Three days later, Emily woke up alone in bed. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, looking around the room. Shane had come to bed, hadn’t he? She knew they had not gone to bed at the same time, but she was sure he had joined her at some point. So where had he gone to now?
As she pulled on her bathrobe, Emily realized something else. Not only was Shane not in bed with her, the house was completely quiet. That meant either the kids were not home or they were making a mess somewhere that she would have to clean up. She really hoped they were not home. With Claudia’s funeral just a few hours away, Emily really didn’t have the time to deal with an unexpected mess.
And with her two kids, it would be more like a disaster than just a small mess.
She slipped her feet into her slippers and opened the bedroom door. The smell of freshly brewed coffee hit her in the face and she smiled. At least she knew that Shane had made her some coffee before heading out with the kids.
Emily headed down the steps and toward the kitchen. As she walked past the door to the home office, she heard some music playing in that room. She stopped and slowly pushed it open, scared of what she might see. Her worst fears seemed to be confirmed when she saw Shane at the computer, staring intently at the monitor screen.
Her heart skipped a beat and then started pounding in her chest. She knew Shane had been under a lot of stress that week. Still, she didn’t think that was a good enough reason for him to break a promise. Emily had been very clear about her feelings on this. She didn’t want to back down from her zero tolerance policy.
Yet she had not thought her policy would be tested so soon.
“Good morning, beautiful,” Shane said, looking up long enough to smile at his wife. He sipped his cup of coffee and then when right back to the computer. “I wondered how long you would sleep.”
“Where are the kids?” Emily asked.
“Mom and Dad picked them up about fifteen minutes ago,” Shane told her.
“What are you doing there?” she asked, still afraid to walk any further into the room.
“It is a slide presentation that Todd and Matt sent over last night,” he said. “They are planning to play it at the service, while everyone is walking in.” He looked up. “Want to watch it with me?”
Emily walked over to the desk and stood behind Shane. She slipped her arms around his neck and gently nuzzled his cheek. “I’m sorry,” she told him.
“About what?” he asked. He swiveled the chair so he was facing Emily. The smile that he gave her melted her heart.
“I’m sorry that I doubted you,” she said, finding it hard to admit while looking in his eyes that way. “When I saw you in here with the door closed….”
Shane’s smile faded. “You thought I was looking at x-rated websites,” he finished for her. Emily nodded. Shane sighed and swiveled back around. “I told you I was done with all that, Emily.”
“I know,” she told him. “But you said it before and that didn’t stop you from doing it.”
“How long am I going to have to pay for that mistake?”
“Hey, I’m trying here,” Emily told him. “It is just hard sometimes. In some ways I’m scared to trust you, Shane. I keep thinking it will hurt less if I just don’t let myself trust you than it will if you break the trust again. I understand that this is hard for you. I just wish you would at least try to understand that it is hard for me too.”
Shane took another sip of his coffee. He clicked something on the computer screen and photographs of the Davis family started to play on the screen. “For the most part, I think this presentation is a good one. The only thing I question is the pictures of the baby. I don’t want to offend Wade with those.”
Emily brought a folding chair over to the desk and sat beside Shane. She understood the conversation about their lives was over. And that was really OK with her. The Davis family was important today. “But this presentation was made by the boys, right?”
“So the baby pictures should be in it. After all, it is Matt and Todd that are with him all the time. This is their tribute to their sister, so they should have the final say on what is in the presentation.”
“That makes sense,” Shane aid. “At the same time, I don’t know if I want to jeopardize my job by showing those pictures.”
Emily had to laugh at that. “Honey, you are already risking your job by conducting the funeral. You know Wade’s opinion on having anyone on his staff lead a service at any place other than our church.”
“You would think he would make an exception, this being his daughter’s funeral and all,” Shane said.
“If you think that Wade Davis will make an exception for anyone, you don’t know Wade very well.”
“I can’t believe you are being so hard on him,” Shane said “I mean, I know he has not been the kindest man on earth lately, but it is not at all like you to be so angry.”
