"I need to go back and say hello to her."
I was no more than 10 steps into the mall when I recognized her bleached blond hair and the way she was smiling at someone in the hair stylist's chair. I was making a beeline for the bathroom and after I walked past her some of the lines from "Just For Today" ran through my head. It amazes me how I will ignore that which I don't want to pay attention to, like going out of my way by extending kindness to someone I dislike and then spend enormous energy fixating on some thought that I would be better off ignoring, like that fleeting pain I had in my side three weeks ago that I'm sure is really cancer and how it's going to kill me before the month is up. Lord have mercy.
I've been trying lately to listen to those little nudges instead of thinking it's just another case of me imagining things. I wonder if the Holy Spirit gets tired of being mistaken for paranoia. Or disgruntled by how much selective hearing I can muster.
So I went back and said hi to her. Her eyes sparkled when she saw me. She has no way of knowing I've purposely walked way around her in times past so that she wouldn't notice me in public. She tends to have loud, gushy shows of emotion that make me embarrassed to be seen with her. I've always chalked up those displays to the brain injury she suffered in a car accident before I ever met her, although that has not helped me be one bit more gracious towards her.
She used to be the girlfriend of my brother-in-law. I've had a long history of not trusting her, for really good reasons, but I don't have to be rude to her, either. The night my brother in law was killed, when a drunken friend ran over him, she had had words with him about his drinking. It was an argument/ultimatum they'd had many times before. The next morning it was all the police could do to restrain her from running to his body as he lay on the ground. In dearest one's family, where being discreet while showing emotion is prized, I've always admired her outright wailing at his funeral. I think we'd all be a little better off if we could allow ourselves that freedom in grief.
Yesterday we talked about my brother-in-law as we do when we meet. I imagine we always will. Maybe one day we will grasp that he really did die such a horrific death. There was a settledness and good will about her as we talked. She was kind, as always. Happy to see me, asking after the kids and dearest one. I think I was present in a conversation with her for the first time in my life instead of counting the seconds until I could walk away. I stood there soaking in her genuine warmth and kindness, accepting it instead of dismissing it because I have a huge ass resentment towards her (which I only recognized as one as I wrote this...blogging can be dangerous for one's mental health.)
I battle my ego nearly every time I try to listen to that still, small voice inside of me. There's something a little ironic about taking action while simultaneously patting oneself on the back.
I walked away from our conversation humbled by her kindness to me.
Lord have mercy.