psychological interrogation and Catholic social workers explaining how good boys go to good homes.
I never had a birthday party or gift that I remembered.
No, I am not capable of unlocking those first ten years. Forever sealed in a highly classified “for my eyes only” recess of my subconscious.
I definitely remember burning down the foster home the day after I was sat down in the back yard and told that the man before me was my father and the blonde haired older boy who I recognized from school was my brother. Being told that I had a sister in Toronto. That this far away city was also where my birth mother lived.
Mother, father, brother, sister? What was that? I had no base line to form an opinion of such. Was I to believe that “family” was an actual thing?
So, my first day of life was not October the fifth, 1957. It was July 1967. The day I moved into my brother and sister’s father’s house. The day I met the kindest woman I would ever know. My beloved “stepmother”. God rest her beautiful soul. I never called or thought of her as my “step” parent for she was a true mother. The only mother I knew. The only adult in my short ten years who didn’t torture or belittle me.
I sort of remember my father. Fond memories of seeing him asleep, hugging the toilet bowl as I entered the bathroom to have my morning tinkle. Childhood pictures of my kindly step mom, who often chose to wear a black eye.
By 1969, at the age of twelve, I had decided family life was not my cup of tea. Glue sniffing, heroin and every other drug were fun. So were guns and violence.
The hippie bug bit my brother and I and we joined the Awarehouse. Saint John, New Brunswick’s only hippie commune. I made incense and Brother Ernie made candles. I also made needle marks along my arms and legs.
But, I did not fit the criteria for being a hippie. Hippies were not violent. Shake, my new name, Shake was violent. Shake’s friends, much older than he, Noel, Gigi and Johnnie were also violent. Drugs became the breast milk for my emotionally starved heart. Guns and explosives became my toys. Motorcycles and leather my diapers.
I even had a vacation home in Dorchester Penitentiary and another one in beautiful Springhill, Nova Scotia. They were gated communities with all the amenities a drug crazed violent rebel needed. A bed! Clean clothes! Three meals each and every day!
Yes, I remember my teenage and early twenty years. So, unfortunately, do the family of my victim. As do the families who unknowingly donated all their treasures to the Shakie Dann Verner drug program.
My release from federal prison and my agreement to never return to my beautiful Saint John brought me to Toronto.
For the first time in my life I actually got to say the words “This is my Mom”.
But, only for a year for after I finally was blessed to meet and grow to love her, well, she got brutally murdered by an ex-boyfriend. I didn’t cry then.
I cry now. At night when the darkness surrounds me. When all of you are sleeping. I’m crying now.
I am crying because it is night.
I am crying because no one can see or hear me cry.
I am crying because soon I will be sixty and soon I will be too aged not to cry during the cover of darkness.
I am crying because I am a lonely old man who only ever wanted a family. But, how does someone who never knew of “families” become a “family” man?
Tomorrow I will write about the path of Shakie in the 1980’s becoming his version of a failed “Dad” and how this broken man became “LightHouse Dann Verner”. The man who cries too often.
But for now, I cry at night.
I am the lonely man who serves no purpose.