I don't think I knew what love was until I watched Kathryn deal
with this whole situation. Before, I thought it was remarkable of
her to have remained so sweet and unaffected by bitterness or
jealousy after having to watch mine and Jenny's relationship
progress to marriage. But now, I understood it was because of
love. And because love came so naturally to her.
I still believed that she should have said something to me years
ago, but I knew now that she felt it would have been acting
selfishly. Perhaps she was nervous the way anyone would have
been. More so, since I chose her sister over her. But I think the
main reason was because she loved both Jenny and me so much. She
thought the best thing to do was step aside and forget her own
And now she was doing it again.
After crying about the decision initially, she didn't mention how
difficult it would be for her to give up the baby. I could see it
in her eyes though. The entire ride to Aunt Meg's, she barely
said two words, and I knew that it was because she was thinking
about the next time she would see me, when she would give up her
claim on the baby.
I almost regretted suggesting this. Obviously, it wasn't
something she wanted, but she would do it because she believed
that it was the best option for the baby.
It wouldn't be pleasant, but I knew that she was strong enough to
handle the stigma of being an unwed mother. She would do it, and
she'd make the best of it. I doubt she'd even regret the life she
was giving up. At least, not for a long time. But as usual, Kat
was putting someone else first. She'd suffer quietly for the rest
of her life because of her love for her child.
And it was all my fault. Had I stopped and thought about her for
a few minutes, I might have realized that this could happen. But
I didn't think of her. I was only thinking of myself and what I
I wondered if I'd ever stop hating myself for all the terrible
things I'd done to her. Still, I couldn't bring myself to try to
talk Kat out of this plan. I'd messed things up so much already,
and this was the only way she could still have a decent life. She
deserved so much more than that, but I was going to do everything
I could to give her that much. It would be hard at first, but she
would never be cut off from the baby. She could be around him as
much as she wanted, and I would give him everything I could too.
Eventually, this would be easier for her, and by then, she'd
probably be married with more children.
I couldn't try to take that possibility away from her, when I'd
done so much damage already.
Thinking about it again, I sighed heavily. I was responsible for
so much of her pain, and if she knew everything, I would be
hurting her even more.
I still hadn't made things right with Jenny. If Kat knew how
badly I treated her sister in the last months, she'd...well, I
know she wouldn't hate me since I doubted that she was capable of
that particular emotion. But she would be angry, disappointed,
and hurt. She'd given up so much in her life because she loved
her sister, and I'd turned around and treated Jenny terribly.
Not many people in Kat's place would be so loving. Most would
probably want to at least gloat a little or something, but of
course she didn't. She didn't want Jenny to know a thing, going
so far as to make herself look pretty bad to spare her sister
that sort of pain and embarrassment.
I still don't think I understood that sort of love. How could she
be so selfless, after all of this?
I, on the other hand, couldn't seem to get anything right. I
loved Kat, but all I ever seemed to do was hurt her. I loved
Jenny too, but again, all I seemed to be doing lately was causing
It had to stop. I was going to fix things with Jenny. I wished I
could make things right with Kat as well, but at least with
Jenny, it was possible.
I'd put it off far too long already, not anxious to admit my
faults. I expected a letter from Kat any day now, saying she had
the baby and was ready to come home, so it had to be soon. I was
determined to be a better husband. If for nothing else, to give
the baby the real family I promised Kat.
But I was wrong to blame Jenny for everything, the way I did. It
had taken me a long time to admit it to myself, but this was
mostly my fault. I'd been the one to ignore Kat all those years
and fall for Jenny. I'd been the one to push for a marriage
sooner than her father wanted. And even though Jenny's actions
might have helped me get to where I was that night in the
kitchen, it was my fault that I'd given in to my anger and left
Jenny alone, only to cross that line with Kat a little later. I
should have been more mature and had more self control.
Jenny hadn't been perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but
I knew she didn't deserve the things I'd done. Certainly not the
things involving Kat, but she didn't earn the way I treated her
afterward either. I'd just been so angry, and it was easier to
blame her than admit that I was the one at fault.
