Chapter 18 – Emily Finds Peace

Time, all she needed was time.  But after what she found out yesterday time was running out.  It had been a month since she had asked Brian to leave.  He had been coming home every day to spend time with Christy and Jimmy but she had made sure that she wasn’t around while he was there.

Deep in her heart she knew that Brian had not meant to hurt her.  But knowing and coming to grips with knowing were turning out to be two different things.

“Mom, when are you going to forgive him?”  Christy demanded from the door where she had been studying her Mom.

“Christy, I know you think I am being cruel to your father…”

“Mom, you should see him.  He’s lost so much weight.  He looks now like he said you looked when you gave me up.  It’s been so long since you’ve talked to him. I think he is giving up.”

“What do you mean giving up?”

“When we talked last night Dad just said that he could understand if you never wanted to see him again.  What I don’t understand is why you can forgive your parents when they started everything and not forgive Dad for just keeping it secret.  When it was almost time for me to leave Dad showed me a house he had been looking at last week.  I think he’s considering buying the house.  He wouldn’t do that if he thought that you were going to forgive him.”  After that bombshell Christy left the room.

There was so much for Emily to consider.  Christy was right, she was still seeing her family but that was only because she had not confronted them yet.  She had not been able to come right out and demand answers from them.  The only one who really knew what was going on was Jeremy and that is because Christy and Brian talked to him.

Emily knew the main reason that she was still mad.  She also knew that she was not mad at Brian.  She was doing the same thing Brian said her mom had been doing all these years.  She was mad at herself.  She had seen all the signs and ignored them.  She had been so busy protecting her heart that she lost out on some really great times just knowing that Christy was her daughter.

“Christy, could you come back in here for a minute?”

“Sure Mom.  What did you need?”

“I just wanted to apologize to you.  I know that you have been feeling that you caused the problems between your father and I but that just isn’t so.  Sometimes people do and say things that don’t make sense when they are doing them.  This is just one of those times.”

“Dad said something like that when I showed him the birth certificate.  He said that you might say something mean that would hurt me, but that you really wouldn’t mean it.  Instead you told him to leave.”

“Christy, I hope you will understand sometime why I did that.  Your father had hidden from me for years that you were my daughter.  My family had done the same thing too.  When it was your father that came to me with all the information that I should have known all along I handled it wrong.”

“So what are you going to do about it?  Are you just going to let Dad give up?  Because if you do let Dad give up then you are just going to be continuing the cycle of pain.  Dad really does love you.”

“Yes, and I really do love him too.  I think that before I talk to your Dad though I really need to have a family discussion with your Uncle and Grandparents.  Like you said earlier they are the ones that started it all.”

“Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes, why don’t you call your Dad and see if you and Jimmy could come spend a couple of days and nights with him.  Tell him that I have something to do and that I will definitely talk to him soon.  Now between you and me, I am going to Asheboro.  I need some closure as well.”

“So you don’t want me to tell Dad where you are going?”  Christy asked curiously.

“No, as close as he has become with my parents I don’t want him to give them forewarning that I am coming.  This is a surprise that I have to do on my own without any help from him.”

“If you want to keep it a secret, don’t you think that he knows how to keep one by now?”

“You’ve just made your point.  But I still don’t want you to tell him.  This is one secret that I want to have of my own for a while.  I hope that makes sense to you.  If it doesn’t then it will when you get older.  Now go call your Dad.  Use the phone in your room so that I can use this one to make reservations.

“Yes Ma’am!”  Christy saluted and left the room.

After the children had gone to stay with Brian, Emily hurried to the airport.  She would be in Greensboro before she knew it and then she would get the answers that she needed as well.  Then when she came back she definitely had to sit down with Brian and talk.  She was not keeping just one secret from Brian, she was keeping two secrets.  The little plus sign was positive.

As she drove up to the house she realized that it still looked the same as it had all those years ago.  Emily couldn’t believe that it had been 22 years since she had left home.  She was 39 years old and felt like she was still that 17-year-old child who left home to make it on her own.

She sat in her car for a good twenty minutes before she realized that her mother was watching her from the doorway.  Oh, the good times they had had in that house.  This was where she had learned to ride a bike and play tennis.  Jeremy had broken his arm climbing that tree next to the house.  Emily didn’t realize how many memories she had blocked out over the years.  She just knew that it was time to let go of the past.

