Day two or three after the nightmare began, my college friend called. She told me she was having trouble dealing with the whole situation. (They were our friends. Her parents were some of His victims.)
“Do you realize,” she asked, “That we have been so upset that we can’t do anything? We literally can’t function. We can’t even feed our children! We’re devastated. We’ve been so betrayed.”
I could relate.
She told me she had learned things about Him she needed to share, to make sure I understood all that had been going on under my nose for 16 years. Those clueless years. I listened. I learned things I’d never known.
Then she said, “Andrea, do you realize if you walk away with anything, ANYTHING, from this you will be stealing like He did? If you walk away with anything other than the clothes on your back, and your children, you’ll be stealing! Don’t you agree?”
Unfortunately I didn’t.
“Actually, no,” I replied. It was one of the few times, maybe the only time, in the history of our 22-year friendship I could remember disagreeing. “I will take anything the authorities allow me to have, and I will use it to rebuild a life for my children. I guess until you have been left as I have, utterly destitute–with no home, no job, no money and four children to provide for–you can’t understand. But I WILL take anything the government gives me and be grateful for it.”
We finished the conversation (I don’t remember the rest of what was said), said goodbye, and hung up. I didn’t know that would be the last time we talked to each other.
Suddenly, another stranger in my life.