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Beneath the Covers,Past
A Romance Column
By Carol Ann Culbert Johnson


Believing in Forever!

This title describes and explains everything to me. In romance it means believing in love everlasting, even when obstacles and conflicts erase the big picture and you fall into a world of pain and suffering because you can't be with that person—the man or woman you pledged your feelings to, and the one you want to spend eternity with. Love and romance are powerful words, and they elevate all sorts of avenues. Do you love or do you lust?

What constitutes someone wanting to believe that they have the power and serenity to know that when that woman or man turns the corner—and eyes meet—this is the person they will spend the rest of their duration with. That is the power of love.

Some of us are blessed to have this component in the form of psychic ability and some of us are still searching for our one true mate. There are others who had that cosmic existence, but were too afraid to nurture it when it was evident, and now it's to late... but the feelings are a matter of solid love and affection, and won't disappear. Love is an emotion. How many of us have experienced this love? Do we know what love is?

The context of love to me is a deep and exotic feeling of wanting to be with that person morning, noon and night, and thinking about that person all the time. This is romance to me. Do we all share this evolution of love? Here's a short story that explains the true meaning of love and romance, and the title above is self-explanatory!


Today was my birthday and we were having my surprise party in the backyard of our home. My son and husband had really outdone themselves this year. I appreciated my family, and after three years of marriage, my husband and I were still so much in love, that I chose to dedicate my happiness to God, Abraham and family.

I watched Abraham as he played with our grandchildren. He was more handsome than ever. Abraham is white, and I am black, and though most said it wouldn't last because of the difference in our skin color, I, at forty-four, was having the time of my life.

The grandchildren were energetic four and six year olds, and though I didn't have as much energy as used to, I considered myself to be in decent shape and health, as I played ball with them until I had to sit down.

"Are you okay Mother?"

I looked up at my twenty-three year old son, Dallas. "I'm fine and the children are absolutely adorable."

"Their mother dressed them up for the occasion."

I frowned. "How is December?" I asked.

"Honestly, she's a pain in my ass Mother. I thought December and I would get married and make it work, but she isn't the woman for me. I love my children, and I love spending time with them even more, even if December can't stand me. I'm afraid that going to court to get custody of the children spoiled whatever hopes I had about us."

"Honey, let's let the drama pass for now. Justice won. Abraham is one of the best attorneys in the world, and you have full custody of the children; take the time to rejoice a bit. December's drug addiction isn't your own. Listen, I never thought being a parent would be your thing, with you and December making such an early start; you were fifteen, and believe me, I could have murdered you with my bare hands, I was so angry. But you have been responsible, and the children are happiest with you. When December gets her life in order, she will spend more time with the children."

"I know, Mother."

"I'm glad the children are with you and that you got your head on straight, son." Lovingly watching Prince and Pearle romp with Abraham, I continued, "And I do love keeping my grandchildren—at times," she smiled.

"They are in school now, Mother, so you don't have to worry about that. I'm in law school part-time, and Abraham has been very helpful to me in mastering the first year of law school. I..., Mother?"

I watched as the handsome man I married three years ago pushed Pearle on the swing, then I suddenly felt a flash of panic as I stood up to eye Abraham more carefully; my concentration peaked and my footsteps quickened into a run, as Abraham touched his head, then his chest, and fell to the ground. "Abraham? Abraham!" I screamed. As I made it to his side, I became hysterical. Lying on the ground, holding his chest, he gazed at me. "I love you, always and forever," he whispered and then drifted off to a place where I could no longer reach him.

"Someone, call an ambulance!" I shrieked. "Abraham don't you dare die on me!"

************

I paced the halls of Chicago Masonic Hospital, as I waited for word on my husband. 'He can't be dead,' I thought. 'He's just tired and needs some rest.' The tears blinded me.

"He's going to be fine, Porsche."

I turned toward the familiar voice of my son's girlfriend, Rain. The two of them had been dating for a year now, and Dallas was smitten. Rain was a model—tall, petite-framed, and successful. Most of all, she was very warm and loving with the children. "Thank you. How are you?"

"I'm fine. Dallas said to tell you that he will be back shortly; he went to get the children settled in with my mother."

I embraced her. "I can't lose my husband," I sobbed. "I love him so much."

