Tag Archive: healing


Forgiveness in Fred Meyer

I had the most interesting experience today in the most unexpected place. My younger son was invited to a birthday party happening today (and he gave me the invitation yesterday) so I decided to save on gas and just get the gift on the way to the party. We were running a bit behind (I blame facebook) and dropped him off first so he wouldn’t be late then headed to the nearest store that sells toys which happened to be Fred Meyer. After I found the gift I walked around a bit to kill some time and ended up in the garden section. As I was looking at all the interesting plants and flowers, thinking about life and my kids and what I was going to write about next, I suddenly found myself in the indoor plant section.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a small jade plant, the only one left on the shelf. I instantly felt nostalgic because when I was growing up in my grandparents’ house there was a jade plant sitting on the kitchen table in front of the window. I loved that table because my grandfather made it himself and it was strong and sturdy with lots of scratches and dents from years of use. It had character just like my grandfather. I loved the jade plant, well, just because. I remember my grandmother taking care of it and watering it. I guess I would consider it her plant. The photo to the right is of me standing next to the table. That’s not the jade plant there, but I remember it loving it, too.

If you haven’t read my other posts that go into the relationship I had with my grandmother you may be forming a picture in your mind of a sweet old lady caring for her plant and smiling at me as she lovingly poured water into the pot. Yeah, not so much. Sure, she loved the plant, but there was no tender bond between us. Because of that and all the things she did to me over the years I’ve struggled with feelings of hatred toward her. At some point I stopped actually hating her and those feelings were replaced with indifference. I forgave her on some level and found peace with it. There’s no way I could’ve let go of the hatred if I hadn’t. But today, after years and years of nothing particularly new in my view of her or how my childhood affected me, something very strange happened.

As I stood there looking at the jade plant I suddenly felt we had a connection, a bond between us. My grandmother, not the plant. Don’t get me wrong, she passed away years ago and my personal belief system and understanding of the Bible does not include people going straight to heaven or wherever and looking down or up at us, but that they are waiting, knowing nothing for now as if in a deep sleep. So I’m not saying it was some spiritual connection from beyond the grave. I just mean that I can finally see her as someone I have something in common with. Something that, if she were still alive, we could share and talk about. I am able for possibly the first time in my life to see her as a person completely separate from all the crap that happened between us.

It’s as if a veil was lifted and I can now clearly imagine her growing up, having hopes and dreams. She had friends and boyfriends. Things she liked and disliked. Things that made her laugh so hard she cried. She was a person, not a monster. She just wanted what the rest of us want, what I want…a happy life with a loving family and to feel like she had a purpose in the world. It wasn’t her fault that all that was taken away from her when she too became the victim of abuse. Sure, it would’ve been nice if she had dealt with it and found healing instead of trying to hide it and eventually take it out on me. But that didn’t happen. And that’s ok. I am who I am because of everything I’ve been through.

As I stood there I felt a strong wave of what I can only describe as pure love pass through me. I’m not wanting to sound like a crazy person here. If you’ve ever experienced it you know what I’m talking about. I felt forgiveness on a much deeper level than ever before and could actually imagine myself genuinely smiling at her and hugging her, not because I was being forced to like all those years growing up, but because I want to. I want to tell her I’m sorry, not like all the times I had to because if I didn’t I’d suffer the consequences, but for everything she went through that made her the way she was.

So there I was in the indoor plant section of Fred Meyer having some kind of major breakthrough and thinking, “Wow, I actually love my grandmother,” with people all around me having no idea what was going through my head and heart. I wasn’t planning on buying anything other than the gift for the party, but I just had to have one more thing…

…oh, and a pack of watermelon gum. 😉

I only took a few photos on today’s walk for two reasons. 1: Uploading all the photos from my phone caused me to go over on my data plan and the batteries in my actual camera were dead. (Note to self…buy rechargeable batteries.) 2: I was distracted by the events that transpired last night and my reaction to them.

The night started off as usual. I read for a little while in bed before the book slipped from my hands and hit me in the face. I turned off the light and went back to sleep. My husband tried to wake me when he finished his online tutoring so we could watch a movie on Netflix together. As usual, he was not successful. Once I’m out it takes a lot to get me out of bed. I continued to sleep soundly until a sound began to creep into my dreams. It was banging and shuffling and grew louder as I came into consciousness. Still half asleep, I tried to mentally locate the source of the sound. Then footsteps, running fast. Just as I realized they were coming from the hallway outside our door a woman’s desperate voice cried out, “Somebody help me! Help me, please!”

