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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Anniversary III

Part III

The next morning as the Singletons ambled their way through the cemetery to where Livy's Momma lay buried, Livy had stopped on her tracks about six yards from the spot where she saw a man with his back facing them. He was standing in front of a gravestone that Ray glanced to be Mrs. Dunne's. He also recognized Rev. Dunne from the pictures he saw yesterday at Abby's house.

Next to Rev. Dunne was Abby, also her back to them. She heard them approaching and had turned to look at them and she stepped to her side as Rev. Dunne turned to see who was behind them. He was deep in thought and it was a moment before he recognized that it was Livy. He was silent and then he bent down to kiss the stone on the ground with his hand and prepared to walk towards them. He paused as he neared and stood looking at them.

"Hello, Father" Livy finally was able to say something. She was surprised at how much her father aged in just a year. He was still the same man who sent her away, his face stern yet his eyes revealed a deeper sadness in them. Livy wanted to embrace him and take that sadness away but she knew from her Father’s bearings that he wouldn't appreciate the gesture at the moment.

"Livy" Rev. Dunne acknowledged her greeting with a nod.

"Father, this is Ray Singleton, my husband and Daniel our son." Rev. Dunne had extended a hand towards Ray.

"Pleased to meet you sir" Ray said to Rev. Dunne matching his strong handshake.

Rev. Dunne nodded at Ray "Thank you for taking my daughter into your home" to which Ray nodded back. Rev. Dunne then turned to Livy and put a hand on Danny's forehead, to say a silent blessing. He opens his eyes shortly and looks at the mother and baby. He was outwardly devoid of emotions as he stared at the family before him.

Rev. Dunne wasn't happy about what became of his family. He was inconsolable after losing his wife from an unexpected illness. Then to learn that his daughter became pregnant out of wedlock was the culmination of his downward spiral to bitterness. An anger that is eating away inside of him, wanting for a reason to surface, but unable to release it as he believed himself to be a man of faith. He cannot condemn his own God instead he chose to blame it all on Livy.

This day, he sees his daughter in front of him and reflected on what she had done to her life. He sees a baby born not of the man she had married, a man she married but does not love and living a life that she is not meant to live. Disappointment passes over him. Of his daughters, he had expected more from Livy because she was always the reliable daughter. Livy was the one who mostly took after his wife. He cannot forgive her for what she had done. She ruined her own future and with that, the family name as well. With that thought he turns and leaves them all standing under the sun.

Livy faced her most dreaded fear, the moment earlier suddenly dashed from her. Her father leaving in the gruff not wanting to forgive her to this day. She sadly glanced at Ray who surprisingly was very sympathetic that all he could do was put an arm on her shoulder and kiss her. In his arms she remembers what he had said last night about not being alone and that she only had to lean on him. Her sadness temporarily quashed by the presence of Ray.

From a distance Abby had witnessed what had transpired between Ray and Livy. She longed for tender moments like these herself. That very moment she wished that Kent was with her. She envied Livy seeing how devoted and loved she is by Ray. How can she look so contented when she was the one who transgressed? Livy was the one who defied what their own father preached. She criticized Livy for what she has put them all through. If she isn’t pursuing her dreams then she felt that Livy should take care of their Father just like how she took care of their Momma. She shook her head and said a final prayer at her mother’s grave. Rev. Dunne was waiting on her. She passes Livy and Ray nodding and wishing them a safe trip back home.

As soon as Ray laid the flowers on Mrs. Dunne’s gravestone, he took Daniel from Livy, giving her the chance to spend some time at her mother's resting place. Livy didn't say a word, she was deep in thought. Ray took off his hat and quietly stood a couple of feet behind her. Every now and then, he would discreetly glance up to check how Livy was doing. Finally he bows and prays.

Consequently after a few minutes had passed he opens his eyes, and catches the sight of Livy sitting on her heels. She was quietly sobbing. Ray’s heart broke seeing Livy’s state. He remembers the times he did that at his brother’s grave. As much as it hurts to see her like this, he knows that she needs to do it to get some measure of peace later.

Moments passed and Ray sees Livy wipe away the last sign of tears from her face. He reaches down to help her up and they hold hands as they stood side by side in silence. Livy took Danny from Ray and he puts an arm around her. Danny had been awake for a while, probably feeling his mother’s pain. He cooed as Livy held him in her arms.

“I wished Momma had the chance to see him, she would have been proud.” Livy finally spoke. Ray glances at her and nods “She’s probably looking proudly at him right now, Livy”

“I also told her she would have loved to meet you. I know that she would have approved of you all along” He can feel the regret in Livy’s voice. Ray thought it would have been an honor to meet her Momma. He quickly turned to give her a sad quick smile.

Livy wanted to stay on longer but it will be a long ride back home. “I think we should be heading back home, Ray.”

The long drive allowed both Livy and Ray some quiet moments. As they passed from one town to the other, passing varied landscapes which contributed to their deep thoughts.

Leaving Denver wasn’t easy for Livy. She was not prepared to leave town like this with unresolved issues with her Father and Abby. It bothered her so that things didn’t improve between them even after a year had passed. She is especially saddened that her relationship with her sister had made a turn for the worse. But inside she has faith that someday they will reconcile. She has found it possible with Ray's family. She will just have to make an extra effort to reach out to them from now on. She steals a glance at Ray as she feels even more in love with him. Ray was and remains the source of her strength. She learned forgiveness from him. Denver, now miles behind them, didn't leave her with bitterness but a hopeful heart.

Ray momentarily looked over to where Livy sat, she had gone through a lot but he is mostly amazed by her courage. He didn’t quite expect the reception they got in Denver. He remembered Rev. Case mentioning about the Dunne family that fateful day he suggested about marrying the daughter named Olivia. From that he expected that time would have healed old wounds. Apparently, it did not. He can sense Livy’s desire to make that part of her life better. He empathized the need for Livy to conquer this for her own real happiness. He didn’t quite know yet how to help Livy. Ray felt it unfortunate that her family does not see her for what she is – a kind, loving and compassionate person. Even if they come from different backgrounds, Ray felt Livy’s pain.

As they drive closer to La Junta, Ray decided a stop at their favorite diner is in order. Livy would need a temporary distraction from all that happened the past couple of days.

His thoughts were interrupted when he felt that Livy had slid closer to him and had leaned her head on his shoulders. He turned to kiss her forehead.

“You feeling ok, Liv?”

“Mmmm…” Livy softly replied.

“Tired? We can stop to rest if you’d like.” Ray offered.

“I am okay Ray. I just wanted to take that offer about leaning on you right now.” Livy dreamily replied and smiled. Ray briefly took his right hand off the steering wheel and gave her a loving squeeze.

“Anytime, I am all yours, sweetie” Ray smiled.