And Then There Was...Love
by Sharel E. Gordon-Love
Shaking the pregnancy test trying to make the pink line disappear, I realized it wasn't going to work. According to the directions, if the pink line on the left matches the pink line on the right, congratulations! You're pregnant and should visit your gynecologist as soon as possible.
"Sigh…" I just went on and threw the pregnancy test in the garbage and followed the rest of the directions by making an appointment for the following Monday evening.
"How in the world can I pregnant?" I wondered out loud to myself. I know I did what it took to get pregnant, but in all the years I was with D'Juan, I never conceived no matter how hard we tried. With another sigh, I began preparations for the weekend. Shopping and running around with my best friend Sheila, and then getting ready for church on Sunday.
"Oh no! Oh my goodness! What will my church family say when they find this out? My mother is going to have a fit… literally." All I could think of was the shame, and maybe a way to get rid of the baby, but how without the guilt of murdering my unborn child? My very first baby… my very first time conceiving a child finally at the age of 28. As if that really mattered. A woman's biological clock doesn't really start ticking until she's getting close to 40… right? Whatever the case, this is a dilemma th
at I can see no way out of.
After being married for five years to D'Juan, our marriage crumbled. The arguing and bickering every day over the smallest of things was more than I was going to deal with, so I filed for a divorce. Neither one of us wanted to go to counseling with our Pastor and so D'Juan decided he wouldn't even fight for the marriage… just let it go. He could find someone else he'd rather be with anyway, so he said. Our marriage probably wasn't in God's will to begin with.
D'Juan didn't just move out of the condo, he left the state, leaving no forwarding address or phone number. Just when I knew I'd gotten him completely out of my system, he showed up at church four months ago saying he'd moved back to town and taken on a new job. With the new job, he worked on trying to renew things with me, convincing me that it was the right thing to do. I'm still not really sure, but I wish I'd thought it through a little more before we made love again two months ago. Now we hardly speak to each other and I'm pregnant with his child. Why do the craziest things always happen to me?
That unusually warm April morning brought more visitors than our small but spirit-filled church usually has, and a few old members as well. When Pastor Thomas saw his trusty adjutant enter through the doors of the sanctuary, he stood up so he could talk after the secretary made the announcements, grinning all hard like a cheshire cat.
"Bro. D'Juan Sinclair! It's good to see you again! Saints, our long, lost brother has found his way back home. How long are you here for, son?"
"I've moved back to town, Pastor. I have a new job and some other projects that I'm working on, so I'm definitely back for good."
Everybody loved D'Juan, so the congregation clapped like he'd been away for 10 years. Me? I didn't even look in his direction because just hearing his voice made my stomach do flips. Please Lord don't tell me I still have feelings for this man…
After church D'Juan approached me from behind while Sheila and I spoke to some other sisters in our church. I knew his touch, but I ignored it thinking that maybe he'll walk away, but I know D'Juan better than that.
"Excuse me a moment…" Turning to face D'Juan wasn't easy, and looking into those puppy dog eyes didn't help me any. Putting my emotions in check, I turned to him.
"What is it?"
"I just wanted to say hello and… well, I wondered if you had any plans for dinner."
"As a matter of fact, Sheila and I do," I replied defiantly, walking away. Whew! I'm glad he didn't come behind me on this one. I'm not ready to deal with Mr. Sinclair.
Thinking the cold shoulder worked well and after putting the incident out of my mind, I was surprised when I found D'Juan standing on my porch just a few days later after the doorbell rang and rang… and rang.
"Who would ring the doorbell like that! I'm coming!" I pulled the curtain back, and there stood D'Juan dressed in a very nice suit smiling ever so sweetly. He had one hand behind his back as he waited for me to open the door. Parting it slightly, I peeked my head out.
"Is there something I can do for you?"
"Yes… you could let me in. I want to talk you, Toya."
"There is nothing we need to talk about. If there were, I think you would have had a better chance talking to me two years ago."
"C'mon, Toya, please? There are some things we need to clear up if we're both going to move on with our lives."
"Look, I'm straight on everything that has happened between us, and it's been long enough for you to be all right with things too. I don't think it would be wise for us to go there now, would it?"
"Please, Baby? Just give me a chance. Please?"
Dang! Those eyes! That's what drew me to D'Juan in the first place. I don't know what forced me, but I opened the door and allowed him in. Please, Lord, give me strength!
"Here, these are for you… I know how much you love flowers and I couldn't resist getting some for you."
"D'Juan… um… thanks. Let me put them in water." Smelling the assortment of wonderful blooms on the way to the kitchen, I couldn't help but wonder if what I'm doing is the right thing. It's not like I believed there is anything left between us.
Returning to the living room, I find D'Juan looking at the new pictures I'd placed on the mantle.
"Your sister's children are growing up. Look at Little Johnny… I guess he's not so little any more, huh?"
What could I say? I just watched him look over all the pictures before finally taking a seat in the recliner. I sat on the arm of the sofa just in case I had to get to my feet quickly to throw this guy out.
"Toya, I have to tell you that I could do nothing these past two years but think about you… about us… about what we had together. I've missed it…"
"D'Juan, please! What is there to miss? Arguing all the time, never able to agree on anything?"
"We didn't start off that way, Babe. It was good in the beginning."
"Yeah… in the beginning. D'Juan, why are you really here? Did you get a new job for real or what?"
"Yes, I have a new job, and I have some investment projects going on here. Besides, it's no place like home. I've wanted to apologize for my decision to just walk away. I didn't have any more fight left in me since that's all we did. I'm truly sorry for not doing right by you."
He looked sincere enough, but was he really? I don't know… all I know is, I was ready for him to leave because I didn't want things to get any deeper and I couldn't control what I was feeling in my heart for D'Juan.
"Well, I accept your apology, but I don't think we need to discuss anything further than that. I guess I owe you an apology too. It was my decision to terminate the marriage without trying to really work things out."
"I accept!" D'Juan said, smiling all over his face as if that would change my mind about my decision. "So where do we go from here?"
"From here? No where! I'm not trying to rekindle anything. I just wanted to clear the air…"
"You mean clear your conscience right, Toya? Isn't that correct?"
