Christmas Season 2018
I tiptoed past my sleeping daughter, her arms still wrapped around Mr. Snuggles, her cheeks flushed from crying, and into the hallway, then down the stairs where my purse still lay in the wingback chair. After pulling out my phone, I called Jackson, then held my breath, wondering if he would bother to answer.
â€œIâ€™m too tired for round two,â€ he said as a sleepy hello.
â€œIâ€™m not calling for that,â€ I said, keeping my voice low. â€œI wanted you to know that Sara came home early. Sheâ€”she um . . . sheâ€™s pretty upset. Billy broke up with her today.â€
Jackson sighed deeply from the other end. â€œOh, man. Did she say why?â€
â€œSomething about it being too long between marriage and his degree or some such nonsense. But sheâ€”â€
When I didnâ€™t finish my thought, he asked, â€œWhat? She what?â€ â€œWell,â€ I said, easing back in the chair, â€œShe indicated thatâ€”I donâ€™t think anything has, you know, happened between them.â€
His groan lasted what felt like a full minute. â€œFelicia, honestly. Is that all you ever worry about?â€
I frowned. Out of the three of usâ€”them and meâ€”which of us was right? Could it be as theyâ€™d always said? Had I let my fears get the better of me? Had it tainted my views on everything? â€œNow you sound like Sara,â€ I admitted. Or had she sounded like him?
â€œAt least sheâ€™s still got her good sense then. And if I know our daughter, like her old man, sheâ€™ll pull herself up by her bootstraps and be fine. By this time tomorrow, Billy whatâ€™s-his-name will be just that. Nothing but a faint memory.â€
Like her old man? â€œIs that whatâ€™s happened with us? Have you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps? Are you fine without us?â€
He growled. â€œFeliciaâ€”â€
â€œJackson, I didnâ€™t call to have a tug of war with words.â€ I crossed my legs.
â€œThen why did you call?â€
â€œBecause,â€ I said as though my reasoning should be obvious. â€œSara is your daughter too. And I thought youâ€™d want to know.â€
â€œOf course I want to know.â€
â€œAnd for your information, that is not all I worry about. I just donâ€™t wantâ€”â€
â€œWhat?â€ he asked. And when I didnâ€™t answerâ€”when I couldnâ€™t answer for the knot forming in my throatâ€”he answered for me. â€œYou donâ€™t want her to end up like you? Pregnant and married? Not because sheâ€™s in love and canâ€™t see the raw future for the stars in her eyes but because itâ€™s expected of her? My gosh, Felicia, I thought weâ€™d gotten past all that. I thought weâ€™d built something and built it out of nothing. Those kids of ours didnâ€™t come out of three one-night stands, you know.â€
My jaw flexed. â€œI donâ€™t have to sit here and listen to this, Jackson. I only wanted you to knowâ€”â€
â€œThank you, then. Thank you for telling me. Iâ€™ll come by in the morning before work to check on her.â€
Â â€œI doubt sheâ€™ll be awake . . .â€
â€œThen Iâ€™ll text her in the morning and see if she wants to meet for lunch.â€ He waited a breath before adding. â€œLeesha . . .â€
â€œWhat,â€ I whispered.
â€œDonâ€™t think for one minute that I havenâ€™t been in love with you since senior year. That nightâ€”the night after Dad diedâ€”may not have been our wisest move, but I donâ€™t regret it. Not for one second.â€
I squeezed my eyes shut against his words. Hot tears pushed past my lashes and made their way down my cheeks.
Â â€œI can only pray that one day youâ€™ll feel the same way. One thing Iâ€™ve learned in all this is that God uses everything, Felicia. Even our mess-ups.â€