Since my husband Lewis Blayse died in January 2014, the fracture lines in our family have deepened. I believe at least one cause of contention is the claim Lew made about the injury to his thumb. I was with him when The Leaving of Liverpool was first screened, and was able to observe his reaction. He was unable to continue watching, and after a considerable amount of time isolated in our bedroom, disclosed to me what he believed had happened to his thumb. We were all horrified, of course, as were the journalists who wrote about this incident. It is likely that both accounts, the one his siblings recounted, and the one Lew recalled, could have been correct. Lew’s own account of his time at St George’s was written in 2007, after he had been told of the skepticism of family members.
The nature of trauma’s effects on memories of childhood are only now beginning to be understood. The Australian Childhood Foundation has the following explanation.
“Trauma dramatically affects children’s memory capacity. It serves to degrade children’s memories. Children’s working memory is extensively reduced. They find it difficult to learn. They are not able to remember events and the sequence in which they occurred. They are unable to build a narrative about their lives which draws out meaning and understanding. In many ways, trauma reduces children’s ability to remember who they are”.
Below is Lew’s 2007 account of life in St George’s aged 4. In a future blog post I will show how the Church tried to discredit Lew, and me, by denying his claim that he was locked under the building when the other children were at school. The description of this daily incarceration, in Lew’s own words, seems credible to me. He spoke of it often, from our earliest times together. It is tragic that some family members have chosen to hate him, and his memory, because they believe he lied about what happened.
Perhaps when they read this account, Lew’s family, and my family, might reach a place where healing and forgiveness become possible.