Kitty Has Doubts.
The bus rolled along. Kitty watched out the window. Sitting so high and looking down on the cars, she could see far beyond the highway off to the sides. They passed farms and houses, truck stops and shopping centers, crossroads off the highway where cars waited at traffic lights. She was lulled for a little while by the rhythm of the wheels on the pavement and the sway of the bus. Her thoughts were a jumble. Images from the past. Her husband’s face with that tight-lipped look. The baby, crying in the night and she unable to quiet him.
Alva was quiet for a time and then she turned to Kitty and asked, “There’s something I don’t understand, if you’ll pardon me for saying. You say you going up there to them sisters to find your own gift. But that don’t tell nothing at all. I mean not really, not if you think about it.”
“What are you saying?” Kitty asked.
“First of all, aren’t them sisters all supposed to be, you know, unbroke?”
“Right. I mean you been married. And what happened to your husband? Do you have children? You just leaving them?”
“He’s hardly a baby. I mean he’s grown. He has his own life. He doesn’t need me.” Kitty sounded defensive but actually she was afraid.
“That why you leaving? Because your baby don’t need you no more? You feel useless now, maybe?”
“Oh no.” Kitty was beginning to be sorry she had started answering these questions. Still there was some nagging doubt in her mind about what she was doing. She knew she would go through some of this once she arrived at the convent, had even been told by the sisters that doubt was part of the process, that she would be held to account, tested, and challenged before making the final commitment, before turning her life over to God. She would have to renounce all worldly things. Well, that would be no problem.
Did she feel useless? No, it wasn’t like that.
But how would she know God? That was nagging at her. How to know God. In some place deep inside her, she equated knowing God with knowing herself. That it was going to be through finding God that she would find herself, her purpose, her true gift. And the doubt that she had a gift gnawed at her. What had she to give, after all. Where would she find it? What was inside her? What if she found emptiness instead of fulfillment? It was of great concern that she might find in the convent, in the Order, in her giving up of the world, in her renunciation, more of the same. So the story poured out of her.
“The day after I turned eighteen I was married to a man of fifty,” she told Alva. “I didn’t even know how old he was. I found out ten years later. When he turned sixty.”
“He beat on you?” Alva asked, her voice like velvet.
“No,” Kitty answered her. “He never hurt me or anything. But sometimes – I mean I know it’s not good to say this and all – but sometimes I used to think, maybe, if he would just throw something or yell at me, maybe I could feel something for him. But he was so far away all the time. I mean far away in feeling. It was like I was part of the furniture or a wall in a room. Sometimes I felt so alone I would have welcomed anything, even if it was a kind of violence.”
“Oh, honey, don’t never say that. A man beats on a woman is the worst thing in this world.”
“I know that. In my heart I know it. But at least it shows some feeling, some passion,” Kitty said.