Fear and Faith and a Squished Banana

Brenda Wilbee Fall 1954My first memory is of fear—and faith.

I am three. The month is May and cherry blossoms are in full bloom. My mother and father and big sister climb the high, very wide steps ahead of me. I dawdle in the hum of bees and a breeze. The door slams shut at the top of the stairs. I startle. I'm alone!

“Big” dog comes loping around the corner. My heart lurches. All thought takes flight. I stumble down the stairs, turn, stumble down the cellar stairs. I all but fall into the basement, and lean hard against the door. Big dog snuffles on the other side. He paws, more snuffling. He barks. He’ll tear me to bits, I know this, and I stumble away, to a patch of light in the middle of the floor.

A queasy kind of darkness. Dust floats. I drop my banana; it lies squished at my feet. I almost throw up. Maybe I do. I can hardly see the mess for the whopping thud-thud behind my eyes and fast jagged breathing.

And then it comes to me. All I have to do is stand still and wait. My father will find me. Within minutes I hear him come down the stairwell, calling my name. He shoos off Big dog, opens the door, and I burst into tears, terror gone. Fear and faith.  

I was three. Nothing's changed. I still live in fear and faith. A faith that walks me through the fear.

Here's the weird part. My mother says I used to love bananas. Today I can't make myself eat them. Banana bread, banana cream pie, all good. But throw in a clump? I gag. Not good. I'm back in that cellar, Big dog snuffling at the door. Oh, geez, who else has a memory like this?