Chapter 36 – Elizabeth
Sunday, October 6th
It was so good to have Paul with her. Elizabeth dreaded his parting on Thursday morning. Ever since they had come home from Dylan’s, David seemed closer to Paul.
Sunday as they were leaving the church Pastor Nat said, “Can you two wait a few minutes until I’m done here? I’d like to talk with you.”
Elizabeth looked at Paul. She wasn’t sure how he’d feel about it, but he said, “Sure.”
Ten minutes later, Nat tracked them down. “I wondered if I could visit with you two this afternoon.”
“We’re going out to eat right now,” Paul said. “You could join us with your wife.”
“I’m not married, but I’d like to come, if you’ll take me alone.” His hazel eyes sparked with humor as he said it. Elizabeth had already known that, but never had a reason to discuss her pastor’s marital status with Paul. She smiled back at him.
At the restaurant they sat at a square table with Elizabeth across from Paul and next to David and Nat. “I rarely get to speak with Elizabeth except when she brings in the newsletter, and even then I usually miss her. I’ve only been here two years, and it’s hard to get to know everyone well. But Jay has told me quite a bit about the three of you.”
“He has? What exactly has he been saying?” She tried not to let her irritation show in her voice because she didn’t want to upset David.
“Well, I must admit he has been a little concerned lately, but I’ve been wanting to talk to you anyway. I haven’t had a chance to really meet you, Paul. Elizabeth said last April that you two met at a Ligonier Conference. I guess you’ve been seeing each other ever since.”
“As friends,” Paul said evenly. “We’re not dating.”
“Really? Jay seemed to think you two were pretty close,” he said, then took a drink of his water.
“I think we’ve both told Jay that we are close friends, but nothing else.”
The waitress came to take their order. Nat looked across the table to David after she left. “I’ve really appreciated your musical additions to the service. That harp prelude a couple weeks ago was great. Where did you ever learn to play an instrument like that?”
“At home.” David hesitated and then added, “Paul’s father gave it to me.”
“Jay said that you’d taken on the role of David’s father.”
“Yes, I have. David’s a very special person.”
“It’s kind of interesting that the two of you have taken on the care for David together. I guess that’s what disturbs Jay so much.”
“I don’t see why it should disturb him,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t mean to sound sharp, but I’m a little disturbed myself that he is taking such a close interest in everything I do.”
“He loves you, Elizabeth. I’m sure you know that. He told me almost a year ago. “
“But I told him I wasn’t interested in dating him.”
“Is there a chance you’ll change your mind?”
“No. I don’t appreciate being talked about or tracked down all over the United States, either. I don’t know how he got Dylan’s number last June, but he even called me when I was visiting friends in Tennessee.”
“He got it from your mother.”
“My mother? Maybe I did give it to her years ago in case there was an emergency with Jared while I was gone. But what was Jay calling her for?”
“He’s concerned about this rift between you and your family. I guess he’s talked with your parents several times.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know if you realize how much it irritates me to know that.”
The waitress brought their food. “I started to wonder if he wasn’t becoming a little obsessive,” Nat said, cutting into his chicken. “I’ll talk to him.”
“Thanks. I know Jay is a nice guy, and he’s really gone out of his way to help me with David’s schooling, but I can’t date him just because of that. You don’t get married because someone does you a favor.”
“I agree completely. So, Paul, I hear from an overly interested source that you’re in the military.” Nat smiled as he said it, and soon they were speaking about Paul’s career. Then they talked about the Ligonier conferences. Nat told them that he had gone to Reformed Theological Seminary near Orlando and had been able to attend the conferences when he lived there.
“I’ve been wanting to take some seminary classes just to learn and have looked into several programs that offer two week courses. But I guess that God has other things for me since I’ve now got a son to visit on my leave time.”
“Paul writes books,” David said quietly. “They are very good.”
“He does? What kind of books do you write?”
Paul smiled at David before turning to Nat. “I’ve just been writing out the studies I’ve been doing in the Bible. Beth edits them, and she and David make them into booklets. Which reminds me, Beth. I gave away my copies again, and I know someone else who wants some. Maybe we should think about getting a batch printed up.”
“I’d like to read them, too.”
“Sure. You’ll print him off some copies, won’t you, Beth?”
