I was more than a little excited to see her. She and I, I realized when we met almost four years ago now, had the same long, slow southern accent.
I was sure she must be from Georgia and even more sure, I decided, we had to be distant relatives. Her dialect, her slow and lilting sentences ending with just a slight upturn. Well, she sounded like me I decided and so, I was happy to know her.
So, when I saw her on an early morning estate sale venture, I couldn’t wait to say, “Hey” and “Oh my Lord it’s been a really long time.”
I was joyous to see her there.
I wasn’t prepared for her response, she leaned back, was hesitant. I figured “Oh well, she doesn’t remember me” or does but, can’t remember how. Still, I was just so happily surprised over seeing her again.
I should have read her cues, should have seen it for what it was.
Instead, I added, “Remember, from the group?” She said, “I remember.” nothing more. It was clear she wished I hadn’t reminded her, refreshed the memory.
It was humid; awkward and cramped, standing amongst the trinkets, treasures,and big patterned armchairs.
She’d moved away, opened an antique shop in a pretty little town. She’d come back, was in charge of the sale that day.
Someone offered a fan, she replied “I’m fine.” and turned to look towards the drive so I wandered to the back porch and into the little house.
I continued to explore, found a pretty little bud vase and a bird for me and a rooster for the sake of memory of mama. I held my little things close to my chest and went to pay. Her eyes met mine and I said, “I hope you’re doing well and I apologize if I overwhelmed you when I saw you.” She said, “That’s okay.” Nothing more. I added, always the one trying to fix the messes I make, to undo the damage, “We were in the mountains and I was so close to your antique shop; but, couldn’t find time to come.” Again, no reaction really, just another nod.
Finally, I said what I should have said in the beginning and maybe again as I left with a simple goodbye.
“It’s so good to see you again. I hope you are doing well.”
My happiness over seeing her came from a place of recalling our connection, of remembering her sincerity and kind, kind heart, although grieving.
Her seeing me changed the course of her day, turned back the clock, flipped the page to the time and the memory of loss.
And mine as well, to the night she talked and I listened.
To her story of a sorrow I dont know, haven’t felt, only have heard.
Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.
It was so good to see her, I hope she is doing well.
2 thoughts on “Encounters, Grief and Joy”
Great story. I get it. You can imagine, because of my work, the memories my presence unlocks. Sometimes smiles, sometimes tears. At least they remember.
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Lisanne, how lovely to “meet you” through Jennifer’s linkup today! You write beautifully, and I am feel like I am standing right there watching you with your treasures held close to your chest.
Thanks for reminding me that we all hold things close to our chest in different ways. Praying today for the friend you encountered — that God would continue to heal her grief.