Chapter 25

A cold dreary November morning… the sky was heavy with the threat of snow, darkening to a deep plumy shade of black. I sat at the lawyer’s office. Waiting. Again. The heavy ticking of the clock on the wall only made the time go by slower. I was acutely aware of all the noises in the office; the chatter of the receptionist on the telephone, the hum of the photocopier, the ring of the fax. I glanced at the clock and wondered if I should leave to put more quarters in the parking meter. I’d hate to get a ticket. I wished I could give my lawyer a ticket for being late. I wondered if I should call my mother to let her know that I haven’t even been in to see the lawyer yet about the upcoming Settlement Conference. I was glad that my parents had offered to take Caitlin for the weekend.

The receptionist looked up from behind her desk and nodded. She then hung up the phone and called my name. I approached her desk.


“That was Ms. Turner on the phone. She asked me to tell you that she got held up at court but she’ll be here shortly.”


I returned to my seat, exasperated. She’s almost an hour late!

The clock ticked on. I found my mind wandering to think about Dr. Mott. Bill took over for my boss, Dr. Hatherly, at the dental clinic only a year ago. I remember noticing the intensity of his warm sea-gray eyes when he first introduced himself. His eyes twinkled as he took my hand and shook it firmly. I knew little about him except that he didn’t wear a wedding ring and had recently moved to the area from out East. He had been practicing dentistry for a little over ten years but was looking for a partnership when Dr. Hatherly announced his retirement. Dr. Mott hit it off well with the other dentists at the clinic and was invited to join right away. I remember the flutter of my heart when he first walked through the clinic doors.

“Ms. Williams?” My lawyer approached. “Sorry to keep you waiting. I got held up in court. You know how it is.” She laughed but there was no gaiety in the sound.

“Oh, that’s alright,” I managed with a fake smile, “I didn’t mind the wait.”

When we entered her office, Ms. Turner got right to work. “Due to the Christmas holidays, the court date has been changed from December 27 to January 7.” At my frightened look she added, “The C.A.S will continue to provide a supervisor until this time.”

She went on, “This conference will be very much like the first. You present your Plan of Care, the C.A.S and Rod present theirs and then the judge makes a decision. Do you have any questions?”

I rubbed my temples and sighed. “So let me see if I have this right. The judge could accept my Plan of Care and order that Caitlin continue to be supervised by a C.A.S contract worker until she is 18? Or he could accept the C.A.S Plan of Care that Caitlin be supervised by a family member?”

She flashed me a syrupy smile. “Right. But he could also change the order and agree with Rod’s Plan of Care to have no supervisor at all.”

Pinpricks of unease rode my spine. “That’s still an option? How can it be when the C.A.S themselves have deemed Caitlin in need of protection?” My voice raised an octave.

Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Anything’s possible, Heather. This is a new judge and I don’t know him. He comes here from Detroit. I’m not sure where he stands on these issues.”

My head was swimming. These past weeks of supervised visits had finally given me some normalcy in my life and now one man could change all that?

“What options do I have if he orders no supervision?”

She faked a honeyed smile. “Let’s take it one day at a time. If he orders no supervision, we can bring it to trial.”

“A full-blown trial where Caitlin would have to go on stand and I’d have to bring in Donna?” My stomach felt queasy.

“Yes, but let’s not think about that for now. Let’s wait and see what happens.”

My shoulders slumped. Stunned, I gathered my things and left her office.


Arriving at my empty apartment, I wandered through the small rooms blankly until finally I collapsed on my bed. I cried until my throat hurt. I wanted to crawl under my pillow and die. Blue-Casey, sensing my distress, leaped onto the bed and curled up beside me.

Anger replaced my sorrow. “I thought You were a loving God! I thought You cared about me. All my life I’ve learned that God is love, that God takes care of His own. Well, I guess that doesn’t include me!”

I felt a seething, black hatred inside. Not only had I been betrayed by a man I once shared a bed with but my very own God betrayed me. He turned His back on me when I needed Him most.

The rage subsided and my tears dried. An ache of loneliness absorbed my thoughts. My dead weight body dragged me down into a restless sleep on top of my bed covers.

