April 3rd, 2006

buddha virgin


I got a call from my father last night saying that Eddie Felix was dead.

There are some inaccuracies in the story. The crash happened at something like 2:30 am Sunday morning. There was alcohol involved, but they don't want to say that because all five people in the car who died were underage. Yeah, it was the kids that were drunk. All of them. Even Eddie, the 15-year-old.

Eddie Felix is was my cousin. And my nephew. Yes, my family tree forks. In fact, it splits, comes together again and convolutes in ways that only very close families that take care of each other can do. Dolores Felix, Eddie's mother, is my cousin. She's also a heroin addict, former prostitute, and not the kind of person who knows anything about parenting. In May of 2001, my sister and I each agreed to take one of my cousin's children because she couldn't deal with them and her older children weren't in a position to care for them. My sister took Eddie, who was 11 at the time and who was actually anxious to go. I took Dominique who was a year older and much more reticent because he was his mother's favorite and spoiled beyond belief.

Dominique stayed with me for a year of constant battling - not just with Dominique, whose teachers saw me nearly daily, who bucked constantly under the daily discipline of chores and responsibility and who was horrified at not being the favorite. I also got to battle his whole family, who, after acknowledging that they couldn't care for him and handing him over to me for care, then proceeded to attack me almost constantly, as though they were doing ME a favor and I wasn't sufficiently grateful to them.

Eddie went to Chicago with my younger sister. She put him into every program she could, made sure that he learned to read, cared for him like her own son. For a while, he was doing well in her care - much better than Dominique was doing under mine.

After a year, everyone agreed that Dominique needed to go back to Phoenix. He had just turned 12 when he came to me, and therefore was 13 when he went back. He had completed 8th grade, and had improved several grade levels, but that wasn't enough. I was so depressed when he left that I cried constantly for a month. Only the news that he was going back to school and was more or less doing okay in Phoenix made me feel any better.

Meanwhile, as Eddie got older, he got more obstreperous. The last straw came last year when he physically assaulted my sister. She packed him up and sent him back to Phoenix, not wanting to endanger herself or her son anymore.

Phoenix Union High School spokesman Craig Pletenik wasn't able to say where the other four kids attended school because they didn't. Eddie didn't go back to school once he left Chicago, or if he did, his attendance was spotty. He was supposed to be living with his older sister, but his older sister has four kids of her own and works odd hours at a job at the airport; she has neither the time nor the resources to make sure that Eddie got to school, especially against his will.

Right after I got off the phone with my father, I called my sister. She was in shock. She cried and cried and cried - she was angry and hurt and angry and sad and angry and heartbroken and angry. She said that she knew when she sent him back that this would happen. Mostly, she kept whispering that she hoped that, at the end, he wasn't scared. Eddie had spent most of his life being scared, and it broke her heart to think that he died that way.
  • Current Mood