“He used to say, ‘I’m doing the best I can,'” I said staring at the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows above Dr. Vogwall’s head.
“I never thought so before,” I sighed looking down. “But now…” My eyes returned to the icon.
“His best was deficient, but it would still be his best.” I longed to press my face into the folds of Mary’s blue mantle.
“It would,” Dr. Vogwall said.
Mary’s eyes encouraged me to say more.
“If it was his best,” a tear threatened to spill onto my face. I sniffed it away. “If he did his best,” I sniffed again, “no matter how deficient, it’s worth something. Don’t you think?”
“What do you think?”
I took in a deep breath, “I think it must have some value.”
“What does that look like?”
“I don’t know.” I scratched my head and glanced up again at Mary, “Must I be able to quantify it in some way? Isn’t it enough to know there was value even if I can’t delineate it?”
“We’ve talked about the problems with abstractions,” he sighed.
“Yes. I need to be able to see reality.” A tear ran down my cheek, splashed onto my charcoal grey skirt leaving a tiny damp spot that slowly disappeared in the knitted wool. “He saved my life.”
“Tell me about that.”
“He interfered. When I kept trying to kill myself, he distracted me.”
“Brutally,” Dr. Vogwall said.
I nodded my head, “I was taking more and more pills. Eventually, I’d have succeeded,” I sighed. “I was so busy fighting him, I forgot about killing myself.”
“You weren’t willing to let him do the job?”
“Precisely!” I sat up straight in the chair. “I could kill myself but I’d be damned if I let him destroy me.” My eyes sought the tears on Mary’s face, “He engaged my stubbornness subroutine,” I said in a small voice. “That’s worth something.” More tears tracked down my cheek. I lowered my eyes to Dr. Vogwall’s, “Fighting him, I learned to fight myself. That’s worth a lot.”
“You think that came as a result of him doing his best?”
“I think his best was absolutely crazy and exactly what I needed.”
“But he didn’t know,” Dr. Vogwall replied.
“So?” I asked. “I get credit for so many things I do thoughtlessly or instinctively. Everyone does. Shouldn’t he?”
“Yes,” my head nodded in agreement. “If I get credit, he should too.”
“So the cruelty doesn’t matter?”
“Of course it matters. It was horrible. But things can be horrible and necessary at the same time.
“Dr. Vogwall, I would be dead if not for him. He saved my life and,” my face crumpled, tears flowed, “I’m grateful to him for that.” My hand flew up, covered my mouth but the words had already escaped. “I never thought I’d say that.”
“Do you think he wanted to save your life?”
“No, he wanted to control me, to own me. But it’s like Joseph’s brothers — the minister meant it for evil but God meant it for good — my good.” I sniffed and wiped away tears. “I wish he had taken it for his good too.”
Assignment: In words and/or images, compose a piece grounded in the possibility, distant as it may be, of hope and reconciliation.