My heart began to race as I laid there trying to decide what to do. My first thought was to jump up and see what was happening. Then it occurred to me that if I opened the door the woman might run in followed by her persuer. The sounds from the struggle were coming from right outside our door. I didn’t want to take the chance of putting my family at risk. At that point, I was frozen by indecision. I heard the door to the stairwell across the hallway slam shut and then silence. There I was, still in my comfortable bed trying to make sense of what had just happened. Was this a prank? Remembering the fear in her voice I didn’t think so. Had someone else let her in or at least called the police? Surely. Should I get up and see what’s happening now? I knew I’d have to venture out of the safety of our apartment and my still sleeping husband who, as an infant, lost his mother to a burglar wouldn’t have wanted me to do that. As the questions swirled around my tired brain, I drifted back to sleep.

Again, a sound interrupted my dreams, more abuptly this time. Someone was knocking on the door. Again, unsure of what to do I was still. Another knock, a little louder. I though it might be the police so I sat up and began to head for the door. A third knock, still louder. Whoever it was, they weren’t going away. My husband woke up this time and in a whisper explained everything that had happened. He checked the peephole and said the police were talking to our neighbors across the hall. “We need you to answer the door!” The officer’s voice boomed as he knocked one last time.

I opened the door just enough so they could see me. The three of them began asking questions. “Are you here alone?” “Who else is in there with you?” “Is everyone alright?” “Did you hear anything?” I told them what I had heard, then they asked if I heard gunshots which I hadn’t. “Are you aware of any domestic disturbances here?” I said that things have been pretty quiet around here recently. They went on their way, canvassing the other tenants and we went back to bed. After tossing and turning for a while I was finally able to go back to sleep.

Despite all the commotion, the kids slept soundly through the night and got ready school just like every other day. The sounds of footsteps and the woman’s plea for help interrupted my thoughts as we performed our morning rituals. For a moment I wondered if any of it had happened at all or if it was all just a vivid dream. Once the kids were off to school I headed out for my walk. At first, the sun was shining brightly and it looked like it would be a beautiful day. I took a photo of a stream I pass by everyday.

My thoughts turned again to the woman. I wondered what she was thinking at that moment. Did she feel safe? Was she enjoying the sunshine? Did the morning bring thoughts of hope or more fear and desperation? Was she even thinking anything at all? As I headed West the sky began to reflect my mood. I couldn’t really enjoy the sunshine and was almost relieved to see the clouds taking over.

As I headed into the trees I asked myself why I hadn’t done anything to help her. I thought of the physical and mental abuse I experienced as a child brought upon me by a woman who was abused herself. Was the woman last night living with a person who caused her fear day in and day out? Could she be suffering as a victim of domestic violence right under the same roof? How can we live so close to others and never get to know them at all? Maybe it was a one time thing caused by too much to drink, but why didn’t I help her? All my reasons for doing nothing that seemed so logical at the time didn’t amount to much in the light of day. How could it be ok to do nothing when another human being was pleading for someone to help them? I hoped that somehow she got the help she needed and that today was a new beginning for her. The pain of abuse doesn’t end when the abuse itself does. It lingers on and constantly finds new ways into the life of the person who suffered and all those around them. It affects every relationship they have and can make them feel trapped and alone even when they’re surrounded by people who care about them. Even after years of healing, a single incident can bring back a flood of pain and fear leaving them wondering if they’ll ever really be free. That is what I experienced this morning as I asked myself why I didn’t help her.

By the time I reached the park and turned to head back it was raining. The drops on my face hid the tears that slid down my cheeks. I felt ashamed for not doing anything. Then I began to feel thankful for the life I have now. Thankful that with God’s help I’ve stopped the cycle of abuse in my family. Thankful that even though I can still feel pain from events that took place years and years ago I wake up everyday feeling safe. Thankful that I have the ability to help victims in a way that others who haven’t gone through it can’t. By the time I returned to my starting place I had a new sense of determination and the realization that I can do something to help.

We travel the same path over and over. When we’re able see it from a different perspective and decide to make changes in the way we travel the path it can become a beautiful thing…for us and the people we encounter along the way.