"See, nothing has changed! Just because I've accepted your apology and offered mine does not mean that we pick up where we left off. You walked out that door…"
"And you filed for a divorce! What was I supposed to do? Wait… you know… I didn't come here to argue. I wanted to make amends, and yes, I admit, I wanted to try again, but not under these circumstances. I'll see you…"
D'Juan left out the way he came in, only he was dragging his tail behind him. I took the bouquet of flowers, tore them to shreds and threw them in the garbage. I then proceeded to throw myself on the sofa and cried my broken heart out.
I didn't realize I'd dozed off to sleep until the phone rang. Checking my Caller I.D. before picking it up, I saw it was Sheila.
"Hey, Toy! You sound like you were asleep… are you all right?
"Yeah. Are you busy?"
"No, why? Did you want me to come by?"
"Would you please? I need to talk to you…"
"Be there in 15. Did you want something while I'm on my way?"
"Ok, see you soon… 'bye!"
I went to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth to get the bad taste of sleep and D'Juan's visit out of my mouth. If only I could stop feeling nauseous too. While I was still in the bathroom, Sheila rang the doorbell and used her key to let herself in.
"Toya! I'm here! Where are you?"
"I'll be right out!" I said, straightening my hair one last time and putting more cold water on my puffy red eyes to try to get the swelling to go down.
Sheila took one look at me and knew immediately something had to be wrong.
"Girl, you look like death warmed over! What happened?"
"I can tell you in just one word… D'Juan."
"What did he do to you?"
"He came over here thinking that if we make peace concerning our marriage that we could start over again. I don't want him any more, Sheila," I lied.
"Toya, you're talking to me. You still love that man and you know you do. It's nothing wrong with admitting that, just be sure that you don't want to renew your relationship with your ex or you're going to blow it… again."
"A part of me does, but a bigger part of me does not. We started arguing and he left. Story of our married lives…" I said, plopping down hard on the sofa. "How in the world can I still love this man when I know getting back with him is only going to cause me grief?"
"You need to pray about it, that's what you need to do. Now, if it were me, I would go into prayer and fasting too, 'cause you know some things don't come out unless you do," Sheila said with a smile. "Besides, I'd rather have a good man who believes like I do than to have to sit around waiting on one to come along."
"Are you talking about yourself?"
"How else could I make such a statement? I've been there and done that, and I ain't about to go there again. My marriage didn't work because I chose to be with someone who hardly even believes there is a God… if by God's grace He allows marriage to be a part of my life again, I'll choose a whole lot wiser the next time. At least this time I'll know that marrying him won't change him if he doesn't already believe."
Sheila and I talked well into the evening about this subject, being that it was one of our favorites until it was time to pick up her daughter from her ex's house. After she left, I did get on my knees in prayer, but my words kept coming back to hit me in the face. Now what am I going to do?
At first going to the same church with my ex-husband bothered me, but since we didn't say anything to each other past 'hello', I started feeling better. That is until one Wednesday night after service when he followed me to my car.
"Toy, can I talk to you?"
"I thought we decided not to go there, D'Juan."
"Please? A cup of coffee? My treat."
"Sigh… dang D'Juan! Can't we just cut our losses and go on? I'm tired anyway, and I have to get up in the morning."
"LaToya Denise Sinclair. You still use my name, isn't that something?"
"I don't think you've written me off just yet."
"Man please! I've got to go."
Attempting to unlock my door, D'Juan gently took my hand and looked into my eyes as if he dared me to just turn my back and walk away.
"Ok, D'Juan, ok! A cup of coffee, 15 to 20 minutes tops of my time, and then I'm going home."
"Great! I'll follow you to the diner down the street."
What a coincidence. We would always go to the same diner down the street from the church on Friday nights since we didn't have time to eat before church. I'd long since stopped going there when D'Juan left. Why Lord? Why am I allowing this man to influence me to do what my mind tells me I shouldn't? I know my heart keeps saying "go on and give him another chance" but my mind reminds me of how broken my heart really is. Maybe my heart doesn't know any better and it just wants to feel loved again. But shouldn't I just allow You to fix my heart, Lord? I mean, who better than You? Please help me to know the difference between what I feel and what I should really do. I'm trusting in You Lord.
By the time I had my one-sided prayer, we were pulling into the parking lot of the diner. Old memories flooded me, and I almost got back in my car. D'Juan pulled in right beside me, and I braced myself for what was ahead. The last thing I wanted to do is argue with him any more. I'm tired of being tired, and I couldn't get any more tired. Whispering yet another silent prayer, I asked the Lord to "please… strengthen me…"
After we were seated, I immediately pretended to be more interested in what I'd like to snack on than what D'Juan wanted to say until he gently tugged at my menu.
"So how have you been, LaToya?"
"I've been fine, and you?"
"Been doing all right, I have no complaints. Look, I'm not going to beat around the bush as to the reason why I've asked you here. I hate having to apologize, but I really owe you an apology… a sincere apology."
"D'Juan, look, if you've gone on with your life and another woman, that's your business," I said with a slight crack evident in my voice. "I sure don't want to hear about that."
"Naw, see, it ain't even like that, Babe. I haven't been with anyone since I left here two years ago. You've always been with me in some way or another. There wasn't any place I went that I didn't find something that reminded me of what we had. All that added up to a lot of regret and sorrow, something I'd like to get rid of, if you'll allow."
"How do you suppose you can get rid of it? I mean, we haven't been together for two years. I've gone my way and I don't really want to get back into the married thing. Sheila and I have become good friends, and I help with her little girl as much as I can since her ex hardly does. Janay is the closest I'll ever come to having a child of my own, so I'm going to enjoy it as long as I can."
"Toy, what makes you think you can't have children?" D'Juan asked, wrinkling his forehead in question.
"Did we have any while we were together?"
"Baby, sometimes after using birth control pills for so long, you have to give your body a chance to return to it's normal self. You'd only been off the pill the last 6 months of our marriage."
"Longer than that… I just didn't tell you because you didn't want children yet. We were supposed to use that time to enjoy each other and…" I couldn't continue to talk… the wounds that I thought healed over suddenly opened and the hurt began to hurt anew.
