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Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Ring - Before & After

We've all had the same idea! This has been finished for a couple days but I've been unable to post. I've never done this before so, be honest first, and be gentle. =) My writing is more about facts & events, less about feelings and thoughts. Hopefully that will improve. This is long, sorry. Chris.
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Read the story



While packing her suitcases Livy had an odd feeling of homesickness. It was something she’d not felt since she was a little girl, away from home overnight for the first time. She certainly hadn’t felt a longing to be home in Denver so there was no reason for her mood. She tried to shake the feeling, distracting herself with busywork.

Later, before bed, Livy heard the familiar sounds of Ray’s bedtime routine. She knew it as if it were her own. She knew that he changed into bedclothes and a robe before going into the bathroom. She would hear him brushing his teeth, and a moment later he would stop and say good night though her door before going into the bunkroom. She would strain to hear him quietly say “Amen”, and then would hear the springs of his bed as he lay down on it. Last, the pull chain on his lamp. It was then that Livy realized she was hearing these sounds for the last time. The homesickness had returned like a rock in her stomach and Livy discovered that she was already homesick for this house, this man, this life.

For weeks Livy had been telling herself that it would be better to leave now, before the baby comes, so she and Ray could get on with the lives they were meant to lead. She would still be able to find a way to Europe to see the famous excavation sites she studied for so long. Ray would be free to find a woman that could bear children, his children, as he deserved. The reasons for leaving seemed logical and honorable, but her heart had found a home here.

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(The next day, after Ray professes his love and tries to sell the idea of staying to Livy)…

“That day, when the preacher married us, I forgot the ring. I have one now.”
“Ray, the truth is, I don’t know if I deserve you. How do you know this could work?”
“I know because, because someday you’re gonna forgive yourself.”

Surprised, Livy looked straight into Ray’s teary eyes. “Ray, I’m not sure I can. I don’t think I ever will.”

“Trust me Livy, you will. After Daniel died it was all I could do to get outta bed each day, know’n that I should’ve gone in his place.”

Ray took a small step closer and gently placed his hands on her arms.

“Slowly that pain will go away, and I will be here to make sure you never forget what a blessing you are to me and that baby. You are a gift to me Livy and I will do anything to make you happy… as my wife and the mother of that baby.”

Ray let his hands drop from Livy’s arms before he continued.

“I don’t want you to stay if you don’t want to be here, but I want you to know that I will love you forever, no matter what you choose.”

Livy was stunned that Ray knew the pain and guilt that nearly consumed her. Reverend Dunne had banished his daughter for shaming him, and not a day went by that Livy didn’t berate herself for accepting the touch of a stranger to fill the void left by her mother’s death and her father’s detachment. Now here she was standing in front of a man that was not much more than a stranger, telling her that she was worthy of being loved. Livy waited for a moment, looking at the floor while she carefully gathered her words.

Preparing himself for the answer he didn’t want to hear, Ray silently prayed that Livy understood what he’d told her, what he’s been telling her, without words, for the past 6 months.

“Ray, my father had hoped to punish me by sending me here. But as I stand here in front of you I promise you that I am the one that’s been given a gift. I love you Ray Singleton and can’t wait to be your wife for the rest of my life.”

Ray was unable to speak. Without looking away he reached over to take her left hand and placed the simple gold band onto her ring finger. He kissed it on her finger.

In one motion Livy slid her hands around Ray’s back as he held her head in his hands and tenderly kissed his wife. He pulled away a little but Livy didn’t let him get very far before she whispered, “I do”. Ray smiled and kissed her again, this time both of them feeling the passion of being so close to someone you deeply love.

The knot that had formed in Livy’s stomach the night before had been untied and she let herself feel true happiness, love and acceptance in the arms of her husband. They kissed more, making up for lost kisses during the first 6 months of their marriage.

Livy slowly pulled away from Ray. Holding his hand she turned toward the stairs. Ray stood perfectly still and she looked back at him.

Nervously, Ray asked “Livy, where are we going?”

“Ray, it’s ok.”

“But … Livy, I don’t want to take any chances with the baby.”

“Our baby, Ray, this is our baby. Don’t worry; we won’t be taking any chances. This baby is the reason we’re together and I love it as much as you do. A week or two and the baby will come, but for right now, I just want us to be husband and wife. Being your wife is very important to me Ray.”

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Later that night after the house had grown dark, Ray woke and started to get out of bed to check on things downstairs. He looked back over his shoulder at his beautiful wife and said a silent prayer of thanks. He carefully reached over and put his hand on her belly and was surprised at the movements he felt. Ray smiled, knowing it wouldn’t be long before he could meet this person.

Downstairs Ray stoked the fires and put on more wood. He turned off the lights, and saw the cradle out of the corner of his eye. He contemplated working on it tonight while Livy slept, but decided to spend as much time alone with her as he could. Ray started back up the steps when he heard Livy call for him. She sounded alarmed so he rushed up the stairs to make sure she was ok.

One look at Livy told him what was happening; he had been there when Martha went into labor with Chester. Ray said that he would call the doctor, even before she could ask him to. Downstairs Ray called the sheriff as well, and asked him to drive out to Hank & Martha’s to let them know. Ray knew Hank would bring Martha over right away to help.

Back upstairs, Ray asked Livy what he could do. “Nothing, Ray, just be here with me until the doctor gets here.” Livy didn’t want to frighten Ray so she tried to keep her voice steady and calm, even through the contractions, that were coming very rapidly. Livy knew that could mean trouble, if the doctor doesn’t arrive in time.

“Ray, will you get the extra sheets out of the closet for me?”

“What on earth for, Livy?”

“I just think they might come in handy when the doctor arrives.”

