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CHAPTER 4: “BROKEN BROOKLYN”

Updated: Mar 2, 2022



The effects of trauma create wounds that are so deep they can go unnoticed for long periods of time when that trauma is exposed the behaviors that follow can be catastrophic. For my siblings and I we had to endure one traumatic event after another. Not having the space to deal with each event eventually led to each of us developing imperfections in our behavior, one of which you could imagine was our shared fear of abandonment.

Jessica’s sudden and frequent absence created a role shift for all of us. As the oldest male Harvey Jr. became the father figure, Jamal was second in command and everyone else fell in place. Even now, I cannot imagine what Jessica was going through. What I do know is the impact of all she had endured to that point finally came to the surface. In spite of all that Jessica had been through, her internal compass stood strong, it brought her back from the dead. She was already hanging on by a thread after someone shot her two oldest boys. She worked tirelessly to help them to regain their strength. From her appearance, it looked as though she had given them her own strength leaving her frail and vulnerable, so when her husband passed away a part of her died with him.


Jessica’s disappearing act began immediately after we settled into the new apartment. She would leave for two to three weeks at a time. When she did come back, she would only stay for a short while and even then, she would lock herself in her bedroom with the music blasting or go back and forth to the liquor store. I had been watching my mother like a hawk all of my life. She is and will forever be my lion heart even at this stage of her life. I observed her trying to find understanding in how her life had changed so drastically, however my adolescent mind could not recognize that type of pain.


Jessica was the first person on the list of names of who would leave us suddenly not as in their demise but their absence within the household. In addition, thanks to the frequent visits back to our old neighborhood the second oldest Jamal would be the next to have reason to leave. Jamal’s girlfriend Diana announced that she was expecting which is wonderful news however this news came with a twist. Their union would contribute to the dismantling of the Harvey family. Although they were young, both Jamal and Diana welcomed the idea of sharing something so precious together. Diana was living in Borinquen Housing with her grandparents. Her grandparents were not in favor of her having a child mainly due to her being sixteen years old.


Eventually Diana’s parents and her grandparents decided it would be best for her to go live with her parents in Seattle Washington. Seattle Washington is nearly three thousand miles away, forty-two hours driving and a six-hour flight. In that very moment, Jamal decided what kind of father he envisioned himself to be. Although he did not have it all figured out he knew he wanted to be a part of the growth and development of his child; therefore, right then he decided whether it was Seattle or Afghanistan he will be with his family. This news came with some mixed emotions for all of us, but no one was as unprepared as Justin was. This hit was like the Titanic. These two have been the dynamic duo; they have been through it all together. Jamal would tell anyone who would listen the story about the rock fight that Justin started when they were younger.


They were outside with a group of boys their age running around the playground when Justin decided to launch a rock at one of the other boys, Justin. When Jamal asked if he could play Justin immediately replied “NO I do not want you to get hurt” Jamal reminded his brother how swift he was and assured him that he would be extra careful so Justin allowed him to play and quickly grabbed Jamal and told him to hide behind the pile of rubble. Kids would scope out the area to throw large rocks. One would sail toward him and hit him directly in the middle of his forehead! Justin immediately panicked, immediately he examined his little brothers injury knowing that if he took him home with blood pouring from his head he would have to deal with my mother’s wrath. Justin wiped Jamal’s head clean from the small amount of blood then he wiped his tears off and they carried on with their day.


Jamal would always end that story with “we did it together”… the morning arrived for Jamal to catch the bus to Seattle Washington. That morning they did not say much when they got out of bed and prepared for the ride to the bus station. Neither of them had ever acknowledged this emotion. Up until this point both Jamal and Justin viewed themselves as inviolable and inseparable. Picture their devastation when they had to face these conflicting emotions of the complete opposite. Accompanied by my sister Lauren, she rode with them to the bus terminal. Close in age, these three are extremely close; they were born nearly one year after one another so their closeness was expected. As they sat and waited for the bus, they shared some stories and held back the tears for as long as they could. The second the bus pulled in, they began crying, hugging each other one by one ever so tightly. Tears flowed for several minutes then Jamal boarded the bus and he was off to start his new life.


The following year the third to oldest Lauren joined the “sudden departure” list. I guess those frequent visits back to the old neighborhood planted many seeds for more than just Jamal. Lauren was the third child born to the Harvey family, fortunately for her there were two boys before her, which made her arrival even more delightful. The next girl would not arrive for another five years and two additional boys later so you can imagine how our dad spoiled her rotten. Laurens features favored Jessica’s side of the family. By the ripe age of nineteen she stood five eleven, had a caramel complexion, and innocent brown eyes like my mom. She managed to stay away from as much trouble as the boys, but do not get it twisted, they made her as tuff as they were, and she had a mean left hook to go with it! Who would know better than yours truly? Lauren used that left hook to get me out of trouble on plenty of occasions. Lauren had been dating Juan for a couple of years now and they too decided to take their relationship to the next level.


Juan was a really nice young man. He worked hard, had a charming personality and traditional family values. So when Lauren announced that they would be moving in to an apartment together no one was entirely flabbergasted. Each time a sibling left the household it felt as if a part of me was chipping away. Have you ever left your home and no matter how many times you checked your bag or pockets you just cannot shake the feeling that you are missing something? That is somewhat how I felt when Lauren moved out, as if something was missing. Although we were five years apart, my sister had created a special bond between us, in my mothers’ absence I relied on her even more.


I remember walking home alone one day after school and some well-known “tuff” girls in Marlboro Houses decided that day they would settle their gripe with me. They followed me home and as I made my way to the front of the building, I decided to remain on the stoop knowing that their intentions were to jump me. It was in my best interest not to be behind closed doors with them; that is just street knowledge 101. The leader talked as much shit as a can could hold, and I let her. I am not and will never be a tongue bandit. Less talk and more action is my forte. To be honest I do not think I attempted to de-escalate the situation. When I did open my mouth, I would say approximately five words that usually invited anyone to a fight. The leader ran towards me and the fight began.


It felt like ten minutes but I am sure it was not after a few hits to her face one of her friends decided they would get better results if she jumped in. One of them grabbed my hair and we were locked like nine crabs in a pot. From all the commotion, I could not tell how many more people were standing around but it got louder. Then I heard Laurens voice, you know that moment when Optimus Prime powers up then uses his Ion blaster. That is how I felt when I heard her voice I recharged instantly while Lauren separated me first then proceeded to fling these girls from left to right. We somehow ended up in the lobby of our building and I was free at this point. Therefore, whoever stepped up got knocked back. One girl thought she could take Lauren until Lauren hit her with that left hook. FIGHT OVER! You had to laugh aloud! Aside from saving my tail when I would bite off a little more than I could chew, who was going to talk to me about boys and answer all the tough questions? I had questions that were really for my mom. I had no clue.


Autumn had arrived and our starting five did not look so good. Shooting guard was gone. Our small forward gone, our power forward gone, and all I could think about was, damn we are losing out here.


Lucky Colter is a Featured Writer for Now PR Magazine


Follow her on Instagram @ladyluck_40




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