Which Daddy Hit You?
Later that afternoon, when Sarah arrived to pick up Karly, Delynn told her the same thing: Sarah needed to get Karly to a doctor to evaluate her. "She's tired all the time and, look, see how her hair is coming out in patches?" Delynn said, pointing to the bald spots.
But Sarah, defensive, acted as if Delynn was making a mountain out of a molehill. She told Delynn she had spoken with her mother about the hair loss. According to Sarah, her own sister had suffered extensive hair loss when she was the same age as Karly. Sarah said the sort of hair loss that Karly was experiencing "was normal in our family."
Such a statement made absolutely no sense. Any genetic propensity toward hair thinning or balding was not passed along to Karly from her Aunt Kim or her Grandma Carol or Grandpa Gene. There was no genetic legacy passed along to Karly via the Brill family at all. Sarah was adopted.
Unfortunately, Delynn did not know Sarah was lying.
Leaning over the table at the bakery where Delynn and I sat long after our meals had grown cold, Delynn took a sip of Pepsi, pushed her brunette hair back off her high forehead, and exhaled a deep sigh. Her regret over Karly's death was palpable.
I waited. Silence no longer makes me uncomfortable. Grief will not be bossed, coerced, or cajoled. It comes and goes as it pleases, and if you try to hurry it along, it will refuse to leave.
A few minutes passed where the only noise was the clanging of dishes and the chatter of people trying to decide what to order, whether to have that slice of apple pie. After a few minutes, Delynn jumped back into her story.
"It was almost like God was talking to me. Karly said, 'Delynn, my daddy hits me. My daddy bites me.'"
Delynn said now she was sure Karly had to be talking about Sarah's new boyfriend. "I knew she couldn't mean David. I had never seen him act in any way wrong." But when she first called authorities, Delynn had to tell them exactly, verbatim, what Karly said. "I was just sick," she said. "I knew it meant I would get David into trouble, and I knew Karly loved her daddy."
Delynn said she never believed David was the one harming Karly.
"I did not trust what Karly was saying when she said, 'My daddy bites me, hits me,'" Delynn said. "I just had this gut feeling she could not tell who it was for some reason and maybe she was saying 'Daddy' in order to tell somebody, but not to tell on the somebody she was very scared of."
Karen Spears Zacharias' work has been featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Newsweek, National Public Radio, Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today, and CNN.