January 4, 2020:

She'd been raped at age 11. For years and years she let no one touch her, so that it was a huge surprise when, at age 20, she turned up pregnant, with a boyfriend.

He'd been married twice before, had two earlier children. He married her, too.

Her family say that during their marriage she was covered in bruises. She'd tell them, "Oh, I'm clumsy, I keep walking into doors and things." Exactly what she'd be predicted to say. The same flavor of lazy, transparent lie she'd tell me throughout her entire life when there was something she wanted to avoid discussing.

She left him because he hit me. I'm sure it's true that he did hit me at least once, but I'm also certain he beat her frequently. There's a family story that, as a two-year-old after their divorce, I'd ask her, in great confusion, "Daddy hit mommy?" Often.

I have a memory. Perhaps it's an early dream. She's falling backward into a wall after tripping over vacuum cleaner hoses. As if she's been punched hard, or shoved backward with irresistible force.

She told me that at their divorce he denied beating her. He admitted to "shoving" her. A little. I think the bruises say otherwise.

After her death I found court documents in her papers. An order to pay overdue child support; a sentence of two days in jail; and a restraining order. He was a deadbeat dad, and he threatened her.

How did his new family process that?