"Toya, what's wrong?"
Swallowing a seemingly huge lump in my throat, I said, "D… I don't think we should even be here together. It's just harder on me than I thought it would be."
D'Juan took my hands in his and without me looking up, he leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead.
"LaToya… I know what has happened to us hurts, I know this. I wish I could erase all that I've done to break your heart, but I can't. I still love you, Girl… I've loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you, and I still believe that we have something between us. Don't we?"
By this time the waitress was at our table to take our order, so I excused myself and asked D'Juan to order something light for me. I wonder if he remembered I usually eat a fruit salad when I wasn't very hungry. Going into the ladies' room, I just let the tears flow down my face behind the closed stall door. "Why Lord? Please tell me why this man is back and trying to have a life with me? I don't want this if You don't… I can't bear to argue and fuss and fight with him any more. I know there will be disagreements, but please Lord, I don't want the hurt any longer… I just couldn't take another moment of it." By the time I ended my little prayer, the sobs were deep and hard, but no sooner had they begun than they stopped. A wave of sheer peace came over me, and I knew that the Lord was with me and would guide me through this encounter with D'Juan.
Drying my eyes and splashing my face with cold water, I returned to the table to find hot cups of coffee, mine light and sweet, waiting.
"Are you ok?"
"Yes, I'm fine… so you were saying?"
"You're sure you're ok?"
"Yes… go on…"
"I wanted to ask you if we could begin again… begin anew… begin right…"
"What makes you think if we start over things will be different or better than before?" I asked, taking a sip of my hot coffee. "M'mmm… do you believe this is my first cup of coffee today? It's been just that busy at the office and I thought I'd never stop moving…"
"I'm sorry, D… at least you remembered how I take it. The coffee I mean," I said with a smile.
"How could I forget? This time don't change the subject, got that?"
"Let me say this… I'm glad you didn't refuse to see me after the way I acted a few weeks ago. Toy, I'm really sorry about that, and I do want to start all over with you. Being away so long and trying to pretend that the love between us was ruined just ate me up inside. I know my place is with you, I just know it is. My life is so incomplete without you, Baby."
We stayed at the diner for two whole hours talking and getting all of our feelings out in the open and finally promising that we would begin slowly, dating like we did when we first met. Will it work this time? I hope so or there will never be a man in my life ever again.
D'Juan and I did start out dating, but it wasn't long before we were inseparable. Hanging with Sheila started to wane, but we were still the best of friends. She told me she was happy for me, but I really missed spending time with Janay. Sometimes I would even put D'Juan off so us girls could hang out a while. This particular day we'd taken Janay to McDonald's, her favorite place. While she played, we had our usual girl talk.
"Sheila, I saw old dude trying to get his talk on with you after church last Sunday. I was waiting for you to call me and give me the info."
"I don't know about Tyrone. He's a good looking, successful business man and all, but he's friends with D'Juan."
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked, all defensive.
"Calm down, Toya! I'm not saying it in a negative way, but can you imagine both of us being best friends and those two being best friends? He will tell on me if I let him, you know."
"Uh uh, Sheila, I just know you ain't even thinking about letting Tyrone… m'mm, m'mm, m'mmm," I said, both of us laughing. "It does get a little hard when you can't get a little every now and then. So what do you do when you start having feelings like that?"
"Girl, I pray hard 'cause I know I ain't about to let just anybody all up in here, you know what I'm sayin'? Shooooooot!" Sheila said, both of us laughing again. "So what's really up with you and Tyrone's best friend?"
"We've been talking a lot, spending some time trying to decide if we're going to make this thing work. I know I've tried to deny it real hard in the past, but I still love him. I didn't want to love him, and I didn't want to forgive him either. So far, so good. We've been making some serious progress and maybe one day soon we'll start talking seriously about going back to the altar."
"Well all righty then! I'm glad you two are working this thing out. I was wondering if maybe you forgot you are a woman with human needs, and…"
"Now see? There you go! We ain't trying to do anything like that. I still believe in keeping things like that within the sanctity of marriage. That hasn't changed with me."
"Just checking! I'm just playing, Girl. So, how long do you think it's going to take for you two to make up your minds about this?"
"I don't know… Oh, Janay just fell!"
No sooner than I'd gotten the words out of my mouth then Janay went to screaming like somebody tried to kill her. I love my little goddaughter and all, but she sure has a pair of lungs on her for a two-year-old kid that I'm sure would keep a mugger away.
Sheila picked her up and kissed her boo boo, and we left shortly thereafter. I couldn't help wondering just why Shelia didn't try to get to know Tyrone better. He seemed to be a nice Christian young man, and he sure loved playing with Janay.
I'd been so busy at the office this week that spending time with D'Juan was almost impossible. If it were not for church service, I wouldn't have seen him at all. By Saturday, I was exhausted and decided to stay in the whole day. I did some light housecleaning, and then took out something easy to fix and eat from the freezer. Popping the little personal pizza into the oven, I went back to the living room to find something interesting to watch on TV. No sooner than I'd settled in with my pizza and soda did the doorbell ring. Dressed in some old sweats, hair wrapped in a scarf, I peeked to see who it was since I wasn't expecting anyone.
Groaning when I saw D'Juan, I tried to make excuses through the window in my door.
"D, I wasn't expecting any company tonight. I just want to relax, ok?"
"Relax? Can't I relax with you? You wouldn't send me away after I drove all the way across town to spend a few hours with you… would you?"
"Man!" That was all I could say before I opened the door and let D'Juan in. I didn't even wait to shut the door. Back to the sofa I went to finish my pizza, drink my soda and watch some TV. I really meant that I was going to relax.
"Must be that time, huh?"
"You know what time I'm talking about. If you're feeling, uh, a little moody, I can always visit another evening."
I had to laugh at that remark. Did I appear to be grouchy? I just didn't feel like being bothered.
"Whatever, I'm not moody. You're welcome to stay, but if you're hungry, you know where the kitchen is. I ain't moving now that I've found something good to watch."
D'Juan busied himself in the kitchen and came back with a healthy ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo. If I hadn't eaten pizza, I sure would have insisted he make me a sandwich just like his.
