Today, I planned to meet a friend for lunch. She works in the courthouse building, and I scrambled to get there at the appointed time.
Just as I was getting on the elevator, only moments from her office, I received a text. She couldn’t make it today.
I barely noticed the young woman who graciously allowed me to enter the elevator first. I asked her what floor she wanted so I could push the appropriate button, then really saw her. Long brown hair, pretty, and…lost.
“Two,” she said. Her eyes widened, and I noticed how small she looked. Not because of her size, although she was petite, but something else I couldn’t place.
“I’m getting an annulment,” she said.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” I told her. “How painful. How heartbreaking!!”
“He’s already married,” she said. “Marrying me was illegal.”
“Not to mention a horrible thing to do to you.”
We both got off on the second floor, and I helped her find the circuit clerk’s office. I know the ladies who work there; they are kind and would be supportive to this poor young woman. Really, almost a girl.
I thought about her throughout the rest of the day, and hoped she has the support she will need in the coming weeks as she processes this betrayal. Anyone who starts talking to a distracted stranger about something so personal, so painful, clearly needs to talk.
Where were her friends, her family? Why did she have to go down to the courthouse alone? Perhaps they had always suspected something was off about this man, maybe they had even warned her. Were they smugly saying, “we told her so” instead of reaching out to her?
Or had someone offered to stand by her, and she refused? Maybe she hadn’t even told her friends and family about it yet. Did she have a big wedding, or did they elope? Was she afraid of what others might say to her, or ashamed to admit she’d been duped?
The numbers and human nature say she will fall in love again, but no doubt her ability to trust has been damaged. I hope she meets a loving, patient man, who is willing to bear the burden of her fear.
I hope she has the fairy tale ending we all deserve.
These chance encounters, they stay with you sometimes.
Image Credits: (Sailor’s Lass) © Thomas Mucha — Fotolia; (Broken Heart) © chuugo — Fotolia; (Fairy Tale Ending) © JackyBrown — Bigstock