Once a year I am part of a big fundraiser for rescue dogs. I meet people who I never see in between. We are all busy on that day, but the conversations we grab are intense, lives are captured in a snapshot, soundbites bring us up to speed. No small talk.
A young woman, pale, underweight, scars of self-harm. Single Mum, two children. Two years ago she was waiting to hear if a man who had raped her was going to be charged. He was just a good mate, known and trusted for 3years. She had taken an overdose, a moment of anguish. Phoned him, would he come straight over, if necessary call an ambulance, stay with the kids.
She passed out, awoke many hours later, naked, raped, children alone crying. He told her that if she reported him, the children would be taken away because of the overdose.
Days later he returned, old school attack and rape, she tried to fight him off. This time she rang the police. She was covered in injuries, and the rapist had scratches on him. The police were dubious a charge would stick. One male detective was supportive.
One year ago. The court case was days away. She was in a state, a rape counsellor would acompany her. The police were confident he would get an appropriate jail sentence.
This year. He got 10 months, on a lesser charge of sexual assault. He had just been released, back home around the corner. Her barrister and the police did a very poor job. No mention was made of the fact that he had been to court on two previous rape charges. Got off both times, technicalities.
For all this, she looks better, smiled, allowed her anger to show. She has been having DBT therapy (I had to Google) and it has clearly worked for her. Therapist helping her claim compensation.
Another woman. A few years ago - exhausted, reclusive. She had a young son with severe autism. When he was diagnosed she was pregnant with the second child. Her husband reacted to the news by hanging himself.
Last year. She had found work in a busy shop. She was getting help with her son, some respite periods. Anti-depressants helping.
This year. Looked lovely, tanned, newly blonde. A man on the scene. Taking it slowly. Later this year she starts training to become a midwife, her dream job. Off the medication for now.
Four years ago her Dad was grieving the loss of his second wife. She and her siblings were arranging their lives to help and support him. He had walked out on their own mother when they were small.
His life seemed over.
Three years ago, he moved abroad to make a fresh start.
One year ago - he had lived with 5 much younger women since moving.
This year. He has fathered a baby, due soon. He is 83, the girlfriend in her 20's. He has changed his will, leaving everything to her. Furthermore, as his children have failed to be thrilled for him, he never wants to hear from them again.
Nothings lasts for ever. Things change, we change, for good or ill. Ordinary people are extraordinary.
A Moodscope member.