"To Fall in Love Again"-Part 2
by Sandy Kay Slawson
Tina waited at the modern bistro table drinking her mocha latte. A blast of cold air from the entrance brought her friend Sherri in with it. She struggled to close the door against the force of the wind. Sherri brushed her fingers through her short chestnut hair, scanned the coffee shop, and offered a little wave when she spotted Tina. A few minutes later Sherri scooted up to the table as she blew on her drink. “Chai Latte again?” “Of course, why mess with a good thing?” “Not me, I like variety.” "Sort of like the men in your life, a new one for every holiday?” "Touché.” "What about your accountant? He seems like a keeper,” said Sherri with a wiggle of her thin eyebrows. “He is not my accountant. He's my boss. You know I don’t date guys my mom would like. However, he is starting to make me rethink my stance on that subject." “You should definitely rethink it. This vendetta has gone on long enough if you ask me. It seems like you sabotage your own life to hurt her.” Tina set her mocha latte in front of her. She rubbed the icepick pain that stabbed from temple to temple. When the sensation wore off, she focused on her friend’s concerned frown. “I’m beginning to agree,” whispered Tina. “What? Really?” “Yeah, it’s kind of why I asked to meet you this evening.” Tina leaned against her straight back chair and blew out a puff of the frustration which built throughout the day. “I’ve roared along with a tank full of anger and pain for so stinkin’ long. The last several months I’ve started to sputter…like I wish I could just be myself and get off this road to Nowheresville. Now I feel myself gliding up to the gas station on fumes, but I don’t want to refill with the same old contaminated emotions.” “First, let me say you've been hanging around way too many grease monkeys. Second, I am thrilled to hear you say this. Maybe if you talk about it…get it off your chest, you’ll be able to let it go. I’m no counselor, but I’m a great listener. I’ve been your friend for three years, and I’ve watched you date biker after biker, but you’re never happy. Why choose that type of man when you don’t have anything in common with them?" Tina bit her bottom lip as she hesitated. Did she dare reopen this wound? "I loved a guy once. We were seventeen, headed into our senior year. He had everything going for him. He was a Christian, star quarterback, smart, clean cut, good family...everything my mother should have loved. Instead, she said we were too young to be exclusive. She made me break-up with him over the phone. She stood there to make sure I did it. The next day, I tried to explain what had happened, but I saw in his eyes how much I'd hurt him. He wouldn't listen to me.” "Oh, Tina, how sad. You must have been heartbroken.” Sherri patted Tina’s fists which were clenched together on the table. Tina closed her eyes against the fiery drops which threatened to spill. When she’d gained control, she continued. "That's not the half of it. Joey...that was his name...went out with another girl the next weekend. I think he went to make me jealous, but I'll never know for sure.” "Why not?” asked Sherri in a soft voice. "They both died in a car wreck that night. The girl was drunk driving. His blood had no alcohol in it. At least that’s what the newspaper article said. I wondered a thousand times why he didn’t drive instead. If I had made him talk to me, we could have worked something out. He shouldn’t have been in that car with her. He should have been with me.” “Wow. You blamed yourself and your mom?” Tina gave a humorless laugh. "Oh yes, I blamed her most of all, but that's not the end of the story. When I told her about the wreck, she said, 'Good thing I made you break-up with that boy. It could have been you in the car with him.’ My rebellion began after her callous reaction to his death.” "What a terrible thing to say. I can’t imagine. How did your dad feel about all this?” Tina shrugged. “My dad travelled with his job a good bit. When he did come home, he stayed busy with other things besides us. He left mom for someone else. I haven't heard from him in two years. I guess I’ve blamed her for that, too. I never once considered how it must have hurt her, until this moment…to be married eighteen years, then your husband just leaves one day and never comes back.” “You’ve never shared this stuff. It’s got to be eating you alive, unless you have someone else you confide in. You’re an only child right?” “Yep, and there’s no one else. I guess my mom doesn’t have anyone besides me either. I was her world. She got a job after my dad left, but I’ve never heard of any close friends.” Guilt sank in Tina’s gut like a stone as she considered her mom’s perspective. “How does your mom act when you show up with these biker dudes?” “At first she worried they were criminals who would kill us. Then she worried they’d get me into drinking, drugs and other sinful activities. I never told her, but most of them were just regular guys who rode bikes and dressed the part. I wanted her to worry. I wanted her to see her mistake of forcing my break-up with Joey. I wanted her to regret it.” “And has she?” “Yeah, I think so,” answered Tina. “Has it made you feel better?” “No. I think I’ve painted myself int a corner with this biker chic image. A great guy like Chad might think I’m something I’m not, and it will ruin my chances to catch someone I’m really attracted to.” “Maybe it’s time to forgive your mom and move on with your life. Make better decisions, you know?” “Pray for a miracle then."
Tina threw her purse on her counter, kicked off her heels, threw her phone on her bedside table and fell on her unmade bed. Hours, many tears and one long prayer later, she knew she'd found forgiveness from the Lord. Now she had to do the same for her mom. How could she not?
Tina picked up her phone, went to her contact list and scrolled to her mom's name. Her hand shook. She set the phone back on the bedside table, sucked in two deep breaths, and released them with slow concentration. She glanced at the bright screen. It had 'Mom' highlighted. She picked it up. Set it down. Five minutes passed. The screen went black as she stared at it. She clutched two fistfuls of hair in frustration. Jesus, You just forgave me...for everything. Why can't I do the same for my mom? Tina stepped out onto her small balcony. She leaned on the railing and lifted her face to the black night sky. One bright star winked at her. She'd always believed Joey had gone to Heaven when he died, but she focused on that star and said, “You’d say I should forgive her, too, huh? I’m sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry you had to die without knowing the truth. I've hated myself for it. I doubt any of this matters to you up there, though."
Tina closed her eyes and pictured the boy she'd loved. Not the heartbroken boy, but the one who had lived his life well with a love for God and others. He would have understood. He would have forgiven her and her mom, if given the chance.
"I think it’s time I forgave myself, too. I’ve missed you, but I know you are fine...better than fine where you are. Guess what? I got things right with the Lord tonight. You’d be glad about that. I was so tired of running from Him...so tired of being angry. I think I'm finally going to be okay. I'm ready to start living again." She looked at the star once more. "Goodbye, Joey.” Tina closed the sliding door behind her. Time to let go of the past completely. She grabbed her phone and tapped the screen twice. The phone came to life. One touch, then another, and the ringing began. Four rings later her mom's tired voice answered.
“Hello?” “Hey, Mom."
To be continued...
Forgiveness can feel impossible sometimes, but when Jesus Christ has forgiven you, it is possible through Him. Not easy, but possible.
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I hope you have a very Happy Monday and a Happy week. May the Lord God bless each of you and your families with faith, hope and love. In Jesus' Name.