“And you will tell me how much it costs to run off about a hundred copies of each. And you will allow me to pay for them as you would for any client.”
“I will? Paul, you’ve done far too much work for me to be treated as any client.”
“This is our favorite argument,” Elizabeth said, smiling at Nat. “But I’ll have your books for you next Friday when I stop by for David’s test.”
Wednesday, October 9th
The rest of the week went quickly. Daniel came Wednesday afternoon while they were rearranging the office. After his initial surprise he helped out and then stayed for dinner.
David didn’t speak much to Daniel, but Daniel seemed persistent in wanting to know him, which surprised Elizabeth. Most people gave up after one or two sentences in David’s direction. When Daniel found out that David was going to be on Dylan’s album, he wanted all the details he could get and promised to buy it.
Paul made arrangements to pick up both David and Daniel for hunting in three weeks. David hesitated, but Elizabeth tried one last time to encourage him to go without her, and he finally gave in.
“But it’s only for five days. I’ll be back, I promise.”
“Of course you will, David. And I’ll be waiting for you.”
Paul left them the next morning, and the parting was just as hard for her as the previous ones had been, but she knew she’d see him briefly when he came to pick up David for hunting.
Friday, October 11th
Friday Elizabeth took David into the school for his unit test. Afterward Jay asked her to come into his office. His face was set in an expressionless mask. After the door was closed he started without preamble. “Elizabeth, I think that starting winter term David will have to attend regular classes. There’s no reason to continue this way.”
“I don’t understand….”
“At the beginning there was some question of his ability, but now that’s been proven. He also completed his driver’s training course with no trouble. This is a school. If he’s to be enrolled here, he has to attend.”
“But Jay, just because….”
“This has nothing to do with anything but David. There’s no reason to continue special treatment when it’s no longer needed. I’d be placing him in ninth grade. That’s the best I can do for him. I hope he can keep up.” Jay pulled a stack of printouts from the corner of his desk and then looked up at her. “That’s all I had to tell you. Good-bye, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth walked out of the office in shock. David came to her immediately. “What’s wrong, Mom? What did he say to you?”
“I… David, let’s go home.” David followed her out. Elizabeth didn’t remember that she had to see Pastor Nat until she was in the car. “I forgot the books, David. I have to go back in. I’ll only be a moment if you want to wait here. Then you can drive us home.”
Elizabeth rushed into the church office and set the books on Nat’s desk as he talked on the phone. He motioned her to wait, so she sat in a chair across the room. While he finished up the conversation, he glanced at the booklets. After he hung up, Nat said, “These look nice, Elizabeth.” He looked up at her. “What’s wrong?”
Was she that easy to read? “I just talked to Jay. He’s going to make David go to class.”
“I know. He told me. His reasons sounded logical.”
“But you know why he’s doing it.”
“I know why he didn’t do it sooner.”
“But David doesn’t learn well in a group. He won’t have as much time for his music. He….” Elizabeth’s eyes stung, and she realized she was starting to sound hysterical.
Nat came and placed his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do. Jay is the school administrator and has been since before I came. But don’t you think that maybe you’re selling David a little short. I’m sure he can handle it. If it seems that he can’t, I know Jay will consider going back to the way it was. He’s not doing this to try to hurt David.”
“He wants to hurt me.”
“I don’t think so, Elizabeth. It won’t begin until the end of January so you have time to prepare David. Let’s just see how it goes. If you think it would help, I’d be willing to see David for counseling about his fear of groups. I don’t know much about David’s background except that he was misdiagnosed at school when he was young and had some bad experiences, probably relating to his real name.”
“Please….” Elizabeth glanced out of the office and saw the secretary working away. She closed the door and then said quietly. “I don’t know how many people know David’s name, but he’d prefer it was forgotten. I’m sure you understand why.”
“I don’t use it, but it is in the school records.”
“I wish it didn’t have to be, but there’s nothing for it. I can only hope all the instructors are sensitive, caring people and it never reaches the ears of any student, but that’s a vain hope when so many people are involved.”
“Elizabeth, there are things you are not telling me.”
“I know. David’s past is complex and painful. He still hasn’t been able to deal with everything, but he’s come so far in the last year and a half. Right now I think it’s more important that he knows he can trust that whatever he tells me will stay with me than for me to tell anyone, including you, what I know.”