"It's not going to happen. Let's pray.".

I released my hold on her and we held hands, closed our eyes and prayed. Abraham was going to be fine. He was one of God's children, and besides that, the Lord had to know how much I needed him.

"Thank you. You know, at times like this, it's good to have a woman around. My son is a lucky man."

"I know," she faintly replied, her face showing a frown.

"What's wrong, dear?"

"Can we talk about this later, that is, put it off until another time? I don't want to be running to 'Dallas's mother' every time a situation presents itself."

"Nonsense. I need to get my mind off of Abraham for a moment, let's go to the cafeteria; I think I could use a cup of coffee. I'll just let the nurse know where to find me when he wakes up."

Rain shook her head. "Okay."

Twelve minutes later, we were sitting in the cafeteria sipping coffee and diet soda.

"So tell me what's going on with you and my son," I said warmly.

"I love him so very much, but I don't think he loves me enough. He had such a bad experience with December that he thinks all women are the same.

"Don't get me wrong, Porsche. The children are gorgeous and so smart. They seem to like me, and I adore them, but between Dallas and me, there is something missing."

I smiled thoughtfully before replying, "I want you to talk to him, Rain. Communication is the key. I almost lost my husband by not having conversations with him about my concerns, and you need not do the same thing. My son is very interested in you."

Rain smiled. "I do love him."

"Talk to him." I noticed the nurse, as she walked over to me. "The doctor wants to talk to you."

"How is my husband doing?"

"You need to come with me and talk to the doctor," the nurse replied.

I followed her through the sterile hallways with Rain following closely behind. I couldn't stand nurses who never gave any information. Stopping outside of Abraham's door, I stared at the doctor, trying to read his expression, which wasn't giving me any answers. "How is he?"

"I'm afraid your husband had a stroke, Mrs. Parker. He's in very critical condition.

"How did he have a stroke?" I cried. I sat down in an available chair, and Rain took my hand, I was so grateful to have her here with me. "I don't understand."

"A stroke happens when a blood vessel explodes or is clogged and causes a sudden interruption in the flow of blood to the brain," the doctor replied.

"But, I don't recall any symptoms," I said.

"There usually are no warning signs with most people," the doctor replied a bit too 'matter-of-factly'. "Tell me, did he have any numbness in his face or extremities? On either side of his body?"

I thought back. "No," I shook my head.

"What about changes in his speech?"

"No!"

"Was he forgetful or did he have any difficulty recognizing you or important functions at times?" the doctor asked.

As I felt my frustrations mounting, I reminded myself that Abraham's current condition was not this doctor's fault. "Not that I am aware of."

"Any vision problems, loss thereof, or seeing double?"

"I don't think so," I sighed, rubbing my forehead. "No."

"What about frequent headaches or dizziness?" the doctor suggested.

"No, not that I can recall," I said. "Oh, wait a minute, he did complain about a headache the other day, but he took something for it, and he was fine. He never showed any dizziness around me. Doctor, you must understand, Abraham is a proud man and these symptoms could have happened. He wouldn't have told me about such things."

"As I said before some people don't have the warning signs."

"Can I see my husband?"

"Certainly. He's stable for the moment, but he is in a fragile condition," the doctor said.

I studied the doctor's face for any sign of hope or warmth, and finding none, I squeezed Rain's hand.

"I'll be right here," she said. "Remember, he's going to be fine."

I nodded my head, with tears blurring my sight, and followed the doctor to my husband's bedside. After rhythmically checking his chart, the doctor turned to me.

"I'll leave the two of you alone," he said, and then turned, and left.

I sat down near the bed and tried fighting the tears, but the IV and the machines troubled me so. I took his cold hand.

"Hi honey, it's Porsche," I said. "Your wife," I added thoughtfully. I always liked the sound of that. "I love you, so don't think about leaving me do you hear me? We only had three years together, but we wasted a few being silly. Now you get your rest and then come back to me. I know God is not calling you yet. I need you honey, please wake up," I sobbed. "I'm going to be right here, I won't leave your side."

He didn't respond, and I turned away to weep silently. Surely this wasn't happening to us.

