Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An excerpt from Hope 22 featuring Brody Jackson

“Hey, gorgeous. It’s that day again. The one we just knew wouldn’t happen to us? I’m glad to see you but you know I’m sorry it’s here, like this.” Brody placed three dozen Sterling roses on Kate’s grave in memory of their three years of marriage and three single stems in the vase attached to the headstone. Three years. His family had been gone three years. Had their son survived, he’d be starting preschool in the fall. Luke. Brody fell to his knees and hugged the cold marble headstone his wife and son shared.
“I can’t seem to figure out how to stop punishing myself,” Brody cried, tracing the letters of his last name now etched in stone with his fingers. “I’m praying and reading the grief books and I’ve even managed to listen to a bible study on tape a few times. There are days I feel like I can do it, like I can honor you, like I can honor what we had and move on. Like I can create a life you’d be proud of and that will be enough. Then there are days I can barely get out of bed. Truth is, the off-season is hard for me. The down time messes with my head.” Brody finally sat and attempted to settle himself, clearing away a few wisps of clover in the process.
“I remember back before we started dating when we were just friends and I wish I could have that again. You know what I mean? I feel like if I can’t have you as my wife anymore, I should still get to have you as my friend. That I should have you here to tell me what you think I should do about things. I’ve got two more years on my contract and I still love playing so it’s not work. It’s personal stuff like what to do with the house and the nursery and your car. I know I said this last year but it’s all still exactly like you left it. I don’t want to disgrace you or lessen your memory but I hate living in our house without you. Last year I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but I want to move. I promise I won’t go back to a bachelor pad but I need a fresh space. Is that all right? And dating. Everyone keeps telling me it’s time. Is it time, Kate? Will I somehow cheapen the memory of our life together if I let another woman into my heart? I can’t imagine anyone filling the space you left but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m lonely.” Brody traced her name again and searched for the courage he needed to tell her the truth. “I’ve met someone…”
Brody sat pouring out his heart alternately crying tears born of genuine loss and laughing at cherished memories long enough the cemetery groundskeeper came to check on him and notify him of the approaching closing time.
“I don’t know if I can do it. I want to keep you and Luke in a place in my soul forever. But I want to try to move forward, too. I may not be strong enough to do both, Kate. I know that. And I promise if I’m not… If I can’t find some balance in all of this that leaves me able to look myself in the eye and feel proud about the life I’m living, I won’t do it. You have my word, sweetheart. I love you and I promise I’ll try not to do anything to dishonor either of us.”

Brody etched the letters of the names of his wife and son one last time before kissing their headstone and making his way back to his car.


Catherine Lee said...

Oh my...What a heart-wrenching excerpt!

BethAnn said...

Brody's pain is a real glimpse into a similar struggle we've faced in our extended family. I'd love to share a copy of Hope 22 with you so you can see if he finds redemption. Email me!