“I’m writing my mother to tell her about Michael,” Lauren said. “Words that sting me like a scorpion.”
“I know it hurts you, Lauren. I’m sorry. Does your mom like the name you and Michael picked out for the baby? I think Ashley is a beautiful name,” Deb said while carrying a stack of folded wash cloths and towels to the closet.
“She likes it.”
Flipping through her supply of stationery for a pattern that suited her Lauren selected a rose on white background while her best friend Deb continued to make herself at home.
“How far along are you, now, Lauren?” Deb asked.
“Third trimester. Eight more weeks to go.”
“Why don’t you call your mother on the phone, Lauren?” Deb said. “I don’t understand why you’re writing a letter.”
“I’d rather; that’s all.”
Fraught to find words Lauren dropped her pen on the coffee table in frustration. How to begin puzzled her. She walked to the fridge and pulled out two sodas handing one to Deb. Returning to the sofa she picked up the pen again and this time began to write.
Dear Mom, Ashley and I are alone, I mean, Michael left and…
“I can’t do it.”
Lauren folded the stationery, put it aside, and tossed the pen across the coffee table. Tears slowly trickled down her cheeks.
Deb pulled a tissue out of a box on an end table and took it to Lauren. Lauren wiped away the tears and set the tissue down next to her pen.
“Come on, Lauren. You and I are friends forever,” Deb said.
She reached for Lauren’s two hands and squeezed them both, smiling warmly, sympathetically.
“Everything will work out, Lauren. I’ll help you with Ashley.”
Deb sat down on the sofa beside her grieving comrade.
Lauren rubbed her growing abdomen affectionately as she felt Ashley moving. She’d often played soothing music for her baby at night as they slept believing Ashley could hear the melodies inside her womb. Anything that might give her baby peace and happiness Lauren did her best to provide for her child.
“My baby.” Lauren sobbed still caressing her abdomen. “I never wanted my baby to have a life like mine. I had to live throughout my childhood without a father. I wanted Ashley to have a dad, the best dad in the world.”
“Lauren, Ashley is going to have a good life. I know she will. You’re her mother and you will make it happen for her,” Deb said.
“My mother would have made it happen for us if it had been possible. She loved me and my brother with all her heart. But we didn’t have a father taking care of us and loving us. I wanted Ashley to have a dad. I can’t believe Michael is doing this to us.”
“What happened between you and Michael?” Deb asked.
“Four weeks ago on the first day of September Michael told me he had a new girlfriend. He moved out the next day. I’m still stunned. I’ve been hoping this entire month that he’d change his mind. I wanted to believe that Michael was going through some emotional struggle, some craziness that he’d get over. But he hasn’t gotten over it. In fact, he said that he would never get over it.”
Lauren began writing again.
Michael left us. He says he’s in love with some girl he met recently. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, Mom. This is the last thing I wanted in my life. This is the one predicament I refused to allow, the one fear that kept me from relationship with any man, until at last I found the one guy, the one in a million guys, the only one I could ever trust. I trusted Michael. You know what I wanted, Mom.
Deb sat next to Lauren drinking soda and wishing Michael would be reasonable, would stand by Lauren as he’d promised. She thought of all the praises Lauren had showered on her beloved Michael, the hero of her life, the one man like him on the whole earth. Lauren had said Michael made her feel safe and loved. She’d said that Michael was all she’d ever need or want in life.
Lauren kept writing.
I ask myself why, how he could do this to me, to us! The guy with the kind heart, the responsible, caring person I trusted. He knew how I felt. He knew what I wanted and he was the epitome of promise. You know how good Michael was, Mom.
He was mature and stable. He spoke words of love and kindness. He found me in a state of confusion and lifted me out of my fears. He was sincere, handsome, smart, employed. He was all of that except the part about being sincere. Was he sincere? No. What other answer could there be to that question?
Lauren lay down the pen again and handed the unfinished letter to Deb.
“Read it and tell me what you think.” Lauren said as she stretched out on one end of the sofa, tears still wet on her face.
Deb read what Lauren had written. She laid the letter down on the coffee table and went to the fridge for another soda.
“What’s to snack on, anything?” Deb asked.
“You’re welcome to anything you can find. I’ve had no appetite. I guess I haven’t stocked up very well ever since…”
“That’s okay, Lauren,” Deb said. “I’m a little hungry and you need to eat. I’ll have a pizza delivered. What do you want on it?”
“Get it any way you like it. I don’t care, Deb. Thank you.”
Deb phoned in the order on her cell phone and returned to the sofa.
“Lauren, I still don’t understand why you’re writing a letter when you could phone her.”
“Lots of reasons, Deb. I would cry if I tried to tell her on the phone. That’s one reason, but not the whole reason.”
“Okay. Tell me the rest. I still think you should call her. She’s heard you cry before.”
“She wanted me to wait…”
Lauren was searching for words to finish that statement. She paused and thought.
“Wait for what?” Deb asked.
“Wait until Michael and I were ready to get married.”
“No one does that anymore.”
“My mom is old fashioned and she’s a Christian and the Bible calls any kind of sex outside of marriage wrong.”
“It does? I didn’t know that.”
“You didn’t? Where have you been?” Lauren said surprised.
“You never told me.”
