Chapter 17

Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay

However much it hurt, the wedding was on – Tyrone was available, and the building was available, on Saturday afternoon. And it did hurt. Gill and I had blessed the wedding, on Saturday or whenever it took place, and we'd been sincere in it. Yet if we'd had our desires, we wouldn't be thinking of a wedding at all. There were times when I found myself fighting a temptation to ask God to simply undo what had happened, make it all go away – make it so that I'd wake up one day with Hadassah chaste and intent on staying that way.

But asking God to do that would have been silly. He is outside time, but that doesn't mean that He can or will undo what has already happened. It does mean that before He ever said "Let there be light," He knew, and was in control of, everything that we were experiencing. His almighty providence had foreseen and controlled it all, and though that didn't do away with the responsibility that Hadassah and Joshua bore, it did mean that even before He created the world He had worked in it all to bring forth something that would be good for His people. It would be good, in other words, for Gill and me, and for Joshua and Hadassah, and for their child who was still no larger than a mouse – though infinitely more precious than any rodent.

So Gill and I sought day after day, night after night, to lay our hurts at Christ's feet, and in truth we did become more reconciled to things as the days went by. Indeed, we began to anticipate the wedding, to feel, if not joy itself, the beginnings of what would become joy in the union of our daughter and her fiancé.

On Friday Gill and I went to the Benitez' house. When Patricia opened the door she made a face, but invited us in. She showed us into the living room, where George put down a magazine but didn't rise or offer his hand. Patricia sat beside her husband, and he looked at us with disfavor. "What do you want?" he asked.

Gill was gracious, though he had not been. "We know that Joshua and Hadassah have invited you to their wedding tomorrow. We were curious whether you planned to attend."

"No, we don't."

"Why not?"

"Because," he said, "I cannot bear to see my son marry that ... that..."

"Don't say it, George," I said. "I'm here as a gentleman and, I hope, still as your friend. But you won't insult my daughter."

"Your daughter corrupted my son."

"Your son made his own choices, just as my daughter did."

"George!" That was Patricia, in a voice that was a mix of whine and wail.

"My son is the victim of—"

"He is the victim of his hormones and of bad judgment, just as Hadassah is." Gill's statement cut me off at the pass, and it was a good thing, since my own words would have been considerably less understanding. "He did wrong, just as Hadassah did. But Josh is sorry for his sin, just as Hadassah is, and now he is determined to do what it right. They were going to marry anyway, were they not? Circumstances have forced them to marry sooner than they planned, but who your son is marrying is as it has always been."

"That was before we knew what kind of girl your daughter is."

Patricia sat up rigidly straight. "She's a—"

George cut his wife off with a sharp gesture and stared at us. "Why should we go to that wedding?"

"Because," Gill told him, "whatever you think of his bride, this is Josh's wedding. This is your son. This will only happen once. If they renew their vows later on, as they've talked of doing, it still won't be the wedding itself. If you're not at his wedding, you'll hurt your son."

"He's hurt us!" wailed Patricia.

"Just be quiet!" her husband barked, then turned to my wife. "However untimely her outbursts, Patricia's right. Joshua has hurt us, and I see no reason to pretend he didn't."

"We're not asking you to pretend anything," I said with heat. "We're asking you to be Christians, to forgive your son, to show your love for him. You haven't done a very good job of that so far." As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew I should have kept my mouth shut.

George stood up. "I want you out of here, now."

I opened my mouth, but Gill put her hand on my arm, then slid it down to my hand and pulled me up as she stood. "Very well," she said, her voice quiet and sad. "We won't trouble you anymore. We will pray for you, and for your son. If you're not there, it's going to hurt him, and somewhere down the line it'll hurt you too – and we don't want that."

By now I knew Gill's attitude was right and my own temper was wrong, so I turned with her and walked to the front door. I didn't look to see if anyone was behind us, but I knew that someone was – George, no doubt – when instead of me pulling the door shut, it slammed into my hand and closed with a bang. Perhaps childishly, I refused to rub or shake my hand until I was in the car, when I did both.

"Does it hurt?" Gill asked.

"Yes, but not as much as the thought that our friendship appears to be over."

"It does, doesn't it?" Gill fished in her purse for her keys, for she was driving that afternoon. "I'm too angry to cry right now," she said, "but when we get home..."

"I'll hold you, Gillian," I said.

"I know you will, William. I just wish you could make it better."

And then it was Saturday. Hadassah was up early, nervous and edgy. She recognized it and skipped her usual cup of tea, and finally went back up to her room – to pray, she said. "I don't know how else to calm down," she told Gill and me as she headed up the stairs.

"She's got a point," I told my wife.

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