The next morning, I awoke to a dismal day. The sky threatened snow with a smoky gray-greenish hue. Perfect, just perfect. I turned over and crawled under the covers still wearing my clothes from the night before.

I awoke hours later and the memories of my meeting with the lawyer swarmed in on my thoughts. My cries came in gasping sobs. I must have cried myself back to sleep because the next time I awoke it was 11 p.m. Dark in my room, it matched my heart. I got up, went to the bathroom and changed into my pajamas. I crawled back into bed.

Sunday morning broke with a ray of sunshine. The weather improved my mood a little. I stood at the window watching a little speckled bird pecking the ground. If I were going to get out of this funk I’d have to call for help. I picked up the phone and dialled Sarah’s number. She should be home from church by now.

“Hi, Sarah, it’s Heather. I’m just calling to let you know that I met with the lawyer and she told me that the court date has been changed to January 7.”

“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll write it on my calendar to pray that day. What else can I do?”

I bit my lip and gave a resigned sigh. “I’m not sure. For months, I knew this day was coming. But I’m not sure what to do. Sarah, I’m scared.”

“Do you have time for a visit? Can I meet you somewhere for tea?”

I looked around my apartment. I could get dressed and tidy up quickly. “Yes, I’d like that. How about my place?”

Sarah agreed.


The buzzer sounded just as I put away a pair of Caitlin’s winter boots. “Come on up.” I pressed the release and opened the apartment door.

Blue-Casey greeted Sarah with his tail held high. Sarah entered and came right over to give me a hug. “This isn’t easy, is it?”

My voice sounded strangled, “Oh, Sarah, I just keep thinking about Caitlin. She’s so innocent. She’s finally becoming an “average” little girl. She smiles a lot more. She even sings.”

Sarah cupped her chin in her hand.

“I don’t want that to change – ever. I saw how he robbed her of her innocence. He cheated her out of her young years. I saw that we were just regaining that youth. I don’t want her to suffer. I want to protect her. And I want her to stay protected…Sorry, I haven’t even poured us a tea and already I’m crying on your shoulder.”

Moving into the kitchen I put the kettle on for tea and placed a few almond cookies on a plate. Sunlight streamed through the window, streaking the walls and floor a bright yellow. We sat at the table.

“Heather, you’ve done everything in your power to keep your daughter protected. Now you’ve got to put your trust in God.” Sarah’s voice was soft and her eyes pleading.

“I know. While things were going good and I was content in the fact that Caitlin was supervised and safe, I could sing God’s praises. But now, well, now it’s different.” I poured two cups of tea.

“But remember this isn’t just a matter of praying and blindly trusting. Like praying that your landlord will paint the apartment walls and hoping that he’ll pick a nice color.” Sarah pursed her lips. “No, you’re putting your trust in God. It’s a matter of absolute surrender.” She squirted some lemon into her tea.

“But how could I live with myself if Caitlin was abused again?” The words rushed out as my tears rushed down my cheeks.

Sarah moved closer and rubbed my back. She spoke softly, “Heather, you’re not giving control to just anyone. You’re not giving control to another human, like a friend, lawyer or protection worker. You’re giving control to God. Remember His promise?”

Yes, I remembered His promise. How could I forget? I memorized the words that I wrote in my journal. I repeated the promise, “Trust in Him and your child will be safe.”

“Heather,” Sarah lifted my chin so that she could look in my eyes, “Do you believe this promise?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat, “This is my child. This isn’t a precious rock collection we’re talking about here. This is my child. Not an apartment, not finances, not my health, not even my parents. This is the most important thing in the whole world. I can’t give her up easily.”


I stared at my feet through the tears, unable to answer her.

“You’ve done all you can. Now you have to let God take over. And from all you’ve told me, it sounds as if God’s had some major divine leading in your life.”

“You think?”

“Yeah, coming to the Bible study; Caitlin’s chicken pox before safety measures were put in place; getting the appointment with Bradley. Wow. You’re giving up control to God to save Caitlin.”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“No, I didn’t say it was easy. But it’s the best thing. You know it is.”

I know. I found myself nodding, I know.

