When I was in Sarah Payne’s class, a student from another class came to see her. It was at the end of the class, and people sometimes lingered to speak with Sarah, and this student from the other class came in and said, “I really like your work,” and Sarah said thank you and, sitting at the table, began to pack up her things. “I like the stuff about New Hampshire,” the student said, and Sarah gave a quick smile and nodded her head. The student said, moving toward the door, as though she would follow Sarah from the room, “I knew someone from New Hampshire once.”
Sarah, to my eyes, looked bemused. “Did you,” she said.
“Yes, Janie Templeton. You never met Janie Templeton, did you?”
“I never did.”
“Her father was a pilot. For the airlines. Pan Am or something it was back then,” said this student, who was not young. “And he had a nervous breakdown, Janie’s father. He started to walk around their house masturbating. Someone told me that later, that Janie saw this — maybe she was in high school, I don’t know, but her father started walking around the house just masturbating compulsively.”
I became freezing cold in the Arizona heat. I had goosebumps all over me.
Sarah Payne stood up. “Hope he didn’t fly the plane much. Okay, then.” And she saw me, and nodded at me. “See you tomorrow,” she said.
I had never before heard, nor have I heard since, of this Thing—as I had called it to myself — happening as it had happened in our home.
I think it was the next day that Sarah Payne spoke to us about going to the page with a heart as open as the heart of God.
Later, after my first book was published, I went to a doctor who is the most gracious woman I have ever met. I wrote down on a piece of paper what the student said about the person from New Hampshire named Janie Templeton. I wrote down things that had happened in my childhood home. I wrote down things I’d found out in my marriage. I wrote down things I could not say. She read them all and said, Thank you, Lucy. It will be okay.