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Friday, June 09, 2006

Livy's Strength

Livy stood staring at the door that closed behind Ray. She kept thinking he would come back. She listened as he started the beetbox and heard it drive off. She heard him skid as the tires hit the new snow. He didn’t drive fast; he was always careful. She prayed, “Oh, God, please keep him safe. Please watch over him tonight. Please God, please, don’t let what I’ve done bring harm to Ray.”

Livy sat down at the dining table and looked at the candles. They had burned down and were dripping on the tablecloth. Ray’s tablecloth. Ray’s house. Ray’s rules. She put them out and sat in silence. Where was this factory? She never remembered seeing it. She wondered if there really was a factory. She picked at the cold wax and was able to get it off the tablecloth. Just a slight stain was left and she thought she could wash it out tomorrow.

“I wonder what the rule is about that?, she thought. Maybe Ray could post them. She stopped herself because she knew the fault was hers. It was too easy to get mad at Ray because he tried to vent his pain at Franklin rather than at her. “See, I know you better than you think.” Livy thought.

She thought of her plans for a romantic evening with Ray and laughed. “Well, that went well,” she thought. A tear rolled down her cheek but she didn’t brush it away or move. She looked at the now cold casserole that she was so proud of and thought how symbolic. No, that’s about what she should have expected. Maybe this was God punishing her for being with Edward before she was married? Maybe she had been tested and failed. Maybe she was never going to be happy again and everywhere she went she would cause pain to any person who had the misfortune of caring about her. She thought of the look in Ray’s eyes and more tears fell.

As Livy sat there feeling all was lost, she remembered a conversation she had with her mother. Livy and her mother had come home from church and some of the women at the church had been gossiping about the ongoing misfortunes of a widow and how she was seeing a new man as if it explained the woman's misfortunes. It had been two years since her husband’s death and Livy was surprised at the venomous comments. She had said so to her mother. Her mother smiled and hugged Livy. Her mother took Livy’s hand and led her into the garden. It was spring and everything was in bloom. It was a year before her mother would die of cancer.

“Livy, some people want to believe that God punishes people for their actions on Earth. Your father’s one of those people, and I’m sure Abby is too.” Her mother said sadly. Then her mother smiled and said, “but look around you. A God that can make this kind of beauty wants us to be happy. We all make our own happiness and our own sadness. Don’t speak ill of others by saying that their bad fortunes are God’s will, that just makes you small and takes away from God’s vastness.”

Livy looked around the garden and considered her mother’s words. Her mother’s presence made the garden more beautiful. The garden was a reflection of her mother’s view of life. She hadn’t noticed that her mother sat down next to her and was watching her face. Livy's mother took her hand.

“Livy, you will make mistakes in your life. It’s what you do about them that makes the difference. Take responsibility, be truthful, be kind, and remember you can’t control anyone’s emotions, even my dear,” her mother smiled and looked sad, “your own to a great extent. You can only control how you respond. Please be kind to yourself. I hope, no I pray, that if tragedy or heartache ever comes into your life, and my darling they will, you remember that you are loved, you are strong, and God is there to help you, not to hurt you. Find strength in yourself, and your faith and see the heartache as an opportunity to grow. It won’t seem like it at the time, but you’ll see it later.”

“Mama,” Livy cried out loud to an empty room with a cold casserole on the table. “Mama, I wish you were here.” She thought of how her mother would have liked Ray.

Livy rubbed her stomach. She spoke aloud for the first time to the baby. “Don’t worry little one. I’ll take care of us. I want you to see the world that my mother believed in, not my father. I want Ray to show you how to be strong and good and kind. But if he’s not with us,” Livy’s voice cracked and her heart felt like it would stop, “I’ll find it in myself to show you.”

She paused for a moment and said, “I love you.” Because she did. She knew whatever mistakes she had made, this baby was good and she wanted him. That made her smile because that had not always been the case. “Look Mama, I’ve grown.” Livy thought. Thinking about her mother and the baby made Livy feel better. Livy sighed a deep sigh and got up to clean the kitchen. Ray had to come home, after all it was his house.