“Would you like to pray?”

I continued nodding slowly as Sarah took my hands into hers, “Dear Lord, we are asking that You take over. Direct Heather and guide her in what she must do. Fulfill Your promise to protect her child now and always.”

I tried to breathe in slowly through my nose and release the air through my mouth.

“Fill her with peace. Wash over her and calm her nerves. Let her walk in the light of Your promise. Take away her doubts. Take away her fear. When the shadow falls over her heart, remove it and replace it with Your light.”

I opened my eyes to look at the stream of light coming through the window. “Lord, bless her with trust. Fill her with faith. Remove the fear. Destroy the doubts. Pour Your love into her. Open her heart to receive You. Quiet her mind to hear Your words.”

I nodded in agreement.

“She can’t do this alone. Send Your Holy Spirit to hold her up. Give her wisdom, knowledge and patience to deal with all the ugliness. Close her mouth against quick reactions. Quiet her to hear You. Lord, I know You love her more than even she loves Caitlin. In this she shall rest. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Her prayer reminded me of Janice’s. The tiniest, fleeting smile tugged at the corners of my lips.

“Sarah, you truly are a God-send. Thank you so much.”

“Hey, how about warming up my tea?”


The next morning, I waved to Caitlin as she found her seat on the bus. It was sunny outside, but not too warm, with tiny clouds that scudded across the sky. Once the bus had gone and I was back inside the apartment, I sank into the couch.

Although I had felt good yesterday, I felt a heaviness bearing down on me again today. I felt like a sand castle on the beach with a five-foot wave about to crash down on me. Blue-Casey rubbed my face with his own, caressing his nose against my upper cheek and forehead. It was just what I needed to get ready for work.

Arriving at the dental clinic, I ducked into the washroom and rearranged the stray black hairs that had escaped on my brisk walk there.

“Afternoon, sunshine,” Connie smirked from behind her desk. She obviously picked up on my mood.

“Hi, Connie. How are you?”

She wagged her manicured finger at me. “Better than you. What’s up?”

“Nothing.” Then changing the subject, I asked, “How was your date?”

Now it was Connie’s turn to frown. “Humph, a dud. He made me pay for my own dinner. Then he had the nerve to ask for money for gas!” She turned her back to me and mumbled, “I’ve got to find me a doctor, like you’ve got.”

I was in no mood for jokes, “Connie, I don’t have a doctor!”

Just then Bill entered the reception area. “Somebody call for a doctor?”

I could feel the heat rising right up my neck into my cheeks.

Connie took the opportunity to strike back, “Yeah, Heather here needs a doctor. Know any?”

Sinking into my chair, I couldn’t think of a quick enough comeback. Bill turned his eyes on me and with raised eyebrows asked, “Is this true, Heather?”

I stammered, “Umm, yeah, well. Connie’s talking about my, umm, teeth. I haven’t had my own check-up since Dr. Hatherly retired.” Good one, Heather.

“You’ve got my schedule in your hands, Heather.” He said my name slowly, deliberately. “Why not make an appointment for yourself?”

“Okay, yeah, sure,” I mumbled.

“And while you’re at it, why don’t you make one for Caitlin, too. I haven’t seen her since I started here.”

After Dr. Mott returned to his office, I picked up my pen and threw it at Connie. “What’d you do that for?”

Connie let out a raucous laugh and sang, “You know you want it.”

I was about to counter her claim when a patient came through the doors. He was on time for his appointment. “Good afternoon, Mr. Corcoran. You can go in right away.”

Mr. Corcoran had a wide, ivory smile. He called, “Thanks, Heather,” as he headed down the hallway to Gail.

Ready to argue with Connie, I turned to her but she was busy on the phone with an insurance company. Oh well. She’s hopeless anyways.

