We meet. So much time has passed and who is time?
She was my friend, mostly because we worked together. We began working on the same day, me 59 and she, about half my age. She was the one who seemed to me to be the most together of all the new teachers. We taught for 11 years, then both left teaching, me for retirement, her for less clear reasons.
About a year later, her picture was on the front page of the local newspaper, for stealing $15,000 over a five year period from a family who trusted her. Some months later, after she pleaded guilty, she was sentenced to a year in jail. I felt shock and perhaps sadness, not because she had been a close friend, but because I almost felt abused myself: I had trusted her. She had not cheated me out of anything, but she had not had the opportunity.
I also felt angry at her. How could she have stolen from people who trusted her? I considered my own naivety, adding feeling stupid to feeling angry and sad. I determined not to have any contact with her ever again. That wouldn’t be a problem, because we hadn’t been seeing each other routinely anyway.
Time passed and who is time? Whoever it is, it added to my thoughts these kernels: What about her baby, less than six months old? What about her husband: had he known about her theft and was he standing by her? What about Covid and its affect on inmates? Was anyone visiting her or writing to her? I tried to locate her online, to find out what prison she was in, but no luck.
Finally time twisted me into a place where I wanted to contact her, to reach out to her. I had no clarity about what I wanted or needed to say. I finally experienced clearly that I needed to reach out, but how?
I sent a Christmas card to her and her husband at their home with my contact information, not knowing whether he was still living there, asking him to forward my card and offering to write to her, if he would provide me with her contact information.
I heard nothing until mid January, when I learned she had been paroled, in part because of Covid. She messaged me, thanking me for my card, telling me how much it meant to her.
I asked if we could talk or Zoom. She accepted and we set a time to Zoom the next day.
I had no idea how to begin our conversation, but she made it easy. When we started to talk, she said, crying, how much it meant to her to hear from me, because she had no idea who would have anything to do with her any more. Then she said, “when I was in jail, I realized how much I have to be grateful for.”
Well, that was about the last thing I expected to hear!
During our 90-minute conversation, she shared a lot with me and left me feeling that she had learned something important from this. I don’t want to say “learned her lesson,” though that comes to mind. I also retained the sense that I would be foolish to completely trust her and, likely, will not have contact with her again.
Who is time? It has continued to pass. I still don’t know the answer, but it doesn’t always change anything.
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