Eventually we both were comfortable together on the sofa, watching TV, stealing a kiss here and there… but then something went awfully wrong. Well, it felt awfully right, but it was all wrong. D'Juan knew just what to do, and he did it… it's only been two years and if he didn't forget how I like my coffee, surely he wouldn't forget what I liked for him to do to me. Before I knew anything, my scarf had vanished allowing my thick, shoulder length hair to flow, and D'Juan was working magic with his fingers and his lips.
"Wait, D, wait, Baby, please! Slow down!"
"I'm sorry… look, Toya, it's really been a long time and…"
"And what? This isn't right, D'Juan."
"But we were married, LaToya! It's not like…"
"C'mon, D, you know better just like I do. I don't want to do this. I know we were married, and that's the point. It's in the past."
"I promise you that it will be part of our future, Sweetheart… I promise… ok? Please?"
"D… no, I can't. This is ridiculous," I said, removing myself from D'Juan's embrace. "I can't and I won't because I know I'll have regrets when it's all over with, I just know it."
Saying all of this with my mouth in no wise conveyed what I was feeling in my heart and emotions. I thought the right things, but what my flesh wanted to do wasn't right… not at all. It didn't take too much more prompting from D'Juan before we found ourselves locked in an embrace that we didn't turn loose of until we were both spent. It wasn't long before the guilt of my actions engulfed me. Sensing I felt bad about what had just transpired, D'Juan began gathering his clothes and headed for the bathroom. I sat there in our sin and felt like I would never get up again, and most certainly God wouldn't forgive me.
The following day was Sunday, but I couldn't bring myself to go to church… I repented, but the guilt hung over me like a rain cloud for two weeks straight. Pastor ended up calling when I didn't attend services the first week. Several other members called too, but I told them I was just going through a personal ordeal and to just pray for me. My mother eventually called, but she told me I was grown and that she'll let me decide to talk if I so desired. D'Juan? Yes, he called too, but I told him I thought it would be better if we kept our distance for a while.
"Keep our distance? LaToya, I promised you that we would get our relationship back together and that marriage would be in our future. Didn't I promise you that?"
"Yes, but I need some time to think things over…"
"Don't take too long…"
There wasn't much left to say, so we ended our conversation, and in the weeks to come, it seemed our relationship was fizzling out rather quickly as well. Oh, we'd see each other at church, but I stopped going on dates and I would be short with D'Juan on the phone when he called. Sheila told me I was crazy and that I was blowing it again.
"You wouldn't be saying that if you were not getting serious with Tyrone."
"Wait a minute, Sista Soldier! Your relationship with D'Juan has nothing to do with my relationship with Tyrone one way or another. All I'm saying to you is, you'd better take a good look at what you're messing up… again."
"Again? You sound like you've been talking to D'Juan!"
"Before your head explodes, and by the way, you're wrong, I'm leaving!"
"Sheila, wait… Girl, I'm just buggin'. I'm sorry… it's just that… look, I have to tell you something."
Sheila sat down, but she was still a little angry with me accusing her of siding with D'Juan through Tyrone.
"Just hear me out, ok? I uh… I don't want you to judge me when I tell you this."
"Judge you? You know that's not my way…"
"I know, I know… it's just that I am so ashamed of myself. Ashamed of what I've done… look, I'm just going to say it, ok? I slept with D'Juan six weeks ago and I feel so dirty!" I blurted out in a hurry.
"Toy, you didn't! I mean… you did?"
"Sheila, please don't be disappointed in me. I know that I shouldn't have given in, and I even tried not to, but it was like I couldn't help it. I've been feeling so guilty ever since then."
"So what are you two planning to do? If you're going to continue seeing each other, you need to go on and remarry. It's the honorable thing to do instead of worrying if you're going to find yourselves in fornication every time you're alone."
"I know, but it's not that easy because… well… I've been putting him off."
"You'd better quit messing around thinking that he's going to wait on you forever. There are too many women out there that would jump at the chance to marry D'Juan… so uh, get it together or leave him alone."
For some reason at that very moment, a wave of nausea hit me and I ran to the bathroom and deposited my entire lunch into the toilet. After that episode, I could barely climb my way to a standing position to wash my face and brush my teeth. When I returned to the living room, Sheila was sitting on the sofa patiently waiting for me to return.
"What is wrong with you, Toya? I just know you're not pregnant."
"Girl, please! I don't even think I can have a baby… D'Juan thought I had stopped taking birth control pills for the last 6 months of our marriage, but it had been almost two years."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Sheila wanted to know.
"Sometimes it takes a while for your body to get back to normal after using birth control pills. Besides, I figure that I should have been pregnant at least once in my life. I admit, I have taken chances without protection but I still didn't get pregnant."
"Well, I've to got to run… Janay's at my mom's house today and she doesn't have a lot of patience with my busy daughter. Call me later tonight, and really consider what you are doing with your life. You don't want to find yourself all alone when you don't have to be."
Sheila left and I went to bed. It was only 6 in the evening, but I'd been so sleepy and tired lately. It wasn't until I laid my head on the pillow, that it hit me. Aunt Myrna had not come around for her monthly visit!
"Oh Lord! Let me check the calendar…" I say out loud to myself. Each month I marked my period on a calendar I kept in the top drawer of my nightstand. "Lord, there are no marks in over a month!" How could I have forgotten about my period? I guess dealing with work and D'Juan, it slipped my mind, but I'm usually on top of my monthly visitor. Then too, because of the pressures I'd been under lately, maybe my body is reacting to it and I'm late… but more than two whole weeks? Not good… I'd better get a test.
It didn't take me long to put my clothes back on and head down to the drug store. The problem was trying to figure out what test to purchase… there were just too many to choose from. Finally settling on one that seemed to be easy, I paid the clerk and headed back home. Since I was tired, I went back to bed vowing to take the test the following morning.
The next morning the pregnancy test was far from my mind because I'd overslept! How in the world could that have happened when I'd gone to bed so early? Too much sleep maybe? Rushing to at least make it to work on time, barely, I didn't think about it again until my day was winding down. I still ended up putting it off for another two weeks in spite of the bouts of nausea I would have in the evenings. Instead of even considering a doctor visit, I just cut back on how heavy I ate at lunchtime and didn't eat any dinner. But I kept feeling nauseous in the evenings no matter what I did, but at least the vomiting ceased.