While inputting client information, I let my mind return to the dark place it was earlier. Something sinister inside of me wanted to keep worrying about the court date. Questions started to rise, What is going to happen? What if I go to this Settlement Conference expecting to settle on this issue of child protection and access, and he somehow manages to flip the issue to child custody? What if it becomes a custody battle? Is Rod going to ask for sole custody? Is he going to pull some kind of surprise punch? What am I in for? What if he files for emotional abuse? What if he starts a case against me? What if he wants Caitlin to reside primarily with him? What if he convinces the courts that I’m a bad mother? What if the lawyers and the judge believe him? What if he not only says no to supervised access, but he wants no supervision at all and I only get access visits? What if a case is made against me and I am the one defending myself and trying to get supervised access for myself?

Giving my head a shake, I walked to the kitchen to grab a coffee. I didn’t expect Bill to be there.

Dr. Mott looked up from his coffee and brushed his hair away from his eyes. “Did you pick a date for us?”

What? A date? Did he just ask me on another date?

Seeing my puzzled expression, he tapped his front teeth. “Your teeth. You wanted an appointment didn’t you?”

I couldn’t meet his eyes. I stammered, “No, sorry Mr. Corcoran came in and I forgot. I’ll do it now.” Turning to escape the awkward situation, I couldn’t get away fast enough before Bill stepped to the side and blocked my way.

“Heather?” His voice was quiet.

Face to face my heart pounded. I felt my pulse in my ears. Meeting his intense eyes, I could feel my face burning. I could smell his aftershave and let out a sigh.

“Yes, Bill?” I whispered.

He bent close to my ear, his breath warm against my lobe. “Heather, I was wondering if you’d….”
Just then Gail rushed in. “Oh, there you are! Gee whiz, Mr. Corcoran has been waiting for hours. Didn’t you hear the buzzer? I want to get out of here at a decent time today.” Gail stormed out again.

I turned my back to Bill, “You’d better get back to Mr. Corcoran or Gail’s going to have a nervous breakdown.”

“What else is new?” He mumbled as he turned slowly and left the kitchen.

Did he just kick the wall?

I filled my mug with hot coffee. My moods swung up and down like a fishing boat on an ocean wave. My shoulders felt tight, my chest constricted. I searched for “happy” thoughts but nothing came to the surface. A dark cloud loomed. I couldn’t relax.

Connie walked in, fixed her hand on her hip and gave me an exasperated look. “Why the sour puss? What now?”

Maybe if I talk about it, I’ll feel better. “I feel betrayed.”

“Go figure. The man you thought you loved did some pretty foul stuff.”

“No, I’m talking about the legal system.”

Connie perked up with interest.

“I feel betrayed by a system that on all other levels appears to have the best interests of my child in mind. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

“What makes you think that?” Connie nibbled the nail of her baby finger.

“Well, I just found out that the new judge could order a return to the old way of doing things. He may order that Caitlin not be supervised at all. Or who knows, he could order that Caitlin live with Rod and I get access visits!” I stopped to calm down and lower my voice. “I don’t know how this new judge feels about abuse. He might not even believe that a father could, or worse would, abuse his own child. Maybe he’s never dealt with sexual abuse, with incest. And so he may actually endanger the very child he’s been chosen to protect!”

Connie looked around, “Calm down, Heather. Gee, sorry I asked.” She gave her nails a quick buff on the sleeve of her sweater and turned to go. She’d heard enough of my troubles for the day. Not that I expected her to understand.

That I may lose my child because some judge has fallen for Rod’s manipulative, lying tactics made me nauseous.

Heather, calm down. You’ve got to calm down.

The thoughts would not leave. They swirled in my mind like paper caught in a tornado. Pictures of Caitlin, before her disclosure, filled my mind. After a weekend with Rod, she would return a scared child who would relentlessly bite her nails. She turned away from my hugs and lashed out at the other kids at Donna’s. But after the disclosure, she started to blossom and heal. She stopped sucking her thumb.

I returned to my desk just as Mr. Corcoran approached. He tried to smile but the left side of his mouth drooped from the anaesthetic. “Did Dr. Mott get those sugar bugs?” Connie teased from her desk.

“Yes, and this will be the last time you see me. For at least six months.”

I mustered a smile for our long-time patient and wished him well. Inwardly I thanked him for stopping my train of thought. I had to focus on something else or I’d drive myself insane. I booked an appointment for Caitlin for December 6th and then I pulled out my reminder file and started to make telephone calls.