Some betrayals cut so deeply that only the soothing cadence of a sister’s voice and the rich goodness of fried food can provide even temporary relief from the anguish they cause.
The tricky thing about betrayal lies in the immutable fact that none of us have any right to expectations of others, and therefore, we really have no complaint when our (unreasonable) expectations are not met. I’ve learned that lesson over and over, yet still, when the gut-kick and the knife twist stun me, I crumple. I tell myself that I had no right to even a glimmer of belief that someone would follow what I would choose to have them do. I know this. My brain tells me over, and over. Even when a relationship might, or could, or used to, carry a certain level of predictability, still, humans have free will.
So time and time again, I race to the phone and call one of my sisters — by blood or by choice. Today I dialed Joyce, Brenda, and Elizabeth, and they all answered my call. From St. Peters, my big sister Joyce strained to hear barely intelligible words between my sobs. Even as I choked out yet another tirade of troubles, I knew the rank ridiculousness of my outrage. But she never said, You knew this would happen eventually. Instead she let me cry, and told me that I was made of sterner stuff. We’re cut from the same cloth. You’ll get through this, too, she assured me.
Then Brenda and Elizabeth, two good friends, cheerfully occupied a table with me at Chai Shai. We talked of everything but the events which had sent me into a tail spin, of which I did not breathe a whisper during dinner. I wanted their sunny smiles, and their quick wit, and their intelligent insights into the world around us.
And pakora. Yes, I know, I’ve recently confessed my up-and-down relationship with food. But golly, what brings more comfort but hot marsala chai and a shared plate of pakora? We each took one, then another, and their voices flowed around me. I claimed my peace.
So here’s to sisters, and tea, and pakora, and the sound of a thousand crickets chirping as I sit on my porch in the cool of late August writing these words. Here’s to Amy, whom I will take to church on Sunday because she can’t drive and feels the need to attend. Here’s to Sheldon, who texted me that he’ll be singing at Grace and Trinity but Paula will be at their Sunday service and I’m welcome to bring my friend. And here’s to Miranda, who drove me to court and patiently waited while I attended a docket, just so that I wouldn’t have to find a place to park in the middle of the county’s annual tax sale. And here’s to the sun, which set in the west tonight and surely will rise in the east again tomorrow, proving yet again that sometimes, reliance has not been misplaced.
It’s nearly night-time, at the end of a difficult day, the twenty-fourth day of the forty-fourth month of what might well be an endless string of months in My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.