It had been two hours and there had been no change. I had the nurse bring me some pamphlets on strokes to pass the time. I leaned back in my chair and began reading:

'How can you prevent having a stroke?' I frowned at the question; it was too late for that. However, I read on—'eating a healthy diet, no smoking, monitoring high blood pressure, and exercising on a regular basis.' Abraham had home cooked meals. We went out from time to time, but that wasn't often. I hurry home after work to fix him a healthy meal. He didn't smoke at all, and his blood pressure was always normal. This couldn't be true. Abraham had none of these risks for strokes. I continued reading:

'Who is at risk for a stroke, men or women? Women are the logical choices since they live longer than men.' If that was the case, why didn't it happen to me, and leave my husband the hell alone? '50% of women are affected or can have a stroke.' I shook my head. I didn't bother to wipe my face as the tears kept falling.

Abraham was an attorney, but he kept regular checkups. His arteries were fine. I threw the information on the bed, and stared at Abraham, who was napping.

'Abraham, you should have checked out those headaches.' "It's going to be okay. You can survive this, honey, I know you can," I whispered.

I looked up at the ceiling, and prayed to God,

Dear God. I thank you so much for bringing Abraham into my life. I don't know why he had to suffer a stroke; I just don't have the answers. Please let him rest for a while and clear up his body. I want my husband back. We wasted so much time letting the race card ruin our lives, and now we're together and a monster of a stroke is trying to tear up my marriage. I can't let the devil win, God. My husband is just getting some rest, and then he's going to wake up.

I don't want him broken up, but the way he used to be. I love him so much, and please bring him back to me. I love him so much, God, and without him here with me, I know I can't go on. I know I am being selfish, but I love him, and I need Abraham in my life. Abraham is your child, please take care of him. Thank you God in Jesus' Name.

I looked at Abraham as I continued to weep silently. I wasn't going to let this stroke win.

************

Abraham slipped into a coma soon after his hospitalization, and it had been three months since my birthday party. I was sitting at his bedside, reading one of his favorite books. When Abraham wasn't working, he loved reading books of poetry. He owned so many, that I was always tripping over them. I smiled at the thought. He would have a book delivered sometimes two or three times a week. This one was called Relationships by Janice Tool. I started from the beginning, and read about ten of them when the door opened and the nurse walked in to perform her routine checkup. Her name was Raven; she was very supportive and carried a warm disposition.

"I'll be right back, Raven. I'm going to get coffee."

"Of course, Porsche."

I smiled at Abraham, kissed him on the forehead and then turned to leave, almost bumping into Dallas. "Hi there bright eyes, what are you doing here?" I asked with a hug.

"I came to see how Abraham was doing," Dallas said pecking me on the cheek, "Where are you going?" he asked, walking me to the elevator.

"To the cafeteria to get a bite to eat," I said. "Care to join me, handsome?"

After a big hug, we boarded the elevator together, set on getting something to eat.

In the cafeteria, we found a seat and I bit into my cheeseburger as Dallas bit into his. "For hospital food this is pretty good," he said.

"I agree," I said, taking a sip of my soda. "How are my grandchildren?" I asked warmly.

"They're fine. They're with Rain," he said.

"And how is December?"

"She's in the hospital," he said furrowing his brow with a sigh. "She almost overdosed. I think it best that she not be near the children; I won't let her until she's better."

"Poor thing. I hope she gets her life together," I said. "I wonder what the root cause of her addiction is."

Dallas shook his head. "Her childhood; she uses the drugs and alcohol to cope. I'm just glad she didn't hurt the children again."

"Me too, son. Me too."

"Mom, it has been three months; Abraham is gone."

I stared at my son. "Excuse me?"

"It's time to let Abraham rest in peace. I love him, but he's in God's hands now."

I briefly struggled to hold on to self-control and slowly gathered myself before speaking. "How dare you," I hissed. "Don't you ever—and I mean ever—say such nonsense to me again! Do we understand one another? And I'm going to make myself clear, so there is never a question about where my thoughts lie: I am never going to give up on my husband. Do you hear me? I know in my heart that that man is not going to leave me. Now, I know you never liked him, but that is no excuse to say what you just said to me, Dallas."

"No, I didn't. Not at first, mother because of the whole race thing, and I'm your son," he stated. "I just wanted to make sure that no one hurt you or took advantage of your kindness. You're a beautiful woman—smart and dedicated. I mean, I like him now, but he's gone, mother, let..."

