The words punctured my mom like a pin deflating a balloon. Her shoulders slumped, and she suddenly looked every inch of her nearly six decades. “Emily,” Mom’s voice broke on a harsh sob. “Oh, my darling daughter. No, it wasn’t worth it. Not at all. I didn’t read the Bible. I merely thought if I could be good enough that would atone for my having lived when he died. But I couldn’t keep it up, and had to escape sometimes. I didn’t pick up that old Book until a few months ago, when I suddenly came across it on my bookshelf and remembered what that man had told me all those years ago.”
I closed my eyes in grief at those lost years, the years when I had so desperately needed a mother’s guidance. But had I been any better? I hadn’t made any attempts to repair our frayed relationship in the years since my father’s death. I had been content to maintain the status quo, not bothering to look beneath the surface to see my mom’s hurting soul.
“I read it.” Her voice held amazement as a smile broke through. “I realized what he had been telling me, that Jesus does love me and has called me to Him.”
She turned a shining face to me. “Once I accepted that, it dawned on me what a terrible, awful mother I had been, how I had stifled all the love in our house by focusing only on me, and my wants and needs and desires. I never once considered your father or you. I can’t ask your father’s forgiveness, but can you find it in your heart to forgive an old woman the wrongs she has done? Can we start over and have a real relationship, even at this late stage?”
I stared at the wooden cross, and thought about a man who had died pointing the Way to my mother. Her journey had taken more than thirty years to find the truth. I reached out and touched her arm. “I’m not sure how to start over, Mom.”
“I know.” She patted my hand.
“But lunch might be a good place to begin,” I said, drawing in a deep breath. “And maybe we can talk some more about what you’ve been reading in that Book of yours.”