In searching for the answers I go to my mother. I saw Julie last week. We hadn’t spoken or seen each other since Cathy lost her job. We will probably never know the extent of the part she played in that.
I deliberately go to a meeting so I can look her in the face. She asks to speak to me after the meeting. After waiting until everyone leaves, she says, “I don’t even know what to say.” I wait because I definitely don’t know what to say. “Why didn’t Cathy reach out?” My face changes.
“What?” I say. “To you? She called and left a message on your home phone and sent you a text to call her on my phone the night she got fired. We heard nothing.”
“She reached out to everybody but us,” she continues without missing a beat. “Faith said she’d talked to her. I got the text but thought that was you. I never got the phone message. We waited and we waited and Ted would ask if I’d heard from you and the longer it went on the more I thought you must somehow be mad at me, thought that maybe I did something….” She trailed off and looked at me with a question in her face. Well when you didn’t call back on top of the cagey way you behaved on the phone when I first called you, we knew you must have had a hand in this.
But I dodge the look, “We know two things for sure: Cathy lost her job and you removed yourself from our lives.”
“Yeah, that was exactly how we felt. That was exactly how Ted and I felt.”
“Jules,” I counter because we are Jules and Kar now, embracing the familiar terms of 3 months before, back when we would have done anything for each other. When we celebrated Christmas eve together 3 years straight, gone to her wedding as two of 15 guests in the Bahamas. Back when Cathy was her first call when Teddy had an infection in his blood and we might lose him. Back when she wanted us to have our commitment ceremony and reception in her yard. Back when she took a day off to drive for 3 hours to be there when we buried my father. Back then.
“We are the victims here. Cathy lost her job. If she had worked anywhere else, if she hadn’t worked at the same company as you, you would have been at our door with a bottle of wine saying, “This sucks, fuck them. Your attitude towards the company was always fuck them before Cathy lost her job and now…..”
“-and a check book.” She adds. I would bring a check book. Do you guys need anything?”
A fucking checkbook. Yeah, we need a friend that doesn’t bounce due to insufficient loyalty, I want to say.
“No, we are fine. We have savings and I have tons of toilet money.”
“I know you do. I know you do.” She says quickly seeming almost grateful. “I saw Cathy the other day and she looked away. I just wanted to punch her. And then hug her but punch her first.” I don’t say anything to this. God help her if she punches Cathy.
She brings up other things, contradicts herself several times within the conversation. She navigates clumsily through the slalom she has created for herself from, “I don’t know anything. Nobody will tell me anything,” to “They say there is an investigation….”
“Oh, there’s an investigation,” I say, never revealing the extent of it.
“Why?” she fishes.
“It’s the weapons of mass destruction.” I say. “They have to justify what they have done. They can’t admit that they over reacted. That they could have handled things differently and avoided all this. I want them to toss the house. They are wild because they can’t find anything and they won’t because there is nothing to find.”
One thing I will say is this – if you’re going to lie, at least be good at it. Have a plan for God’s sake. You knew I would be at that meeting all week. You’ve had 3 months to think about your story. This is the best you can do, really?
Before I leave she is crying and hugging me and saying she loves me, how she misses us, how they both miss us. “I love you too,” which is not really a lie. I pray for them still daily and when I pray for faith, love and health I always wish it not just for us and our loved ones but “even those we deem to be our enemies.” and I think of her. I do still love her as a human being but don’t think I can ever trust her again. “The worst part wasn’t just the injustice of Cathy losing her job despite how good she was at it. Nor the worry about money. The worst part was losing a friend. That’s what we cried about.”
“We cried too. Teddy and I have cried too. We’ve been sleepless some nights and all.”
“This is really a conversation you should be having with Cathy.” I say to her at least 3 times before I leave. “Fight it out, talk it out, whatever, but talk to Cathy.”
Eight days later and still nothing.
I ask my mom how to handle this, in terms of forgiveness and what would Jesus do and turn the other cheek and seven times seventy and all that. “I would never trust her again,” my mother says emphatically. She loves this “wise sage on a hill” gig but I really do need guidance with situations like this.
“I don’t plan on trusting her but do we socialize with her again? I mean when all the legal issues and lawsuits are done?”
“I wouldn’t,” my mother shakes her head, “but do what you want. I’d be very careful though.”
My mom has insight into people. I like to think that I have it too but I can’t have it both ways: being insightful yet non-judgmental. “I never saw it coming I say. There is nothing that ever lead me to suspect that she wasn’t trustworthy. It was funny she never had any friends, though. Not from high school or college or work or the neighborhood. And she didn’t believe in God. But plenty of people don’t believe in God and that doesn’t make them bad people.”
“Like who?” my mother challenges.
“Like Erica. And Lea. They don’t believe in God and they’re good people.”
“That depends on what you mean by ‘good people.'”
I am reminded about how when we owned the video store, the employees would always think I was the nice one and Cathy was the tyrant but when someone crossed us, especially stole from us, I was the one who couldn’t get past it. One of the employees actually shared this with Cathy one time about how when something goes down, I am the scary one.
This needs to be continued. Forgiveness is too complicated to figure out in one blog.