My mother was raised on a farm with 5 brothers and 10 sisters. One day she and I reminisced about what it was like for her to grow up in such a large family. She described her favorite memories were the mornings she got up early with her mother to bake bread, cake, and prepare soup for her brothers and Dad…
"They found him." "Is he alive?" "Yes!"
...we whispered our concerns in the evenings after the kids were asleep. Day after day we waited for something to happen; more evidence to surface, another phone call, victims coming forward. And most of all hoped and prayed for our safety when 'that something' did happen.
With every journal entry, it felt like I chipped one tiny piece of a 5’2” statue loose and it fell away. And with every piece I chipped free, I believed it was one chip closer to life restored.
We watched from the window. Tree limbs turned to statues of ice that held clumps of white, even the smallest branches held heavy clumps of snow. It looked surreal—my kind of world when I was a kid.
I visualized a spider scampering across the floor toward me and in one stomp, I squished it. I squeezed my eyes closed, squeezed the handle of the phone, and squeezed my lips shut to control the urge to scream out what I thought about him,
I never thought that emerging from the Bart tunnels with my daughter and up into the chaos of the city, I would meet a stranger who reminded me of how precious life is.
At first I felt ashamed I accused Ivan of being my abuser, until I read his closing paragraphs warning me and my family to stay out of his private life or else. His abrupt and authoritative demand seemed familiar.
Will Ivan call me? Will Ivan write me? Will Ivan stay silent? I didn’t wait long for Ivan's answer.
I picked up the pen and wrote a letter to Ivan. When I finished, I prayed the truth would be revealed and my family would remain safe. I mailed it. Then I waited.
The anchor was set. I was convinced that I could and I would, conquer this crisis. I just didn’t know what that journey would look like. But I was ready to battle on behalf of my children and willing to participate in stopping Ivan’s crime spree.
Part II of my narratives written about the Alligator in the Ocean crimes will illustrate what anchored the wind to change and how the shift of power fell from the perpetrators clutches and placed into the hands of his victims.
The truth gave me an aching-sense of relief and confidence to take the next step forward.
It was the weekend we took the kids to pick out a Christmas tree, December 1986. It rained that day and I hoped we could postpone our adventure until the weather improved. But two enthusiastic children and a determined husband, out voted me. The tree would be found, cut down, placed in the living room and decorated before the weekend ended.
In the quiet of the evenings, after the kids went to bed, I sat with my husband and shared my journal entries. We cried together and discussed countless questions we had no answers for. Finally we concluded we needed help deciding if and when I would confront Ivan.
He entered my room in a cloak of silence. He greeted me masked in kindness. Fully clothed in a disguise of safety, Ivan looked down at me.
Perplexed, I studied the face in the shadow. He’s a relative. Why is he the face in the shadow? And if he’s the one harming me, why does he have a kind expression on his face?”
Several days went by. I let my thoughts rest from searching for the shadow’s identity. Then when I least expected it, a face flashed in my mind’s eye.
Fear and doubt greeted me each morning. As I got out of bed, it felt like my wading shoes were glued to my feet. But I took the clumsy steps forward, waded passed the fear and doubt, and found time to write. Even if I wrote one sentence, it helped lighten the emotional load.
As I stand on the banks of the river and pause, it reminds me of when I found my hidden past. Fear caused me to doubt that what lie ahead would enrich my life—a life freed from debilitating fear and anxiety. I just wasn’t sure I could handle what I was afraid of.