“Emily, what are you doing sitting there in your car?  Why didn’t you tell us you were coming?”

“I thought that it was time I keep a secret of my own for once.” Emily said.  Then wondered why she was being so mean.  She had not intended to come out attacking the first minute that she had seen her mother.

“I guess I deserved that.  You are right there has been a lot of secrets on all sides of the family for a long time haven’t there.”

“So, am I allowed to come in or what?”  After the “Family Reunion” play Emily had started keeping in touch with her parents but this was the first time that she had been home.  She did not know for sure if she would really be welcome or not.

“Get out of that car girl.  Your father is just beside himself sitting in the house waiting to see what you would do.  For a while we thought that you might just drive away again.  I don’t think that your father could have handled that.  He has regretted for so long what he did to you that anything that happens to your family now he adds to the block on his shoulder.”

“Mom, I really need answers of my own now.  Before I go in you have to tell me.  Do you think that you can answer my questions?  Brian told me the gist of it but at the time I was still a little upset because I had just found out about Christy.  I haven’t talked to anyone about it since.  Could we please just have an enlightening conversation?”  Emily got out of the car and gave her mother a hug.

“Please come in Emily.  You father is waiting in the living room.  Don’t keep him waiting any longer.  Would you like a glass of tea?  I could get that while you talk to your father for a little bit.”  Amelia was nervous, she wanted to be in the room with Emily and Jeremiah but she knew that just like this time they had out here Emily and Jeremiah needed their time as well.  So she went into the kitchen when Emily went in to see her father.

“How’s my princess doing?”  Jeremiah demanded the minute he saw Emily.

“You haven’t called me that since I was about 15 years old.”

“Yes, I know, I just can’t remember why I stopped.  Emily it is good to have you home again.  Are you here to beat me up?  I know that things have been very strange and stressful between us all these years.  I also know that the majority of it has been my fault.”

Before Emily could ask her father any questions Amelia came in the room carrying their drinks.  She set them down quickly and began straightening the room.

“Oh, stop that Amelia.  Our little girl isn’t going to bite you.  Sit down and quit fussing.  Those things were just fine the way they were.”

Emily was watching from her seat on the corner of the couch.  She had not hugged her father yet and wasn’t quite sure that she was ready too.  The conversation they were about to have was too important.  Somehow she felt that by holding back on the hug she was holding onto something of her own.

“Mom, please come sit down.  I’m not here to beat you up as Dad says.  I just needed a few answers before I could get my life back on track.”

She rubbed her stomach quickly to try to settle the nervous butterflies that were flying around.  The morning sickness was just beginning to hit her with regularity and she definitely did not want that secret out of the bag just yet.

“Dad, why did you do it?  Why did you interfere with my life?  You had already disowned me; you had no reason to do what you did.”

“Emily, how much did Brian tell you?  About the conversation we had just before you got married?”  Jeremiah asked.

“Not much.  He started to tell me after he told me about Jack but I couldn’t handle anything more so I told him to move out.  We have not talked since then.  So I guess I don’t know very much.”

“Okay, you know the majority of what I did if you know about Jack.  Emily I have regretted what is said to you for so long.  I knew that if you were anything like me, like the way I raised you to be, then you would be able to hold a grudge for as long as necessary.  I knew that those post-cards were your way of waiving the white flag.  But I was so stubborn.  I could not give up the idea of you becoming a lawyer.”

“So you let me suffer all these years because I refused to become a lawyer?  You ignored every effort that I made to mend the fences for that one stupid reason?”

“Emily tell me something, when you were five what did you pretend to be all the time?”

“A lawyer.”

“And when you were nine?”

“A lawyer.”

“And when you were 13?”

“Okay I get it already.  But Daddy, I was just pretending.  I wanted to be just like you.  However, if you will remember I also pretended to be a doctor, fireman, nurse, teacher and police officer as well.”

“Yes, but not with as much frequency, and not as convincing as you did when you pretended to be a lawyer.  When you turned down the acceptance to Harvard I was hurt.  I thought that you would follow in my footsteps and become a great trial lawyer on your own.  When I told you that you would not be welcome in my home I meant it.”

“So do you want me to leave now?”

“No, I meant it at the time.  I took it all back three minutes later when I heard the front door slam and you leaving.”

“So why didn’t you stop me?” Emily demanded.

