I wasn’t the one with the stone.
I wasn’t the one with the stone that day. I’ve been trying to remember for so many years what actually happened. My memory is so jumbled and filled with shadows. It’s hard to know for sure what I actually remember and what pieces have been sketched in by overheard conversations and experiences copied and pasted from different moments. I was sure I could still taste the frustration I felt towards the huddled figure who had failed you so miserably. That part always seemed clear. But every time that day comes back to me, there’s this weird tugging sensation – something I’m forgetting, just out of reach. As if some detail of that afternoon was pulling gently on my brain and desperately calling me to remember.
I assumed that sensation might be caused because I had seen your scribbles in the sand and in human frailty had forgotten them. And now they were hidden somewhere in the vault of my mind. I assumed that if I just turned that day over and over in my head enough, I would uncover the truth.
Something happened to me about a year ago. I took a hard fall. I fell harder and more suddenly than I ever expected. And I hit my head. And through the pain of it, something amazing happened. Instead of it erasing all my memories of you, it suddenly felt like I was seeing them in high definition. Like Dorothy, when she crosses into Oz, my memories of you came into Technicolor. And I began to see that the string of ‘memories’ I’d had before weren’t mine at all, but different conversations I’d overheard and made into a fictional reality. Scraps of my past that I hadn’t ever seen clearly came into sharp relief. And suddenly I could hear and see and taste the contrast between the way I thought it had all gone down and the true story.
And since I fell I’ve been constantly remembering. Each day there are more and more moments that come back to me.
And tonight, I remembered more about that day. The lingering sense that something critical had been forgotten is gone because of the grace of unveiled memories.
Tonight, I remember the real reason I can’t ever remember what you were writing in the sand. I don’t remember because I wasn’t standing where I thought I was in the scene. From my position on the ground, the angle was far too steep to see what you were scribbling. Plus, I was too busy inhaling the dirt with each sob that wracked my body.
I remember though. I remember now, that I wasn’t the one with a stone in my hand. Not that I’m above that. I’ve been the one with a stone in my hand so many times I had forgotten that it wasn’t real. The stone. The indignation.
I am so used to feeling that pebble in my hand, that I’d colored my memories with it in my hand. But it wasn’t there that day. My hands were curled, but not around a rock. They were desperately seeking something as firm as that to hold on to, but instead they just kept scratching at sand.
I’d blocked that memory out because a person only has a certain capacity for shame. And when you reach your threshold and you just have to find some kind of excuse or circumstance so you can shift the guilt before it consumes you. And then you can re-write the truth in a way that colors you gray instead of black.
I wasn’t the one with the stone in my hand that day. I was the one trying to figure out what happens next. What happens next after you ruin your life? What happens next after you blow it so badly that hope is lost? What happens next after you turn your back on the only one who ever really loved you?
But I remember now. I remember tonight what happens next. You wrote something in the dirt. I couldn’t see from my vantage point. I couldn’t see through my shame and despair.
I failed you. I failed the only one who has never forsaken me.
And you came for me. You came for me. That’s what happened next. You told them to drop their stones, but you knew that somewhere there was a judge too just to just drop the stone. Unlike me, you didn’t miss the true gravity of the situation. Unlike me, you could see the eternal consequences of my ‘momentary’ deceit. And so, you drew something in the sand. Something that sealed the deal. Something that finalized the agreement and negotiated a lasting peace between me and the only one who had the right – no the obligation – to take my life and the only one whose love I needed to finally be whole. You signed your name to the crimes leveled at me. Cause someone had to pay, and there I was – broken and huddled on the ground. I couldn’t even stand up. I couldn’t even look up. I could barely breathe through my fear and despair. There was no possibility that I could make things right. My body couldn’t endure the punishment. The stones would have killed me in a heartbeat.
And so you lifted my chin and you met me with grace. And you turned my gaze from my failure to your success. And you told me that the weight of condemnation had shifted. And I didn’t understand. Until I saw you carrying it a couple of Friday’s later; until I saw my shame on your face and I heard my despair in your cry.
And I’d forgotten all this. Because it’s written in books, so I thought it was a story for so long. And after I found out it wasn’t just a story – that it was true – I thought it must be about someone else. It was so long ago after all.
But I remember now.
I remember you.