A few moments later Ray noticed beads of sweat on Livy’s forehead and that her breath was shallow and quick. “Livy, what’s wrong? Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Ray, listen to me. I am going to be completely truthful with you now and for every day of our marriage. Nothing is wrong, except that this baby is going to be born any minute and seeing as neither Dr. McCutcheon or your sister are here, you are probably going to deliver it.”

Ray stared at her in disbelief, then looked again out the window, hoping to see headlights on the road. Instead, he saw a snowstorm. The wind had blown a drift halfway up the side of the beet box and Ray knew they were on their own.

Looking back at Livy, Ray knew whatever was about to happen to him was nothing compared to what she was going through. Ray realized that God was granting him another gift: to help his wife bring their child into the world.

A few scary moments later Ray wrapped a very noisy little boy in one of the sheets Livy had asked for, and handed him to her. He had just started to pull a chair next to the bed when he heard pounding on the door. He went down to find Hank, Martha, Dr. McCutcheon and Sheriff Daley just about ready to break down the locked door. He must have been a sight because Martha turned white when she looked at his shirt. He reassured everyone that Livy and the baby were ok, and the doctor and Martha rushed upstairs.

Downstairs in the kitchen Hank and Sheriff Daley congratulated Ray with a pat on the back and Ray sat down for a few minutes. Once the events of the day began to sink in, all Ray could do was give thanks for the life that he’d been given. Hank went on about late night feedings and diapers hanging all over the house but Ray was barely paying attention. He prayed for a good report from the doctor, and to simply go upstairs and kiss his wife and son.

Dr. McCutcheon made sure that Livy and the baby were fine, and Martha helped clean up the room and put fresh bedding on the bed. It had been several hours since Ray placed the ring on Livy’s finger and he was anxious to be next to her and their son. He said good-bye to the doctor and sheriff, and helped Hank dig his truck out of a snowdrift.

“Ray, are you sure you don’t want Martha to stay the night just to help out with things?”

“Nah, I’m pretty sure we’ll be ok. Livy seems to know what she’s doing up there with him. Thank you, Hank, for everything. Between my own daddy and you, I’ve seen what being a good father is like”.

Martha started down the porch steps and Hank went over to help her to their truck. “Ray, I couldn’t be any happier for the two of you. You have a beautiful family in there.”

Ray looked up toward the bedroom window. “Yes I do. Thanks, Sis, for the help today.”

Martha gave Ray a tight hug and said, “We’ll be over tomorrow afternoon to see how things are going. If you need us before then, call the Sheriff. Oh Lord, Ruth is going to be after us to get a phone even more, now that her cousin’s here! Hey, Ray, what are you going to name that little boy?”

“We haven’t gotten that far. We’ll have to let you know tomorrow!”

Back upstairs, Livy was lying on her side snoozing, after another attempt to feed the baby. He must’ve gotten enough to satisfy him because he had fallen asleep next to her. Ray quietly climbed the stairs, thinking that tomorrow he would have to finish the cradle for sure. He entered the bedroom and turned on a small lamp on the far side of the room. He suspected Livy was probably asleep and he was right. He pulled the chair closer to the bed to watch his family sleep, and drink in the sight of his new son. He stroked the baby’s head and held his tiny hand on one of his fingers. The baby woke up and made soft cooing sounds that made Ray smile. He picked up his son and wrapped him in a small soft blanket that Martha brought over. The baby didn’t fuss, and was content just being held. Ray got up and walked him around the room a little which soothed him even more.

He took the baby downstairs so that Livy could rest. He told his son about Livy, and how blessed he was to have such a fine and talented mother. He told him about his Uncle Danny’s bravery, and sang to him the song his daddy sang when Ray was a child. They walked around the room, getting to know each other, until Ray began to feel the weariness catching up with him. He sat down on the sofa hoping the baby wouldn’t fuss for a while so he could rest a little, too, Ray laid the baby on his chest and covered them both with the afghan his Grandmother made many years ago.

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A few hours later the winter sun shined into the window and Livy started to wake. She was so groggy, she wasn’t sure if yesterday had been only a dream. “Ray?” she said. When there was no response she woke even more and re-played everything in her mind, enjoying every detail as they became ingrained in her memory. She started to get out of bed and was so sore that she wasn’t sure she would make it to the bathroom. “Ray?” she said again, this time a little louder. Still no response, which began to concern Livy a little. She wrapped Ray’s flannel robe around her and started for the bathroom, thanking God for indoor plumbing at a time like this.

After using the bathroom Livy peeked into the bunkroom, expecting to see Ray sleeping in there. She started down the stairs, gingerly taking one at a time.

At the bottom of the stairs she looked into the living room and found Ray sound asleep on the couch, lying on his side with the baby lying next to him. Livy smiled when she saw how Ray’s arm was wrapped around the baby and an afghan wrapped around them both. This time it was Livy’s turn to take in the site of her new family: a man who loves and accepts her and will go to the ends of the earth for her happiness, and this new, sweet little boy who she wants to be everything his father is.

Ray opened his eyes and looked up at her for a long time before he smiled at her and asked if she was ok.

“I’m fine, good as can be expected I suppose. I love you, Ray.”

“I love you too Livy. Thank you for giving us this baby, our baby.”

“If I remember correctly, you had quite a hand in welcoming him into this world.”

Ray smiled. “He seems content. I wrapped him in this afghan. It was Daniel’s.”

“Yes, it is.”

Confused, Ray said “Yes, it is, what?”

“The afghan- do you think your brother Daniel would have minded sharing it with his nephew, Daniel?”

Livy bent to kiss Ray and he reached up to her, more in love with her than the day before.

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Ray and Livy agreed that their marriage would be rooted in love, forgiveness and honesty. They also agreed that as their family grew, Ray would help Livy bring each of their children into the world.

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