Three weeks after I'd purchased the pregnancy test, I ran across it on my dresser top after I decided I'd clean it off. Holding it in my hands, I decided to go on and take it so that I can ease my fears and get on with my life. That was the day that my life would be changed forever… the day my worst fears were confirmed by a pink line on the left that matched the pink line on the right.
Now I have to go in and talk to Pastor about this soon; but how will I be able to tell him this? I decided that maybe the home pregnancy test was bogus and I'd depend on the results at the doctor's office. I never told Dr. Tinsdale that D'Juan and I were no longer married, so her congratulatory handshake wasn't what I was looking for.
"LaToya, you don't seem too happy about the news. It's been a long road to this day and I thought sure you'd be very happy about this."
"Dr. Tinsdale, I would be, except…"
"What is it? Do you think it's going to be hard financially?"
"I'm sure it will be a little, but see, D'Juan and I have not been together for two years and…"
"You don't have to tell me about that if you don't want to, LaToya. My job is to help you deliver a healthy baby," Dr. Tinsdale said, washing her hands at the small sink.
"Well, this is D'Juan's child, without a doubt, but we're divorced and I don't know how the news of a baby being born out of wedlock will be happy news to him. Actually, I don't want to tell him."
"Are you thinking about terminating this pregnancy? If you are, you shouldn't wait too long to make a decision concerning it. I don't recommend late term abortions and…"
"Oh, no, Dr. Tinsdale, no! I don't want to do that, it's just that we were working on putting our marriage back together and I didn't want it to be predicated on the fact that I'm carrying his child. I want to get back together because it's the right thing to do."
"Not to be nosy, but don't you think this is a good reason to seriously consider reconciling?"
"I have a friend who is a wonderful single parent…"
"And it isn't easy, trust me, I know from experience. Well, whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best. Make an appointment to come back in one month, and I'm going to prescribe some vitamins for you to take. Also, ask Alicia to give you a copy of what I recommend my soon-to-be moms look at to maintain healthy eating habits. Again, congratulations, LaToya. I hope when I see you next month things are going better and you have a smile on your face."
Dr. Tinsdale walked out and I got dressed. I left her office and drove around town for two whole hours wondering what I should do. I had even started shutting Sheila out, not going to dinner with her yesterday after church. But I needed my friend so badly, I decided to drop by her house since I found myself just around the corner.
With this new development on my mind, I didn't think to look around to see what cars were parked at the curb… at least not until Sheila opened her door. Tyrone and D'Juan were sitting in her living room, and my eyes almost bugged out of my head.
"Maybe I should have called first… um… I'll call you later…"
"Girl, get in here! What is wrong with you anyway?"
"Nothing, I just needed to talk to you, but I can always call…"
Grabbing me by my arm and closing the door, Sheila refused to take 'no' for an answer. Taking off my jacket and hanging it in the hallway closet, I dread being in the company of Tyrone and D'Juan, especially D'Juan.
"She must just be speaking to you, Tyrone, 'cause she hasn't been speaking to me," D'Juan stated.
Not looking in his direction or responding to his smart remark, I asked Sheila where Janay was.
"In her room. Would you mind checking on her for me? All of a sudden she's quiet, and you know what that means."
Thankful for a way of escape, I went in to find Janay in her closet pulling out every pair of shoes she owned.
"Hey, Little One, just what are you doing?"
"Shooz… want shooz?"
"Oh, no you don't," I replied, picking up my chubby little goddaughter, "I'm not going to help you take the blame for this mess. "C'mon, let's put them all back so mommy won't be angry."
While we were putting the shoes back in the closet, Sheila came to get Janay so she could give her a snack before going to bed.
"Mommy, shooz!" Janay said.
"I see. And just what have you two been doing in here?" asked Sheila.
"We just decided we didn't like the way you had her shoes arranged in her closet, so we changed it," I said with a smile.
"Oh, she really lives under that cloud. Hmmm… do you think you can keep living when you come back to join the adult world in the living room?"
"Sheila, I'm going to go, ok? I'm sorry I didn't call first."
"Since when do you have to call to tell me you'll be over? Give me a break! What's on your mind?"
"Sheila, you were right."
"Right about what?"
"I'm pregnant…" I said, tears streaming down my face. "I'm so scared, Sheila, I'm so scared…"
"Oh Toya! What are you going to do? You know you're going to have to tell D, you're going to have to."
"I can't! I don't want to get back into a relationship with him just because I'm pregnant…"
"With his baby! Toya, you've got to consider the baby, you've got a lot of things to think about… to… to pray about. I mean, I wish there were an easier answer for you, but I don't have one."
"Sheila, I am really afraid! I have to talk to Pastor, I have to tell D'Juan unless…"
"Unless… what? I'm almost afraid to ask you what you're thinking about. Nay, go and ask Mr. Tyrone… wait… Tyrone!" Sheila yelled down the hallway.
"Yeah?" Tyrone came running to see what Sheila wanted.
"Would you mind giving Janay the cookies I put on the kitchen table for her? Put her in the high chair so she won't be in everything."
"Sure! Come on Muffin, I'll give you your cookies…"
Tyrone's voice trailed off in the direction of the kitchen with the pitter patter of Janay's feet and giggles following closely behind. Sheila listened until she heard the tray of the high chair snap into place and then closed the door.
"Toy, I understand what you're going through. I understand because I've been there."
"Is that why you married Janay's father?"
"No, we tried to get our thing together after the fact too, and I ended up sleeping with him again. I did get pregnant, but I lost the baby. I was hurt about it, but I really didn't need to have two children by Charles. He is still half stepping when it comes to Janay, and I know having two for him would have only complicated things more. I loved that man, and I still do, but I know that for us it's hopeless unless he finds Christ. I didn't improve his chances in that direction by sleeping with him after we'd divorced, but I learned my lesson."
"So are you saying that maybe I'll lose this baby?"
"Absolutely not! I'm saying that I can relate and I understand your feelings. You sound like you want to lose the baby."
