Jillian woke up early that Friday morning, earlier than she meant to. No matter what she tried, she couldn’t get back to sleep. Maybe that was for the best. The dream she was having were not exactly pleasant.
She climbed out of bed and headed for the kitchen. After starting a pot of coffee for her husband, she poured herself a glass of orange juice. Then Jillian made her way to the window in the dining room.
This was her favorite spot in the whole house. Rick had fallen in love with the basketball net and the patio with built in BBQ grill. But all Jillian needed was one look at the cushioned bench and the lakeside view beyond the window to know that she wanted to live here.
She spent countless moments at this spot. Jillian’s Bible and notebook were kept on the window ledge. Looking over the lake as the sun rose over the trees, she felt close to God. She couldn’t begin to count the times she’d come here to pray for her sons of thank God for his protection over her family.
Not this morning, though. The only thing on her mind was the date-October 14- and how she would ever get through it.
She didn’t know how long she had been sitting there. The sitars had slowly disappeared as the sky beyond the lake changed from midnight blue to indigo to varying shades of pink. Subtle noise from the kitchen told her that Rick was awake. Jillian sipped her juice. She figured she should see if he needed help with breakfast, but she couldn’t tear herself away from the view outside her window. More than ever before, she needed to feel God, needed to see that he was real.
Rick slipped quietly behind Jillian and kissed her cheek. “Good morning,” he said softly.
“Hmmmm,” Jillian said. Her gazed never moved from the sunrise.
“You ok?” rick asked after a few silent moments.
Jillian turned to face her husband. “Am I ok?” she asked, hoping she heard the words wrong. How could she be ok this morning? For that matter, how could he?
“Mom, where’s my soccer short’s?”
“I can’t find my chemistry book.”
The voices were followed by two sets of footsteps pounding down the hall. With Cameron and Reese awake, Jillian’s quiet time was over for the day. With one final glare at her husband, who looked as if he didn’t know what he possibly could have done wrong, she headed for the kitchen. She picked up the chemistry book from beside the telephone book, and then headed to the laundry room to pull the shorts from the dryer. She handed them to the boys and headed back to her bedroom. In a way she was glad to get moving. The sooner the day started, the sooner it could end.
Jillian pulled on an old faded pair of jeans and a comfy old sweatshirt, and then rejoined her family in the kitchen. She picked a blueberry bran muffin, only half listening to the conversation around her. At that moment, she wasn’t concerned with soccer playoffs of chemistry exams. She didn’t feel like talking about her errands or adding items to the grocery list. All she wanted was to spend the day in bed, alone with her tears.
Or maybe sharing her tears with Rick, who still seemed to not know the significance of the date.
Curling up was not option. Jillian had too many responsibilities. She didn’t have the luxury of hiding. Not that she could hide from the pain.
There were reminders of that pain everywhere she went. A teller at the bank was celebrating a birthday. Baby week at the supermarket meant infant pictures in every aisle. She passed a mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand as she made her way to the dry cleaners. Jillian couldn’t help feeling that she should have been celebrating a special birthday. One of those infant faces should have belonged to her daughter. She could have been holding her little girls hand as she learned to walk.
Through it all, she wondered if Rick was having the same thoughts. Did he know what today was? Did he think about her at all?
Was he so wrapped up in the boys that he had forgotten about their daughter?
Jillian pulled into the driveway late that afternoon, mentally exhausted. She managed to keep the tears at bay, and now that she was home, she was ready to stop fighting them. Yet she couldn’t rest. She still needed to cook dinner, wash laundry, bake peanut butter brownies for Reese and head out to Cameron’s game.
As if on autopilot, she carried Rick’s suits to their closet, and picked up laundry from Cameron and Rees’s rooms. It wasn’t until she had filed and started the washing machine and began to look for brownie ingredients that she looked toward the dining room table.
In the center of the table was a crystal vase, filled with pink flowers.
They reminded Jillian of the wildflowers Reese used to pick for her when he was younger. She noticed a card on them, and reached for it. The name “Mackenzie” was printed across the front. Jillian’s hands trembled as she slipped the card out of the envelope. Tears blurred her vision, but she was able to make out the words.
“Happy first birthday, My Mackenzie. I will always love you. Love Daddy.”
Jillian felt a hand on her shoulder. She hadn’t heard anyone, but she knew it was Rick behind her. He gentle rested his chin on her shoulder. “I haven’t forgotten,” he whispered. With arms around her, Jillian couldn’t fight the tears any longer. She turned around and buried her face against his chest and let the tears come.