Chapter 16

Chapter 16 – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

06/13/2009: Charise has concerns about Carole’s health and if she supports reunification between Payton and Ruth. Ruth is petitioning to get Payton back but the girls’ lawyer is on the fence about it; she’s clean but doesn’t have a job or a place to live.

I’m in the shower when Andrew receives an alarming phone call from Carole. It’s a Sunday morning in early June. I’m getting ready for my friend’s baby shower. I glance at his reflection in the mirror and raise my eyebrows.

“She asked us to take Payton for a few hours. She isn’t feeling well and she said she doesn’t have anyone else to call for help.”

I reach for my blush and dab pink powder on my cheeks. “What’d you say?”

“I told her that we’re both busy today and we can’t help. She started crying and said she couldn’t get off the couch. She was slurring her words. It was so bad that I could hardly understand her.”

I’m concerned about the situation. Perhaps I should cancel my plans and help her. But I’m not just attending the baby shower, I’m helping out. And I really don’t feel like chasing Payton around. Payton, just two years old, is a handful.

“I’m going to call Charise. Maybe she can get some respite care for Carole.”

Swiping mascara over my eyelashes, I wonder if my reasons not to help out are justified. I examine myself in the mirror but the sea-foam green eyes staring back don’t provide an answer.


Charise calls me back Monday morning. “I got your message, thanks for letting me know what’s going on.”

I put the phone onto speaker and begin making Paige’s breakfast. At 10 months old, her favorite food is toast and butter.

Charise doesn’t mince words. “I’m worried about Carole’s health. And that’s not my only concern; I don’t think Carole supports reunification with Ruth.”

“They seem to be on the outs lately,” I agree, cutting the toast into small squares and sliding it onto Paige’s high chair tray. She squeals with delight, grabs a piece and stuffs it in her mouth.

“Carole has taken Payten to the doctor for nightmares nine times since the last court hearing. She attributes them to Ruth’s visits.”

“Carole told me about the nightmare but she never said anything about Ruth,” I tell her, sliding another piece of toast on Paige’s tray.

“Would you and Andrew be willing to foster Payten?” My focus shifts abruptly to the phone conversation, Paige and her breakfast forgotten. My body tingles and my heart races.

Sensing my shock, Charise recommends I discuss things with Andrew and call her back. “I need to speak with Payton’s lawyer about it so you have a few days.


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