All previous chapters of this series may be found HERE.
The Letter – Part 8
“I think I need to sit.”
Laura’s mother pulled a chair close tapping the seat. “I’m so sorry Laura. I’m sorry we kept this from you, but your father promised Tom…”
“And I am a man of my word, Laura. You know that.” Her father interjected. “But your mom is right. Grace should know. We had hoped it would not be us who had to tell her.”
“Well, I don’t understand. How is this possible, if June is Grace’s biological mother, and you’re telling me that Tom…oh god, this is worse than I ever imagined.”
“I know dear,” Marge reached for her daughter’s hand to console her.
“Well, of course I have to tell. But how can I tell her?! Is there more I should know?”
Marge leaned closer to Laura and told her everything; Annie’s miscarriages and Tom’s heartache when Annie rejected him, the weakness that led him into the arms of another woman. But not just any woman, Annie’s own sister, June. And the lies that followed.
“Oh god! Do you think Annie knew?”
Laura’s father broke his silence, “Tom said he planned to tell her. But I don’t know if he ever did. His health took a turn after we spoke.”
“I hate this! My poor friend! But a promise is a promise, right dad?” Laura glanced over at her father who nodded approvingly. “Looks like I need to grab a few more bottles of wine and some take-out. I’ll call Danny and tell him he has the kids again tonight. This can’t wait. Grace is heading back home this weekend.”
“I’ll say a prayer for you both, Laura. I know it’ll be hard. But, better coming from you, her good friend, than from that aunt of hers or the rumor mill in this town. Let us know if there is anything we can do.”
“Thanks Mom. I love you guys. Um…one more thing….while we’re on the subject, are you two keeping any family secrets I should know about?” Laura’s playful tone didn’t mask the fact that she was dead serious.
Marge chuckled, “Oh my dear no! Our family is so boring!” She looked into Laura’s pleading eyes adding, “No secrets, Laura. Really.”
It was the hardest day yet for Grace. Going through her mother’s personal things; her jewelry, her clothes with lingering hints of Annie’s favorite White Shoulders perfume. Grace packed most of it to take to the Goodwill, keeping a few silk scarves and her mother’s gold and diamond jewelry. As she removed the bed linens for laundering and slid the dust ruffle from between the mattress and box spring an envelope drifted to the floor.
“Oh Mom, really? I don’t think I can take anymore of your letters. Why couldn’t you just tell me while you were still here…” Grace knelt down, lifting the envelope, her eyes welling with tears.
“To my Gracie” it said, in her father’s familiar handwriting. With trembling fingers she slid the letter from the envelope.
My Dear Gracie,
I love you more than you will ever know, but there is something you should know about your old man. You always believed the best of me, thought I could do no wrong. But I am human and did a terrible thing. Your darling mother forgave me. I hope you can too.
Before you were born, your mom and I tried for years to have a family, but it seemed it was not meant to be. After the last miscarriage your mom told me to leave. Forever. It broke my heart Grace. Annie was everything to me, but she wouldn’t let it go. And so I left.
I should have gone home that night, but I didn’t. I went to see June, to see if she could talk some sense into her sister. I’ve regretted that night ever since, except for one thing. My weak, stupid actions brought me you.
All these years, watching you grow, knowing that you were a part of me, living a lie. I am so proud of the woman you’ve become, Gracie, but you should know that I’m not the man you thought I was. You are the only good thing I ever did. I know I don’t deserve it, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
You’ll always be my Grace. I love you,