Feeble Knees

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Never Leave On Bad Terms

That which I greatly feared has come to pass.

Z introduced herself quite strangely to me one night after Bible Study as I chatted with a few other church members. I was still relatively new; though I'd been attending for more than a year, I still hadn't managed to crack the social circle of the so-called "pillars of the church". Though I did my best to show up every time the doors were open, I still traveled on the periphery. At altar calls, older women still came and prayed for me in such a way that suggested they were unsure about my degree of commitment and purity of lifestyle. No matter. I still pursued Jesus with every fiber of my being and yearned to belong to His church.

So I wasn't expecting it when Z approached me purposefully, tissue in hand, and began wiping the lipstick off my mouth.

"That color is all wrong on you," she declared. A perfunctory search of her own purse turned up a shade more to her liking, a softer, pinker creme. "Here. Put this on. This is much better with your skin. See? That was too brown."

Bossy. Impetuous. Intense. Crazy. Off-putting. Everything about Z rocked my new-found religious sensibilities. She was brash, blunt, irreverent and at times unnerving. Our first few get-togethers left me mentally drained by the time I got home and I wondered what I was getting myself into. But she was the first person to really reach out to me and say, "here, come sit by me." So I did. And so began our friendship.

It was Z that played hooky from church with me. It was Z that dragged me away from my desk when I was working long hours and drove me to the ocean, to force me to take a break and rest my fractured heart and mind. After church, Z and her husband and daughter invited me to lunch. They took me with them to fairs and other family outings. While I was away, they took care of my pets. I was a frequent guest in their home. We exchanged gifts on Christmas and birthdays. We were family.

It's almost four years now since I last spoke to - no, yelled at - Z. Almost four years since our last words flew faster than consequences, found their targets and slammed their meaning home. She stormed out of my apartment that day and I fell apart. I often wondered if she heard the sounds of my sobs. The windows were open to the June breeze and it wouldn't have been a far distance for my cries to travel. I heard the sound of her feet on the pavement, the car door, the engine - but my sobs were the loudest thing going for a mile around.

Oh there were opportunities, but we didn't take them. Never again did I call or show up at their home unannounced. Never again did she sidle up to me in the pew or toss notes into my lap when I wasn't looking. Days later I attended our church for the last time. Months later I moved and left no forwarding address. My name changed in marriage, and that suited me just fine. It was the next best thing to entering the witness protection program. I had disappeared. It was the best thing for all, I thought.

Yesterday I got a call from someone who'd heard the news. Z's husband is dead, quite suddenly, very unexpectedly. He's with Jesus. And Z remains.

And here I sit, dumbstruck in grief and agony. Paralyzed. God help Z.
God help me.
<< Home

TrackBack URL for this post: http://haloscan.com/tb/feebleknees/114459231068449756