Last night during the bedtime process, as I helped Joel into his pajamas, I overheard a conversation between my five-year-old and her dad.
"Sophie, did you brush your teeth?"
"Yes, I did."
"Sophia, did you brush your teeth?"
"If I go in the bathroom and feel your toothbrush, will it be wet?"
And I was and am okay, but I feel like maybe I shouldn't be. See, when I was Sophie's age (and remarkably similar-looking), I had an almost identical conversation with my step-father. Afraid of the dark bathroom and unable to reach the pull-string to turn on the light, I lied about having brushed my teeth. He locked my mother out of the bathroom, bent me over the toilet, and beat my bare ass with the buckle end of his belt. In the morning, my mom had to peel my underwear, caked with dried blood, away from the gashes.
It's funny, how you can be simultaneously so removed and yet so close to an experience. I've had a great day today; visiting with a couple different friends, spending time being creative in my newly-organized craft room, hanging out with my awesome kids. But since overhearing Greg talking to Sophie last night, a little part of my brain has been back there in that dilapidated farmhouse bathroom, listening to my mother scream and beat on the door trying to save me, or in the bathroom stall at school the next day, hoping I didn't bleed on my pants, or on the steps of my step-father's parole officer, listening to my mom explain my injuries and plead for some help.
It's inexplicable, a paradox: I am here, and yet I am there. Like the already-but-not-yet of God's Kingdom, in a way. Maybe. Hell, I don't know. But I do know that I'm here, and I'm okay, and always, always in these situations, I think about the ones who have suffered similar things and worse, and who aren't okay. And sometimes that feels depressing as hell, but then sometimes it feels like hope.