“Is he seeing any counselor at all?”
“No. But he needs to trust before he’ll talk. Paul is still working on gaining his trust, and he has been able to talk to him some. I’m hoping as their relationship deepens that Paul will be able to help him with the things I can’t.”
“Why haven’t you ever come to me with any of this? It’s one of the reasons I’m here.”
“I… I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t feel I knew you well enough, and… well, I know that when you first came there was a lot of speculation on….” She stopped herself.
“Elizabeth, you let the fact that I was single stop you from getting the counsel you needed.”
Elizabeth felt hot and looked away from his gaze. “I… it… I don’t know. Maybe a little. I didn’t want people to think….”
“People always think, Elizabeth,” he said softly. “I know there are some people who have mentally fixed me up with just about every single woman in the church, including you, but I don’t let it bother me. And you shouldn’t either. From what I’ve heard you’ve had a pretty rough time of it with your family and all. If I had known sooner, I would have come to you instead of waiting for you to initiate a discussion. The truth is I have a hard time keeping track of everyone. Of course the debate is over whether this church is getting too large for one pastor, or am I just not cut out for it.” He sighed. “I guess I’m trying to apologize for not realizing what was happening sooner, but you do have to make an effort to tell me.”
“I’m sorry. You were busy every time I came in with the newsletter, and I didn’t want to bother you. But David is waiting for me in the car, and I’ve already been in here far longer than I said I would.”
Nat hesitated. “You’re still not going to talk to me, are you?”
“Can it be another time? David’s waiting.”
“Okay, tell Paul I said hello.”
“I will when I write him. He left yesterday morning.” Elizabeth went back to the car.
David watched her get into the passenger seat and then started the car.
“I’m sorry, David. He wanted to talk and time got away from me.” She didn’t want to upset him while he was driving so she tried to avoid the discussion. He seemed to understand because he continued in silence until they were home.
They sat on the couch, and then he asked her what Jay had said. When she told him, he didn’t act as upset as she thought he would be, but he didn’t say anything either. He went to the guitar and started playing.
It wasn’t until she tucked him into bed that night that he brought it up. “I don’t know if I’m smart enough for real school, Mom. You taught me almost everything ahead of time for driving school. But I’ll try really hard so you don’t have to ask any more favors from him.”
“I love you, David.” Elizabeth brushed the hair away from his forehead and knew she’d have to contact Robin for another haircut before he went hunting. She kissed his forehead and as she did, he grabbed her and hugged her tightly. She was surprised and had to resist the urge to fight her way free.
“I love you, too, Mom. I’ll always love you better than anyone else, even Paul.”
Elizabeth pushed herself up with her hands until he released her, and she could sit back up.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
Did he see everything? “You just startled me when you grabbed me so quickly, Honey.”
David studied her. “I forgot. I held you down and that bothers you. I’m sorry. Did someone hurt you before?”
“I wasn’t really hurt. It was just that sometimes… sometimes when Jared’s dad wanted to do something, and I didn’t….”
“He held you down and forced you?”
“He didn’t really hurt me. Not really. I just didn’t like it.” Elizabeth had never told anyone about the times they had disagreed about sex before. It embarrassed her to speak of it now. “Sometimes I wasn’t a very submissive wife.”
David sat up. Slowly he put his arms around her and held her. “No one will ever hurt you again, Mom. I won’t let them. Not even Paul.” Elizabeth let herself stay in his arms a while and knew that he understood how she had felt. Then she stood, kissed his forehead one last time, and left the room.
The next few weeks went quickly. Elizabeth was surprised when Daniel showed up twice during that time. He joked around with her and even talked with her a little about one of Paul’s books that he had been reading. She called Paul after each visit, because she knew he’d be interested that Daniel had been reading his booklets, even though he seemed very skeptical in a polite, socially correct way.
Daniel was always interested in David’s music and talked him into playing for him before he left both times. After he left, Elizabeth found herself wondering about him. Daniel was still only showing his smooth, pleasant facade to them. But at least he was making an effort to come and to read the books.