Jenny had never purposely set out to hurt her sister or to trap
me into a marriage I didn't want. While she could be immature and
selfish, she loved me the way that she knew how. And now I had
the unpleasant task of swallowing my pride so that I could fix my
marriage. If Jenny would let me, that is.
I stood on the front porch, fingering the gold locket I'd gotten
for Jenny, hoping that she was as willing to fix our marriage as
I was. She would be well justified if she refused to speak to me,
after the way I'd treated her, and I knew better than anyone that
she could hold a grudge and act out of spite if she wanted to.
But I was optimistic. For a while now, she seemed repentant and
hurt, rather than angry. I felt guilty about it, but I also
couldn't help being a little relieved thinking that things would
be much easier to rectify this way.
Stuffing the necklace in my pocket, I walked inside the house,
heading for the kitchen, where Jenny would be cleaning up after
When I poked my head in the room , it was completely vacant, and
I began to worry that something might be wrong. The overflowing
dirty dishes in the sink and on the counters was an unusual
sight. Jenny loathed the job of washing dishes, but she hated the
possibility of getting bugs, more. I'd never known her to leave a
meal's dirty dishes longer than the time it took to clear the
table after dessert, and here it was almost an hour after lunch.
Turning back, I wandered through the rest of the house, looking
for her. I made my way to our bedroom and guilt assaulted me
again when I saw her lying on the bed. She was turned away from
the open door, but it was obvious that she was crying. It must
have been one of the first times I'd ever seen her cry without
all the normal fuss for attention. These were completely
heartbroken tears for no one but herself. And, as with so many
things lately, they were all my fault. I already knew I was a bad
husband, but this display made me see what a poor excuse for a
man I was too. Beyond the obvious of caring for her as my wife,
which I'd completely failed at in recent months, it was my job to
make sure that her general well-being was taken care of as well.
I'd made that promise to her father before he died.
I wondered if there was any other area I could possibly fail in.
Jenny stiffened when she heard me walk into the room. Pushing
aside another pang of guilt, I went to crouch next to her as she
lay on the bed.
"Jen," I said tenatively. "Can we talk?"
She pushed herself into a sitting position and stared at me with
wide, reddened eyes. Wiping her face with her hands, she nodded,
"I owe you an apology," I started. Boy was that an
Her mouth fell open and her sky blue eyes welled up with tears
"I haven't been..." I stopped, not sure of what to say. Faithful
was the word that echoed loudest in my mind, but I couldn't say
it. It felt cowardly, but this was the way Kat wanted it. And it
really was to spare Jenny's feelings.
"I've been pretty terrible to you, and I'm sorry."
She only watched me silently as tears slid down her face.
"I've been angry about some things, but it was wrong of me to
take it out on you. You didn't deserve to be treated like that."
I'd never actually seen Jenny speechless before, and I couldn't
tell if I'd hurt her so badly that she didn't want to reconcile,
or if she was acting this way because she did want it but was
just overcome with emotion.
"Can you forgive me?" I asked after a long, quiet minute.
"Oh, John!" She lept from the bed and into my arms, knocking me
off balance so that I landed on the floor with her in my lap.
Crying, she hugged me tightly, burying her face against my neck.
"I was so afraid you hated me," she sobbed.
"I couldn't hate you, Jenny," I said, wrapping her in my arms. I
was grateful that this wasn't a lie. As angry as I'd been with
Jenny, I never stopped loving her.
She sat back to look at me. "I'm so sorry. For everything. I know
that I can be..." She struggled for the right words. "That I
"No." I covered her mouth with my fingers. I couldn't bear to
hear apologies from her. She certainly hadn't been a saint, but
her faults were nothing next to mine.
"We've both done some things wrong in this marriage, and I think
we can agree that the way we've been doing this isn't working."
Jenny nodded and I let my hand fall away from her mouth.
"I think we need to start over." I pulled the gold necklace free
from my pocket and held it up for her to see. She sighed softly
and smiled through her tears.
"I gave you that ring when we said our vows," I said. "I want
this to symbolize our new beginning."
Opening the clasp, I slipped my hands behind her neck and under
her hair to fix the locket in place.
