“It had to be cut, it was getting in his eyes, and sticking up all over. I can’t handle it if you get this upset every time. I told you yesterday it had to be done. My throat feels like paper and I am so nervous I feel nauseous. I am so, so sorry for what Helga did and I know it hurt but she is gone and we have this beautiful little boy that we’re raising and things aren’t like they were.”
I put my bags on the kitchen counter and reached for the mini diaper bag I used when I took my three-year-old grandson on our daily errands.
“I am dealing with it the best I can but don’ ask me to talk about it. I’m handling it but I can’t talk about it.”
“Mama, I don’t want you to “handle” it! I’m going to have to cut both boys’ hair for a long time, to save money and so they won’t be traumatized at a barber shop. But if it’s going to make me you and me both sick every time I’ll pay to get it done.”
I finished packing the diaper bag and managed a tight-lipped “I guess some wounds never heal”, the phrase that had been reverberating in my mind since the phone call. I could hardly contain the bitterness and rage and most of all, the hurt.
“Well, you’re giving me a wound, too, and it’s never going to heal if you don’t really get over this. Look, you’ve stopped all the rest of that generational stuff. You didn’t pass on the abuse and you were the best mom in the world for me and for these babies, too. They adore Nana. Let’s stop this problem now, too.”
I begrudgingly opened my arms and enfolded her, still mad. I had counted getting on whisking my grandson out the door and being alone with him for a couple of hours of silence and baby talk as we shopped so I could settle down.
I was furious with the memory and even more furious with myself for hurting Sharon. Being trapped into confronting the conflict felt like I was coming apart inside, a feeling that had recurred during counseling with lessening frequency over the years.
“How do I handle this, Lord?” I tried to relax my stiffened body as Sharon, in a tender, loving role reversal, tried to comfort me.
“Listen, Mama. You did an awesome job being my Mom, all by yourself, all those years, and you are helping me and Craig do an awesome job with these boys, too. We couldn’t do it without you. We count on you. We need you. I need you.”
At last came a deep sigh, a deep breath, and a heart-felt hug from me.
“I’m sorry, baby. You know I’d rather die than hurt you. I will learn how to handle it. . . “ If it kills me, I thought silently.
Sharon pulled back from me, one brow arched quizzically.
“No,” I said. “I mean I will learn how to really get over it. I will. I am okay now. Thank you for talking me down out of my tree. I love you baby.”
Twelve hours later, sitting in the dark, stroking my precious, purring Barnabas, thinking silently with the Lord, the answer came. Out of His deep love, God had arranged the only thing that would make me face the unforgiveness that still lurked in my heart. As encrusted and decayed by the acid of hate as the rusty orange remnants of the Titanic, only He had known how to plumb that oceanic abyss.
“I am sorry, Father. Forgive me for my reaction. To be honest, I don’t like this at all, still, Father, and I am still mad but please help me forgive. I am willing to be made willing. And thank You for stopping me from hurting Sharon. I love you, Lord.”
A while later, Barny was especially affectionate as we shared the pillow on my single bed. He licked my hand as thoroughly as a mother cat with a kitten, rested his velvety head against my cheek, and placed one feather-soft paw on my neck. I knew my precious little companion understood that I was upset. This was not the first time God had loved me through the love of a cherished pet.
Our sleep was sweet that night. And so have been the rest of the inevitable haircuts—thanks to the amazing grace God bestows on the human heart that is truly repentant and truly trying to follow His teachings. Grace, grace, God’s marvelous grace!