There was a moment, or more accurately a series of moments that occurred a month ago of which I have remained silent. The problem is the magnitude of the moments has eclipsed all else in our life, has made my journey seem small by any comparison. I have struggled with what, if anything to say, and last night Carrie “blessed” my posting about it.
There is required background here. The wedding of the past summer and finally all of the angst, all of the sadness between Carrie and I is receding. Time for the “good” wedding: the daughter who lives local, the one who is easy to deal with. The hall is booked, flowers being chosen, wedding dress awaiting final fittings and yes, the invitations in the mail. The responses are trickling in and Anna and Bill are ready to roll down that aisle. Under eight weeks and counting.
Living in an expensive part of this earth, Anna and Bill move into the basement. Yes, the basement I have feared being banished to in these very pages. Yes, the basement that is looking good but not for me. They move in slowly but finally one Sunday the last of the clothing – they’re here.
A few days later Carrie tracks me down on the cell phone. Now you should realize that Carrie is not much for tracking me down – we have our days and when the sun sets we regroup in our home. So when the cell rings, I answer. She is agitated, very agitated. Having come home mid-day between her errands she is greeted by two “suits” who say: Mrs. Smith? Yes, she responds and they flash their wallets – Homeland Security. They stand in that way that is non-threatening but lets you know they are packing.
They have a few questions. They of course already know the answers. They know Anna’s name, they are interested in Bill, and how long have they lived here, issues of their last address. Carrie assumes a problem involving Bill’s family who owned the apartment they just vacated. Why would one assume anything else? “When will Bill be back?” they ask. After work of course.
As Carrie wanders through the rest of her day in a haze of upset and concern, she realizes with out fully registering: there is a late model sedan on our block, windows tinted, just idling away. Bill does arrive home and moments later the sedan pulls in our driveway behind him. They just want to talk and for a few minutes they speak to Bill alone and then leave. Bill is ashen; he retreats to the basement where the phones light up. Eventually he is off to the “home office”, off to see his parents.
That night the briefest of explanations: some confusion with his internet access. The next afternoon Bill, his family, and Anna – our Anna – are off to an attorney for an emergency consultation. The attorney has called the Federal agents, he is doing his homework. That night Anna and Bill come home, thirty hours after Carrie’s initial encounter: Bill would like to talk with us.
His words are chosen carefully (as will be mine) – we do not have privilege and therefore discretion is required. But a story emerges. He may have traded pictures, pictures that may be considered inappropriate. He believes that anyone in these pictures is of legal age. The agents seem not to agree. He stopped this activity many months ago but may have been actively doing it at a time when our daughter - our Anna - was already living with him. The agents are in no hurry – this is not a high priority. It may fall away or it may return in a week, a month, a year. We are not in a position of strength in this matter.
Oh yes, Bill adds, the lawyer wants us to know that if we are served with a search warrant let them in but do not say anything. Oh yes, Bill adds, we should be aware that he may be arrested as part of this.
The invitations are in the mail, responses are coming in every day: the wedding is less than eight weeks away. We are on final approach and every warning light on the console is screaming red alert.
Two weeks of discussions, family meetings. Anna still loves him (for reasons we did not understand before and understand even less now) and he has a good deal. A nice apartment in our basement, a future wife who cares for him, defers to him, and supports him. A struggle – maybe not epic – but a struggle all the same and finally Anna comes around. She will not cancel but will postpone.
So the wedding is postponed, Bill is in our basement, we are praying that a convoy of black sedans does not roll down our block one day and most of all we are struggling how to get Anna to see that it is time to cut bait and rebuild her life.
There is more to say, many more thoughts and threads but I have spent a month living this: you all can probably use a moment to take a breath and absorb it all.