Posted on 7:00 PM | By Biki Honko | In
"Talia sweetie, are you hungry? Yeah, me too. I'll be there in just a minute, be thinking of where you would like to eat. Somewhere with table cloths, no pizza, or burgers, please. I'm bringing a new friend with me. See ya soon. Love you!" Cecile put her cell phone away and sighed, "This is going to be hard, so very hard. How is she going to understand what life was like for Soah? For that matter, I cannot comprehend what Soah has lived through and the emotional fissures her life has left on her."
"None of us have experienced that kind of life, that level of abuse. Lacking consistent love, hugged one minute, beaten the next! It is a wonder that there is anything for us to rescue. It is truly amazing that she could even bond with anyone. Her trust in your Sam is the nothing short of. . .,wondrous!" Cami reached over and patted Cecile's arm, "With such terrific parents, Talia will handle this situation. There will be bumps along the way, to be sure, what life is without speed bumps? If she is half the person that her parents are, I have no worry about her coming to love Soah as a sister."
Cecile pulled into the driveway of a 1930's bungalow home. A cheerful looking home, flowers, a brick path, old trees, it just shouted, home sweet home. A tall and very pretty girl came running out of the house. Cami could see the mingling of both of her parents in her. Her dad's beautiful eyes complete with his soft gaze; Her mother's bone structure wrapped in Sam's warmer, darker skin color. Her smile was just as blinding as her parents.
"Cami Winston, this is our daughter, Talia. Honey, did you make a decision on where to eat?" Cecile leaned between the two front seats, kissing her daughter on the cheek.
"Hi! Nice to meet you. Um, well it is kinda hard to know what to pick when I don't know what Ms. Winston likes. I narrowed it down some; Thai, seafood or Italian. All three of those are my favorites!" Talia settled into her seat buckling herself in and smiling at Cami.
"Please call me Cami. Is that alright with you Cecile?" At Cecile's nod of approval, Cami continued, "They all sound yummy, I am super hungry. How about Thai? Sound good to you Cecile?" Cami warmed up to Talia instantly.
"Yes! And I am starving also." Cecile thought about what would be the best way to break down the events of today, and decided just to tell it all as it happened to them. Not every detail, but the "high" points. A mental sigh and a self hug; I can do this.
After being led to the booth in the back of the restaurant that Cecile had requested, Cecile and Cami exchanged a quick glance. "Talia, Cami and I need to talk to you about something serious. Your dad wanted to be here to talk to you about this too but he just couldn't. How about we order before we begin our story? Does that sound alright to you Cami?"
"Yes, I think that is the way to go about this. Talia what do you normally order here? What is your favorite?"
The conversation turned towards what to order, along with the things people talk about when getting to know each other. When the waiter returned with the appetizers, Talia looked at her mother, clearly she was tired of waiting. Cami started the narrative, with how Kevin, Morgan and Dave found Soah and continued until both Cami and Cecile were sharing the tale between them. They would pause the story as the waiter came and went, taking and leaving plates. As they came to the end of their story, Cecile pulled out her cell phone and showed Talia the two photos she had taken of Soah.
Tears sprang from Talia's eyes. "Her whole face is bruised! Mom? How could her parents do this to her?" Talia scooted up tight against Cecile and buried her head in her chest. Cecile patted and hugged her daughter, dropping kisses on her head, allowing her to drain her grief into her shirt.
"We will never understand how someone could do this to their child. And honestly, that is no longer important. What is important is that we help her feel safe and loved now. We are going shopping for pajamas and slippers and such. Do you feel up to going with?"
Talia pulled herself from Cecile's arms, "Yeah, let's go shopping." Talia slid out of the booth and stood waiting for her mom and Cami.
Cecile was so relieved that Talia wanted to help Soah. "Talia, you do realize that she will be absorbing a great deal of our time and energy? If you begin to feel forgotten by your dad and I we need for you to tell us."
"Mom, no lies here, it will be majorly weird to have to share you and dad with someone else. But, she needs us. I can't turn my back on her. You will have to help me learn to share, ok? I will try mom, but don't be to mad at me if I screw it up."
"Never! We are all on a steep learning curve with her."
As they walked into the store, Talia asked, "So, how is this going to work? Do you know anything at all about what to buy her? Do either of you even know what size she wears?"
"I can't image her disliking anything we pick out for her. We should just buy things that we think are pretty. Cecile and Cami exchanged a quick glance searching for agreement. "Honey, um, Kevin and Dave are a couple. Are you going to have a problem with that?" Both women were worried about Talia's response to this news.
