During the church service where everyone offers piece, although there was little doubt that he would not approach whilst I was there, I did have to be sure, so I approached him first so that my mum wouldn’t be put in the position of facing him, and potentially choking him on sacred ground.
When I approached, all I said was,
“I have told them, they know everything”. I looked him in the eye, I needed to know that he understood what I was saying to him despite the chaos of everyone walking around. He understood. I wished his wife peace, and I really meant it, and then I returned to my seat. I leant in to mum and told her that he knew that they knew, at which point we turned around to see him leaving the church quickly. He just turned and headed for the door.
“He’s leaving, should I follow?”
My mum said that I should do whatever I felt was right, and would support me no matter what, so I followed. I felt he was being a coward, also glad he had the decency to leave. I can’t really say what I was feeling; I was still raw from the night before.
I caught up with him, but for someone who is supposedly almost crippled, he had managed to get ahead enough that I had to step up my pace quite a bit. I’m not sure why, but I started the conversation with the words; ‘I’m sorry’.
“I’m sorry, but I had to tell them, I hope you understand”.
My stomach was in knots, I couldn’t keep my hands steady, but he said it was OK. He listened as I explained that I couldn’t keep it in any longer, it was causing my life to spiral out of control.
During his response, he infuriated me! He suggested that I was such a pretty girl, and very precocious, and did come back several times!!! Did I ask for this? Did he believe I encouraged it?? I asked him to stop speaking and reminded him that I was only eleven at the time, and he couldn’t possibly think that this was even partially my doing!!
“Are you seriously proportioning even the tiniest part of blame onto me?? I was ELEVEN you knob! The only reason I kept coming back was because I was TO SICK TO WALK!!!
I was crying at this point, but felt as good to tell him the impact on me this time as I did when I was twenty two, and the letter I sent him two and a half years ago. He went on to inform me that it wasn’t just me that had been hurting, and that he had hurt too!!!!!! Poor bastard!! It had been so hard on him that he had had to tell his wife some years earlier, but he was lucky that she had stayed and supported him.*
I told him that he was very lucky indeed, and that he owed my family an apology. I’m not sure if he will or not, but time will tell.**
He tried to comfort me, but I asked him not to touch me, so he kept tapping me with his walking stick. That really irritated me, but he also lent me his handkerchief to wipe my tears. I appreciated that, even though it is the least he can do.
When I got back to church, my mum hugged me tight. I saw that she and her friend were crying. Her friend reached out and held my hand for a while, I was surrounded by love.
We stayed for a while after the service to pull ourselves together. I relayed as much of the conversation with him as I could remember, and as mum and her friend held hands, I told her how happy I was that she had good friends to help her through this time. I appreciate how important your friends are whilst going through this, and luckily she has a group of friends as tight as mine, but she has had hers for more years than I have been socializing. She needs them now more than ever.
Back at home, over a home cooked roast dinner, we toasted family, good friends, a new start, and love.
We talked about how lucky we were, and I apologized that it wasn’t a celebrity, so no claim on his millions, and we laughed. I wasn’t sure how we would ever laugh again, but here we were, not twenty-four hours after I had dropped the bomb, and already we could laugh together. I knew then that we would be OK, there were still some tears, but mostly laughing. We all agreed how grateful we were to be us, to be able to have a new start, a good happy start, compared to him, who now knows his secret is out. No certainty of his place within his parish, a reputation built up over 60 years, gone. We are the lucky ones indeed.
Today was a hard day, but now I feel like I could sleep for days. ***
*After his arrest, the police informed me that this wasn’t true, and his wife denied any knowledge of this, so I’m not sure what to believe. I had hoped he had enough decency, being a Church Lay Minister and all, that he wouldn’t lie to my face on top of everything else, but just goes to show.
** Between this conversation and his arrest, he made no attempt to apologies.
*** I still had to opt for a sleeping tablet, but It’s OK. There is no rush, and one day at a time will do for now. My family is truly awesome.