Karen had a charmed life - a successful career and a loving husband, Paul. But that ended when she wanted to have a baby. She tried fertility drugs, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy, but nothing worked so she turned to adoption. She adopted Teddy, a baby from Russia, who was born to a drug-addicted mother and had been physically and sexually abused as an infant. From the start, Teddy showed problems, primarily in relating to others. He was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. With time, he displayed anti-social and violent behavior and was eventually diagnosed as a psychopath. The love that Karen and Paul felt for Teddy morphed into hatred.
When Teddy turned 18, he went to Russia where he became involved with the Red Mafia. The FBI knew this and wanted Karen's help in having Teddy unknowingly thwart the Mafia's plan to see small nuclear devices. She agreed to give Teddy a bugged phone that supposedly couldn't be detected. But it was, and resulted in Teddy being murdered by the Mafia members he idolized. Karen has to live with the thought that although she acted for the greater good, she was responsible for the death of her son. More than anything, Karen wished for a child, but the child she wished for was not the child she got.
My life can be divided into three distinct parts. Part One was like a sit com on 1950's T.V. I existed in Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, and Leave it to Beaver. In Part Two, I lived with The Walking Dead, The Sopranos, and The Sons of Anarchy. When I picture Part One, I see a red streaked sunset reflected in a tranquil sea, while in Part Two there is a black, foreboding storm hovering over a wind-battered hut. When I hear Part One, there's a full orchestra playing the Hallelujah Chorus, while in Part Two there's a funeral dirge pounded out on an organ by a partially masked phantom.
Now I'm living in Part Three, which is filled with thick fog and deafening static. The divider between Parts One and Two was the entry into my life of a beautiful, blond, curly haired baby. The murder of that baby as an adult was the divider between Parts Two and Three.
In Part One, I had an idyllic childhood as the daughter of Louis and Phyllis Carter. Dad was a successful optometrist in Manassas, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C. I was always an obedient child. My parents called me their little Nazi because I unquestioningly did whatever they told me to do. I was a success-oriented student, always studying diligently so I could earn straight A's. In high school, I was the editor of the yearbook and secretary of the National Honor Society. I never broke rules. I didn't drink, do drugs, or have sex. I was never even tempted to do these things. I was probably one of the few girls in my high school who could make that claim. I liked being a straight arrow. I took pride in myself. I never consciously thought about doing the right thing. It was just automatic for me.
I went to American University in nearby Washington where I got excellent grades and made time in my busy schedule to tutor inner city children. Helping others made me feel good. It made me feel like I was making a difference in the world, albeit a tiny difference, but a difference all the same. I dated, but usually not the same guy for very long because I didn't want to have sex until I met Mr. Right. Again, I was one of the very few college students who didn't drink, do drugs, or have sex. I didn't have a troubled adolescence, and I wasn't a rebel in college. To some people, my life may sound boring, but to me it was perfect.
In college, I became a wide-eyed idealist. Maybe because I lived in the D.C. area and was interested in U.S. history and the presidents. I worshiped the memory of John Kennedy. I believed in a great America with equality for all. I wanted to put into practice Kennedy's philosophy, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." But to me, it was more than just my country, it was the world. "Ask not what the world can do for you. Ask what you can do for the world."
Years later when I became an optometrist, I put my idealism into action, both at home and abroad. Throughout the years that I worked as an optometrist, I volunteered one afternoon a week at an eye clinic in inner city D.C., providing free eye care to the needy. One week each summer, I traveled to Guatemala with a medical missionary group to continue the volunteer work I started there while I was in optometry school. I wanted to make sure that good vision was not just for people who could pay, but a basic right for everyone, no matter where or how they lived. Everyone was entitled to see the world clearly. Although for some unfortunates, the world wasn't always a nice place to see.
And I always smiled because I was happy with myself and the world around me. I was an eternal optimist who found the silver lining no one else detected. The kids on campus viewed me as Miss Goody Two-Shoes, virtuous, even self-righteous. But I didn't care what other people thought of me. I knew who I was, and I liked and respected myself.
I idolized my father so I chose to follow in his footsteps and become an optometrist. When I was a kid, I loved going to his office to see how people responded when he helped them to see better. I recall the facial expressions and words of gratitude when people became aware that they perceived a sharper, clearer world. I felt such pride in my father and the good he did for others. I wanted to do good also, and I did.