Elizabeth tried to make him feel as welcome as she could, and after the first visit she discussed it with David. “For Paul’s sake, if not for Daniel’s, we need to always pray for him and work to show him that Christ is real. The only way we can do that is if we can see him, so we want to make sure he wants to come back, so we can keep adding seeds to his knowledge of God. You can’t love and worship someone you don’t know.”
During the second visit she noticed that David made more of an effort to talk to Daniel, and they had a fairly good discussion about music.
Elizabeth discovered that two of her Dylan Trent CDs were missing when she went to play a song that had been running through her mind. She asked David if he had them in his room, because he usually kept several by his CD player to play as he slept. He looked, but they weren’t there.
She was sure they were just misplaced. Dylan had autographed them for her, and she knew she couldn’t replace them. Of course, Dylan could autograph new ones for her, but he always wrote something special for her, and it wouldn’t be the same inscription.
Thursday, November 14th and following
Paul already had Daniel with him when he picked up David for hunting, so they didn’t speak long before they headed back to New York.
After David left, the house seemed very empty. The five days dragged by. There weren’t even any letters to anticipate on the net, because they were out in the middle of nowhere. She was able to finish her work much earlier than she expected, and she found herself with nothing to do. By the end of the second day she wished she had gone with them no matter how cold it got, and according to the weather reports which she had taken to watching, it was close to freezing in New York. She hoped David was warm enough.
Jared came the following night. He seemed very pleased that David was gone, but then he went and played on his own, and she felt just as alone.
Elizabeth visited her mother and Robin the next day at Robin’s house, so that Jared could see his cousins. “It’s about time you came to visit with Jared,” her mother said. “We see Alisa more than we see you.”
“I’m sorry, but you are the ones who said David wasn’t welcome.”
“That shouldn’t keep you from coming. You left him home today.”
“No, he’s hunting with his father.”
“Paul? Jay told us about him. What kind of guy is this that you’re messing up your relationship with Jay over?”
The rest of the visit continued in the same vein. At the end Jared begged to spend the night at Kenny’s claiming that he never got to do it. “But this is the first weekend I’ve had alone with you in a long time. Don’t you want to come home and maybe stay at Kenny’s next time when David is home?”
“No. We’re playing now. Please. I want to stay.”
Elizabeth finally gave in and ended up wandering around a shopping center to kill time. She went into a fabric store, and the quilts hanging on the wall reminded her of the club she had belonged to from a few months after her divorce until David came home with her and she no longer had time. She wanted to make a quilt for David like she had for Jared. She wasn’t sure when she’d be able to finish it, but she had plenty of time to start it now. She picked out an array of blue and cream fabrics and started a Log Cabin quilt that night. She hid it in her closet when she wasn’t working on it.
Sunday after church she picked up Jared and spent the afternoon with him until Rob came to get him. Then she worked on the quilt again.
Monday, November 18th
It was Monday, the afternoon of the sixth day, that David burst through the door and ran to her, hugging her tightly. “I missed you so much, Mom.” Paul came through the door a few seconds later.
“I missed you, too, Sweetheart. Did you have a good time?”
David pulled away from her to look into her eyes. Then he smiled. “Paul got a big deer. It had huge antlers. Daniel is going to keep them. Paul’s getting the skin made up for me. It can either be a rug or hang on my wall. I got lots of pictures.”
“I can’t wait to see them,” she said and then smiled at Paul.
Paul returned her smile. “I think we should put your stuff away first and take off our coats.”
David complied instantly.
“Well, it looks like he enjoyed himself,” Elizabeth said quietly to Paul.
“Actually I was starting to wonder if he was. He never showed it during the trip. I think he missed you.”
“I missed him.”
David came back into the room without his coat and carrying his pictures. He came to her and looked into her eyes. “No one hurt you while I was gone, did they?”
“No. Of course not, David.”
“What happened here?”
“Not much. It was actually pretty boring. You didn’t miss anything.”
“I missed you.” David took her hand and led her to the couch so that she sat next to him. Paul sat in the chair near them.
David showed her all his pictures. Many of them were of the different wildlife he had seen. “Saul wasn’t there very much. He didn’t get a deer, but he said he wasn’t trying very hard because he already got one with his son, Greg. Daniel said me and him couldn’t shoot straight enough to hit the wide side of a mile long barn standing two feet away. That’s why we didn’t get anything. But it doesn’t matter. I got lots of pictures. Paul says I probably never missed with the camera.”
