“Really?” He laughed, shaking his head. “That explains what Adam said.” He continued laughing softly. “Walked on like she owned it….” He took a sip of his beer, setting it against his forehead. “What am I doing, Lita?”
“We talked about that already.”
“I mean really? I’ve got no business falling in love with someone else. I’m here on vacation with my family. I’m not looking for another relationship.”
“That’s when love finds us, Kyle. Don’t you know that by now?”
“No, I don’t. Shit, Lita. I was nineteen when I got married. I was married almost half my life. I don’t know how to be single. When other guys my age were cruising the beach, I was home changing diapers. I loved Margo dearly, she was a wonderful woman. I really got lucky that the one major mistake I made turned out so well. But I’m lost here. I don’t know how to proceed.
“Until she collapsed today, I was having more fun than I’ve had in over a year. I was laughing and happy, feeling good about myself. I was enjoying a woman’s company—a woman who wasn’t my wife. I sat there thinking, ‘This isn’t so hard, this whole dating thing. I could get used to this.’ And then….”
“Then she collapsed.”
“Cindy asked me not to get involved with her. She begged me not to fall for a woman who’s probably dying. How can I put my children through that again? They already like Emily. Have you seen Mindy with her? She’s so animated. I can’t get over the change the last couple days have made in her.”
He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, sniffling loudly. “I’m a wreck.”
Carmelita put her arms around him. “I think you need to go talk to the chaplain tomorrow. I think he could give you a lot of comfort.”
“I may just do that.”
“In the meantime, baby, you pray. You open your heart and tell God everything that’s inside you.”
“I’m not sure I even know how to pray right. I prayed for Margo to get better and she died. What if I pray wrong again and Emily dies too? I can’t do that. I can’t be responsible.”
Carmelita drew herself up, smacking him hard on the arm. “You stop that right now! Don’t you even think that God does that! He doesn’t go killing people off because someone else doesn’t pray right. God listens to everything. He hears all our prayers, no matter how we say them. And He answers everything.”
“He didn’t answer me with Margo. She died anyway.”
“Do you give your kids everything they ask for?”
“No, of course not.”
“Okay then. Sometimes you have to say no for whatever the reason. Sometimes God does too. We can’t know why, not unless He tells us. It was Margo’s time to go, so she went. It’s not Emily’s time, or yours or mine. But when it is, not a damn thing on this Earth that will prevent it. So keeping that in mind, you ask yourself if you’re making any sense at all with that whole, ‘I don’t know how to pray’ thing. If you ask me, that’s just selfishness and self-pity.”
Kyle wiped his eyes, sniffling again. “Have I ever told you how much I hate when you’re right?”
“Pretty much every day for the last ten years.”
“You’re my best friend, Lita.”
“You’re mine too, baby.” She kissed his nose. “Now you finish off that beer, brush your teeth and go to bed.”
After she left, he did just what she told him. He had just enough alcohol in his system that he was able to relax. He slept deeply, dreamlessly, until Mindy woke him the next morning by jumping on his bed.
“Daddy, Daddy! We’re at Mexico! I can see it out the window!” She ran to the drapes, pulling them aside.
Bright sunlight lanced through his eyes leaving a shimmering trail behind. Prone to migraines most of his life, he wasn’t too excited about the sunlight blasting his eyeballs, so he got up and went to the bathroom. He looked grim. He realized he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and decided that was his first order of business after a shower. Mindy tried to join him in the bathroom, so he sent her back to Carmelita.
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