January 2, 2010 9:19:00 PM
He was reading a small book. I slipped through the gun checkers at the courthouse. No alarms went off.
"What are you reading?" I asked. The bailiff laid down the book; he made eye-contact, as he appeared to assess me slowly. "The Bible," he said.
"I know, but what exactly are you reading?" He warmed and shared what he had been reading in the small Gideon Bible he always carried. I think we bonded right then and there.
Soon after, he asked me to sit down and then explained he wanted to send me to a retreat thing called "Emmaus." He asked if I had ever heard of it and said he would pay my way. I protested that he didn''t even know me, but he insisted, "I know you." I submitted because, unbeknownst to him, me and God had been having this heated discussion over whether or not he could take care of me: I thought God was showing me that he could take care of me, even using strangers to do so. Silly me.
Over the years, Mr. Bob and I shared short conversations about family, activities, health and other stuff. He was very proud of his health. In time, I was joining him and his wife for holidays. When his mother died, he asked me to sit with the family. I was wowed.
Mr. Bob went in the hospital one day for this little heart thing, and I went to see him. He said he was going home the next day and that he couldn''t wait to break out of there. The day he went home, he died.
Since that day me and God have been having those heated discussions again, with me sometimes just not talking about it, because I''m mad. I''ve spoken to his widow a few times, but I''ve mostly treated her shabbily because I''m mad, and I don''t want to talk about it. She told me more than 400 Gideon Bibles were given in his memory and that she never knew how many people he had influenced. I''m still mad.
A new bailiff sits in Mr. Bob''s place, and I''m sure he is very nice; but at first, whenever I saw him, I just got mad. Frankly, I wanted to knock him out of that chair because no one but Mr. Bob should sit there. I still struggle. But, recently I learned something about healing from my eldest stepdaughter; she''s very intuitive.
While I firmly believe in counseling, she made a statement that made so much sense: "I''m going to be sad for awhile, and then I''m going to be happy again!"
Mad, sad, happy, mad, sad, happy. I''m starting to get it.
Since writing this, I have introduced myself to the new bailiff, Mr. Perkins. I explained my hurting. He nodded and said, "Many people have said the same." I teared up some, and we shook hands. I think we might be friends. Then I called Mr. Bob''s widow, "I was wondering if you had plans for the holidays?"
Strangely, I''m not feeling so mad anymore.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.