“No, it doesn’t look like you did,” she said, flipping through the scores of pictures. “You’ll have to buy a new album just for this trip.”
“I think David was more interested in looking through the lens of the camera than the scope of a rifle,” Paul said.
David seemed uncomfortable.
“It’s all right to like photography better, and you’ve got some great pictures,” Paul said, reassuring him. “I know Daniel and Grandpa will want some copies also. Especially that one there.” The picture he pointed to was taken in a house, probably Saul’s, and it was of Saul, Paul, and Daniel together, not posed, but standing and talking informally. “You liked going even though you didn’t want to shoot much, didn’t you?”
David hesitated, glancing at Elizabeth. “I liked it. I would have liked it more with Elizabeth.” He turned to her. “You don’t have to shoot. You can take pictures with me of Paul and Daniel shooting.”
Elizabeth smiled. “I don’t know. You had a pretty good time with Paul, didn’t you? And I just would have been cold. Were you warm enough?”
“Daniel was cold. He says it’s because he’s from South Carolina. Paul gave me that warm coat and boots. I wasn’t cold at all. It makes a difference when you have new clothes with no holes.”
Elizabeth hugged David.
“Why don’t I take you two for something to eat, and then I need to get back.”
Elizabeth was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to stay and visit with her that evening, but she tried not to show it. He dropped them off an hour later, but didn’t get out of the car.
“I’ll see you at Thanksgiving, Beth. I probably won’t get here until Thursday morning, but I’ll be able to tell you more the closer it gets. Bye, David. I love you, my son.”
David nodded, and Paul drove away.
That night the phone rang after midnight. Elizabeth reached over to pick up the extension on her night stand. “Hello,” she said sleepily.
“I didn’t wake you, did I, Beth?”
“Paul! You can wake me up anytime. What’s up? Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I just decided to stop and get some rest instead of driving straight through. But then I couldn’t sleep.”
“So you called me. I’m glad you did. How was your trip from your perspective? You let David do all the talking.”
“He does it so rarely. I didn’t want to discourage him. He doesn’t tell me what he really thinks. He was pretty quiet most of the trip, but he did speak up a little the night Daniel and I had a debate over the existence of God. He knows his stuff.”
“We just heard some tapes on that not too long ago, and he has a good memory. Were he and Daniel still getting along?”
“They seem to. I don’t know why I am surprised by that, except that Daniel doesn’t seem to be a person who values people for who they are. I know it’s hard for David to trust people, so I just hope he isn’t hurt by that eventually.”
“You noticed. I didn’t want to speculate about Daniel that way, but I’ve felt that also.”
“I wondered if I could invite him over for Thanksgiving. I don’t know if he plans to go to Dan and Clarissa’s, but I’d like to give him an option.”
“Sure that would be good. I haven’t prepared a meal like this in ages. But David’s getting to be a pretty good cook, so we should do okay together. I just want you to know that we’re both amateurs though.”
“I’m sure it won’t be near as good as that tempting mess hall Army food I’d be eating if I stayed home, but I’ll suffer through it.”
Elizabeth laughed. “I’ll try not to notice your grimaces. I almost forgot, I talked to Nat Sunday, and he’s read a couple of your books. He’d like to talk to you again sometime. He suggested next time you’re here. Since you couldn’t stay I guess that will be Thanksgiving.”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to stay more than a day or two, because I’ve taken so much time off already this year, and I still want Christmas. If he’s not going anywhere maybe he can join us for Thanksgiving.” Paul gave a slight laugh. “I’m sorry, Beth. I’m inviting everyone to your place. First me, then Daniel, and now Nat.”
“I don’t mind at all. There’s always plenty of food when you fix a turkey. I’ll ask him what he’s doing.”
“Tell me, Beth, is David around?”
“I think he’s sleeping. I’m in bed myself. You don’t want me to wake him, do you?”
“No. I just wanted you to tell me how it really went for you while David was gone.”
“Oh, Paul,” she whispered. “I missed him so much. I’ve barely been away from him since he came, except when I was in the hospital, and I was too sick then. I couldn’t believe how empty this house seemed. I was so… so lonely. I’m pretty pathetic, I know.”