"When did you get a medical degree?!"

"Dr. Sparks called me and he's saying the same thing. There's nothing else they can do for Abraham, and he's holding up a room for other patients. I know you don't want to hear this, but your husband is gone. You had three good years with him, and you'll always have the memories."

"What the...?! I think you should leave, and I mean now! I am not pulling the plug on my husband."

"Mother, don't be upset with me..."

"It's too late for that, son." I stood abruptly, fighting the urge to slap my son. "I'm going to finish the rest of my meal in Abraham's room. If you cannot be supportive, then don't come here again," I whispered tightly, snatching my food off of the table, and marching out of the cafeteria. He was clueless.

"Mother, I'm sorry," Dallas called out from behind.

A few minutes later I marched into Dr. Spark's office and slammed the door behind me with a bang. "What kind of doctor do you think you are telling my son to encourage me to give up on my husband?! I think my husband needs a new doctor because you're lacking in ethics." I stood there with my hands on my hips and smoke coming out of every pore. I had never been so furious in all of my life.

"I'm sorry," the doctor replied. "Your husband isn't responding to anything, Porsche. "I was only trying to save you some headache along the way. I am a doctor and I've seen this before. I know what I'm talking about."

"Then you need to get more funding for your hospital to get more rooms because my husband is not leaving this one. I know when someone is gone forever, and Abraham is alive. I don't know why he has to stay asleep this long, but God has a plan and he's not taking him to heaven at this moment. Do your job or find me a doctor who will." I stormed out of his office, making sure I slammed the door. I felt a headache coming on, which frightened me. I remembered the doctor saying that headaches were possible symptoms of a stroke. I had had them before, and Tylenol usually took care of them. I had nothing to fear. I took a few deep breaths, and then walked back to my husband's room. I had a book of poems to continue reading to him.

************

Time flew and six months passed. I was sitting in the cafeteria having a drink, when the door opened and Abraham's two adult children from a previous marriage walked up to me. Initially, things between us were patchy. They didn't like me very much, and created more problems then they provided solutions, but we weathered that storm, and eventually, they came around. Looking at Major and Pamela, I had to say that Abraham had great genes; his children were both attractive and intelligent. Major was twenty-eight and in medical school following in his mother's footsteps, and Pamela was pursuing her law degree, in her second year at twenty-six. "Please sit down."

"How is he?" Pamela asked.

"The same," I said. "I'm glad to see you both."

"We spoke with his doctor," Major said.

"I'm going to find him a different one," I rushed on. "Dr. Sparks has some issues he needs to resolve."

"He said that father can come out of his coma if you believe," Pamela said. "He also said that you will never give up on your husband, and we shouldn't either."

It appeared that Dr. Sparks had come to his senses. "I hope you two can understand my decision to remain hopeful."

"We do," Major said standing. "I'm going to spend some time with him."

"Talk to him about your life," I said. "It's good for him."

Major smiled at me. "You're good for father."

"It's my love for him; that's what it is," I confessed.

"We can tell," Major said, embracing me and then leaving the cafeteria.

Tears ran down my cheeks as I wiped my eyes with a cafeteria napkin. "He's coming back to me, Pamela."

"I miss him, too, Porsche. I miss him too," she said grasping my left hand in both of hers.

"I know, honey, and so do I. Your father needs this long rest, and then he's going to be as good as new. He was playing with Prince and Pearle when it happened," I said sadly. "I'm going to make sure they don't tire him out when he comes home."

"I wish I understood why this happened."

I shook my head. "I just don't know," I said, brewing a fresh batch of tears. "Shall we pray?" I clasped my free hand around Pamela's, and we closed our eyes together in prayer.

Twenty minutes later, Major returned and Pamela went up to spend time with her father. Major and I talked about his father as well as his studies. My husband's children were dear to me. They were a part of him, and it was satisfying to spend quality time with some part of him that was able to respond.

************

Two months later, it was eight months at Chicago Masonic, and I was in the room talking to Abraham with Rain and Dallas. "So, what's been going on with the two of you?" I laughed. "I can tell you two are here to tell me something; hopefully it's good news?"

"Actually, we have some bad news, mother," Dallas said. "December didn't make it this time. She overdosed and died."

To say that I was shocked would have been an understatement. "When did this happen?"

