It was late May 1945. The Allied forces had pushed the Germans back and liberated Holland and France. It was the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
Livy had just put Daniel to bed for the night. Ray was sitting on the bench out on the veranda reading, so Livy decided to come out and enjoy the pleasant evening with Ray and read a book, too. They kissed and each read their book.
Ray put his book down and gazed out over his land, their land. It was late May so the fields were ploughed and newly planted, the rows making a neat pattern over the land as far as the eye could see. A smile came over his face. He looked out of the corner of his eye at Livy. She’s so beautiful, he thought. She had worked at regaining her slim figure, and he admired the curves of her body. He loved her hair with the curls gently falling on her shoulders and back. He felt a strong feeling of love for her and wanted to pull her to him and cover her in kisses. Livy felt his gentle loving eyes on her. She looked up and said, ‘What?’
He smiled and said, ‘I love you, Livy.’
She smiled and said, ‘Thank you,’ and paused and then said, ‘And I love you. We’ve come a long way together, haven’t we, Ray?’
‘Umhm,’ he said, still with a smile on his face and love in his heart. They each went back to reading their books.
Ray knew Livy loved him. It was obvious in so many ways, her daily contribution to their family life, the way she greeted him, how often she kissed and hugged him, and the response she had to him when making love. At that moment Edward popped into his mind. He had not thought of him in a long time. His smile faded, and he grew curious if Livy thought about him. He kept looking at her.
Livy said, ‘You know, Ray, its hard to concentrate when you are staring at me.’ She looked at him and saw his smile was gone and replaced with a serious look. ‘Ray, what’s the matter?’ she asked.
‘Oh, nothing,’ he said.
She said, ‘You can’t fool me. What were you thinking about? You look so,’ she paused, ‘Serious, almost sad.’
Ray was reluctant to tell her, but he needed to know. ‘Well,’ he paused, raised his eyebrows and said, ‘I was wondering if you think about,’ again he paused, ‘Edward.’
Livy was taken aback. She does and did think about Edward, but not in any loving way. Ray was watching her and waiting for an answer.
She spoke slowly, ‘Well, I sometimes think of that week we spent together,’ and then there was a long pause where neither spoke.
Ray said softly, and cautiously, almost fearing the answer, ‘And what do you think about? About that week?’
Her head jerked up and she said, ‘In actual fact, we had a good time that week. We danced, we went to the picture show, laughed, had lunch and dinner together’. Livy stopped. Concern crossed Ray’s face. He was angry at himself for asking. Maybe it was something he shouldn’t have asked, and now, at hearing her words, he didn’t want to know more. It seems Livy was still thinking about him.
After a moment Livy spoke again. Softly she said, ‘Every day I look at Daniel I am reminded of who fathered him. But also every day that I look at Daniel, I think of who his daddy is, and that is you, Ray. There’s a big difference. And I am sorry if you don’t get the meaning of that difference.’
Ray was very upset, his face got red and tears came to his eyes.
Neither spoke for several minutes, each absorbed in their own thoughts.
At last Livy said, ‘I miss going to university. I miss dancing. I miss being able to go to the picture show. I miss having lunch and dinner in restaurants. When I was in Denver I did all these things, not only with Edward for that one week, but with my sister and my friends. I miss doing these things with them. I do not, for one minute,’ and she looked directly at Ray, no tears in her eyes, ‘Miss doing these things with Edward. Those feelings have been resolved. He treated me badly and he does not deserve my attention.’
Ray was speechless. He was angry with himself for asking, and for agitating her.
Now she looked at him with such resolve and determination in her face that he felt foolish.
Ray said, ‘I’m sorry.’
Livy said quietly, ‘Thank you. I know you are sorry.’
They were silent for a few minutes, and then Ray said, ‘As painful as it was for me, and I know for you, I am now glad I asked. I don’t doubt your love for me and Daniel, I was just curious about how you feel about Edward, and really its none of my business, but now I know.’
Livy was upset that Ray asked about Edward, but started to realize that is was something he needed to clear up for his sake, and that he never, sweet, gentle Ray, never meant to hurt her.
Ray started to get up and Livy turned to him and said, ever so gently, ‘Please stay.’ Ray sat down.
‘I understand your need to know. I know that I would be just as curious if I knew that you had someone in your past that impacted our daily life. And, really, I’m glad you brought it up and we talked. It’s always best to get things that bother us out in the open, both of us. And just now verbalizing how I feel about Edward really made me think about him and put him in my memory where he belongs: in the back somewhere!’ she said, and laughed. Livy said, softly, ‘Ray, I know about forgiveness. Remember? You were the one who made me realize that I need to forgive myself for the mistake I made.’
Livy continued, ‘Remember last fall when you professed your love for me, and gave me this beautiful ring,’ and she smiled, ‘And for me its ceasing to feel resentment against someone, even myself, and that gives me the power to forgive. It gives me the power to heal and get on with my life, my life here with you and Daniel.’
After a moment Ray said, ‘Thank you, Livy,’ and the tears were close to falling, so he stopped talking. ‘I’m sorry’, said Ray.
‘Don’t be sorry,’ said Livy, ‘Just know that you are Daniel’s daddy,’ she paused, and said softly, ‘And you are my husband, something Edward will never be.’ She paused again, and looking into Ray’s eyes said, ‘And I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone. We all dream of loving someone, and being loved in return, and its so amazing when it actually happens!’
Livy moved closer to Ray. He enveloped her in his strong arms, and gently held her close. She slipped her arms around him, and with her head on his chest could feel his heart pounding, and gradually his heart beat resumed its normal pace, and his breathing became easier.
She lifted her face to his. He smiled lovingly at her. His voice was thick with emotion as he said, ‘I am the luckiest man in the world.’
Livy smiled and said, ‘I love you so much.’
‘Maybe we could get Martha or Ruth to babysit Daniel so we could go out to dinner, or dancing, or to the picture show sometime,’ Ray said, ‘Would you like that?’
Livy murmured, ‘Umhm, that sounds nice.’
They stayed in their embrace for a few more minutes. Livy said, ‘You know, one year ago I was pregnant, unmarried, with no sign of the baby’s father, and my own father, a minister, no less, is so angry with me, so what am I to do? At least one good thing about my father is that since he had no solution to the situation, he at least asked someone who had a fabulous solution! Who would have thought this could work?’ and she smiles up at Ray.
‘Yeah,’ says Ray, ‘And me a simple farmer.’
Livy sat up and admonished him, ‘Ray, you are far from simple! You are a farmer, yes, but you can read, you pretty much run every aspect of this farm on your own, and you sleep on your own land every night, you are not simple!’
Ray interjects, ‘Our land.’
Livy says, softly, ‘Yes, our land,’ and smiles, ‘Every night. Together.’
‘And I get to sleep with the most beautiful woman in the world.’ said Ray.
Livy blushes and said, ‘Oh, stop, I am not!’
‘No, you’re right, you’re not!’ he said, and they both laugh. ‘More seriously,’ Ray says, ‘No, it’s true, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.’
‘Thank you,’ Livy said quietly. After a short pause, Livy said, ‘As I was saying, Ray, you’re not simple. But you are simply wonderful!’
Ray, smiles, and says, ‘Who would have thought that a big city girl like you would or could fall in love and marry an ordinary guy like me?’
‘Ray, you’re not ordinary to me,’ says Livy, ‘You’re extraordinary!’
They smile lovingly at each other and watch the setting sun before going up to bed.
Their kiss seemed to reach the depths of their souls, and the love making after reached new heights.