“No, Beth. I understand. And I appreciate you letting him come, even though sometimes I doubt he’ll ever think of me as a father or even care for me half has much as he does you.”
“I’m not trying to complain. I just recognize that your bond is special. Sometimes I envy you. But I appreciate all you’re doing to share him, for his sake and mine.”
“I know he needs you, Paul.”
“So, you just sat around the house and missed him for four days?”
“I went to visit my mom and Robin one day. It went pretty well at the beginning, but then they wanted to know about Jay and you, and they started giving me opinions about what I should do that I didn’t like, and I ended up coming home depressed and missing David even more.”
“So what did you tell them about me?”
“That you were the man of my dreams, and we had secretly eloped back in June, but I was hiding it from them.”
“Well, you asked it like I would say something bad about you. I just gave them straight facts, and denied all their inferences.”
“Beth, sometimes….” He laughed. “You know how to get me, don’t you?”
“No. I don’t. But I’ll keep teasing you about everything at this hour of the morning. You know it’s kind of strange to lie in bed in the dark talking to a man like you.”
“A man like me. I don’t think I want to ask. You sound like you’re getting into a crazy mood.”
“Paul. Ah, Paul. You’re right. My mind jumps around when I’m half asleep.”
“I better get some sleep also, my special friend, or I might start saying crazy things, too.”
“And you definitely wouldn’t want to lose control and do that for an instant, would you, Paul?”
“No, Beth,” he said softly. “I can’t do that.”
Elizabeth regretted her teasing sarcasm almost as soon as she had said it. He said goodbye and she couldn’t help but feel she’d chased him off the phone. She vowed to be more careful next time.
Thursday, November 28th
Daniel continued to visit once a week, and Paul reported that he exchanged E-mail letters with him about that often, also. Daniel agreed to come for Thanksgiving. Pastor Nat wasn’t sure if he could make it because he usually went home to visit his family in Kansas, but things worked out that he had to stay in Flint. He decided to come and see Paul.
It was the first time that they were formally having people over. It would be crowded even with just five people gathering in the kitchen along with the preparations, but Elizabeth worked out her plans, talking to David. She noticed that he started to anticipate it the closer they came to it. She wasn’t sure if it was Paul’s visit or Thanksgiving itself that motivated him. Perhaps it was a little of both.
Thanksgiving morning David and Elizabeth worked well together and had everything going smoothly before Paul and Daniel showed up. A short time later Nat came. Paul and Nat started talking about theology, Paul’s books, and then other books they had read on the subjects. Daniel, Elizabeth noticed, had tried to stay with them, but his knowledge of the subject was so limited he gave up and followed David and Elizabeth into the kitchen the next time they went.
“I never realized there was so much religious stuff to talk about,” Daniel said, leaning against the wall and watching them set the potatoes on the stove and the vegetable casserole into the oven.
“There’s always something new to learn about. Theology is the queen of the sciences,” Elizabeth said.
“First, I’ve heard that. But then everyone likes to think their field of study is more important than anyone else’s.”
“That’s true, but what other field of study affects every aspect of your life for eternity.”
“That’s one way to see it, I suppose. But then it’s only true if it’s not just mythology, which I think is a little hard to prove.”
“Not really. But if you don’t want proof you can always fool yourself into believing it doesn’t exist. Take this planet for instance. Scientists are now agreeing that there are so many things that have to be just right for life to even exist anywhere in any form, and the odds of a planet meeting all the conditions are so immense that there probably isn’t another place in the universe where life exists. On top of that, to have life evolve on its own as some like to take as fact, the planet would have to be billions of times older than all scientific dating methods have it aged at. That in itself proves the existence of an intelligent designer and creator. I could go on.”
Daniel laughed and shook his head. “Yeah, right along with those two in there. I bet David could, too. I keep getting the feeling that you guys are all trying to convert me.”
Elizabeth smiled. “I wouldn’t want to try to take the Holy Spirit’s job. That’s too much responsibility for me. My job is just to tell people about my Lord. He does the converting or the changing of hearts as He wills.”
