It’s my next to last night at the beach. I had felt a need to get away alone, reflect, write a bit, think some, regroup mostly. And the trip has been a wonderful opportunity for this, along with enjoying near perfect weather, meeting a few new friends, and getting some use out of my Kindle.
I meandered out of the condo about 7 and headed toward a local Mexican restaurant where I planned to sit and read the Kindle, people watch, and have dinner and one of their nice margaritas. But instead, at the last minute before my turn, I thought “Chinese buffet sounds a little better.” I had planned all week to go tonight to the Mexican place, so it was kinda funkily weird for me to change my mind at the last minute, but isn’t that what vacay is all about?
I sat down to a yummy dinner which included some really great sushi and was thinking I had made a good choice. A few tables emptied out, some others filled in and across from me a 40ish woman and two pretty teen girls sat down to have what appeared to be a Girl’s Night Out together. I had finished my dinner and lingered over a small bowl of chocolate pudding for dessert and was making my way through the last of Cybill Shepherd’s book on the Kindle.
“I just…well…I am just confused…”. I heard this drift over from the girls’ table, and even though the voices were quiet and subdued I could hear enough to know one of the young girls wasn’t a daughter of the woman, but her daughter’s friend. She was in a relationship, and the words “sad”, and “breaking my heart”, and the reassurance of the daughter and mother “we will be there for you if you decide to break this off” piqued my interest. Something inside me remembered, and I felt a sudden sorrow for this young girl.
I sat absently peering at my Kindle, but not reading, for the next half hour as the mom, with much wisdom, told the girl that the boyfriend was controlling her, and using her affections for his own purposes and not for her good. I heard how the Christian boy talked about things that were important to her when they were alone, treated her well, said and did all the right things, made all the right promises “I am sorry, it won’t happen again, I know this isn’t what ‘we’ are supposed to be together”…but when they were in public he shunned and ignored her, and treated her as if she had no worth. This young girl with an aching voice told of several times that she was trampled on by this young man doing things or saying things that he knew were not edifying her or their relationship, but he felt he could get away with the bad behavior because she was a person with a “good heart” and forgiving. Then the mom and girls went over to the buffet and began to get seconds.
You know how you will deep down know you are supposed to speak, and you begin to fight with yourself saying ” I don’t know them, they will think I am crazy or nosy”. But the feeling is so strong, it rushes over you and your insides start swirling and tumbling as you feel like there is a universe-ordained moment that you will miss if you don’t choose to voice what thoughts are in your own mind?
I felt that moment. And I chose to share her tears.
I dug out my phone and looked up a website quickly, wrote it on a notepad, along with the verse of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And I waited for them to return.
I gathered my things, and when I was sure I could give the information and then bolt, I said ” excuse me”. All three looked up and for the first time I saw the girl’s face and my heart was torn out of my chest. Beautiful, blonde, cheerleader-type. Her words, even about this young man who was treating her cruelly were soft and kind and gentle sounding…but her face was worn with sadness, engrained with rivulets of tears that stained her tanned cheeks. I recognized that face…it had been my face, more than once, over the last 51 years.
“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable but I couldn’t help overhearing some of what was said…” The mom said ” Oh, I am sorry, I talk so loudly.” But I stopped her…” No, you were very quiet and discreet…I am a mom, and moms have sensitive ears.” They all smiled, even the tear-stained girl for a brief moment. ” I just wanted to give you something…I have been where you are many times in my life, and I felt moved to give you something that helped me know how to make the hard decisions at times.”
I handed her my paper with the website for The Awakening by Sonny Carroll. I told her to get alone, read the poem and keep a copy with her and read it whenever she needed redirection. “In the middle of a relationship, it’s not always easy to see it for what it really is, and what it really isn’t”, I said. She teared up and said very quietly…”Did you have to leave someone you love even when you didn’t want to, because you knew it was better for yourself?” “I told her yes, more than once. She said ” How can you do that though, how do you know when to leave?”
I asked her to give me the paper back, and scribbled something on it and said “Keep this as a reminder, you will always do what is best for you if you look at it often.” I had written ” When is it time to go? When the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving.”
As I drove back to my condo…and the young girl crawled under her covers alone in her room tonight…I imagine once more…we shared each other’s tears.