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 her
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 lunch.
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, seeming unsure.
"I owe you an apology," I started. Boy was that an understatement.
Her mouth fell open and her sky blue eyes welled up with tears again.
"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 don't..."
"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 it.
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 being optimistic.
"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 trying."
Blushing slightly, she smiled and shook her head before embracing me again.
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.
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