“You know, I think I’m going to have to stop pretending to understand anything you say, Beth. Maybe you have a basic textbook so I can at least have a reference point when you and Dad throw out your cryptic sentences.”
“There is always the Bible. That is the main and final authority for all things.”
“I’d prefer the Cliff Notes.”
Elizabeth glanced back at the food. “This can cook on its own a while. Follow me.” She led him into the hall where all the bookshelves were lined up. Looking through them she pulled out R.C. Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. “Here, you can take this.” Then she found an extra Bible. “And this. Read Romans, and maybe by Christmas you’ll have a basic but thorough Cliff Note understanding.”
Daniel took them from her. “Thanks, but I won’t be here for Christmas. I’ll be home in South Carolina. But I’ll try to look it over. Maybe I’ll even talk to you about it before I leave.”
Paul left with Daniel around eight saying he had to start back again. “Right away, Paul? When do you sleep?”
“At work,” Paul said smiling. “I have duty, so I have to stay on base overnight tomorrow. Don’t worry about it.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to be thankful you could come at all.”
“I’m glad I came, too. Sorry we didn’t get to visit much, David. I’ll try to get a week at Christmas.”
After they left, Elizabeth and David cleaned up the kitchen and fell into bed earlier than usual.
The next day, Elizabeth read her E-mail.
“Dearest Beth, I saw you giving the book and Bible to Daniel, and I appreciate it. I also appreciate you helping to keep Nat and me from excluding him with our common interests. You don’t know how much it means to me that you have taken such a personal interest in him. Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for your friendship. – Yours, Paul.”
Thursday, December 5th
A week later Elizabeth and David put up the holiday decorations together and then spent time talking on the couch in the light from the tree. After she read with him and left his room, she signed on to the computer to read her letter from Paul. There were two. The first was a response to her last letter. The second was dated just hours before.
“Dearest Beth; I must write to you quickly and then write to David and Daniel. They are sending me out tonight. I really hope I’m back by Christmas. If not, they usually give us extra time when we do get back, and I’ll visit then. Please continue as you did before, and I know you will look after my sons while I am away. Thank you. I’ll miss you. Yours, Paul.”
“I’ll miss you, too, Paul. Oh, Lord, let him be home for Christmas, if it be Your will. I know that David was so disappointed that he couldn’t visit with him at Thanksgiving even though he didn’t say anything. You know we love him. Thank You that You are in control. O my Father, I miss him so much. Is there any way to stop this aching? Please help me to trust You and Your plan for me, for David, for Paul, and if it be Your will for Daniel. Help David with this disappointment. Help him to focus on You. I love You, my King. In Jesus name, Amen.”
The next morning David immediately noticed that something was wrong. “I got a letter from Paul. He said he sent you one, too. They sent him out, again.”
“I know. Maybe God will choose to answer our prayers to allow us to be with him at Christmas.”
David pushed his breakfast away untouched and went into the office to read his letter. Then he went to his room with his harp. She waited an hour before she went to talk to him.
Daniel came up the next day. “What did his letter mean? He said he was leaving, but he didn’t say where or how long?”
“He’s in a special unit. He can’t say where, and he won’t be able to contact us until he gets back. And he never knows how long the mission will take. He had just come back from one the day he met you.”
“So I won’t even be able to write him?”
“You can write. In fact I know it’d mean a lot to him if you did. But he won’t be able to answer until he gets back.”
Daniel visited a while longer before he left. He came again right before he left for South Carolina. He had been reading the book she gave him, and they talked a little about it. After two hours he prepared to leave.
“Daniel, I wonder if you could leave me your address and phone number in South Carolina, just in case I need to get a hold of you.”
“Dan and Clarissa don’t even like me to mention Dad. I know they wouldn’t want any calls from his friends.”
“I promise I’ll only contact you if I absolutely have to, and I won’t mention Paul at all.”
Daniel shrugged. He took the pen she offered and wrote down the number. Then he wrote down his E-mail address. “You can always write me.”
Thursday, December 19th
Two days later Elizabeth and David were working in the office, and the phone rang. Elizabeth touched the button as David lifted his hands away from the keyboard. “Hello, Weaver residence.”
“Beth, this is Saul.” His voice was strained.
“Yes, Saul? Is something wrong?”
“It’s Zach. They’ve got him in the hospital here in Maryland.”