"We forget everything that happened before now, and do things
differently. No playing games and no leaving things unresolved."
When I felt the small clip catch, I took her face in my hands.
"Okay." She looked determined.
"I have a feeling that we're going to have to be really patient
with each other," I said. "I'll do my best, but sometimes I'm not
going to have any idea why you're upset."
"I'll try not to get upset." She gave me a wry smile.
I grinned. "Well, it's alright sometimes, but just promise you'll
talk to me?"
"I promise. I love you, John. So much."
"I love you too." I kissed her softly before wrapping my arms
around her again.
She snuggled up against me and sighed contentedly.
"I was so scared," she murmured after a minute. "I didn't know
how I was supposed to do this." At first I thought she meant the
conversation we just had, but then I realized that she was
talking about the baby.
Jenny and I never actually talked about the baby before, other
than to agree to take him. I'd been so angry with her at the
time, I wasn't interested in discussing anything with her. When
Kat asked us together, I only gave Jenny a nod of agreement,
almost furious that she could believe her sister's lie so easily.
I had to wonder if she knew her at all.
Pulling away from Jenny, I held her at arms length and noticed
only concern in her expression. I mentally kicked myself for
believing that she would be feeling anything else.
"I don't know if I'm ready to take care of a baby, but I have to.
I can't let Kat down. She's never really needed me for anything,
and now she does. She doesn't deserve to have to do this. I know
it's going to be hard. She's so good and unselfish, and she's
always loved me so much. Even though-" Jenny stopped herself and
bit her lip, but I understood what she was thinking. I guess she
really did know about her sister's feelings. But contrary to what
I thought before, she looked as though she really felt bad about
Listening to her worried little ramble, I understood that the
reason she believed Kat's lie so easily wasn't because she didn't
know her, but because she looked up to her so much. The idea that
Kat would lie, didn't even occur to her. Thankfully, for all our
sakes, the idea of anything between the two of us was probably
just as far-fetched. What else could she believe but what Kat
said was true? And the condemnation that would come from just
about everyone else if they knew, wouldn't occur to Jenny. To
her, Kat only made a mistake. That's it. It made our betrayal
seem so much worse.
"I don't know the first thing about babies," she said. "And with
you not even talking to me, it seemed impossible."
And then there was that. I doubted if it was possible for me to
feel much smaller.
"You're going to do great," I said even though I had no idea how
she would handle being a surrogate mother. But I knew she would
try and I knew Kat would help her figure out what to do.
Jenny gave me a look that told me she suspected that I was only
"Kat will help you," I said. "And it will be good practice for
when we have a baby."
"Do you think we can?" She asked, doubtful. "It was almost a
whole year, and..."
"I do," I said confidently. "It takes plenty of people longer
than a year to have a baby." If only it had been a little harder
for Kat to get pregnant...
"Maybe God knew we weren't ready for a baby yet," I suggested.
"Because we had to work out some things first."
Some of the worry momentarily left Jenny's face and she gave me a
small smile. In another second, though, she seemed anxious again.
"But what if we can't?"
"If we can't, then we can't," I said, realizing that she was
wondering if I would blame her if she couldn't give me children.
"We'll still have a child who needs plenty of love and
attention." I grinned mischievously. "And we can still have fun
Blushing slightly, she smiled and shook her head before embracing
As I held her in my arms, I vowed never to take her for granted
again. Things might not be perfect between us all the time, but
Jenny was my wife and I loved her.
Everything might have been easier with Kat, but maybe not. Maybe
we wouldn't fit together as husband and wife, that well. It's
extremely possible that I only wanted to believe that my marriage
could have been better by placing the blame anywhere but on
myself. And I was realizing that it didn't really matter or do
any good to think about whether a marriage to anyone else would
have been better or worse than what I had.
What I had was Jenny, and knowing just how badly I messed up, I
knew I didn't deserve her. I would spend the rest of my life
making it up to her, even if she didn't know it.
I only wished that I'd realized all of this sooner and spared us
all alot of heartache, Kat especially. I could never even begin
to make amends for all the ways I'd wronged her.