It has been 3 months and 10 days since I announced that I was desperately seeking Quick Draw McPease.
During that time, I have requested my father’s military records. my school records, interviewed family members, rambled memories off for my husband to record in one of my many journals, had crazy dreams, drank a lot of wine and sought a lot of professional help.
I sent an email to my elementary school and waited. I had plenty to fill my time until they responded.
Until they didn’t.
So, I emailed again and again.
I was kind of avoiding calling because – well – I didn’t want to tell random secretary lady why I wanted my records and information about a past teacher.
I felt kind of like bathroom-stall-over-sharing-girl.
If you have ever been in a women’s restroom then you know that girl. The one that shares details of her life with you as if you are best friends and you’ve only just allowed her to use the soap dispenser ahead of you. You didn’t realize that politeness was cause for a speech about her current relationship or worse yet, her intestinal issues.
I didn’t want to be random-over-sharing-girl.
I wanted them to simply send me the information without any trouble.
I never received a response.
Earlier this week a friend decided to go Magnum PI on google and prompted me to look into some things I hadn’t. We found some options but I had to call.
Of course, I sent another set of emails just in case.
Today I got a reply in my inbox with the last known address and phone number for Mrs. Pease.
I sent a quick note of gratitude and then dialed.
The suspense was a killer – especially when I had to leave a message in a generic voicemail box.
“Hi, my name is Tashmica. My phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. I think you were my fourth grade teacher. *nervous laugh* Would you please call me either way. Thanks!”
I had been making random phone calls with no reply for about two weeks now. I did not expect an instant reply.
At about 3 o’clock today, the Mrs. Pease called me back.
I am still processing our conversation because it exceeded my every expectation.
She didn’t remember me right away. I was 9-years-old the last time we saw each other.
One thing is important here.
When I told her that I was looking for her because she was the first person I ever told that I was sexually abused and I wanted to thank her, she said,
“So many of my students told me that.”
I never imagined that. I never thought about her role as an advocate for others. It speaks volumes that she was the trusted confidant of abused children for decades. Also, it makes me so deeply sad that there were so many abused children coming forward, she needed more details to pin down which one I was.
We chatted. I gave her some details about my family in 1989. I told her my maiden name and how my father had been dead for a year by the time I told her my story. She asked me to remind her of how I told her.
“I hope this doesn’t offend you but are you black?”
I laughed hard and told her yes. I had forgotten to mention that one, tiny identifying factor.
She remembered my hair – how my mother twisted my pig tails instead of braiding them. She remembered my constant smile and told me that the world wasn’t right if I wasn’t wearing it.
She asked me to tell her everything. I tried.
I told her how old I am, where I live, that I have been married for nearly 9 years and am raising three boys.
She laughed and kept interjecting,
“I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you. Good for you! I am so proud of you.”
I told her the most important thing.
“You were a link in the fence that saved my life. Statistically speaking, I am not supposed to be doing so well. You believed me, supported me and advocated for me.
My life would have been very different without you. Thank you.”
She said she was so grateful for my call and that we should stay in touch. (As if that were ever a question.)
Lisa, that’s the name grown-ups use for her, had a lot of wise things to say. She quoted statistics about child abuse. She knew that healing has its own time and she cursed – which of course made me giggle.
More than twenty years later and in one conversation I am convinced that she was placed in that classroom for me. And now I know she was placed there for so many others too.
It has not been an easy time for me. Looking into my past and asking questions has been quite terrible actually. The memories are dark, scary and full of problems I cannot solve now. I only look to understand bits and pieces of a mismatched puzzle. None of it makes sense.
The fact that I was sexually abused will never make sense. No matter what I find in my research, my father made a horrible choice and there’s no explaining that away. It is a hard thing to remember.
It is painful, therapeutic and important but it is not awesome.
This story is different.
I don’t want to drown myself in wine and fall asleep. I don’t want to go to counseling to work through something caught in my throat. I don’t need to decide if I am angry, hurt or ask “Why me?” for the millionth time. I don’t want to run away.
Today, there is joy in remembering.
Mrs. Pease said one more thing that I will never forget.
She said that after all of these years,
“We never stopped knowing each other, did we?”
It’s true. She was a part of my story and I am a part of hers.
I am so grateful for the ability to celebrate a memory.
It is good to remember that although I was treated despicably, I was tremendously loved and that is what made the difference.
I am still kind of overwhelmed and exhilarated. At first, I didn’t even know how to celebrate but then I figured it out.
I celebrated a joyful remembering with song and dance.
I truly am blessed and highly favored.
PS – Thank you to all who shared the original link or tried to help my search in any way. I appreciate you.