Saturday, July 20th, 2024

B Book Excerpts by Jean Loxley-Barnard


The following is an excerpt from The Hope Trap, Jean Loxley-Barnard's forthcoming book.

I received a call from Dr. Joy Renfrow, Kitty's psychologist. She asked if I would consider coming to the private psychiatric hospital to visit Kitty, who had asked for me.

"Of course," I replied without hesitation.

I was somewhat nervous on the drive out. With me was Matthew, the teddy bear I had purchased in Arizona during my week of family therapy, part of Rob's month long rehab. I brought the bear to share with Kitty.

The feeling in the building was one of both hospital and jail. It was, after all, primarily for adolescents, most of whom, if not all, did not think they belonged there.

The doctor's renowned husband was also Kitty's psychiatrist. His wife was a dignified, attractive woman who spoke calmly, yet rapidly, as we took an elevator. Perhaps, I thought, she wants to tell me a great deal in a short space of time. I felt comfortable in her presence.

"Kitty is doing quite well for being here just five days," the doctor told me quietly. "But she is very nervous about seeing you this morning."

"I can understand that," I replied, asking, "Is there anything you want me to say or do?"

"Just that you be honest with Kitty," Dr. Renfrow counseled, "and let her say whatever she needs to say. This is very important for her."

The doctor opened the door to a small room, just a few yards from the elevator, and I took a seat, assured the wait would be short. It wasn't long enough! Dr. Renfrow ushered Kitty in before a minute had passed.

Kitty's eyes were very large as she glanced at me furtively. She looked like a deer suddenly looking into headlights. And how young she looked! I had met Kitty before, even spent time in her company, not knowing that she was involved with my husband. I knew she was young; that fact impressed itself on me each time I had seen her after discovering the affair. Now, she seemed even younger.

I felt compassion for this girl, who could almost be my granddaughter. How frightened she must be in a mental hospital, discovering how society really views her affair with a 50-year-old married man, a physician entrusted with her care.

 "Thank you for coming, Mrs. Hood," Kitty said in a clear voice.

 "Thank you for asking me to come," I answered quickly, hoping to put the girl at ease.

"I want to tell you I am sorry," she began again, "and hope that sometime you will be able to forgive me."

"I forgive you now, Kitty," I said.

The girl continued, looking straight at me. "I should have known better. I knew, even though I didn't want to know. Rob," Kitty began, suddenly hesitated, then said quickly, "Dr. Hood, I mean..."

"It's all right," I interrupted. "It is natural for you to call him Rob at this point. It doesn't hurt me."

"Thank you," she said, continuing, "Rob told me you and him were having trouble, and you didn't care about him anymore. Sometimes I felt guilty, like the times we saw you driving your car when we were together. I felt kinda embarrassed them times. But Rob said never mind. He thought it was kinda funny."

I told Kitty about our marriage, about the affairs, careful to add, "that I knew about" over the years. I knew about five during our 30 years.

As I talked to Kitty, without anger, just with the sadness and awareness that time brings, I watched her eyes fill from time to time. In her face, I saw the compassion one female has for another. Strange, I thought, to feel a sisterhood with a girl one-third my age who had been having an affair with my husband, the affair that would finally mean divorce.

"I'm so sorry for what you've been through," Kitty said softly, sincerely. "I'm so very sorry to be the one to cause you more pain." Tears welled up in her eyes again.

 "You need not apologize anymore, Kitty," I reassured. "I'm not angry with you. This is not fair to you."

I took the teddy bear across the room. "I bought this bear during my week of family therapy when Rob had his month of rehab in Arizona. I'd be happy to let him visit here with you if you want."

Kitty took the bear eagerly. "Thank you," she cooed, hugging it, "he's soooo cute."

As I left, Dr. Renfrow followed me into the hallway. "You did great," she complimented. I was relieved, even knowing I still needed to tell my attorney, who had urged me to steer clear.

Additional Excerpt Text

Driving home, I recalled my attorney's admonitions to me when I told him I was going to help Kitty's parents try to get her into the hospital. "Don't do it," Mr. Weinstein had almost shouted. "Don't interfere with this thing. It's not in your best interest."

"But this girl is only 17," I had retorted. "She could be my daughter. If she were my daughter, I would want someone to help us. Don't you see I have to do it?"

"You don't have to do it, and I am telling you now that it is not in your best interest to get involved." Mr. Weinstein leaned forward onto his wide mahogany desk, his long elbows reaching for the sides, and his hands crossed firmly in the middle of the desk. He raised his clasped hands and brought them down sharply for emphasis. "I'm your lawyer, and I'm giving you good advice."

"Don't you think I should do something for this girl?" I asked.

"Nooo. Listen to me." His face wrinkled in frustration."As your lawyer, I am telling you to keep out of this for your own good. There is a lot of money at stake. Half of it is yours."

"What would you do if you were her father?" I asked directly.

"I'm not her father," Sol Weinstein almost wailed, "I'm your lawyer!" He repeated once again his admonition. Then, he sat back in his leather chair, silent for a moment.

When my attorney spoke next, it was not as my attorney, but as a mature man of wisdom, taking a moment to be candid with me as a fellow human being. He spoke softly. "If I were her father," he began, his gray/black eyebrows furrowed deeply, "If I were her father," this legal wizard continued, "I'd kill him."

I felt better then, not that he would kill Rob, but that he felt the severity. My attorney was what I needed him to be. He was giving me the best advice he could for my legal interests. Sol Weinstein was also human. He also cared.

As if to underscore what I was thinking, he sat back up in his chair and said, "You'll notice that I'm not jumping up and down here telling you not to do it."

I had, I knew, the right attorney.