"I don't… and I do… I can't handle this whole situation right now. What will our church family think of me? D'Juan is their pet, and he can't do any wrong. I'll be the one looking like a slut. And my mother? Oh, Lord, she is going to let me have it!"
"My friend, you're still going to have to tell him no matter what decision you make after tonight, you're going to have to tell him."
"Not if I terminate the pregnancy. My doctor told me not to wait too long and…"
"LaToya, you're a grown woman, and I can't tell you what to do, but I never thought I would hear you talk about killing your baby."
"Sheila, I don't know what to do! I'm so scared! I don't have a solution to this problem and I don't think that there is one."
"Have you began to pray about this? I mean, really pray about this? One thing I do know, you love D'Juan and he loves you. All he talks about is LaToya, LaToya, LaToya. The man genuinely loves you, but you haven't taken the time to forgive yourself in this whole situation. You beat yourself up all the time and it gets nothing accomplished. You're wasting precious time you know, and then you'll look around and be a single mom. Take it from me when I tell you to lay this thing at the feet of the cross and move on. You're not getting rid of that baby, and you're going to have to come to terms with it, and now. Talk to him, Toya, talk to him tonight and I promise you that things will begin to fall into place. Talk to him with a prayerful heart and you'll see that things will work out just fine."
I hugged my best friend in all the world. She makes a lot of sense, but it didn't ease my fears. It didn't stop me from worrying about what people will say about fornicating openly and getting pregnant and all that.
"Can I send D'Juan in here? I'll put Janay in my bed for tonight. She usually finds her way there before the night is over anyway."
"Yes, I might as well get this over with."
It took D'Juan so long to finally come back there that I was on my way out when he started down the hall towards Janay's room.
"Where are you going? I thought you wanted to talk to me."
"That's ok. I know you're with Ty, so I'll talk to you later."
"No, we can talk now. Tyrone would like to be alone with Sheila anyway. So what's up?"
"D'Juan, I don't even know how to tell you this, but…" with a lump that felt like a brick stuck in my throat, I stated in a cracked voice, "I'm… pregnant."
"What? Are you sure? I guess you are if you're telling me, but how did… I mean… when did… I mean… man!"
"Not the reaction I thought I'd get. Look, I feel like I'm trespassing on Sheila and Tyrone, and I have to get up in the morning for work, so I'm leaving."
"Wait! No, I mean, Baby, you just dropped a bomb on me and you want to walk out the door? If anything, let me come by so we can talk about this… ok?"
We both retrieved our coats and D'Juan followed me home. My nerves were so shot, I couldn't pray, I couldn't think, and I darn near couldn't see. I almost ran a stop sign three times on the way to my house.
After we got inside and sat on the sofa, I felt like my world had totally fallen apart and I could do nothing but cry.
"Toya, why are you crying? I thought you would be happy about this. We were talking about this just a short while ago…"
"Yes, the same night I agreed to have coffee with you at the diner. I never thought this would happen to me. I told you there would be regrets."
"What are you regretting?"
"D, I'm ashamed! I can't go to church pregnant when I know better than this. I don't want to be pregnant out of wedlock."
"Do you want to have my baby?"
"You heard me, do you want to have my baby."
For the first time tonight I looked directly into D'Juans eyes. There were so many emotions swimming around in there, it was making me dizzy. But I saw love, at least that's what I think I saw.
"Yes, D… I want to have your baby… but…"
"Why is there a but in this thing?"
"See, I know that you know."
"Yes, I know, I know. There is still one more question I have to ask. Will you marry me again?"
"Not because I'm pregnant with your baby I don't."
"Toya, it has nothing to do with the baby. I want us to be together again, a couple, Sweetheart," he said, moving closer to me. "Even if you didn't get pregnant, I've been wanting to ask you to marry me again. You're the one who has been hiding out and avoiding me."
"I'm sorry about that, D, I really am, but I wasn't hiding from you."
"What do you call it then? No more dates, no more anything. Yes, I admit we were wrong in our actions, but I have never been wrong in my heart for loving you. I love you more today than ever, and I want you in my life, Toya."
"D'Juan, I don't know what to say."
"Why are you holding back, Toy? What could possibly make you just not want to do this again?"
"I-I don't know… I've been thinking about it for weeks, but I don't know why."
"Don't you believe we will be all right? With the new baby, I want to be here with you, raise our child together and do all the things we used to talk about before. Can't we at least try?"
"You're still unsure, aren't you?"
"D, I know for sure that I love you. If I know nothing else, I know that."
"Loving each other makes it worth trying again…" D'Juan said and immediately kissed my lips. I grabbed him around the neck and hugged him to me, trying to fill the void where the pain of my sin yet lay. I love him and I don't ever want to lose him again.
When I told my mother that she would be a grandmother again, she thought for sure it was my sister who had the perfect marriage and three perfect children. Unfortunately, it was me, the daughter who was always into something and never finishing it, or who ends up in trouble without fail.
"Pregnant, LaToya? You mean to tell me, you waited until you got grown and divorced to have a baby? I'm sure D'Juan is hurt that you didn't give him half the chance to get back in your life."
"Mom, this is D'Juan's child. We are going to remarry as soon as possible."
"It's not going to change the fact that the child was conceived out of wedlock, is it?"
"I guess it isn't, but we're going to do what we think is right and fix what should never have been."
"You got that right! I just don't understand this generation. Have a few arguments and the next thing you know, you walk away from marriage. It's supposed to be until death do you part."
"Mom, okay already! I feel terrible enough as it is. D'Juan and I love each other and we found ourselves doing what was familiar to us and I ended up getting pregnant. For the first time in my life I am pregnant, Mom. I'm just thankful that I will be married to the man who is the father of my child."
"Have you talked to the Pastor about this yet?"
"No, but we'll be going to the church tonight to meet him. I am so embarrassed, Mom, I really am."
"Well look, as angry as I am about how things have happened, I'm happy that you're going to get married to D'Juan again. I want you to be happy, LaToya, I really do."
"Thanks, Mom. I've got to run, ok? I love you!"
"I love you too, Baby. Call me before the end of the week now."
