” ‘Don’t blame the sinner.’ That’s what Uncle Mark said, mom. But, what is a sinner?”
Linda dropped her chin to chest, sighed and counted to ten before she answered. She didn’t look at her daughter, but instead continued to chop the potatoes for dinner.
“Well, my dear, a sinner is someone who does the wrong thing.” Praying that her daughter wouldn’t pursue this question further, she scraped the potatoes off of the cutting board and put them into the boiling water.
“But mom, what did he mean? Am I a sinner?”
Sighing, Linda turned to face her daughter. She looked at her beautiful young face full of innocence and love.
She slowly took the two steps to reach her, wrapped her arms around her and holding her close, answered, “No, honey. You are a good girl. You make good decisions and are honest when you think you’ve done something wrong.”
“Then what did he mean, mom?”
Linda knelt down to look directly into her daughter’s eyes.
“Hmmmm… some people don’t want be responsible for what they do. They think it is okay to do the wrong thing and not apologize for it. Does that make sense?”
“Sort of, I guess. I just don’t understand why someone would want to do the wrong thing.”
She tucked her daughter’s loose hair behind her ears and cupped the innocent little face in her hands, then kissed her on the nose. “Honey, I don’t understands either. I don’t think anyone does. Only the person who does the wrong thing can explain what they were thinking. Sometimes people don’t realize they are doing the wrong thing either. I know it’s confusing.”
Looking in her daughter’s eyes, she knew the only way out of this was to distract her. Melissa was far too intelligent for her age. She wasn’t going to forget this conversation.
“Sweetheart, would you like to help me cook dinner? I could really use the help.”
“Sure, mom. What can I do?”
With a quick, “Thank you,” to God for the change in conversation, she grabbed the bowl of beans and put it in front of her daughter. “Would you please break the ends off of these beans and then break them into pieces about as long as your thumb?”
Linda turned around and took a deep breath. Closing her eyes as she slowly exhaled, she found herself smiling as her daughter began to hum happily.
Despite trying to focus on cooking dinner, her mind was flooded with memories of the day she learned of her brother’s lies.
His business had been incredibly successful and he had taken the entire family on vacation to Ireland. While staying in a luxurious castle-turned-hotel, she had gone into his bathroom looking for aspirin. She opened his toiletry bag and found the container with white powder. She had felt that her whole world turned upside down. Her beloved brother.
When she had confronted him, he promised that he’d get help and begged her not to tell anyone. It was his secret that she carried that made her feel like she was split in two. The white, clean side that was her and her own life. Then the dark side filled with secrets and lies that she carried in order to protect him. The worst days were when the two parts of her faced off, like tonight. How could she keep such a secret while asking her daughter to be truthful? Wasn’t lying a sin?
Written in response to the Speakeasy #149