His heart was heavy. He had to find the right words to let her know. It would be a shock for her and he wasn’t sure how she would handle the news. Why? He had asked himself that question thousands of times over the last thirty minutes. Why? Somehow there had to be an answer for it. If only he could come up with one before he had to tell her.
Josh turned his attention back to the road. The journeys to and from work had been the most difficult ones he had ever taken as his past haunted him every time he was alone. He had prided himself on not keeping secrets from his wife, Carol. All but one. That was safe because it happened before he knew her, before he realized she was the one he wanted to spend his life with. And now that one secret might be his undoing. He sighed as he turned down the street that led to his house.
His mind went back to the letter he had received a week ago. There was no name, only a return address, a couple hours away. He didn’t know anyone in that town so he almost threw the letter away. But he decided against it and tore the envelope open. It read,
“Dear Joshua Landers,
“My name is Lynette. You don’t know me, but I hope to get to know you. You might recognize my mother’s name, Sarah Thompson. If not, perhaps I need to look farther. However, I think you are my father.”
Josh had felt the room start to whirl. He sat down. Yes, that name was familiar. He read on.
“My mother raised me alone. Awhile back, she told me you name. She didn’t know where you were now, but said you had stayed in the same town after she left. She has died and now the doctor wants to know my medical history. Please call me or write me; if you don’t recognize my mother’s name, please let me know that.”
“Sincerely, Lynette Thompson.”
Josh had stared at the phone number. He wanted to throw the letter away, forget about this moment, and go back to his blissfully happy relationship with his wife and children. Anger welled up in him. Why does she want to contact me?
He slumped. His anger disappeared. He had been a rat and he knew it. When Sarah confided to him she was pregnant, he wanted her to get an abortion. The conversation came back to him.
“We can’t get married, Sarah. We are too young. We have lives ahead of us. An abortion is the only way!”
Angrily, Sarah shook her head. “Never, Joshua. I can’t do that to my baby!”
“Well, then, take care of it yourself!” he shouted. He had stomped out and disappeared from her life.
Sarah had moved out of town, but he had stayed in the same town.
The years after that had changed his life. He had met God and repented of his past and of what he had done to Sarah. He had met Carol and they had married and had a baby, and another on the way. He told himself there was nothing he could do about Sarah and that it would do no good to tell Carol about his past.
Even over this past week, he had tried to justify throwing the letter away, or contacting the young lady and lying to her. But the conviction hit him hard that since truth had become important to him, he needed to call Lynette and tell Carol about his past.
Josh pulled the car into the garage. He whispered a prayer that God would him strength to do what he had to do and give grace that Carol would understand. As he pushed open the door from the garage into the kitchen, he saw Carol at the table drinking a cup of tea. He took a deep breath and stepped into the house.
Carol turned toward him and smiled. “Oh, you have caught me in my laziness. The kids are over at the neighbors in their pool.” Her smile faded. “Josh, are you okay?”
Josh sat down beside her. “I need to talk to you, Carol. Will the kids be gone long?”
“A couple hours yet.” She set her cup down. “Josh, what’s wrong?”
“Carol, I have been dishonest with you. I hope you can forgive me.”
Carol stared at him for a moment. “Go ahead, Josh.”
“It is about something that happened before I knew you. I didn’t think it mattered that I didn’t say anything, but I can see that I should have.” He held up the letter he had pushed into his pocket. He had kept it there, moving it to whatever jacket or pants he was wearing that day.
Carol hesitated, then reached out and took it. Josh watched as she read it. She looked up at him and was quiet for a long time. When she spoke, her voice was resolute. “Have you contacted her?”
Josh shook his head. “I have put it off.”
“Josh,” she scolded, “she apparently is your daughter. You owe her. And since she is your daughter, she is mine.” She cleared her throat. “I wish you would have told me before. But that is the past. Now we have to take care of her.”
Josh nodded. “I’ll call her. But first I need to say something. I was a rat to her. I even wanted her to get an abortion. But God convicted me of that and I have repented for all of it. Still, it is inexcusable that I didn’t tell you about the child before we were married. I don’t deserve any forgiveness from you, but I hope you will grant it.” Without waiting for her to respond, he stood and went to the phone.
At its ring, a young woman’s voice answered. Josh told her who he was.
“Mr. Landers, thank you for calling. I know this is probably a difficult situation. I don’t want to make it worse. Could we meet and discuss my medical history?”
Josh agreed. They set Saturday and Josh was on his way. Carol seemed distant and Josh could only pray that he would forgive him.
Lynette was a very nice young lady. She was in her twenties and living with an aunt. “Aunt Linda encouraged me to call you,” she said. “I thought I just wanted medical information, but I find I am glad to meet my father. Mother told me a lot about you”
“I wasn’t very nice to her. I’m sorry I was a cad.”
“We talked about you, without your name. She didn’t tell me that until she got sick. Then she felt she needed to. She forgave you and she wanted me to do the same.”
“Lynette, I told my wife about you.”
Lynette’s eyebrows went up as if she to say “And?”
“My wife says since you are my daughter, you are hers too. We would like to take you to dinner and have you meet your brother.”
A smile spread across Lynnette’s face. “I would like to. A brother! Wow!”
The trip home was much better than the trip to see his daughter, but he was concerned about Carol. She had seemed distant after he told her. He parked in the garage and went into the house. Carol was fixing dinner. She turned to him.
“It was good,” he told her. “I asked her to go to dinner with us.”
Carol nodded. She stopped what she was doing. “I want you to know I forgive you. I have done a lot of thinking. I was hurt but the past is the past and I know you have changed. I love you, Josh.”
She walked to him and put her arms around his neck. He put his arms around her and whispered thank you through her hair. “I love you, my beautiful wife.” Their kiss was like a stepping stone, away from the past and into a new beginning. As he held her close, his thoughts formed a prayer of thanks to God for His making an ugly situation beautiful.
This was written as a prompt from Author S B Mazing. Join the fun and write your story from her prompt!