We hang up and I prepare myself to sit down in front of the man of God and tell him my sin. I don't feel any better by the time D'Juan and I pull up in front of the church.
"D, do you think it's necessary to tell him that I'm pregnant? Can't we just tell him we want to remarry?"
"No, Toy, we have to tell him the truth… all of it."
"What do you think he'll say. Or do?"
"I know he's going to be disappointed, but he's not going to condemn us or put us in a dungeon somewhere," D'Juan said with a shaky smile.
"I almost wish he would," I say, dreading each step to the door of Pastor Thomas' office.
We walked inside to Pastor's office and let him know we were there. After waiting about 15 minutes, he motioned for us to join him in his office. I was so nervous, I know he could see me shaking.
"What brings you two here to see me? Something good I hope," Pastor Thomas said with a welcoming smile.
"Uh… well, yes… and no, Pastor, um… well, LaToya and I do want to remarry, but there is something else we need to tell you."
"What is it?" Pastor Thomas asked, with concern in his eyes and on his face.
"You see, not too long after I returned, we began seeing each other again, and spending quite a bit of time together and…" D'Juan replied, looking down at his hands.
"Go on, Son, I'm listening."
"Toy? Help me out here."
"I don't want to be the only one talking. Help me out… please?" D'Juan asked.
Tears of shame started coursing down my face, and when I finally lifted my teary eyes to meet those of my Pastor, it felt almost like God Himself was looking down on me.
"Pastor… we… I'm… pregnant…" I finally stated with heavy sobs escaping me. I could no longer look at my Pastor, so he came around his desk, knelt down beside my chair and put his arms around my shoulders.
"LaToya? Look at me, Daughter… look at me…"
Lifting my head, our eyes met, and all I could see was the love of Christ. God does still love me!
"Now listen to me, I want you to know that I understand how this could happen between two people who are in love. I also know that you didn't mean for any of this to happen, but it doesn't change the fact that I love you. Do you hear me?"
"Your decision to remarry, does it have anything at all to do with the fact that LaToya is pregnant?"
"No, Sir! Like I told Toya, I've been wanting to ask her basically since I first came home. It's just that after we, well we… it's just that after what happened, Toya felt we shouldn't be so close any more and I could never get close enough to her to even talk to her."
"Only because I was afraid of something happening between us again. I can't tell you how long I've been carrying this load of guilt. It still hurts to know that it took fornicating to conceive a child. I never wanted it to be this way."
"Listen to me, you two. I think it's commendable that you want to remarry to try and make things right, I really do, but it's not going to change how things were done. In light of the fact that I do understand the situation, I still have to handle it in the correct manner. This is not to embarrass you or to make you feel worse, but I am going to silence the both of you until after the birth of your child."
"Silence us? What does that mean?" D'Juan asked.
"Well, Son, you can not be my adjutant for the remainder of this period. LaToya, you cannot usher or sing in the choir or any other church activity that will have you up before the people of God. I'm not going to force you to openly apologize to the congregation, I'll leave that up to you, but as of today, that's where things stand."
"I understand, Pastor, and I don't have a problem with it," said D'Juan.
"But I do! If we're getting married, then why do we have to cause ourselves more embarrassment. People are going to count anyway and figure out that I was pregnant before we married again. So what's the big deal?"
"That's the big deal, LaToya. Folks are going to count, and I have to do what is right. Take for instance if a young girl came to me and told me she was pregnant. Now days, parents will not force their daughters to marry. Would it be right if I let that young girl continue to sing in the choir and participate in church activities?" Pastor asked me.
"I see what you're saying. It's just that I feel that I've suffered enough embarrassment."
"This time will pass before you know it, and you will be enjoying the new addition to your family. Have you decided on a date for your wedding?"
"Well, I wanted to wait until next month to marry on our original wedding day, but Toya feels the sooner the better."
"What kind of wedding are you planning to have? Another traditional or something simple?"
"I just want a ceremony here in your office, Pastor. I don't want to spend a lot of money, or have a reception or anything like that, especially since this has happened," I said, pointing at my stomach.
"I suggest that you go and do what you need to do and then we'll schedule a private ceremony. Don't forget you'll need a witness," Pastor said with a smile. "Listen, I know that what you've done is wrong, but I don't want you to walk around feeling like you'll never get through this. I'm here for you whenever you want to talk. To tell you the truth, I was looking for you to come to me before things got so out of hand in the first place."
D'Juan and I exchange glances knowing that neither one of us wanted to go to Pastor for counseling because we knew that he wouldn't tell us what we wanted to hear.
Standing to his feet, D'Juan shook Pastor's hand, thanking him for seeing us and giving us the advice we need.
"Any time, you know that. Both of you, go and do what you need to do to begin your lives together the right way. God bless you both."
Trying to schedule a simple ceremony was almost as hard as planning our first wedding. Before I knew anything, time had gone by and we couldn't get it all together until our original wedding day on May 14th. I was so upset because I just knew I would be showing, but fortunately I wasn't, so everything was all right.
Sheila stood with me and Tyrone stood with D'Juan as we renewed our vows in Pastor's office.
"Do you, D'Juan Anthony Sinclair, take this woman, LaToya Denise, to be your wedded wife?"
"And do you, LaToya Denise, take this man, D'Juan Anthony Sinclair, to be your wedded husband?"
On and on it seemed the ceremony went until finally Pastor announced that we were man and wife once again. There was no second honeymoon planned, so we went out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant. The biggest expense of the whole ceremony was the tux's that D'Juan insisted he had to have for himself and Tyrone. Sheila and I bought new dresses, of course, but they didn't cost as much as the guys' tuxedos.
Dinner was good, and we were all enjoying each others company tremendously. Non-alcoholic bubbly and good food helped the evening to progress along nicely. Then Tyrone insisted that Sheila have dessert.
"I ordered it special for you," he told Sheila.
"Tyrone, you know I'm not into sweets, so I'm only going to eat a little, ok?"
"That's fine with me," Tyrone replied, smiling. I thought he was smiling mighty big for someone who just ordered someone dessert. What was the big deal anyway? Looking at D'Juan, I could tell that he knew something too, but I didn't say a word.
