Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay
It was exactly a week later, and Frank and I were just getting up from the table after lunch. The phone rang, and I went to get it while Frank finished clearing the table. The caller ID showed a name I didn't recognize, but I'd become used to that over the month, nearer two months, that Frank had been searching for a church. We hadn't gotten many calls, but those we got were from names and numbers we didn't recognize.
I answered it, and recognized the voice. I handed the phone to Frank, and listened to his side of the conversation. About midway through, though I hadn't been able to gather anything from his words, the enormous smile that spread across my husband's face gave me the answer. When he hung up I threw myself at him, wrapping my arms around him and holding on tightly. "They've called you, haven't they?" I asked.
"They have, Gen. And I do believe that you're happier about it than I am."
"I don't know about that, Frank." I looked up at him, and smoothed the collar points of his shirt. "I know that I am very happy. I have believed for a week that this is what God wanted, and I am glad that the church agreed."
Frank leaned down and kissed me, and then lifted me in his arms and swung me around the room. And then my husband – the man who could hide enormous pain behind a façade of ice, the man who in all our years of marriage had only in the past few months learned to smile and laugh without reserve – that man danced me across the living room, through the kitchen, and into the dining room, where he fell into a chair and pulled me into his lap. "Genesis," he said, "I am sorry that we had to go through the torment we endured, you and I. It ought never to have happened – there are things that both of us ought never to have done. But I could almost call it worthwhile, to see the joy on your face and see your hair swirling about your shoulders just now."
"My hair," I said with mock severity, "would still be neatly down my back if some wild man hadn't taken me on a tour of a dance hall."
"Your hair," Frank said, lifting it and dropping it in red masses over my shoulders and down the front of my dress, till it covered me like a tunic down to my waist, "is a glorious sight, which I will never tire of. Why did you never grow it long before?"
"I don't know. I guess I never thought to. I always had it tamed and tied down, and then when I stopped caring about myself I just let it go. You may remember that for days on end I'd just rinse it out in the shower, without using shampoo or conditioner, and not caring how matted and limp and lifeless it got. By the time I began thinking of my appearance again, my hair was longer than it had been since I was a child, and I never bothered to shorten it again."
"Whatever the reasons, Gen, I love it. I love your eyes, and your lips, and your chin, and your lovely hair, and I love..." Here he whispered in my ear, and I knew I was turning redder than a beet as he lavished me with the most intimate endearments.
When he finished, I kissed his lips, and said, "Frank, what you've just told me is fit only for husbands and wives to hear or say. I'm not going to give you my own version of it. I just want you to know that every part of you – your heart and soul, your mind, and your body – is what I love about you. I can't think of a single thing about you that I don't love."
"I can think of something which, if I named it, you would not love. But both of us suffer from that blemish, and I don't think a naming is necessary. God has dealt with that, and the day will come when neither of us will carry that flaw any longer. In the meantime, Genesis, knowing that you love me is the only joy that can compare with the joy of loving you." He tangled his fingers in my curls and pulled me close. "Genesis, my heart, what would I do without you?"
"I don't know, Frank, anymore than I know how I would live without you. And we came so close to finding out the hard way."
"Yes. We could have divorced. I came very close to being a widower..." His voice broke, and I felt tears dripping through my curls. "Yet God brought us back together, and our love is better and sweeter than it was."
I nodded. "And now we have another thing it once looked as though we'd lost forever – a church where you can lead Christ's sheep to new maturity, and I can be part of a body of serving children of God. I don't know what else we could have."
He was silent for a moment, and then he spoke almost in a whisper. "We've never had children, Gen."
I thought how to reply. "Frank," I finally said, "I wouldn't turn down such a gift from the Lord. But so far He has seen fit, in his wisdom, to leave us childless. Do you want children?"
"Not if God hasn't given them to us. I would enjoy being a father, I think, and I know I would be a far better father now than I would have been two years ago. But ... no, I am not desperate for children; I have no desire for extreme methods. If natural processes don't give us children, Genesis, I'm content."
"So am I. I have nothing against couples who strive and strive for children, and I enjoy seeing couples with children who love those children, and are doing their best under God to raise them up in the right way. But I think perhaps God has chosen to give us our complete happiness in each other, without children."
"That isn't in line with all the stereotypes, you know."
"Yes, I do know. I've had men and women both ask me if I don't want children. Some have actually been sorry for me because we have none, as though my heart is broken without diapers to change and drool to wipe and toys to put away. And yes, I would enjoy that. But I enjoy being here, snuggled up to you, and I am, secretly, a bit glad that no son or daughter will interrupt us no matter how long we stay here."
I couldn't remember when I'd had such a talk with Frank. We never had talked like this. His feelings had been so deep within that while we did talk, we never could discuss anything so full of emotion. A great deal of my joy was my husband's newfound openness to his feelings, his willingness to be an emotional person, to show himself vulnerable and weak at times in front of me. I knew it was still sometimes difficult for him, for he had a lifetime of stiff-upper-lip training to overcome. But he was strong enough, now, to be undefended before me, and I so appreciated that.
We sat for a while, saying nothing, while Frank's fingers tugged on my hair, and his other hand held my shoulder, rubbed up and down my arm, and reached around my waist to flatten on my stomach and warm me there. I might never bear a child, I might never see that flat stomach growing and swelling with life, but Frank's hand there was such a token of love that my tears spilled over, and dripped down and spotted my dress – and came to rest on his lovely hand.
"Are you sad, Genesis?" he asked softly.