“You’ve been to church with me. You made a decision for Jesus yourself. You were baptized, too.”
“Yes. But I still never knew that. Okay. So your mom wanted you to wait and you didn’t. I think I know a little bit about your mom. I don’t think she’s going to disown you. You’ve been with Michael for quite a while. You’ve never said that your mom was mad at you for it.”
“She’s not mad at me.”
“So, then, why can’t you call her on the phone?”
“I can. I don’t want to.”
“Oh, I think I get it. Your mom must be the I-told-you-so kind of person? I didn’t know that about her. Would she make you feel bad about it, Lauren?”
“No. She’s not like that.”
“I don’t understand. What’s the deal?”
“I guess it’s kind of about the point.”
Deb smiled and looked straight into Lauren’s eyes and nearly giggled. “The POINT!” she repeated in mock horror.
Lauren almost smiled.
“Mom thinks the reason people don’t want to get married is that they don’t want to make a commitment, that they want an easy out in case they change their minds,” Lauren said.
“Isn’t that the truth?” Deb asked still grinning.
“Yes, I guess so. Anyway, that’s the point.”
“Okay. So your mom will think she was right. And now Michael, apparently NOT totally committed to you and Ashley, has left you. But you say that your mom won’t make you feel bad about it. There’s nothing you can do about it now. You can’t make Michael stay. And, this could have happened to you even if you and Michael had gotten married.”
“Yes, it could have happened anyway. But Mom would think that I’d have had God’s blessing on my marriage, and for that reason, it may NOT have happened,” Lauren said.
“So, you’re saying your mom would blame you for what happened.”
“No, she wouldn’t do that to me. She’d treat me like she always does. I know she would,” Lauren said.
Deb digressed from the issues of Michael and Lauren and her mother for a moment dwelling in thoughtful meditation.
Lauren put her stationery back in the box, put the lid on it, and sipped her soda. She noticed the faraway look on her friend’s face.
“What are you thinking about, Deb?”
“I’m not going with anyone right now, Lauren,” Deb said. “Now that I know what the Bible says about relationships and marriage, I’m going to expect marriage and wait for it. What about you, Lauren?”
“I don’t know. You’re pushier than my mother,” Lauren said.
The doorbell rang. Deb opened the door and received the pizza. She took it to the kitchen and returned carrying a tray with two plates of pizza. Deb placed them on the coffee table next to their sodas and took the tray back to the kitchen. Returning she sat down beside Lauren to eat pizza and talk.
“Now maybe I get the point,” Deb said. “The point is that you haven’t changed your mind and you don’t want to discuss it with your mother because you still don’t agree with her.”
“I don’t know. I want Michael to come back. That’s what I want. And there’s more about the point.”
“Mom felt that I was depending too much on Michael for emotional support. She said that marriage partners need to put God first in their relationship. She said that marriage partners cannot meet all of one another’s emotional or spiritual needs, that only God can fulfill all our needs.”
“Do you disagree with her on this, also?” Deb asked.
“I thought I did. Now I’m not sure. Maybe I depended too much on Michael. Mom said that people smother and frustrate one another when they try to have all their emotional needs met by their partners. Maybe Michael felt trapped by my constant neediness or felt that he was inadequate to make me happy. I didn’t mean to make him feel that way. We weren’t getting along as well as we used to when this happened. I wish I could have acted differently. But I couldn’t help myself.”
“Lauren, don’t blame yourself. Stop it right now. Would your mom make you feel like it was your fault for not being some super Christian? Is this the point?”
“No. My mom would just love me and let me come home for a while. I’m glad you came over for a visit, Deb. You’re helping me think things out.”
Lauren picked up the half written letter. She ripped it in two pieces and laid it on the coffee table beside the stationery and the pen.
“Are you going to phone your mother?” Deb asked.
“No. I’m going to visit her. I’ll phone her first to let her know I plan to visit.”
Deb went to the kitchen with the two plates and returned with two more pieces of pizza and two bottles of water on the tray. She placed the pizza and water bottles on the coffee table, carried the tray back to the kitchen, and returned to the sofa again.
“What made you change your mind?” Deb said.
“It’s hard to explain. I’m not sure I know. But when you said you didn’t know what the Bible said, I realized that I did know. You made me recognize that I deliberately disregarded the Word of God.”
“Why did you do that, Lauren?”
“This is very odd, Deb. I’m having the discussion with you that I avoided having with my mother,” Lauren said.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Deb said. “But I think I know the answer anyway. You were so much in love with Michael that you avoided the conversation with God, too.”
“Yes. I can see it now but I didn’t see it then. Mom tried to make me see it, but my mind was made up. I was ready to commit but Michael wasn’t. Now I’m hurting maybe worse than if I’d told Michael I wanted to wait. I don’t know how he would have reacted.”
“So what now?” Deb asked.
“I’ll trust God to help me. I’ll remember that God is good and I’ll go on. Maybe he will bring Michael back. But if not, I’ll have Jesus and Ashley and Mom and you.”
“What are you doing on Sunday?” Deb asked. “Are you going to church?”
“I haven’t thought about it. I might. You want to go along?”
“I do. I have a little learning to do. Why didn’t you tell me about those things I should have known?”
Lauren smiled for the first time since September 1.
Carol Ann Hoel © August 21, 2010