Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
By Connie Dixon
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Now that our paths were about to cross, I thought it might be less awkward if we met ahead of time, instead of going through that initial shock at the funeral. Alexis’ older sister was married to my brother, Bob. Over the years, we both managed to avoid any family gatherings that might cause us to see one another…until now. There was no way either of us could miss this event - my big brother’s memorial service.
Alexis stepped out onto the porch and pulled the door closed behind her, not wanting to reveal anything about her personal life. This meeting was my idea and she’d pointed out that she was meeting only for the sake of the family. It had nothing to do with any goodwill toward me.
She casually leaned back against the door frame and folded her arms, giving me that ‘I hate your guts but I’m listening look. She waited for me to break the ice. I could see she wasn’t going to humor me with small talk.
I motioned to the two chairs on the porch, “Do you think we could sit down for a couple minutes?”
“Is this going to take long Jim, because I have a lot going on right now? Can you just say what you need to say and let’s move on?”
I sensed the bitterness within her, but there was a sadness too, maybe a bit of a softened heart. Her anger diminished a little as she looked down, away from my anxious pleading.
“Look Jim, it’s just that…well, it’s been a long time, and I really have nothing to say to you. You got what you wanted, and that didn’t include me! And now, you come here expecting something, expecting me to…”
“Alexis, I don’t expect anything from you, I was just hoping that maybe we could talk, you know…get some things out in the open.”
“You mean like explaining why you cheated on me and started dating my best friend behind my back. You mean like begging for forgiveness for having a baby with someone who never even wanted to get married or have kids. You mean…”
“Alexis, stop, please…stop. Please sit down…”
She glanced over at the padded Adirondack chairs and back at me. She hesitated, then walked over and took a seat.
“Ok, I’m listening.”
I sat in the chair next to hers and leaned in toward her. She still wore the same perfume and for an instant, it took me back five years.
“I know that saying I’m sorry isn’t going to fix anything, but I need you to hear this from me. I am sorry, I am so sorry!”
My voice started to crack as I felt a tear roll down my cheek and get lost in my unshaven face. She looked up, a little taken back at my newfound sensitivity, compassion creeping out past her resentment.
“I was so stupid. I don’t have an excuse – I was a self-centered, egotistical idiot. I wanted what I wanted and you wouldn’t give it to me, so I went to someone who would. I’m so sorry I hurt you. I didn’t know how to love you. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way.”
Her eyes met mine with a questioning look.
“I just wanted you to know that I finally learned what love really is. I found it the day I looked into my newborn son’s eyes and held him to my chest. It was at that instant when I truly understood the meaning of love.”
Tears formed in her eyes as she looked away.
“Brenda left me two months ago. She took Brandon with her - 1,200 miles away - to live with her parents. Alexis, I have never known such pain as having my son torn from me. I had never experienced the heartbreak of being rejected by someone I love…until now. I’m not asking you to forgive me and I’m not looking for sympathy. I just wanted you of all people to know…I’m different now.”
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