The Boise River from a bridge I crossed every day riding the yellow bus.
Pain. It brings life’s flow to a slow, dull ebb. Where life flourished, there is ice. Cold. Bitter cold ice. The kind that chills to a bone’s core. Where life resides. This is where my pain began, in a place I once called home.
I returned there last weekend. It was a bittersweet occasion. Celebrating the life of a woman who taught me to read…witnessed the birth of my walk with Jesus…was a big sister to a little girl in the middle of four boys. I still have moments where I just cannot (or won’t) believe that her journey here is over. Then I smile. Smile because I know she’s with her sweet momma.
Anyway…I spent the week up to this event praying. Praying the anxiety that would come flooding into my soul at the mention of his name would not overwhelm me. I chided myself SO many times for the irrationality of this anxiety. After all, HE wasn’t the one who stole what was mine. HE wasn’t the one who violated that trust between a child and an adult. HE wasn’t the one who made the choices. Yet, his words, his presence, sends my heart into palpitations. I cannot breathe. Stupid emotions that threaten to ruin my peace.
So I made the decision. Wanting so desperately to walk in the freedom of forgiveness and not the chains of the past, I decided to go, knowing he would be there.
You see…I loved his daughter…his son…their mother. I still do. Very much. And if I’m honest, about this little girl, she loved him too. This man who terrified her. Who haunted her dreams for years after he left. She loved him. When he left, her heart broke. She felt abandoned. And true to BBA fashion, when he left, her questions stayed unanswered.
So, I went to this place of my childhood. I drove by the property. The place where I played for hours in a field amidst cow pies. (You SO don’t’ wanna know!) This place that shaped me and destroyed me. I made my husband turn around so I could take pictures. It is not like I remembered. Years have beaten it down. As I drove away, I realized, that it didn’t hurt.
The next day we went to the celebration. I was thrilled to see friends that I loved. I laughed as a former BBA friend said, “You’re so grown up.” “You are too” I retorted. I smiled, laughed, remembered.
As for him. He talked in the same fashion I remember. Smooth. Confident. A minister. I tried to remember the words I had planned to say to myself as he spoke. As he acknowledged those who blessed the life of his daughter, I suddenly realized. I was fine. It was ok. I was ok. I smiled. More memories were shared. Her words.
This woman, she was deep. She had a deep understanding of this Jesus, of God…of this world. It made me sad. So many wishes…
Then he spoke again, and I saw something I’d never seen. A father. Saying goodbye to his child. He held back tears. And my heart, wept. Wept for lives that could have been different. For pain that was probably not intentioned, but happened anyway. Wept, because no parent should have to say good-bye to their child. My mother heart…it saw a young father holding a beautiful baby girl. And I silently prayed that God would bring peace to his pain.
I managed to not interact with him, which I think was wise for my own sanity. I’m happy with that decision.
A little flame. Forgiveness. It started to melt the ice and life once again is beautiful.