Monday, November 09, 2009

Into the Fire

Katie's future in-laws hosted an engagement party for Katie and Craig on Sunday afternoon. Katie's father and his family were there, of course. The last guests to arrive, they entered as a group, avoiding the area where I was standing. Within five minutes or so, Bill had no choice but to acknowledge my presence. 

His disdainful nod and curt, "Jerri," set me off. I simply would not allow the behavior of her parents to make Katie or other guests uncomfortable. I took a deep breath, watched for my opportunity, and walked straight into the fire.

Bill's oldest stepson was standing on the edge of the deck with his new wife. I sailed up with a big smile on my face and offered my congratulations. Then I introduced myself to the wife and asked how they liked being newlyweds. We chatted for five or six minutes, and then I found a polite transition to another conversation.

Later I saw an opening and admired the youngest stepdaughter's new baby. I even asked if I could hold her. After a fraction of a second of awkwardness, I was holding the baby, cooing and cuddling. 

I talked to the youngest stepson and asked about his college baseball career. 

By the end of the evening, only the parents remained and everyone was sitting around the same patio table chatting. We managed quite well. In telling a story, Bill's wife mentioned something about our old lake house, something she knows only because she was there, having an affair with my husband, and I managed not to choke or laugh. At times, I felt like I was sitting in the rafters, watching a shadow version of myself smile and chat with people who have been positively vile to me for more than a decade. 

It was not easy, but it could be worse. I could be one of them.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

But you aren't! GOOD JOB! I needed this today, I have an occasion to walk straight into the fire, and that's exactly what I'm going to do!

Deb Shucka said...

You could NEVER be one of them, as your choices prove again and again. You are a wonder. Love.

Go Mama said...

Grace and courage under fire, personified.

Love you!

BONNIE K said...

It's always best to take the high road. Good for you. said...

You deserve a medal. Period.


luckyzmom said...

Wow, oh wow! Courage personified.

Amber said...

LOVE that last line. You are a hero to me, just so you know. So much class. So much grace.


kario said...

I'm shaking just thinking about it! You are so brave! I hope you reflect on the gifts of this day for a long time to come - holding a new baby, talking to newlyweds, and putting yourself out there.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Wow - I don't know if I could do it (I have an ex with a wife like that). Such diplomacy is difficult under certain circumstances.

I came here via Carrie and look forward to reading more! Best wishes.