Well last week I put to the test a lot of what I have learned over the last year and a half. I met my kids. 3 of them at least. My anxiety has never been that high. My head was pounding my stomach was turning, my hands were shaking. It took everything I had mentally to to move forward with the meeting. I asked one of the Marines from group to be in the room with us in case I lost it. He is a big boy, no offence meant, and I am sure that he could control me if anything bad happened. The art therapist came in and told me a little bit of what she had been thinking about doing. Her plans sounded alright. Then the time came.
I looked out the door of the conference room and saw 3 young ladies walking in. As they cam around the corner of the wall and saw me sitting there their faces lightened up and smiles grew. They came in and sat across the table from me. I turned my focus onto Sally as a feeling of wanting to get up and walk out started coming over me. Sally stood and looked under the table and as she saw the girls her tail started wagging and beating me in the leg. I gathered my strength and let her of lead and told her to go "Visit". She walked all around the room visiting everyone else but the girls. then she went to them. Sally got quite a bit of pets and hugs from the girls. Then came back and laid down at my feet. I had to really force myself to try and look up from Sally and across the table. Here are 3 incredible young ladies that I have been accused of abusing and being a physical threat to sitting across a table from me and smiling at the chance they get to see me. Talk about guilt!!!!! We draw some pictures and then start talking about memories. My picture was of me fishing as a kid. One of the things I always enjoyed. I also drew the bald eagles I used to go out and watch near the Platte river back home. Then it was Tala's turn to tell about her picture. She had drawn a picture of her riding a bike. I guess that is something I used to do with the girls whenever they were over here. As she talked she began to cry. That was too much, I had to excuse myself. When the only memory you have of someone is of them crying, then when you meet them and they begin crying it is really difficult to push any other thought out of your mind other than here you are hurting them again. I wanted to remember the things she was talking about.
When I came back in it was Keilani that was discussing her picture. One of her comments that she was asked to repeat was her talking about how when I help her to learn to ride a bike she never fell. I guess I was always right there to make sure she was safe. Again it was really hard. Then Shakaya's turn and she spoke about me taking her fishing and catching a catfish. I asked her if she had put the worm on herself and she giggled and said no. She tried but could handle how they felt. We all giggled a little bit.
In a video of a meeting that the girls had with my therapist 2 weeks before Tala had mentioned me teaching her how to play Chinese Checkers. I asked if I had ever told them the history of me playing? They said I hadn't. So I told them how every time I went with Mom and Dad to visit Grandma, and Grandpa Kloppenborg, as soon as I walked into the house I would go get the tin with checkers on one side and Chinese checkers on the other. Grandpa would sit there and encourage me to try and open the tin Then he would finally help me and open it and wee would sit and play a couple of games. We did that for many years. Then I figured out how to open the tin on my own. We only played a few times after that. I have always wondered if that was Grandpa's way of teaching me patience and determination. Once I could open the tin, the lesson had been learned. Tala then told me of how we had gone to a thrift store and she found a tin like I had described and I bought it and got some new marbles and had taught them how to play. I found that tin not to long ago and was wondering where it had come from, as it gave me a lot of memories of Grandma, and Grandpa.
Keilani was one of the harder ones to watch. Every so often she got up and went over and gave Scott a hug. Scott was a friend of mine that when I first woke up helped me by getting me back to Lejeune and taking me to the hospital. He tried his best to help me through the first few months afterwards. Then he got deployed and we have lost touch ever since. Kailani would go over and give him a hug and when she came back and sat down I could see that she was trying to fight back the tears. I hate hurting people and especially kids. I hate to see them in pain. But I couldn't do anything to help. It really drove me nuts.
I sat there and listened to the girls talk about a Dad that had a lot of fun with them and did a lot with them. A Dad that cared for them. A few months ago when the girls met Terry, Allison and Sally, Tala had made the comment to Allison that the reason I only remembered tears from them was due to the fact that their Dad would always go and try and cheer them up when they were down. I watched their faces as they talked about this Dad of theirs. A lot of love, caring and I could see that it really hurt them that, that Dad wasn't around. I felt sorry for them for their loss. It seemed to me that they were talking of a Dad that had died! I tried to find a connection with them in my mind. I searched and searched, but couldn't make a connection. The intellectual side of my mind knew that they were talking about me but the emotional side had nothing, but sympathy for 3 incredible young girls that had lost some one very special to them.
This meeting was a step for all of us. Good, bad or indifferent is yet to be determined. To me it was a step. I guess for the girls it was a very special day. Maybe one day I will be able to find that same feeling.