"Oh, so they are gay? Are they girly acting, ya know, like on tv?"
Cami thought about how to answer Talia, "No, they do not act girly. Kevin and Dave do hold hands, and hug. Will that bother you?"
"No, I don't think so."
Talia concentrated on shopping for Soah. "Long sleeves or short? Sleep pants or shorts? Woven or knitted? What color?"
"Knitted will be softer. But, now that I think about it, a mix of long and short sleeves and pant lengths; What do you think Cami?"
"I agree with the knitted. The sleep shorts? I am thinking they are going to be too short for her." Cami held up a pair of the sleep shorts to demonstrate her point. "I don't think she would like to wear anything that revealing. From what Sam said, her shorts were knee length, and her tee-shirt had sleeves to the elbow. So, sleep pants are better for her. And I think you are correct on a mix of long and short sleeves. Talia, it is up to you now to choose what you think is cute."
"Ok, sure! I can do cute!" Talia circled the racks picking and choosing within the guidelines. "How many sets do you want? Do we also need underwear? Slippers? Does she need a robe?"
"Underwear yes. Slippers? That would be good, the floors are so cold in hospitals. I think a robe could be good, just not too heavy, something light weight."
"Cecile, look at this robe, it is perfect! It is white, so it will look cute with any pair of pajamas that Talia picks. Woven and very light weight; What do you think?"
"Yes! That is perfect. Let's get her white slippers. Do you think the waist band of the pajamas will hurt her back? Should we also get her a few nightgowns?" Cecile was working very hard not to cry. "Um, what do you think about washing everything before we give it to her? I want her to know it is all new, purchased just for her, but new stuff can be so scratchy."
Cami noticed that Cecile was struggling not to cry. "Washing everything is a grand idea. We want her to be as comfortable as possible." Cami stepped over to Cecile, and wrapped her into a loving hug. "She will survive, and I guarantee without any doubt, the future Soah will be happy! It will be a long road to pull into happy, but she will make it. Look at all of the companions who are willing to make the trip with her. And just not any companions, they want to see her succeed and thrive. She can do this. That child has a titanium core that refuses to give up."
"It has been a very long day; could we just finish up and go home? Would you mind if we called it a day? What time are we meeting up in the morning? We bought these clothes together; I think we should both be there when they are given to her."
"Does 9 a.m. sound good to you? That is early enough to help get her cleaned up and dressed in her new pajamas or nightgown, before the boys come to visit. I think she would appreciate looking pretty. I would really like to wash Soah's new clothes. Do you mind? I just need to help in some way and right now that is the only way I can think of."
"Sounds wonderful to me! And I know Talia won't mind not having to help do laundry!"
"Mom! You make it sound like I hate doing laundry! Well, it isn't my favorite chore." Cami and Cecile laughed at Talia's spirited defense of herself.
"Mom? Why are we parking? I thought we were just going to drop Cami off and then go home?"
"I wanted to see how your dad was doing and also to check up on Soah. It's after visiting hours, but we are her guardians and can see her after hours. "
"Can I come in too? I want to see Soah."
"Yes, of course."
Talia quietly followed her mom into Soah's room. Sam was laying in a recliner next to Soah's bed, holding her hand, and he was lightly dozing. Talia could see how frail she really was. Every inch of Soah's face that Talia could see was covered in bruises. One eye looked swollen shut, with a very puffy cheek below. Seeing Soah up close, the reality of what her mom and Cami had told her, became all too real.
Sam's eyes slowly opened as he began to wake up. Seeing his two best girls, a huge smile bloomed. Checking on Soah with a quick glance to assure himself that she was fine he whispered, "Hello family! I'm so glad you came to visit us!"
Janie came into Soah's room, "Hello Sam. How's she doing? I hate to do this, but I need to wake her up and check her back." Janie turned to Cecile and said, "Hi! You must be Soah's new mom, and her sister. Oh I'll bet she'll love to see you. Now, she startles fairly easily, so please stay back until she is thoroughly awake. Jerking causes her pain and Sam has requested that we only medicate her enough to soften her pain. Are we ready Sam?"
"Yup!" Sam leaned in close to Soah's face and whispered, Hey Baby girl? Come on now, it's time to wake up." Sam delicately rubbed her tummy, slowly bringing her awake. "Hello Baby girl. Your friend Janie is here to check on you. I think my Baby girl is feeling better, yes?"
