That week on the island, I told Katherine Huntington, a family friend and neighbor, the truth about my father having sex with me. I told her what happened when I was a young child. I did not dare tell her about the night that had just passed–but I did confide in her about my childhood. I wasn’t the only one who thought she was a remarkable woman. She was the opposite of my mother–she was extraordinarily capable, warm, independent. People adored her. I looked up to her and wanted to grow up to be like her. When I was little, she made me feel special. She would ask my opinion on things and squat down to listen to me. When I was a teenager, she told me that I was clever and courageous.
I always thought she was beautiful, strong, and brave. She loved to sail by herself. She could read, write and speak Mandarin. She and her second husband spent a year driving across Africa. She was a volunteer firefighter in the little beach community. The only time she didn’t wear heels was when she drove the fire truck. She would cook dinner by herself for dozens of people and her house was always full of guests. She had a greenhouse behind the main house where she grew gardenias and plumerias. Once, she found a baby bobcat by her greenhouse door. She gave it a bowl of milk and hoped it would reunite with its mother. But another neighbor told her that he had seen a dead bobcat in the road down by the market. Katherine took in the baby bobcat and gave it all the maternal love she had given her children. She gave it lamb for supper, with a dish of whipped cream afterward.
My grandparents had been close friends of her parents. I was close to two of her children and a niece and a nephew. I felt happy being around her family. I wished she would take me in.
The week that I was at the beach with my father and brother, Katherine and her husband asked me over for dinner. I asked Katherine if we could speak in private. She said of course, and took me upstairs to her bedroom. We sat on her enormous white bed with its dozens of soft linen-cased pillows. I held one of the pillows close to my chest while I told her that my father had raped me when I was a little girl. I told her that I felt like I was going crazy and I didn’t know what to do. She leaned over to me and I thought she was going to embrace me, but she put her hand over my mouth. “Get over it,” she said. “Don’t talk about it. Forget it, and get over it.” She then told me that she had been molested when she was a child. She said her parents knew and didn’t do anything about it. “But these are things to forget and get over,” she said. She told me to go home to my father and not to talk about it anymore. She was never the same with me again. She wasn’t friendly anymore and she avoided me the rest of that trip.
Anonymous, The Incest Diary, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017