Copyright © Abandoned in a Hammock . All rights reserved.

Hector Abreu, whose story this book tells, was born in Puerto Rico in 1961. His life, especially in childhood, has held adversities that most people experience only in nightmares.

Born out of wedlock to a mother who left him alone in a hammock so she could go carouse, he was saved from starvation by his father’s mother, who died when he was only 5. Bewildered and terrified, he was then sent to live with his father, who accepted this responsibility with grudging reluctance. For the next dozen years, his treatment of Hector alternated between neglect and brutality, his priority being pursuing sexual adventure.

Disregarding Hector’s best interests, his father dragged him from home to squalid home as baggage in new relationships with different women. Many already had children of their own, and treated Hector with indifference, resentment or hostility. Hector only began to see that life could offer love, protection and ease – not just fear, cruelty and insecurity - when sent to live for a time with a kind aunt in Chicago.

He escaped his father’s orbit as a teenager, then lived for some time semi-homeless in Florida and Chicago. As a young gay man at liberty, Hector chased immediate gratifications of alcohol, sex and drugs - as do many people whose harsh lives have taught them to seek pleasure whenever they can find it. Craving affection he did not get as a child, he went through several disastrous relationships, and became HIV Positive.

Yet instead of being a cautionary tale of despair, his story is one of hope; even of gentle triumph. After grasping how uniquely dreadful his life had been – because it was “normal” to him - he found peace and resilience within himself.

His spirit has not been darkened and shattered by the cruel strokes life has dealt him, for his sweet nature was even stronger than they were. He has followed it, even when it has taken him on precarious paths. His Buddhist practice has also been a tremendous source of comfort and stability.

His story shows how the darkness that menaces us all may be dispelled by just refusing to expend the energy needed to return its embrace. Hector never met the birth mother who left him to destiny, yet the Earth seems to acted as his mother, sustaining and delivering him, whenever he needed it most.

He currently lives in Chicago, absorbing the warmth of the life he has made for himself. His surroundings are materially modest, but spiritually rich, his hard-earned rewards for ultimately obeying the better, rather than the worst, angels of his nature.

Hector's experience offers inspiring lessons for all of us whose lives have been less turbulent than his - which is almost everyone.