It occurred to Lindy during her husband’s funeral that she had truly and completely loved him. Before his death, she sometimes wondered if Alex was her soul mate. Now that he was gone, she had no doubt. Only a soul mate could leave such a gapping chasm in her heart.
Family, friends and nameless faces filed past Lindy and her twins, offering condolences that did not console. Lindy’s pain was magnified at the thought of her two fatherless children. Max tried to appear brave while Maddie gripped her mother’s hand and bit her quivering lip. Standing with an erect back and a tearless face, Lindy distracted herself by attempting to emulate Jackie Kennedy. She cried unashamedly over a sad movie or Hallmark commercial, but she despised displaying her true, raw emotions to others. There would be time for real tears later, when she was alone.
“Oh, Lindy,” Alex’s secretary, Cheryl, reached up and circled Lindy’s waist with her short, chubby arms. Lindy felt the woman’s soft bosom heave up and down as she cried. Cheryl reluctantly pulled away, leaving a wet spot on Lindy’s shirt. She grasped Lindy’s hand. “Please call me if you need anything. I’m praying.” She ruffled Max’s hair, who glared at her as he smoothed it back into position. She tenderly touched Maddie on the shoulder, but the girl didn’t look up. Cheryl dabbed her eyes with a tissue and followed the line of mourners as they filed past the coffin.
That night after the kids were asleep and Lindy was finally alone in her room, the tears she’d held back for days could no longer be contained. She cried until her stubborn body finally relented to sleep.
The sound of Max and Maddie’s fighting woke her the next morning. When she first opened her eyes, she momentarily forgot her circumstances, but instinctively felt an oppressive dread. Almost instantly she remembered the nightmare that was now her reality and barely made it to the bathroom before vomiting.
Max banged on the bathroom door. “Mom, I’m hungry.”
Lindy headed back to her bed. “Fix a pop tart.” She fell onto the mattress and covered her head with a pillow.
Lindy ignored his pleas, paralyzed by her pain. Maddie began to cry. “You have to get up. We’re alone. We need a grown up to take care of us.”
During the next weeks, Lindy rarely left her bed. She needed to make decisions, but she wasn’t ready. Max resented his mother’s aloofness, while it terrified Maddie. The two did their best to fend for themselves, but unbrushed teeth and dirty clothes bore witness to their neglect.
“Mom?” Maddie bashfully stuck her head into Lindy’s room.
“What?” Lindy answered with impatience, and immediately felt guilt.
“Mrs. Cheryl’s here.”
Lindy was embarrassed and ashamed of her condition. “Tell her I’m sick.”
The door opened wider and Cheryl’s round figure pushed past Maddie. “If you’re sick, Honey, you need some help.” Lindy stared blankly at Alex’s secretary, unable to formulate an excuse for the state of her household. The bed sunk under Cheryl’s weight as she sat down next to Lindy. “I don’t pretend to understand your pain, but, Sweetie, I’m worried about you.”
“I just need a few more days.”
“You don’t have a few more days. You’ve got to take care of business...and your children. They need a parent. When I came in Max was...uh...watching something inappropriate on TV. And Maddie’s lost weight.”
“Alex handled everything...the bills, the kid’s discipline...It’s too hard.”
“Adulthood isn’t always easy.” Cheryl patted Lindy’s leg. “Alex was a wonderful husband. Everyone in the office was jealous of the way he spoiled you. But now you’re the only parent in this house and you’re needed.”
“Yes you can, because you MUST. The Lord will help you.”
Lindy was relieved when Cheryl finally left. She resented the intrusion and the mention of God. Lindy hadn’t spoken to God since Alex’s death, but as she lay in bed, Cheryl’s words slowly penetrated her heart. Could the same God who took Alex help her? She wasn’t sure. Lord, help me....I can’t do this alone. Lindy gasped as she felt a tiny flicker of comfort and hope.
On Sunday, Lindy woke Max and Maddie. “Get dressed. We’re going to church.”
Max rubbed his eyes. “I’m not going.”
“Me either,” Maddie echoed.
“Yes you are,” Lindy stated. “I’m the adult and we’re going to church together.” There were no more arguments.
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