Soah gave him a nod. But, that didn't feel right to her, I need to tell him, not telling Sam how I'm feeling seems so wrong, Soah thought before speaking. "Thank you so much Sam! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I will never be able to thank you enough for saving me! Thank you!" Happy tears were dribbling from her eyes. Happy tears! She thought, Happy, my new favorite word, happy!
"Baby girl? I was not the one who saved you. It was the boys. They called for the ambulance; They stayed by you until we came. Dave sat on the sidewalk holding you as best he could while they waited for us to arrive. Those boys saved you, not me."
"I remember you telling me all of this. But you, you stayed with me, you never left me! I was so scared and you kept me from flying apart. And you want to be my dad!"
"Without a doubt, I want to be your dad. Would you like to meet your new mom and sister? Cecile and Talia come on over here." Sam brought the recliner upright. Holding his hand out to his wife he said, "Soah, meet your new mom, this is my lovely wife Cecile. And this is our daughter, your sister, Talia."
Leaning down to be eye level with Soah, Cecile smiled at her, "Hello, will you let me be your new mom?"
Shaking her head no, tears brimming her eyes, "You can't be my new mom. I never had a real mom before."
"Oh, sweetheart, I will be your mom." Cecile cautiously leaned forward, and gave her a kiss on her temple. Carefully brushing the tears from Soah's face, she leaned in to give her another kiss, and was rewarded with a brilliant smile. "Talia, come here and say hello to your sister."
Talia stood next to her mom and looked at Soah. Not having any idea what to say to her, she said the first thing that popped into her head, "We went shopping for you today. Cami is washing it all tonight and will bring it tomorrow. So, I hope you like what we bought for you, because after you take the tags off they can't be returned."
"You got me clothes? New clothes? Really?" Soah's mind was racing around. "New clothes?" They bought me new, never worn clothes? How can that be, I've never had anything new, actually new, in my whole life!
A confused look was on Talia's face, "Huh? Yeah, we got you new clothes. Did you think we would buy you thrift store clothes?" With a flash of understanding, Talia knew Soah had never had new clothing. "Oh! I am so sorry! I didn't know! I wasn't trying to be mean to you!" Talia could not remember being more embarrassed in her entire life.
"It's ok, you didn't know." As Soah shifted to get a better look at Talia, a sharp sudden pain radiated down her back causing her to gasp and arch trying to escape the pain. "Oh, it hurts again! Sam! It hurts, hurts, hurts!"
"Hang on baby girl, Janie is getting your pain medicine. It will take the pain away. Then she will need to look at your back again."
Janie had stood quiet and still, forgotten by all, listening to their very private conversation. Hearing Soah crying out in pain snapped her attention back to the job and out of her patient's private life.
"Cecile how about you and Talia go on home?"
"Sam, I want to stay here and be with Soah, until she goes to sleep."
"Um...ah, could you not be in here while Janie is.....working on me....please?"
"Oh, I was hoping you would let me be with you." Cecile was deeply hurt that Soah was pushing her away.
"Soah? I am just going out in the hallway for a moment. Cecile, Talia, come with me please." Sam stood and walked into the hallway, turning the corner into the small lounge. As his wife and daughter caught up with him, he gave them a stern look, "You need to think of Soah first." He held up a hand to ward off what they were going to say. "Yes, I understand, you were thinking of wanting to comfort and help her. Stop and think though for a bit, she doesn't know either of you at all yet, and she is dreadfully embarrassed about what her parents did to her." Sam fixed his eyes on Cecile and gave her a long, hard look. "What you need to remember above all else, is that it was her mother who did the vast majority of the abuse. She is going to be skittish around you for quite a while. She asked me if the reason I wanted her to live with us, was to be our maid. The concept of someone just wanting her, for her, is completely foreign to her. Actually, asking you not to be present while Janie worked on her back took courage for her. Now, let's go back to the room and then both of you, tell her good-night and for tonight, go home. It is going to be a long process of baby steps for Soah. Do you understand why both of the doctors wanted her to go into the intense therapy after being released?"
"Oh, Sam! I am very sorry! I just didn't think! We will just say a quick good-night before we leave." Cecile was beginning to realized, just how hard this was going to be.
"Soah, I am sorry, but we need to leave so that you can get to sleep. Rest well dear and I will see you tomorrow." Cecile leaned over slowly and gently kissed her forehead. "Sleep tight sweetie," she whispered into Soah's ear.
"Night, Soah!" Talia said as she left the room.