When the waitress came to our table with little covered dessert dishes, I was ready to sink my teeth into my sweet treat when a silent gasp escaped Sheila's lips. I leaned over to see if maybe there was a bug or something in her dessert only to find a beautiful, yellow gold, diamond engagement ring! I was shocked into silence myself.
"Tyrone, you said you special ordered this?" asked Sheila, tears filling her eyes.
Getting down on one knee in the restaurant in front of everyone with no shame, Tyrone asked Sheila to marry him! This was just too romantic!
"Will you be my wife, Sheila? Just like I'm asking you in front of all these people, I would be proud to tell the world that you are my wife…"
Sheila was boo hooing so much, all she could do is nod her head vigorously. Slipping the ring on Sheila's finger, Tyrone got up off his bended knee and kissed her right on her lips! Then everyone was clapping and some even came over to extend their congratulations. Their new engagement made my renewed marriage to D'Juan feel even more special.
Driving home from the restaurant, D'Juan and I didn't speak a word between us. I was thinking about Sheila and Tyrone, and the fun we're going to have planning the wedding. What D'Juan was thinking about, only he and God knew. Since I didn't want to take a chance and spoil my good feeling, I didn't bother to ask.
I was so glad when we pulled up to the condo because I was ready to call it a night. I took the remainder of the week off from work so I could help D'Juan put his things back into our place. Still not saying a word to each other, we walk up to the door. Before I could step one foot over the threshold, D'Juan picks me up and carries me to the sofa, placing me down ever so softly.
"I'm not going to break, you know," I said with a smile.
"I want you to take it easy, Babe, ok? Fragile cargo is riding with you."
"I can do anything I've been doing before you moved back in, D. Really… ok?"
"Can I take care of my wife? Is it going to be a problem?"
"Well, no, as long as you spoil me and let me have my way."
"And just what do you wish, my lady?" D'Juan asked, bowing as low as his slightly bowed legs would allow.
"Right now I wish to spend the rest of the night in the arms of the man I love. The man that I married once, and then married twice. Can you arrange that?"
"Sure I can," D'Juan said, smiling and sitting next to me on the sofa. "Toy, I want us to be together for always. I'm going to try my best not to do anything to upset you."
"I'm going to try equally as hard. But you know, I'd like to head for bed now. "
"I'm right with you!"
"D, I'm tired for real. I'm four months pregnant and this baby is doing a number on me."
"So what are you really saying?"
"That I'm ready to go to bed and go to sleep. I'm tired, Honey."
"Ok, well, you go ahead and I'll be there when I get tired." D'Juan picked up the remote to the TV and kicked back on the sofa, pulling off his accessories to his tux.
"Don't leave that stuff in the living room, D. I'll hang it up for you if you want."
"No, thanks, I'll take care of it."
"Yeah… " D'Juan answered, not looking at me.
I know D is mad, but shoot, I'm tired. Wait a minute, I am so wrong. This is the first day of our new lives together and I'm putting the man on the sofa. I can't do this to him, so I'd better find the sexiest nighty I own. My mother sent me a new sheer black teddie a few days ago in celebration of my renewed marriage to D'Juan, so I put that on with a pair of sexy slippers to match and went to the living room door.
"What is it?" D'Juan asked without even looking in my direction.
"Can you look at this mark on my tummy? I'm wondering if this is a normal thing."
"Why don't you wait and ask the doctor? I have no idea what a pregnant stomach is supposed to look like with no clothes on it."
"But I want you to look… please?"
"I'll look when I come to bed later, or in the morning or something. I'm looking at this movie right now," D'Juan said, still not looking at me, with annoyance evident in his voice.
"Please? It looks like a black line going up my stomach from my belly button and it's ugly."
"Well come over here then. What sense does it make for me to come over there when you've come this far?"
I walked over and stood in front of D'Juan, took the remote control from his hand, turned the TV off and lifted my short nighty so he could see my stomach.
"Dang, Baby! I had no idea that you… "
"Just look at my stomach so I can go to bed."
"On one condition."
"That I can come and you'll stay awake, just for a little while."
"That's what I've been planning to do if you would have just come to bed," I lied. I didn't want to start off with my husband being upset with me.
Without any more words between us, D'Juan picked me up and carried me back to our bedroom. He quickly removed his tux, throwing everything on the floor.
"Don't worry about those, I'll pick them up in the morning." For once I didn't mind, and I'm happy I chose to stay awake on the first night of my renewed marriage.
Marriage to D'Juan was working out pretty good until I entered my sixth month. All of a sudden his investments, clients, boss and everyone else came before me, and I started spending many lonely nights at home. My boss preferred that I didn't work long hours for the sake of my unborn child, and other than church, I was at home. Sheila and Tyrone were hanging pretty tight since their engagement, and I didn't feel right visiting too much or calling, but there was nothing else to do.
Since the Fourth of July holiday was uneventful, my mother planned to have a family barbecue at her house. I love to make potato salad, so I decided to call my mother to ask her how much I should make for this event.
"Let me see now. Aunt Louise and Uncle Bernie will be there with their 101 grandchildren," my mother said, chuckling. "Oh, and your sister asked if her sister-in-law and her two children can come. She's not married and Tisha is trying to get her to come to church. Coming to our cook out just might be a good start for her since there won't be no drinking and dancing and carrying on."
"Do you think I should just buy 50 pounds of potatoes and work it from there?"
"Fifty might be too much. Just get 20 pounds, that should be enough. Will D'Juan be working that day too? It's a Saturday and he should be thinking about spending time with family instead of running all over town chasing money."
"I've tried to tell him that so many times, Mom, but it's as if the more I say, the more he goes and the later he stays. Sometimes I feel like he's cheating on me," I said, tears welling up in my eyes.
"No, Baby, now don't start thinking like that. D'Juan is probably trying to work so he'll feel like he's making enough money to take care of you. Your dad, rest his soul, did the same thing. I was so upset with him at first, but I understood later on. I sure wish he were here to see his baby daughter having her first child."
"I miss Daddy too, Mom. Well, I'd better get off this phone. See you soon, Mom."
"Okay, Toya. Get some rest, you hear?"
"Yes. Bye Mom."