My son and his friends filled me with joy, because I’ll take a heroic comeback that falls short over a massive victory any day. Because what I’ve come to love in this world is people who have no reason to feel hope, insist on it anyway, discover it, and begin to live it. ~Kelly Flanagan @ Untangled
Over thirty years ago she walked down the aisle towards the man who would become her husband, all the while thinking, “I really ought not to be doing this. I really should turn around and walk out.” She didn’t. She kept walking towards the I do hoping he would eventually change. He didn’t.
She cajoled him into going to a counselor with her. He did for three sessions and never returned. She, however, continued. I don’t know if it was the spit he hurled at her that forced her thoughts to “I’m done and out of here!” or if it was the push down the stairs, or his mistress calling the house, but the proverbial camel’s back broke with that last straw. It doesn’t much matter what the straw was, just that the back broke.
Some of the people at her place of employment were supportive of her leaving him once they learned of his adultery. Prior to that little piece of information several people told her she had no “Biblical reason” to leave him. She realized that back was cracking too, preparing to break and maybe it was time to find a new job after 10 years of being there.
The timeline escapes me at present. I think it was five years at least we met on a weekly basis. She and I, acquaintances for years, now friends, met in addition to her counseling sessions with a professional. I offered a listening ear, a prayerful heart, and spiritual guidance as she navigated the “valley of the shadow of death.” We cried together. We laughed together. She disagreed with some things I said and agreed with other things. Having walked that dark road myself many years ago, I journeyed with her, reminding her there was Light. She persisted. She kept walking.
She moved out of her home when he was away on business. Friends helped her pack. Friends provided an adorable one-bedroom apartment and safety. Friends bought her a bed. She cried for days. She moved in, arranged her furniture and unpacked. We unpacked the kitchen. Put up her rooster collection and hung her pictures on the wall. She couldn’t sleep in the bed so she slept on the couch. It felt safer. She didn’t sleep well for a year. She persisted. She kept walking.
Working for a church for such a long time sometimes doesn’t allow for a job change into a non-church, administrative type job. Add the gray hair and age…well, you know. Finding a job in the current economy is challenging at best too. I think she applied for 15 different jobs. She got a part time job to supplement her income. She continued with counseling. She told her ex-husband to stop calling her for help and that he needed to learn to manage his own money. Buh-bye. She persisted. She kept walking.
She started dating. She met a great guy. She fell in love and then found out that though he had his shit together better than her ex-husband, the baggage he still carried was controlling enough that she wanted no parts of it. Buh-bye. She cried. We talked. She persisted. She kept walking.
She’s met a new guy. He’s a lumberjack and has his own business. He has Native American blood. He wears his hair in a long braid to his waist. He loves the outdoors. He seems to have his shit together and what excess baggage he carries she seems willing to work with. The reverse is true too. Hmmm. He’s teaching her to fish. She caught her first bass. She’s taking him to dance lessons. He’s learning to waltz.
July 8-14 was her last week of work. She said good bye a million times. She showed the two newbies who are taking her place what to do and how to do it. Sunday she gave her last children’s sermon.
Monday at 6:30 p.m. I received a text:
Hi Philippa. I’m on my way home from my first day of work. It was great! I’ve a lot to learn but I think I’m going to love it!
She persisted. She kept walking. I cried.