“Oh no. How… what…?”
“They don’t know. I just got here. Beth, if you love him, please come. Bring David and Daniel if you can find him. He might not make it.” Saul’s voice broke, and it took a moment for him to continue. “Will you come?”
“Yes. Yes, we’ll come.” Elizabeth looked at David, and he seemed in shock, staring at her with wide eyes. She felt her own eyes smarting, and her throat was tight.
“Let me give you directions. General Allende will have your names at the visitor gate. Bring ID.” He gave her the directions, and she copied them in a daze.
After Elizabeth hung up, she looked at David, and he was still staring. She went to him. They held each other, and then she felt him crying. She began praying out loud for Paul, for strength, for the ability to carry out all that needed to be done. Then she asked David to start packing while she made the phone calls.
She called Daniel first. A woman with a cultured voice answered.
“Hello. May I speak with Daniel, please.” Her voice wavered, and she hoped it wasn’t too noticeable.
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Elizabeth. A friend from Michigan.”
“You mean young Danny, then?
“And what’s this pertaining to?”
“A friend of his is hurt. I thought he’d want to know.”
“Please. I have other calls to make. May I speak with him?”
“I’ll see.” The phone went silent as if on hold.
Elizabeth was beginning to think that the line had been disconnected when she heard Daniel. “Hello? Is this Beth?”
“Paul. I don’t know much. He’s in the hospital. Saul wanted us all to come. It didn’t sound good.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No.” Elizabeth felt the tears on her face again and had to force herself to continue. “Will you come?”
“Beth, I… yes. Tell me where he’s at.” She did and then hung up.
Elizabeth called Pastor Nat just to let him know. Then she called Rob to tell him she didn’t know when she’d be back for Jared’s visits. She tried to think of who else needed to be told, and decided since she had the address book on the laptop computer she could call as she remembered or as she knew more.
Work was slow over the holidays, but she gathered what there was and placed it in a bag. Then she unlocked the file cabinet and took David’s birth certificate, his foster care papers, and his AKA declaration, putting those in the bag, too, just in case he needed identification in addition to his learner’s driving permit. David packed his harp. Within an hour they were on their way.
Friday, December 20th
They spent the night in Pennsylvania, although Elizabeth was loath to stop at all. They set the clock so that they only slept a few hours to allow them to arrive at the medical base at eight when she hoped General Allende would be available. She knew she might have trouble with David’s ID, and she was right.
Elizabeth asked for the General, but was made to wait almost a half hour before he arrived. He went to the Sergeant on duty.
“We hated to bother you, Sir, but there is a problem with one of the visitor passes you had made yesterday. It appears there is no David Weaver, but a Dawg Revine wishes to use the pass.”
“I’ve shown you the AKA declaration,” Elizabeth said.
General Allende looked at her. “You must be Beth. I’ve seen you and David’s picture on Zach’s desk. Let’s go back here to discuss the problem.” Elizabeth hid her surprise at the knowledge that Paul had her picture on his desk as she followed the General back to a small office.
General Allende listened carefully as Elizabeth explained David’s situation. With a quick decision he told the sergeant to make the pass out for David Weaver and to make it a three month pass so that they wouldn’t have to go through this hassle again. He had Beth’s temporary pass dated for three months also.
He focused on David as the Sergeant rushed to start the work that had been requested. “I want you to know that your father is a hero. He was evacuating a school when the grenade went off. He saved a lot of lives. I’m going to miss working with him.” A grenade! Whether he lives or not apparently he won’t be able to stay in the military. Oh, my Lord, I love him. Please help me to remember Your will be done.
They were given directions to the building that Zach was in. As they walked toward the Intensive Care Unit, they found Saul on the phone, facing away from them.
“I don’t care, Sheila. Damn it, I’m not leaving him. He may die, and he’ll need me even more if he lives. You could always come here, you know.” “Forget it, then.” He slammed down the phone and leaned his head against the wall.
Elizabeth touched his back.
Saul turned quickly. When he saw it was her, he hugged her. Then he grabbed David and drew him close, also. After a moment he asked, “Daniel?”
“He said he’d come.”
Saul nodded. “Come. I’ll take you in.”
Go to Chapter 37
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.