Over my head
I watched a YouTube video of a six month old thrown into the deep end of a pool and I had a flashback of what God had done with me last year.
I felt my gut wrench as the little one thrashed to the surface and I wondered what kind of cruel parent could do that to such a helpless child. I felt that thrashing feeling the second I got the call last June. My sister had been raped and murdered by an escaped convict.
My breath escaped like air from a balloon. The world spun darker and darker. I throttled the phone at arm’s length like it was a rattle snake about to strike.
I was in a fetal position when the knock sounded like distant thunder. Over and over. Reverberating through the fog in my brain. I still don’t know how the door opened or how I ended up in the emergency ward.
I do know how I ended up in the courtroom once they caught the fugitive. I walked. The entire six and a half miles. It’s the only way I knew I’d be calm enough to face looking into his eyes.
Samantha was my best friend growing up. Work pulled us apart but we still Facebooked and chatted several times a week. Her playful grin filled my screen saver as she blew me a kiss from the moped she rode. The emerald sweater she was wearing was my gift last Christmas. The butterfly ear rings were my last birthday present to her.
I teased her after church when I caught her looking a little too long at her secret dreamboat from her perch on the platform. She could sing like an angel in the worship team and she made you believe you were one step away from glory.
In the courtroom I sat three rows behind the perp. He looked rumpled. Hunched. Listless. Empty. A raggedy Andy doll propped up in a chair. Dressed a little too proper for the setting he was in.
The babe in the pool thrashed and was lifted out of the pool by a strong hand. Her little face was wiped. She was cuddled, soothed and carried to look back at the water. And then she was thrown back in.
I felt that wide-eyed feeling of going under as details of the rape and murder were voiced for everyone to hear. I wanted to scream and shut off the words, as if doing so would keep reality from being.
The jury seemed as passionless as the father standing at poolside. They’d heard it all and seen it all so many times before. On the news, in the movies, in the paper.
What’s wrong with a world living numb toward something so heinous? Is it all truly just entertainment? Perhaps a duty to be fulfilled? To sit and hear this ugliness poured out in forensic evidence and scientific proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
And then he turned and looked at me. For just a second. Sad, haunted, dark eyes.
The baby in the pool was clearly crying on the third dunking. The lifeguard seemed too slow. There was clearly forward movement but the price seemed high.
I felt the moisture on my hands before I realized I was crying. I heard the whisper in my heart before I knew what was happening. “Forgive.”
It sounded as gentle as Samantha prompting me to wake up and jog with her. I turned but the faces around me looked blank and bored.
“Forgive.” I heard it distinctly and I knew that voice. It was the one who threw me into this pool. In the deep end. Over my head. Over my heart.
I cringed in my seat. My eyes scrunched tight. Blocking out the image of the baby squirming when it was picked up again. Wanting to be free but unable to go anywhere.
For some reason I felt like it was my heart on trial as I sat in the courtroom. Would I forgive like I’d been forgiven? How could I forgive someone who had violated the most precious treasure in the world? How could I move past the nauseated nightmares that plagued me each time my head hit the pillow? How could I quench the volcanic anger that threatened to erupt at every laugh, at every word of syrupy compassion?
I was truly in the deep end splashing like a baby. Only one was strong enough to pull me out.
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