“I know I should probably not be so mad,” she said. “It is just that I can’t believe the side of him that I have seen recently. It is like Jekyll and Hyde with him. Honestly, Shane. Would losing your job at Faith really be such a bad thing? Is he really the kind of guy you want to work for?”
“No,” Shane admitted. “But Wade is not the one I work for, Emily. God is my boss.”
“Well, yeah. But Wade signs your paychecks.”
“No, it is really the church secretary who does that,” Shane said. “Wade is someone that I work with, not work for. I know you would feel more comfortable right now if I were looking for a new job, but that is not what I feel God want me to do. We have to trust him to lead us. And I know when it is time for us to move on, God will let us both know.”
“I know,” Emily said. “It is just so hard to realize your husband is working so closely with a hypocrite.”
Shane flashed a lopsided grin. “I’m sure Lorna would feel the same way if she knew about what I have been dealing with the last couple of weeks.”
Emily stared at the computer monitor as it flashed image after image of the Claudia and the Davis family. She cringed each time she saw Wade’s smile. Did the kids have any idea then how hard hearted their father was? Had he always demanded such absolute perfection from his children?
She tore her eyes away from the screen and they fell on a picture of her family. Shane’s face showed the same sort of proud, happy smile that was on Wade’s face in many of the Davis pictures. Shane looked like the perfect family man. No one would ever have believed the secret life he had been living. Maybe, she thought, the whole world is full of hypocrites, or at least people who harbor hypocritical tendencies.
Emily leaned over and kissed Shane on his cheek. “I will try not to be so hard on him,” she said. “After all, he is grieving, in his own twisted sort of way.”
“Trying is all I can ask you to do,” Shane said. “You might want to think about taking a shower. Not that I think you look anything less than gorgeous no matter how you are dressed. I’m just not sure a flowery pink bathrobe is appropriate for a funeral.”
“It is not appropriate to be having a funeral for a 26-year-old new mother,” Emily said. She stood up and walked toward the door. “Shane, do you ever really wonder what God is thinking?”
He laughed. “Only all the time. There are so many times I have thought ‘when I get to Heaven, I will have to ask God why He did this thing that way’. Then I laugh at myself. I will be too busy dancing and praising to ask Him about specifics of His plan that didn’t pan out the way I would have planned them. None of it will matter then.”
Emily nodded and headed back upstairs to shower and dress for the funeral. She was unsure what she should wear to a funeral for such a young woman. All black seemed wrong somehow. Emily had not known Claudia well, but she seemed too bright and cheerful for dreary black to be fitting. Still, she knew she should stay away from the bright, sunny colors that she had seen Claudia wearing in almost every picture on that slide show.
In the end, she chose a charcoal black skirt and a jade green silk blouse. Shane told her she looked beautiful. His words almost caused her to run back upstairs and change. Emily was not worried about looking beautiful that day. She was not even sure she wanted to look beautiful. She just wanted the day to be over with.
Todd and Matthew Davis had been the ones to ask Shane to officiate at the funeral. They were also the first ones Shane and Emily saw when they arrived at the funeral home before the service.
Todd looked like he had not slept in days. Looking at him broke Emily’s heart all over. From what Shane had said Emily knew that Claudia and Todd were always very close. Being born on her eighth birthday had made Todd Claudia’s favorite person. He was taking the loss harder than anyone else. He didn’t even leave the baby’s side for long. Todd didn’t even acknowledge Shane or Emily when they first walked into the funeral home. She wondered if he was too busy thinking about his nephew being alone at the hospital to notice anything else.
It was obvious from Matthew’s face that he had been crying already that morning. He shook hands with Shane and hugged Emily, thanking them both for coming. “Is there anything I can do for you right now?” Emily asked.
“You could check on Mom,” he said. “She is here, but she is not talking to either of us. It is almost like she is afraid of us or something.”
“Where is she?”
