by Kari Diane Pike
After catching up on the past week's posts for this blog, my heart aches for the large number of us who are experiencing huge challenges in life, whether it be health problems, lack of employment, or watching someone else in your life suffer tremendous pain. Today is the first day since my last post that I almost feel like I can breathe out again. You know the feeling: you take a deep breath in and nothing wants to come out...you just keep taking in breath after breath until your head spins...Yeah, there has been a lot of breath holding around here lately. (WARNING: disturbing content)
About 11:00 pm July 2nd, the six-year-old boy who frequently stays with his mom in our home came to my bedroom pleading for help because his mom was getting hurt.
"We have to call 911 because my mom's getting hurt. She fell down a lot. [Someone] is hurting her. I think we need to get a doctor because she is hurt bad." Perspiration beaded on his pale forehead and dripped into his rounded eyes as he looked at me, but didn't see me. His little hand felt like ice when I took it in my own to lead him down the stairs to the phone. When I let go so I could dial the phone, he paced back and forth across the kitchen floor, repeating the words, "We need to get help. We need to get help."
My husband Doug took the phone and made the call so that I could focus on the child. Doug went out the door to wait for the police. The child relaxed for a moment in my lap and told me he felt safe in our house, then suddenly tensed and asked me if the door was locked. As I walked over to the door, I asked him why we needed to lock it. His eyes glazed over as he said, "Because [someone] tried to kill me. My mom told me to run home and he grabbed my foot and tried to stop me, but my mom got in his way and stopped him and told me to run fast. Then she fell down again." I scooped up that little boy and carried him into the family room. I turned on his favorite Wonder Pets episode and we snuggled on the couch and waited for his dad to come get him.
His mom suffered multiple bruises all over her body, a fractured left jaw, fractured chin and hyoid bone and required seven stitches in her chin. Monday, she underwent surgery to place titanium plates over her chin and jaw fractures. Her fractured hyoid is only a half centimeter away from her carotid artery, but a CT scan showed only soft tissue damage and the artery was not compromised. She may need to have further surgery to remove the broken piece of bone, but for now it is wait and see. Not one of the surgeons is keen on getting that close to the carotid.
This is not the first time the mom has been beaten or abused by a man. Doug asked me how a person could have such little self esteem that they would allow others to treat them that way. He wasn't judging. He was trying to understand. We learned that this little mom has lived with abuse her entire life. Emotionally abused during her childhood and raped by a relative at eleven years of age (the incident was hushed up and ignored), this little girl grew up believing that she was to blame. She has been slipping deeper and deeper ever since as she has turned to tobacco, alcohol, and further abuse to try to hide from her pain.
Okay...take a deep breath and let it out again. I apologize for the drama and the graphic explanations. What I want to share is the hope and light and growth that is coming from this intense experience.
As I read Ether 2 today, I kept thinking about this little mom and the depths of her sorrow and pain. Just as the Jaredites were lifted out of the depths of the sea, every day, I see her get a little stronger as she finds the courage to step out of her patterns of abuse and into the light of living with faith. She reached out for help and her crime victims reparations will pay not only for medical expenses, but for the mental health counseling that she has so desperately needed and never received. She has not only grasped the hands of others reaching out to her, but taken steps to help herself up. Her first shocking words to me in the ER of "But I miss him and love him so much. It wasn't really him." have changed to "He did this to me and I'm mad! No one is ever going to do this to me again. Ever." She's opening her scriptures and looking for peace there. She emptied all of her alcoholic beverages and threw the cigarettes away. Her smile will be lopsided for a while, but the fact that she is smiling brings joy to my heart.
I loved laughing with her as we waited for her surgeon Monday. The immense disposable hospital gown swallowed her thin body. She pointed out the plastic lining in it and the hole in the side that reminded us of a vacuum cleaner bag. We imagined all sorts of scenarios. After the nurse wrapped her calves with those massaging thingies, she attached a vacuum-cleaner-like hose to the hole in the gown and inflated the gown with warm air. Then she handed the little mom a controller and showed her how to adjust the temperature up and down. Climate controlled hospital gowns? Seriously, how cool is that? (no pun intended, of course.)
I told our little mom that she might consider writing all this stuff down so that she can see her own progress. She will survive. She told me she feels more like a Warrior Princess every day. She will be able to help other people leave behind their victim selves and discover who they really are as she learns how the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ made it possible for everyone to rise out of the depths of adversity and step into light and joy. While I truly wish that the horrible events of the past couple of weeks had never happened, I am full of gratitude for the good things that are coming out of it. Prayers and hugs and hopes for happy endings for all of you out there!