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5:54 p.m. - February 23, 2003
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Saturday I met a woman on the beach who inquired as to the title of the novel I was reading and it was an incongruous rendezvous between the temporal and the spiritual and I think this woman saved my life. We talked about books and literacy, social development, how fond we both are of the ocean and the beach, how restful and quiet the coast can be and then she asked if I would listen to a story she had to tell. Two years ago her son committed suicide and it was only after that she learned he had been severely sexually abused for years prior to the event and she said she had been consumed by just one question, Why didnít he ever say anything? A trusted neighbor, a complacent middle-class suburban experience, a stay-at-home mom, four overachieving children, a loving marriage, and her son was preyed on and she looked at me and said Do you know what keeps me up nights? It is the thought that I wasnít a good enough mother, a worthless mother because my child thought he could not tell me about his pain. And I said perhaps he didnít want to disrupt the idyll, be viewed as less than perfect, seem flawed or dirty, be pitied and vulnerable, or maybe he thought each assault would be the last and everything would go away if he tried his best to be the best and upon achieving that state would wake up and find he had been dreaming and waiting for the nightmare to end can be a less-brutal salve than the truth. We spoke for a long time and then we were quiet for a period, watching the waves and birds against the blue and I thought the conversation was over when she turned to me and said You have given me solace and I thought how odd and I told her my story, even the deep dark parts, and I felt like a kayak on still water and when I was finished I said Thank you for listening and we didnít say anything else until it grew late and she said she had to leave.

She said solace and forgiveness are the same, whether from the outside or from within. It is a beautiful phrase and I havenít stopped thinking about it since.

I am not an apologist for my faith; I often hide it from derision and ridicule and my own feeling of being unworthy to own this faith because I understand so little of it. But I am a Christian and I had forgotten that faith is a covenant, a two way promise, and that once taken into the hand, one is not let go. For me it is easier to accept this woman on faith rather than try to provide fruitless hypotheses and guesses and refer to serendipity and chance and for this I can be an apologist for there is nothing else. I feel as though my hollow parts have been filled but not a lasting unguent, more of a deep quaff. A few days ago I lied when I said I did not seriously contemplate you-know-what; it was a lie. I did not have plans for this weekend but it is something on which Iíve spent a great deal of thought and it seemed so logical, so precise and anesthetic and this woman was a wake up call when I needed one the most.

There is not much more I can say right now. It has been an overwhelming weekend.

And I didnít get her name.

Such stories are full of the nameless and I would scoff, roll my eyes to cover my discomfort and incredulousness and she had such caring, deep eyes that I donít need to think about anything else. Maybe I will write about the other experiences Iíve had.

There is not much on my mind and it is relief, it is relief.


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