"Two months ago. We didn't want to tell you with all that's been going on," Dallas said. "I'm so sorry."

"You're sorry? How are the children taking it?" I asked sincerely.

"Pearle cries a lot, and so does Prince, but they didn't spend enough time with December to really know her; I think they're going to be fine."

"But I'm so sorry for December. Who took care of the funeral arrangements?"

"Her mother did," Dallas said. "She was cremated."

"That's a shame," I said. "She was so young."

"Her mother blames herself," Dallas said.

I shook my head. "Are you okay, Rain?"

"I'm sorry for December, but I'm fine," she said.

I looked from my son to Rain. "What's going on?"

"I know this isn't the right time, mother, but Rain and I are getting married. We're going to City Hall on Friday, and when Abraham is well, we're going to have a big reception."

"Oh, my goodness! Are you two sure about this?" I asked excitedly.

"We are!" Rain cried.

"Oh, I'm so happy!" I cried. "Congratulations! I think this is the right thing to do. Pearle and Prince need the both of you. Oh, I'm so happy for the two of you. This is the best news."

"I agree." The three of us turned toward the low voice and stared at Abraham. His eyes were open, and he had a smile on his face. I was speechless.

"I'm back," Abraham whispered.

I kissed his forehead and then embraced him as Dallas went to get the doctor. "Hi, baby," I whispered back with tears in my eyes. "You had a long sleep, you know; you should be well rested."

"I am," he whispered. "You are so beautiful. I do love you."

"I love you, too, honey. I do love you, too."

"Forever, and ever," he whispered.

"Forever and ever."

************

Two weeks later Abraham was back at home, though in a wheelchair for a while, which was a good idea, but he fought it—that is, until he fell. He could walk, but his legs were weak and physical therapy was helping—slowly, but surely.

It was a spring day in May as Abraham and I sat on the back porch, the grandchildren playing with Dallas and Rain as we looked on. "What do you want to do on your birthday?" Abraham asked. "It's just a few days away."

I looked at my handsome husband. "I have you back; you are my present."

"And you are mine, but I think we should go to Las Vegas or New York. Those are your dreams. I have time off, and I'm sure you can get time away from the boutiques."

"You need to recover," I said. "We can go to Las Vegas any time."

"I want us to go on your birthday," he said. "New York or Las Vegas?" he asked. "I think we can do both," he continued. "How about two weeks in Las Vegas and then a month in New York?"

I smiled at my husband. "I have a wedding to plan."

"Dallas and Rain are already married. They went to City Hall, remember? They don't want a real wedding until their anniversary next year. Why are you making excuses, honey? You told me when we first met that you wanted to go to Las Vegas and New York. What is the problem? You might find some fashions that you can use for your stores."

I wanted to go with a passion, but I didn't want to exhaust him into another stroke. "It isn't important to me; I just want to spend the rest of my life with you—healthy and well."

"I am not going to have another stroke, or be an invalid," he stated. "I've been in this wheelchair for two weeks, and I'm following the doctor's orders. Let's go in another week. I don't need you to protect me."

I smiled at him. "I don't know what you're talking about; you frightened the hell out of me when you had that stroke, and I don't want to do anything to hurt you."

"I am going to make the reservations, Porsche" he snapped.

"Okay, okay," I surrendered, holding both hands in the air.

"I love you," he laughed.

"Forever and ever," I said.

"Grandma, I want something to drink," Pearle said. "I'm thirsty."

"Me too, Grandma," Prince said.

I stared lovingly at my wonderful grandchildren. "Let's go into the kitchen and get a couple of juices."

"You just sit there," Abraham said. "The babies can go with me."

I smiled as they left, and then I looked to the sky.

Thank you, God, for bringing my husband back in good shape. Please watch over him and keep him alive for a very long time. I just love him so very much. Thanks for bringing Dallas and Rain together, and letting them get married. Pearle and Prince will be in good hands with them as parents; please watch over December. I know you had to take her; she needed peace. Watch over her. I thank you for all my blessings now and forever, amen!

Abraham and I went to Las Vegas for a month, and then we went to New York for three months. We had the time of our lives, and the most important thing was that Abraham was back on his feet. I had my husband forever and ever.

(Taken from I Confess 3)

 


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