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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nightmare to Ring - Ch 6

I am posting this for Kay. I suggest grabbing a box of tissues before you get yourself comfy for a nice fiction read today. Great job on this one Kay- thank you thank you!


December 9, 1944 10:00 p.m.

Ray opened the Singleton family bible and turned to the page marked "Births''. He wrote carefully and deliberately, ''On this day, December 9, 1944 -- born to Raymond and Olivia, a boy, Daniel Singleton II" He smiled with pride...a healthy baby boy...his son. He blew softly on the paper, making sure the ink was dry before closing the book. Pausing for a moment, he then drew out several sheets of blank paper and began to write again...

'Dear Mama, Daddy and Daniel,
It's been awhile since my last letter. It's been busy around here and there have been so many changes. For the longest time I wasn't sure things were going to work out. But now, I think I'm as happy as I've ever been. You see, I'm not alone anymore.

I told you all about Reverend Case coming to talk to me some months back. I guess I wasn't sure what to expect when I agreed to marry Olivia Dunne. I knew we'd have to work at a relationship, at a commitment to each other. It's just for the longest time, neither of us was willing to share with the other how we felt. We've had some rough spots, but once we started trusting each other, it got better and better. This last month has been so encouraging-- it seemed the more I tried to gain Livy's trust and affection, the more we opened up to each other. There was still possibility of her leaving hanging over us, but I was sure I could convince her to stay...to stay and be my wife in every sense of the word.

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself here....let me tell you what happened today...

Livy was prepared to go back to Denver to deliver our baby. I think without her own mama here for her, she was feeling scared and alone. I tried to tell her it'd be all right, but she seemed determined to go. My biggest fear was that once she was there, she'd realize what she was missing out here on the farm with me and not come back. I just couldn't let her go without telling her how I felt. I swear, it was like my heart was in my throat, but somehow I managed to get the words out. It was such a relief to finally admit to her how much I love her. At first, she didn't say anything. Then, when she said she didn't know if she deserved me, I knew she was carrying an awful burden of guilt and shame. It was like a light went on...all this time, she was worried that I couldn't forgive her past, her situation, when what she really needed to do was forgive herself. Well, I put the ring I got her on her finger, took her hand, and we sat down on the sofa--I just tried to speak from my heart. I told her...that was all before I met her. I felt she'd been taken advantage of when she was at the lowest point in her life. That she conceived a child, only to be deserted by it's father must have seemed like a cruel punishment to her. But God had a reason for bringing this baby into the world, and I told her it was to help us find each other. Mama, she was crying so hard, I was afraid she would be sick. I got her some tea, calmed her down, and held her in my arms. I just kept telling her over and over how much I love her and the baby. How good things would be for us, if she would just give us a chance. How I wanted to raise our family on our land, to grow old together. Finally she told me that she loved me, too, but didn't want to bring shame to me or my family. I told her that I was proud to be her husband, that she was a beautiful, educated woman and I knew that she would be a fine wife and mother. Daddy, I just want to be the kind of husband and father you were. I want to make you proud. You'd all love Livy so much....

Ray paused for a moment, then stepped into the hallway and peeked in on Livy and Daniel. He smiled...both were sleeping soundly. What a day this had been! He went back to his writing...

Livy had plans with her friends this afternoon, and Hank was picking me up to go to the beet factory. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her now! I knelt down before her, and took her hands in mine. I asked her to remember the words Reverend Case had said the day he married us...that we were bound by sacred bonds. That we were each other's strength and hope...that we were now united as one. I told her I wanted to repeat our vows in front of God again tomorrow after church. She smiled, oh...that smile of hers! I feel like I am the luckiest man in the world with her beside me...

I told her when we got home tonight, we'd go over and tell Hank and Martha the good news...that she was staying and we were going to be just fine. That we were going to rededicate ourselves to each other..to honor our vows and commitment to each other and to our baby.

Well, seems as though God had other plans...and it was His plan for our son to be born today! When Hank brought me home, Livy was burning some trash out in the cold. I didn't know what was going on, she was talking so fast, but I sure heard her when she said she was in labor. Hank hurried home to fetch Martha and I carried Liv into the house. This baby was in a mighty big hurry! I helped Livy change into a nightgown, but was afraid to move her any further than the front room. She was having pains at a pretty good clip. I kept rubbing her back, holding her close to reassure her, but think I hit a sore spot when I told her how many calves I'd helped birth...luckily, Martha and Doc McCutcheon got here soon after I'd made that remark. They were ready to hustle me out, but Livy had a grip on my hands. When she begged me to stay, there was no way I was leaving her. Mama, she was somethin' --her eyes never left mine the whole time she labored. I was so proud of her...her strength and her determination to get our baby here. When they handed him to me, to show Livy, I knew in that moment I would lay my life down for them. Danny, we named him after you, his uncle...I hope you know why. If he is half the man you were, I'll be very proud of him. It was Livy's idea, and it touched me deeply that she would honor you this way.

I guess I just need you to know that things have worked out. I'm a husband and a father and I am very happy. Livy and I have both had our share of loss and loneliness. I think that makes us appreciate what we have found together even more. I suspect I won't need to write any more letters. I've come to realize that all this time the three of you have been looking out for me. Now you can truly rest in peace knowing that I am happy and content. I love all of you and it's a comfort knowing you will always be watching over me and Livy and Daniel...thank you for showing me what a marriage and family should be...Always, Ray

Ray's eyes blurred as he re-read his words, then carefully folded the letter. He slipped it into the bottom drawer along with the previous letters he'd written over the past few years. He firmly believed that writing them had helped him survive the darkest, saddest days of his life. But he'd made it through, and he truly felt that Livy and Daniel were his salvation....his reward for keeping his faith. He listened carefully...the baby was beginning to fuss. He tightened the belt of his robe, turned out the light and went to see about his son. Livy was just starting to stir...

"Here, Liv...don't get up, I'll get him." Ray bent to get the tiny bundle from the cradle, and laid him on the bed. Livy shushed the baby while Ray made quick work of changing his wet bottom. He grinned at Livy...

"Auntie Martha made sure I could change diapers long ago -- I'm good at this!" He handed the baby to Livy who was lowering her gown to nurse. As Ray turned to give her some privacy, she called to him.

"Don't leave....I mean...'' She was having a hard time trying to tell him what she meant. "I'm so afraid I won't hear him, and...I want you here, too..." He pulled the rocker close to the bed and watched with awe as his son greedily ate his fill. Livy looked up at Ray as she smoothed the baby's hair.

"I can't believe how much I already love him, Ray..." She finished his feeding and Ray burped him and lulled him back to sleep, softly crooning in the baby's ear. Once Danny was settled, Ray helped Livy to the bathroom and straightened the bedding. She came back into the room, moving gingerly. She stopped at the door, gazing at their sleeping son.

"Our boy is something....we're really a family now, aren't we?" Her eyes were brimming with tears of happiness. Ray went to her, and taking her face in his hands, gently thumbed the moisture from her cheeks.

"We are, Sweetheart, we really are." He dropped his head, kissing her softly. Ray helped her back into bed, then went around to the other side, and turned off the light. He tossed his robe to the foot of the bed and climbed in beside his wife. She nestled in his arms, feeling safe, cherished. They both sighed deeply, knowing that this was how it was meant to be .