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González, F.J. (2008). Madre, Solamente Hay Una: VOLVER. Fort Da, 14(2):146-151.

(2008). Fort Da, 14(2):146-151

Madre, Solamente Hay Una: VOLVER

Reviewed by
Francisco J. González, M.D.

There was a turn of phrase from my childhood — perhaps there still is, if I can return to it — I don't know where it came from, but it was used like idiomatic salt around the house: madre — and the pause here, the moment of rest was essential to the heaping up of meaning in it — madresolamente hay una. When I think of it in English, as now I must, it sounds pedestrian, the poetry of it hammered into mere fact: motherthere is only one. But in the Spanish of my growing up, it retains a deep mystery, textured in the far reaches of my mind by the knowledge that my mother had lost her own mother when she was only six. When my mother said it — and I remember it used only in warmth, as a kind of marker of a complex happinessmadre, solamente hay una — it still had the distant echo of her loss in it. There is only one and she's gone.

The other day at my clinic I was working with a man named Javier. I have known him for years. Beginning at four years of age, he was sexually abused by an older cousin for over a decade. We have worked for years on healing the tortured wounds — he has been in pieces, angry, railing, fragmented, terrified too many times in this office. Things have improved, but the relationship lives on in his psyche: Javier now tortures himself.

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