Spencer called after Kate, wanting to set up a time to get together. But he let her go for now. He felt the same way, wanting to be alone with his thoughts and memories of his adventures with John. But he went back inside the church and talked with John’s parents. He wanted to see if John ever mentioned his daughter to them, without having to come out and ask point-blank. He also wondered why John left her to Kate instead of his parents, but figured he thought he and Kate would marry and raise her. Life had a way of changing things. He hoped Kate accepted it better than he thought she would.
Spencer ate a few bites of ham, mashed potatoes and a Jello salad with pineapple and coconut in it. Comfort food. But today it wasn’t very comforting.
Mrs. Kern leaned over and whispered, “She’ll be fine, eventually. We were kind of expecting this to happen eventually. With three sons in the military, our odds were pretty high.”
Spencer nodded. “Still, it’s hard.”
She continued. “It is, but there is always the Comforter to help in times like this. And we were very proud of him; still are.” She stopped to wipe her eyes with her tissue before continuing. “John’s brothers couldn’t make it; one’s in Kandahar and the other in Germany. But we’ll get together with them soon and have a good family cry.” She wiped her eyes and gave Spencer a wobbly smile.
He nodded, not wanting to say anything.
Mrs. Kern sipped her coffee before asking, “Now, will you be taking care of Kate?” She gave him a knowing smile.
Spencer turned in the direction that Kate took off. He turned back to Mrs. Kern and sighed. “If she’ll let me. She’s very stubborn.”
“That’s what John said. But he liked that in her, though sometimes it was a problem. I think she’ll need you, Spencer. I know the three of you have been friends for a while, and that you liked her from the beginning, but that she chose John. You’re a gentleman, and you deserve to have her now. Don’t let her push you away.”
Spencer thought about what he knew he had to tell Kate. “I won’t, even if she tries.”
“Good. You take special care of her and you’ll all be fine.”
“All?” He was startled at her statement.
Mrs. Kern smiled. “Yes, all. We know. John finally told us recently by email and that he was afraid Kate wouldn’t accept her. But I think time will heal all of you.” She squeezed his hand. “May we stay in touch?”
“Of course, Mrs. Kern. That would be great.
“She’s our granddaughter, you know.”
She didn’t let him finish. She put a hand on his arm. “It’s not your fault, Spencer, and we understand. John made his peace and told us the mother has been very sick and Sarah would go to a foster home until you can pick her up. With our age, it would have been too hard for us, but we know you two will take care of her like your own.”
“Absolutely. I won’t be able to marry Kate right away, but-”
“Take your time and let her heal first. She’ll come around.” They sat in silence for a minute, listening to the chatter and laughter around the room.
“Give Kate our regards, and we’ll talk soon.” She got up and Spencer followed suit. Mr. Kern was involved in a conversation with family members and seemed oblivious to their conversation. Mrs. Kern gave Spencer a hug and he felt some closure. “I have to tell Kate soon; I want to get it over with.”
“I understand. Just be her rock. She’ll bash against you but just absorb her anger and she’ll get it all out eventually. I think John mentioned her mother abandoned her, and I think that’s why she’s so resistant to motherhood. But, you’ll all adjust in due time. She’ll be shocked for a while, and understandably so. Becoming a mother the normal way is enough of a change,” she stopped and gave Spencer a smile, “but this will be quite the challenge, indeed. If I’d known about Sarah sooner, I would have encouraged John to share the news with Kate.”
Mrs. Kern adjusted her handbag on her arm. “I’m sorry you have to do his dirty work, Spencer. Go easy on Kate, I’m sure she’s capable and will come around.”
“Thank you Mrs. Kern. I needed this. It helped a lot.”
“I hope so, but I want to thank you. For being such a great friend to John and keeping him on the straight and narrow as best you could. We know he wasn’t perfect.” They hugged and then she said, “And thank you again so much for your help with the funeral and being the go-between. That was a big help.”
“You’re very welcome. Glad I could do a little.” He couldn’t say anything else. He said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Kern and left the church, feeling a whole lot freer than before. Now all he had to do was tell Kate and be ready for her onslaught.
One thing at a time.
Until next time,