Chapter 17

After an unsettling weekend of worry, returning to Bradley’s felt much like retreating to a favorite vacation spot. I rolled down the windows of the Jeep to take in the aroma from the late-blooming plants. Barley, the old dog, recognized us with a wag of his tail and returned to his spot on the walkway. Birds swooped in around us, playfully enjoying the early autumn winds.

Before I could lift the heavy doorknocker, Bradley greeted us from the other side of the wooden door. “Come right in,” he called.

Caitlin burst forward. “Hi, Bradley,” she waved, and walked past him to the sandbox. She immediately searched for the little plastic animals.

“Hi, Caitlin,” Bradley didn’t miss a beat and seemed to accept Caitlin’s behavior as normal.

Turning to me, Bradley said, “Caitlin has a real love for animals. At our last visit, she created wonderful worlds in the sandbox. Isn’t that right, Caitlin?” He released a chuckle.

Caitlin was enchanted. “Yeah, I really like the elephants.”

“Does Mom stay, or leave and come back later?”

This time Caitlin said, “Come back later.”

A little surprised, but comforted by her confidence and cheer, I said, “Okay, Caity-Cat. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“Bye, Mommy.” Caitlin then tugged on Bradley’s shirt, “I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Yes, of course, Caitlin. Go ahead, you know where it is.”

Finding this behavior strange, I said, “Caitlin, you just went to the washroom before we came.”

“I got to go again!” Caitlin called behind her on her way down the hallway.

With Caitlin in the bathroom, Bradley explained to me how children who have been sexually abused tended to use the bathroom a lot when visiting him. Memories of the abuse automatically stimulated the genitals making them feel like they needed to go to the washroom.

Coming to this refuge, I forgot the ugly reason of why we were here. Yes, of course. Obviously, Bradley knew about these behaviors. I felt like a fish on land.

Seeing my furrowed brow, Bradley offered, “You're welcome to take any of the books out of the resource area if you're interested in learning more about abuse.” I nodded and Bradley took my elbow and led me to the library. He moved the small stool and pulled a booklet off the lower shelf and handed it to me. “Why don’t you start with this one?” It read, What to do if a child tells you of sexual abuse.

Somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of books on the shelf, I felt relieved to take the booklet. “Yes, this looks good. Can I take it with me and return it at our next appointment?”

“Of course. All of these books are for reference. Help yourself.” Bradley nodded, sincere in his expression and his words.

Caitlin appeared around the corner. “Bradley, are you coming to play?”

Bradley smiled brightly. “Coming Caitlin.” He returned his attention to Caitlin, leaving me to look over the rest of the books.

Another book caught my eye, Sometimes It’s O.K. To Tell Secrets! – A Parent/Child Manual for the Protection of Children. I pulled it from the shelf and took it with me. Peeking around the corner on my way out, I watched Bradley “play” in the sandbox with Caitlin. I left quietly, trusting that my daughter was safe.

Back at my apartment, I decided to call my sister, Janice.

“Hi, Sissy. I was just thinking of you. How are things?”

“Well, they’re as good as can be expected, I suppose. I just dropped Caitlin off for her play/art therapy session.”

Janice sucked something through a straw. “How’s that going?”

“Good. The doctor is quite a character. You should see him. He wears pants with holes in the knees.”

“Really? Sounds kinda creepy.”

“No, not at all. He’s just anti-clinical. He’s perfect for Caitlin.”

“And Caitlin is okay that he’s a man? And being left alone with him?”

“Yeah, I think Caitlin knows on some level that it was Rod who hurt her, not just ‘a man’.”

“And you?”

“I’m okay. I get a good feeling when I’m around him.”

Blue-Casey leapt to the windowsill and curled up to enjoy the late afternoon sun.

“Got any special plans for the day?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, I was just talking to Mom and she wanted me to call and convince you to get out more.”

“Seriously! If it isn’t Connie she’s using to get to me, it’s you. I can’t believe Mom told you to do that.”

“So, are you doing anything? You do need to get out. Get away from all this ugly stuff. Have you been to get any help yourself?”

“Like a psychologist?”

“Yeah, or someone who can help you deal with this.”

“No, not yet. But I’ve started going to a Bible study. It’s like group therapy.” I stood and looked over to the window at the translucent blue sky. “And I’ve been journaling every day. It’s very therapeutic. Actually, I had a really wild experience the other day.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Well, I was writing as usual and then all the sounds around me sort of muted, as if I was submerged under water. Then I started to write but it wasn’t my words. It was like I was taking dictation.”

“What’d you write?”

“Hold on, let me get my journal.” I fumbled with the desk drawer and pulled out my journal and flipped to the page. “Here it is. I wrote,

‘Open your heart and let the Holy Spirit in.
Let the words flow over you. Let Him take over.
Trust in Him and your child will be safe.
Don’t try to tackle the evil on your own
it’ll crush you.
Let God help.
He wants to help.
He wants to take care of His family.
Everything will be all right.
God is all-powerful and all knowing.
He knows your pain. He knows your fear.

Lift it up unto Him and He will take care of it.
You need only ask. You need not fight this alone.’”

“Wow, Sissy, that’s awesome.”

“I know. I’ve never had that sort of experience before.”

“Something to store in your heart.”

“Well, I need to get back and pick up Caitlin. Talk to you soon. Love ya.”

“Love you too, Sissy.”