“Would you have wanted me to?  If I had tried to stop you, would you have let me?”

“I suppose not.  I wanted to go out on my own and become successful.  I had dreams of becoming a top star in Hollywood and watching you and mom in the audience when I accepted my awards.  I thought that instead of me accepting your ultimatums you should be accepting mine.”

“You see, we are two of a kind.  You might look like your mother, but you are definitely a Richardson in attitude.”  Jeremiah looked over at Amelia to see how she was taking all this new information.  “Dear, don’t you think that it is time you told your side of the story as well?”

“I think that we should wait for a while.  Emily has come a long way and I am sure she must be tired.  Emily, are you hungry?  I have some of my meatloaf left over from last night’s dinner if you are interested.  I could make you a sandwich with chips and a refill if you would like.”

“That would be nice Mom.  But don’t think that you are off the hook.  I still need to hear your side of the story.  I want closure on this okay.”  Emily watched as her mother walked into the kitchen and glanced around the room.  When she saw all the same pictures that Brian had seen she began to realize just how much a part of her life her parents had been without her realizing.  Then a picture caught her eye.  It was one taken of Jack in a Piazza in Rome.  He was sitting in a wheelchair smiling at the camera.  Standing beside him was her father.  “By the way Dad we still need to do a little talking about Jack.  We have to settle something about Christy’s inheritance.  I don’t think it would be wise to give her all that money right now.  By the way, she doesn’t know about it either.  At least I don’t think she knows, because I haven’t told her about it.  Brian might have.  If he did she has not mentioned it to me.”

“Slow down Emily.  Everything will work out.  I have things under control with the inheritance.”

“Daddy, what have you done this time?”  Emily demanded.

“Yes Dear Jeremiah, is this another one of your secrets that we always find out about?” Amelia asked as she came back in carrying the food.

“Well Dears, I am starving.  As Jack’s lawyer I have to plead ‘attorney-client privilege until after we have eaten.”

“There’s that blasted ‘attorney-client privilege’ again.” Emily retorted.  “Is it any wonder that I did not want to become a lawyer with that staring me in the face every day?  By the way Dad, why didn’t you explain it to me so that I could understand it better when I was younger?  Maybe I would not have been so angry at Brian when he hid behind it.”

“Please don’t blame Brian.”  Amelia said.  “He knew when we told him the story about Jack and everything that you would blame him.  He practically begged us to tell you everything then.  But we wouldn’t.”

“Why not?  Why did I not deserve to hear everything that you told Brian?”  Emily cried.

“It’s not that you didn’t deserve to hear it, it’s that we weren’t ready to tell it.  Plus there were other factors to consider at the time.  It was right after you had received approval to become Christy’s foster mother and we knew that if it came out that you were really her mother that would have been jeopardized.”  Jeremiah replied.  “We just could not see you having her taken from you once again.  Plus my being Jack’s lawyer I had control of his estate and I did not want to take a chance on Christy loosing it all.  If she had been taken away from you again we would have lost track of her because they would have buried her somewhere deep in the foster care system.  Neither Brian nor I could take that chance.”

“So you are telling me that you thought it was best for us to go on living the lies that we were living, then to have to face consequences that were unpleasant?”  Emily demanded.  She watched her mother stare at her father and they both waited for him to answer the question that would complete the mystery of why.

“No, you did not deserve to live the lie.  Neither did Brian.  You should see the phone bills that he ran up trying to convince me to change my mind.  You have to remember that he has been living with this just as long as you have from the other side of the playing field.  He knew things that he could not reveal and he hated it.”

“Okay, what do we do from here? I would like to stay for a couple days if you don’t mind.  The kids will be fine with Brian.  By the way he doesn’t know where I am, just that I needed to get away.  If he calls please don’t tell him that I am here.  I will talk to him when I get home.  If there is an emergency at home Christy knows where I am and she can always reach me here.  I think that I am going to go up to bed if you could tell me which room I can have for the night.”

“Why, your old room, it is ready for you anytime that you want to stay.”  Amelia said.

So Emily went up to her old room.  It looked just the same.  The bed was still in the same place and so were all of her books and high school trophies.  It was like walking into a time warp.  She slowly sat on her bed to take in all that she had learned that night.  Maybe she would have a better grasp on things in the morning.  So she slowly lay back on the bed to think and fell asleep.

