Dandelion Vol 1

Introduction

The worst part about memories is the way they gradually fade away, except the memories you’d wish to forget.

It was June of 1992 and we had just moved into our first real house in Glascow, Kentucky. Real house meaning to that point, I was 8 years old and most of my childhood was spent in trailers with the exception of houses of family members or the one in Ohio we had to sneak out of in the middle of the night.

For the last couple of years we had moved from one trailer park to the next. We were always so close to our neighbors and now we had a huge yard with a whole forest behind it to explore. Our trailers and Ohio house at all been one story but this one at 2 and an attic. Mom was so excited to finally have her own house.

I was also excited because it was the first time I had my own room and didn’t have to share one with my 5 year old little brother Shane. It was huge too. I ran in circles on the carpet - I couldn’t wait to dance around in all that space. Things were starting to look up.

We were out one afternoon exploring our new town. After we found the post office we did some grocery shopping. We had just left the store when Mom started to act strange and a bit anxious. She put Shane in back seat while I got the bags loaded into the car then got in my usual spot next to her on the passenger’s side.

Mom opened the door and sat down, “Cassandra, I can’t see.”

A wave of panic hits me, “what do you mean?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t see a thing. We need to get to the hospital.” I could tell she was scared but was trying to keep it together for us.

“How? Can you drive? Should I?”

“No, of course not. I need you to direct me. Tell me where to turn and when there’s cars around. Do you see any blue signs with a big H on them?”

I looked around until I spotted one down the street behind us, “yes.”

“Ok good, we’ll be okay. Let’s go.”

A nervous wreck I became Mom’s eyes as I looked around for the Blue H signs and told her when to turn when there was stop sign or a car in front of us. We were a team and she remained calm the whole time.

Once we got to the hospital I walked her inside with Shane. We got to the counter where Mom explained her symptoms and that her husband wasn’t in town. My father had been a long haul truck driver out on the road on and off for years. He was gone again and the only other person we knew in town were our landlords.

They called the Landlady to wait with Shane and I. I saw the worry in Landlady’s face; something was wrong but she tried to remain positive as we left the hospital and went back to the house to wait for Mom to get done with whatever tests they needed to do. I wondered if my Mom would ever be able to see again.

That night she came home and it seemed like she had some answers but wouldn’t tell me what was going on. She could see again but it wasn’t like before. She tried her best to act normal but I could tell something had changed and the worry on her face had started to show.

I had been excited about going up to visit my aunt Debbie in Rome, NY. The trip had been in the works for a long time and was going to go on as planned. I felt the push and pull of being excited to go to Debbie’s house but feeling like I needed to be with my Mom. Something was terribly wrong.

Eventually my dad came home and there were the usual closed door adult conversations happening but these felt more tense. He was going to take us up to NY in his semi truck while Mom stayed behind and got settled in the house. Shane and I loaded up the truck and I wanted so badly for Mom to come with us. She looked so worried but wanted us to go and have a good time.

The last memory I have of the Mom I knew waved goodbye to me as Dad’s semi truck backed out of our new driveway. There was something in her eyes that told me things were never going to be the same.

The look on her face from that moment still haunts me.

Why?

There are many reasons I decided to spend time writing a memoir. At first I thought, who I am to think my story is as important as a book? That's the scared little girl I battle on a daily basis... but then the strong woman who's persevered calms the little girl and reminds her that we've been through a lot and here we stand - able to tell this story.

Not everyone gets that chance.

It's a story of death, dreams, sex, miracles, depression, addiction and hope but at the center of it all it's about love.

My hope for telling my story is that if they can see what I've seen and been through and how I've gotten to this place in my life where I can look back at those things and appreciate how far I've come, maybe they can too. I'm an addict who has been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. I'd like to help remove the stigma attached to 2 big parts of my life.

If I can help relief shame and stigma even just a little bit it would allow me to heal myself too.

This page is going to be the process of the book. I have 50 pages now, we'll see how this goes.

Much love & light,

Cassandra