A story of love triumphing over grief.
Faith Wellman slammed the box of cereal down on the countertop. Lord, give me patience. He needs my love, not my anger. I’m just tired this morning. “V.J., we’ve got to hurry. Mommy has an appointment. Remember?”
“Okay, Mommy.” Her seven-year-old son bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen with more energy than he had shown in over a year. A seldom-seen smile pushed his lips upward. “I’m ready. I can’t wait to see the big shuttle and the—Timmy told me there are alligators in big ditches on the side of the road. He said the shuttle’s real big, and you can see a real live astronaut suit.”
Faith knew all about Kennedy Space Center situated across the river from her hometown, Titusville, Florida. Lord, keep me from dampening his enthusiasm. “That’s right. You have a field trip today. That sounds so exciting.”
Faith poured the cereal in the bowl, and as the toaster presented its specialty—burnt bread—she poured the milk on his cereal.
The phone rang. “I’ll get it.” V.J. jumped to his feet.
Faith took the phone from him. “Sit down and finish your breakfast so I can drop you at school before my appointment.” She brushed back the blonde curls that fell into her face.
“Hello to you too.” A familiar voice greeted.
“Bobbie.” Remembering the promise she had broken, she made a face in her son’s direction, receiving an uncharacteristic giggle in reward.
“Did you forget to call me? I worried half the night.”
“I’m sorry. My only excuse is exhaustion. By the time I picked V.J. up from my mom’s after the reunion meeting, drove back to Orlando, got him into bed, ironed my clothes for this morning . . . ”
“Spare me. ” Her girlfriend laughed.
Silence filled the line.
“Mommy, can I have some extra money to buy you a present from the gift shop? Timmy says they have a good one—I can get you some ice cream like the astronauts eat. Timmy says it’s not even cold.”
“Faith, are you okay?”
“Yes,” Faith answered both questions simultaneously.
V.J. smiled and went back to his breakfast. “I’ll buy you some astronaut ice cream.” Milk dripped down his chin.
“I’m fine.” Faith turned away from her son. She ran her hand along an old scratch on the counter-top. Her husband, Vance, made it while cleaning fish— in her kitchen. She had exploded with anger at him that day. She placed her forefinger and thumb at the bridge of her nose attempting to stop her emotions. The next day he was gone, and I never told him I was sorry for yelling at him.
“You seemed preoccupied all weekend.”
“I’m fine,” she repeated, but she knew the quiver in her voice betrayed her. How did I manage to stay strong so long? Now a year after Vince’s death, I’m losing it.
“You don’t sound it. Tell me, and I’ll pray for you.”
“I told you some time ago I might have to drop out of law school,” she whispered. “It’s done. The money’s not there, not enough for me to go to school and keep the house.”
“Oh, Faith. I’m sorry. I know how much law school means to you.”
“When I started, Vance made me promise I’d finish no matter what. Did he realize that ‘no matter what’ would turn out to be his death?” She covered her eyes with her hand and felt the tears fall. “I need to find a job. I’ve been searching, but I can’t seem to find the place where God wants me. I have an interview today, but my faith is lacking.”
“Mommy, are you okay?” V.J. tugged at her skirt. “Mommy, don’t cry.”
Faith bent down and held her son close. “Mommy’s fine. Are you done eating?”
He nodded against her.
“Go get your books.”
“I don’t need them. The field trip, remember?”
“Mommy’s being silly. Of course, you don’t need your books.” She tried to lighten her voice, make him feel secure. “You know how Aunt Bobbie is, she always makes Mommy cry.” She pulled away and winked at him.
“Hey!” Bobbie’s indignant chuckle rang over the phone.
“Hi, Aunt Bobbie.” V.J. took the phone from Faith’s hand. “I’m going to Kennedy Space Center today to see the big rocket ships, and I’m going to buy my mommy some ice cream like the astronauts eat.”
Faith packed V.J.’s lunch as her son rambled on. When she finished, she took the phone and pointed toward the stairs indicating he should brush his teeth.
“I haven’t heard the kiddo talk that much since . . . ” Bobbie stopped.
“Since Vance died. I know. The Lord is giving me a little encouragement this morning.”
“Don’t give up hope on your dreams, not until you’re sure God doesn’t have another plan in the works for you.”
“I thought God wanted Vance in my life.” The bitterness surprised Faith.
“That man was pure blessing, Faith.”
“And God took him away.”
“You’re angry, I know.”
I can tell V.J. over and over again how wonderful his father is, but he’ll never experience Vance’s love anymore. His father will become a distant memory. It’s not anger I feel. It’s sadness and pain. “Bobbie, I’m not angry,” Faith sighed. “My heart is broken.” She looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. “I have to hurry. V.J. has to get to school by 8:30, and my interview is at 9:00. Pray for me, please.”
“You know I will. Godspeed.”
“Love you.” Faith slammed the phone down in her hurry. “V.J., let’s go.”
The door to his chambers opened, but Gideon Tabor didn’t look up from the application in his hand. Only two people entered his office without knocking. He enjoyed the fellowship of one and dreaded the company of the other.
“So, how’s life treatin’ you, young Judge Gideon?”
“Deacon, how did you ever find the perfect law clerk?” Gideon asked the older judge, his mentor.
Deacon Foster rubbed his chin then shrugged. “I guess I knew Zelma was the right clerk for me when she answered without blinkin’ an eye the question I thought most important.”
“And what question did you ask?”
“A clerk is like a wife. You have to have one who’s compatible so that sooner or later she begins reading your mind and knows what you need before you need it.”
“So, what did you ask her?”
“I asked her where her favorite fishin’ hole is located. I asked everyone I interviewed the same question, and she’s the only one who answered right from the get go.”
“What’d she say?”
“She said,” Deacon raised his voice two octaves, exaggerating his already prominent Southern accent. ‘I’m not here to discuss fishin’ holes. I’m here to discuss a job. You hire me, and I’ll tell you where you can find the best fishin’ in Florida.’ I hired her right on the spot.”
“Haulover Canal on the Space Coast.”
“I know where it is. I’m from Titusville, remember?”
Without fanfare, Deacon reached across Gideon’s desk and picked up the application. He read it and handed it back. “One son, no husband, it says.”
Gideon looked the paper over once again. “Second year law student.”
“Gid, you’ve interviewed twenty hopefuls since your last clerk quit. Who are you looking to find, Della Street?”
Gideon laughed. “Actually, I’m trying to find someone Delilah James won’t scare off.”
“So, how are you and the Right Honorable Delilah these days?”
“As long as we stay away from the subject of God, we’re fine.”
“You don’t recognize a golden opportunity when you see one, do you? Keep talking about God. It’s like garlic for that she-wolf.”
“You’re confusing your horror tales.”
“Just take the advantage the Lord has given you and use it to get her out of your personal life,” Deacon advised.
“I want to set a good example for her. Pulling away from her isn’t the answer.”
“Just remember, even the Good Book says there comes a time when we’re to shake the sand off our feet.” Deacon rose with a sigh and walked out the door.
Gideon stared at the paper in front of him. Her name’s Faith. This is a very good sign, and, Lord, I do need a sign.