I really didn't want to make this call. I couldn't gather my thoughts and even as I talked with Tom and my husband, I was unsure of my need. Part of me wanted Bob's response to be "no" and part of me wanted it to be "yes". It was neither.
I had no idea what I wanted to say, for one last time, if he denied my request to see him face to face. Yes, I deserved an explanation ,but the only thing I could think that I had to know was "What happened to the dogs?"
I told my husband, "No mumbling. No comments. No angry retorts." No reply. "You are ignoring me."
"Ok, I promise."
Tom asked if I wanted him in the room or out in the reception area and I simply pointed with some vigor to the chair he was standing in front of and then cracked a smile. He smiled back and sat down.
After taking the phone number out, I dialed and Bob's wife answered. I didn't remember what she sounded like. I hadn't remembered what Bob sounded like. I asked to speak to Bob and she asked who it was, and I told her. I had made the decision to talk with her if she wanted, but she hesitated and moment and simply said, "Hold on." and went and got Bob.
I wanted Tom and Robin there but I purposely looked away from them when Bob came to the phone. I especially did not want to pick up on my husband's anger or protectiveness if it arose. I did not want to deal with anyone's emotions but my own. They were enough to sort through and listen to.
When Bob said hello, I told him I was sitting with Tom and my husband in Tom's office calling him back as I had said I would. Bob responded with something like this." "Well, I just got back from Argentina and we haven't had time to all sit down as a family. I am not sure when that can happen. Michael's family is due into town tonight . I am afraid it might be a while...... before we can work anything out. I am still open to it but it might be quite a while before we can all talk and well it might be quite a while if we decide to do this - like several months. You do know what Michael does don't you? And I was thinking maybe you and Tom and Michael and I could sit down after the summer."
"Yes, I know Michael is state youth director and works the camps for the summer... and I thought you might be more comfortable with him joining us and I'm ok with that."
"Well, between that and his and (his daughter's) going out of town for a week and a half and the national conference in August, it might be late summer or fall if we decide to do it."
"Ok, well when do you want me to touch base with you again? How am I going to know?"
"Well, its going to be a while. Maybe just call back if you don't want me to call you." We both paused thinking about the options.
"How about if you get Michael to email Tom, and Tom can tell me, and I'll call you then?"
"Ok, Michael can call Tom, and then you can call me." He was sounding relieved.
"How is your son?" he suddenly threw in.
It was such a fast change of subject that I was trying to mentally wrap my mind around his question. I was wondering how he knew anything about my son. "Which one?" I replied somewhat confused while Tom leaned over to Robin and said "He is trying to normalize the conversation."
"The one I met at Al's (my brother) funeral. Do you have more than one?"
"Yes I have tw0. You met my oldest. Our youngest just got married."
"Which one did I meet?" he asked betraying the fact that he might be a little more nervous than he was letting on.
"The oldest and they are both doing well."
"I still have that picture you took of (my daughter). The one with the bubbles." We both said "the bubbles" simultaneously. "I had it in my office at work for years and when her daughter was born I framed one of her and put it beside it."
"Do they look alike?" I asked.
"Yes, they look a lot alike. And Di, (wife) has taken up photography." He remembered I was really into it.
"I still take pictures. I like closeups a lot now." I said realizing it seemed ok having this sort of normal, human conversation with him, though I was aware of what he was doing. It was ok.
"We went out to Yellowstone this past year to see the wolves." he shared. "Mostly (wife) takes nature pictures."
"That sounds really fun."
"It was. Seeing the wolves was really awesome."I just got back from Argentina, went down to hunt dove. Dove are pests to the people of Argentina. Someone here asked me if I was going on a mission trip, knowing I was a pastor, and I told them the only mission I was on was to rid the world of some pests." He had a lot to say and at first I was hesitant - but why not? I figured it was ok to just be human this time. I didn't think it could hurt. I need to see the whole picture of who he is and has become. Seems to be healthy as long as I don't lose myself in that part of it.
"My nephew used to run a quail farm down in Thomasville." I shared.
"Bob, can I ask you one thing before we go?"
"Ok," he said rather hesitantly with a change in voice tone, but my question wasn't a hard one.
"What ever happened to the dogs?" Tom looked at Robin and Robin looked at Tom and they both had this exasperated look and shook their heads in disbelief.
"Well, I took them with me when I first moved and they stayed in the back of my truck at the little parsonage and then when I came back down to get the family, I left them with a friend who had quite a few of his own dogs until I could get the kennels built and went back to get them." He seemed quite relieved and surprised that my question had to do with Mack and Preach. "Preach died one hunting trip when I had taken him out. Mack lived to return to the state here, but was way past his hunting years. He eventually died and I buried him in my dog cemetary - lots of sand and easy to dig. I have always had dogs."
"Well, I always wondered." I explained.
"We carry things with us. Life goes on, doesn't it? We continued in areas and things that we shared," he seemed to think that was a comfort, and in a way it was. He had introduced me to backpacking and though I never continued that avenue, we have as a family enjoyed many wonderful camping expeditions. He doesn't know that though. Yeah, I guess there were things we shared that were ok and even some positive. I can handle that.
"So, you'll get Michael to touch base with Tom when you are ready, and then I will call you to see what you decided, right?" I changed the subject and aimed at ending the conversation.
"Yes, I will do that late summer or early fall."
"Ok." I had little choice and it felt fine.
Upon hanging up, I gave my rendition of the other side of the conversation to my husband and Tom. Hubby was quiet and not very comfortable with the shallowness of the conversation. Tom asked me how I felt.
I responded by telling him I wasn't sure yet and I wasn't sure I trust myself enough to know. I explained that, "It is easy for me to fall back into the 17 year old. It felt ok talking about normal stuff though I wasn't expecting it, but I could feel myself doing the old 'put aside the reality of the abuse' and try and get from Bob the relational dynamics that I had wanted at 17. I am going to have to be careful to find the full reality and humaness of life, and I think that is a good thing to see the fullness and not just the abuse, without letting the human parts make me susceptible to old patterns. I can feel myself reaching into Bob like the 17 year old. Isn't it amazing that after all these years, I still tend to do that."
Tom nodded for a few moments and then said something that really touched me. "Di, I think you are healthier than you would be if you had not gone down this path. I mean we all have our dealings, but not many of us reach the place that we understand the dynamics of what we feel and why, the way you do. You just see them and share them and put them out there in the light .......... and that is so healthy."
Wow. Now that is being known and cared for and shared with in a righteous and loving, agape way. I am blessed.