A fire crackled in her mother’s fireplace as Claire settled in a nearby chair a week later. Mother set a mug on the end table beside her, then took the seat at a right angle to Claire. The ethereal chords of Enya played from the laptop in the adjoining room.
Claire sipped the hot chocolate then said, “Thanks for all you’ve done with Grey.” She nodded toward the cup. “He makes a mean hot chocolate.”
“He’s a wonderful boy. I’m happy to have him here. He’s welcome back any time and for an extended time again, too, should you need another break to pull yourself together.”
“I’m hoping that won’t be necessary, but that’s also why I wanted to talk to you today,” Claire said. “About me pulling myself together. I’m doing a lot of work and I’m also seeing a therapist. Grey has been to see her, as well.”
Mother waved her hand in dismissal, saying, “That’s a crazy waste of money. There’s nothing wrong with Grey.”
“I know. He’s doing great, but he wanted to talk to her and even though you don’t believe in this whole PTSD thing, the truth is I was brutally attacked and raped by Phil Adams,” she said, then held up her hand to stave off any denial her mother might add.
She continued, “I know you don’t believe that and that’s okay. It doesn’t change the reality. So I have PTSD as a result of that night and all the time since that I’ve tried to deny anything was wrong. Grey unfortunately was caught in the flack of all my craziness and he needs to understand all that happened, especially around the night in the car when I had that severe flashback while I was with him. It was a pretty frightening time for him and we just want to make sure he’s okay after that.”
“Please let me finish. There’s so much I should probably address, but I’m here, because part of my recovery includes forgiveness. So, I just want to let you know it was wrong of you not to believe me. It really hurt me at a time when I needed your support more than anything. I couldn’t comprehend that you would weigh that man’s sparkling reputation against what I was telling you and find me to be the one who came up short.”
“I’m not finished. I just want to say that it hurt me, but I’m putting that behind me and I’m forgiving you.”
Enya had faded in the background and Anna Nalick aptly instructed them to breathe. Mother leaned forward and placed her hand on Claire’s knee.
“You were always my biggest challenge,” she said. “Becca was so easy. We were always on the same page. You…” She shook her head. “I never understood you, but I have always loved you, Claire.”
Claire opened her mouth, but Mother held up her hand. “I let you have your say,” she said. “Honey, I believe you believe you were attacked and brutalized that day, but I also know how memory can change things in our minds, confuse us about actual events. He was a striking man, a charismatic leader. You wouldn’t have been the first young woman to be drawn to him.”
Claire stood. “Thank you, for letting me come. I’m not going to try to convince you of anything. It’s still hurtful to me that even now you can’t accept what I’ve told you.”
She moved to the door and stopped. “Grey loves you and will continue to be a part of your life, but please understand it may take me some time before I can include you in mine.”