Matthew pointed down a short hallway. “Second door on the left,” he said. “I wouldn’t knock if I were you. I would just go in.”
“Do you think she won’t open the door if I knock?”
“I think she is likely to ignore you whether you knock or not,” he said. “But if you could just go in and make sure she is, well, as OK as she can be I would appreciate it.”
Emily waited until Shane and Matthew had headed off to talk about the order of the service before she went to find Lorna. When she reached the door, she knocked and pushed it open slowly. “Lorna?” she called out softly. “It is Emily. Are you in here?”
There was no answer. She looked around and saw Lorna sitting in a wingback armchair near a fireplace at the back of room. She had a photograph in her hand and was staring intently at it. “Matthew sent me to find you,” Emily said. “He is a little worried about you.”
Lorna’s head popped up. “Is he really?” she asked.
Emily nodded. “Of course,” she said. “I think both of the boys are.”
“Not Todd.” Lorna went back to staring at the picture. Emily pulled a chair beside Lorna to sit. As she did, she could see that it was a picture of Claudia, Todd, and an older woman. Lorna’s thumb gently caressed Todd’s face in the picture. “He hates me.”
“I’m sure he does not hate you.”
“Yes he does,” Lorna insisted. “He hates me, and I can’t blame him for that. I hate me, too.”
“Todd does not hate you,” Emily said. “He is just hurting.”
“Did you know I tried to keep him from seeing his sister?” Lorna asked, not taking her eyes off of that picture. “Wade was so angry about the pregnancy. He said no one in his house was to spend time with her, and I went along with it.” She snorted. “I thought I was doing the right thing, being a good wife, telling Todd that his sister was a bad influence.”
“It is hard to choose between the people we love.”
“What kind of a mother chooses a man over her own children??”
Emily knelt in front of Lorna and placed a hand on her knee. “The kind of woman who wants to keep peace in her family,” Emily said. “The kind of woman who believes her husband is misguided and will change his mind.”
“He hasn’t changed it yet, though,” Lorna said. “He told us this morning that he won’t be here today. Wade said he would mourn Claudia in his own, private way.”
Emily fought down the anger that was threatening to bubble over. Now was not the time to tell Lorna what a selfish, ignorant, prat her husband was. Besides, she likely already knew all that. “That is his loss,” Emily finally said. “You should feel sorry for him that he is missing out on this, not angry about things in the past.”
“But because of him I missed out on so much,” she said. “Abby has lived here for only a month. She only knew my Claudia for only a few days and she had a much better idea of the woman my daughter had become that I ever did. How am I supposed to live with that guilt?”
“You are not supposed to live with it,” Emily said. “You are supposed to turn it all over to God and let him deal with the guilt.”
“God,” Lorna scoffed. “I don’t imagine He wants much to do with me right now, either.”
“Do you know what my favorite thing about being a Christian is?” Emily asked. “I love knowing that no matter how much I screw up, no matter what foolish things I do, God still loves me. He knew thousands of years ago what mistakes I would make and how worthy I would be of love from anyone. And still He gave his Son for me. No matter what I have done, He is not going to turn away, not after giving a gift like that. And He is not going to turn away from you, either.”
There was a knock on the door. “Mom,” Matthew said softly. “Can you come out? Aunt Sue is out here, looking for you or Dad. Or, I can just send her back here if you want?”
Lorna shook her head. “I’ll be right there,” she said. She carefully tucked the picture back into the pocket of her sweater. “Sue is Wade’s sister,” she told Emily. “I can’t say I want to talk to her, but as long as I have to do it, I would rather do it in a crowded room.”
Emily fell into Lorna’s chair once she was gone. “Father God, I thank you,” she prayed softly. “Thank you for Shane, for helping both of us to see his shortcomings. And thank you for giving me the strength to love him anyway.”
Hurt as she was by his actions, Emily realized she could have had a much worse husband. At that moment, she knew without a doubt that staying with Shane and working through their problems was the right thing to do.