The next morning when she awoke the morning sickness hit her hard.  She had barely reached the restroom when she realized that her mother was there with a cold washcloth.

“So, how long have you known Emily?”  She asked quietly.

“Known what Mom?”

“Don’t give me that line.  I’m a doctor remember, I have also had three of my own.  How long have you known and does Brian know?”

“I have known for three days.  No, Brian doesn’t know.  You are the only one that does.”  Emily began crying.  “Mom, I am 39 years old.  I just found my daughter that I thought I would not be able to find until she was 21.  I found out that my husband had been lying to me for years about that daughter.  Then I learned that I was pregnant.  So I came home.  This was where it all started and I just wanted to come home.”

Amelia hugged her daughter close.  She had wanted to do that for years.  “I’m so sorry baby.  I wish that we could give you back all those years.  I wish that I had not been so stubborn.  I could have reached out to you any anytime but I chose not to.  I watched you from a distance become a wonderful success at your job and a wonderful mother.  I was so proud of you.  I wish I had told you that.”

Before she was finished talking they were both in tears.  Emily knew that today was going to be a turning point in their relationship.  The old hurts and pains were becoming a thing of the past and they were not going to bother them any longer.

“Just one more thing; could we keep this a secret just between us for a while?” She asked her mother.

“Too late!”  Jeremiah boomed, he was grinning from ear to ear.

“Jeremiah, you have to quit eaves dropping like you do.  Some day you are going to give me a heart attack.”  Amelia demanded with a grin.

“I know but it’s great.  I’m going to be a Granddaddy again.  This time I am going to do it right.  There will be no more butting in from me.  Emily we can all keep it a secret until you are ready to reveal it.”

“Are you sure that you still want to stay those couple of days?”  Amelia asked.

“Yes, even with this secret I think that we still need time together to heal our family.  Only when we have done that will I be able to heal my relationship with Brian.  I think he will understand don’t you?”

So Emily stayed with her parents a couple more days.  She drove around town looking at all the changes that had occurred over the years.  She found her old high school haunts and became reacquainted with her parents.  She got to tell them that she loved them.  She had been missing that for so long.  When she felt that she had done everything that she could in Asheboro she went home to Abilene.

When she got to the house everything was so quiet.  She didn’t realize just how much happiness there had been in those four walls.  Because she had not told anyone when she was coming in Emily decided to surprise Brian.  It started with a phone call to Jeremy.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Jeremy.”

“Emily, where have you been?  Brian has been climbing the walls worrying about you.”

“Which wall would those be?  The ones at the house he is considering buying or the ones at the office?”

“What house?” Jeremy demanded.

“The one that Christy told me about.”  Emily paused and repeated.  “The one that Christy told me about.  Why that little stinker?  She told me that Brian was thinking about buying a house to make me make a decision.  I’m going to have to talk to her about the colorful stories that she tells.  It is going to backfire on her sometime.”

“Emily, where have you been?  We have all been worried, all except Christy and she just kept telling us that you were fine.”

“That’s because she knew where I was.  I went home.”

“To Mom and Dad’s?”

“Where else besides my house would I call home?”

“Well correct me if I’m wrong but you have not stepped foot in that house in two decades.”

“I know.  Jeremy could you do me a favor?  That is why I was calling in the first place.”

“You keep us worried for a week and call just for a favor?  Okay, shoot I’m game.”

“Could you keep the kids for a couple days?  I think that Brian and I need to get away for a while.  There are some fences on both sides that need mending.”

“Are you kidding?  I’ll even throw in the keys to the cottage in South Carolina if you would like.”

“You’ve got it.  That way you will know where we are.  No more secrets right!”

“Are you going to be digging that in every time we talk?”

“No only when you need reminding.  Okay, now here’s the plan.  I’ve already checked flight schedules and I am going to fly out to the cottage today.  There is a plane leaving for Charleston at 1:00 this afternoon.  There is another flight tonight at 5:00 could you have Brian on that flight with a key to the cottage?  I want to surprise him there.  We have a lot of secrets to clear up.”

“Sure, no problem.  Emily, let me know how things go okay.”

“Jeremy, you will know when the time is right.  Just make sure that Brian gets on that plane.  Make him think that it is his idea okay.  Just be sure to get him there.  Life is too short to waste on secrets.”

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