McKayla's Miracle Ch. 03byHLD©
This is the conclusion to "McKayla's Miracle". It picks up right where the previous chapter left off, so if you're interested in the story, you should probably read the previous parts. Enjoy!
I came home early. I was eight months pregnant and wasn't feeling up to a full day's work. I could have quit my job or at least gone on bedrest, but I knew that being around the house all day would drive me batty.
McKayla told me she had a meeting that afternoon and had driven separately. I called her before leaving work, but it rolled into her voice mail. That was no surprise. I left her a message and told her to call me when she got a chance.
As soon as I got home, I immediately knew something was wrong. I parked my new car in the garage and went in to the kitchen. There were a few things missing, nothing like a burglary or anything, but a couple of pictures off the refrigerator and McKayla's favourite coffee mug were gone.
My frown turned to dread when I saw a stack of papers on the kitchen table and a card with my name on it.
I waddled over and picked it up. With a dread-filled sigh, I opened the envelope.
I thought I could do this but I can't. It's not anything you did. It's all me.
The house is yours. Everything I have is for you and the baby.
You made me happier than I have ever been, but something came up and I can't be with you any longer.
I sat there for a long time, reading the words over and over. After a few minutes, I flipped through the papers. Sure enough, she had left everything to me. Her name was taken off the house and all our accounts. On the things I needed to sign for, there were instructions to go to a lawyer and they would take care of the rest.
As the shock wore off, it turned to confusion, despair and then finally, anger.
She had made me a promise! What had I done? What the hell was she thinking?
I stormed through the house. Most everything was still where it had been when I left for work in the morning. She took her clothes, some of her jewelry, a few books and her client files, but everything else was in its place.
McKayla wasn't answering her phone. No one picked up at her parents's house.
The tears came. I sobbed and sobbed. I wondered if the past eight months had been a lie. If I had been had.
It may have been the hormones. It may have been the rage. I needed to talk to her. I needed more than a break-up via Hallmark. I needed to slap some sense into McKayla. I needed to hear the words from her mouth telling me that she didn't love me.
Only I didn't know where to go.
I figured the only place she could be was her parents's house. That was about four hours away, but I didn't know where they lived. They had always come to visit us.
After a few minutes of searching, I remembered that we had ordered some books for them at Christmas. I found the shipping address stored in our Amazon.com account, Mapquested directions, got in my car and drove off without even packing anything.
The drive was miserable. I cursed and screamed at other drivers. I whipped myself into a fury. More than once, I had to pull over and cry.
All the while, I could only wonder one thing: Why?
It was dark by the time I got there. Don and Suzie lived in an exclusive suburban neighbourhood. You know the kind: the houses start at three quarters of a million dollars and all look the same. Four thousand square feet, brick façade cookie-cutter homes.
I pulled into the driveway next to McKayla's BMW and got out. The lights were on inside.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I went to the door. I knocked and rang the doorbell and pounded on the frame.
Suzie came down the hallway. When she saw me, there was a puzzled look on her face.
"Amberle, what are you doing here?" she asked.
"Where's McKayla?" I demanded, the frustration coming out.
"I don't think this is a good time for you to be here," Suzie said in a firm voice. "I think she's hurt enough."
"She's hurt!?!?!" I nearly exploded. I don't usually cuss at people I love and respect, but my emotions were out of control. "What the fuck are you talking about? McKayla's the one who left me!"
"I need to talk to her!" I pleaded. "I need to hear her say she doesn't love me anymore."
"What do you mean?" Suzie had a cross look on her face. "She said you . . ."
As her voice trailed off, the light came on for her. McKayla's mother sighed. A deep, regretful sigh. There was a flash of anger in her eyes, as if she had been deceived, which quickly turned to sorrow. She reached for me and pulled me into a hug.
I burst into tears again. I buried my face in her shoulder and sobbed some more.
"She didn't tell you, did she?" Suzie whispered. She stroked my hair, trying to comfort me.
"Tell me what?" I asked, gasping for breath.
"Come in, Amberle. You deserve to know. She's back in one of the guest rooms."
Don came out to see what the noise was all about. I barely saw him through my tear-blurred vision, but he had a shocked look on his face, too. Suzie shook her head, warning him not to say anything.
Suzie led me to their living room. She called for McKayla.
My love was standing in a doorway. Her eyes got wide. Time seemed to stand still. No one moved.
McKayla's eyes welled up with tears and then she was in motion.
She fled down the hallway. I tried to follow her, but she was too quick for me. After all, I was the one who was eight months along, not her. She retreated into one of the bedrooms and slammed the door shut.
"Goddammit, McKayla, open the door!" I shouted, pounding away. "Why? Why did you fucking leave me? You couldn't even break up with me face to face. You left me a goddam card! What the fuck is wrong with you?"
Kicking didn't work. Nor did slamming my shoulder against the door. All of the anger I had built up over the past few hours was channeled into the heavy oak. I screamed and yelled, trying to get some explanation for her abrupt departure.
Fat lot of good it did me.
I finally collapsed on to my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks.
"Why?" I wailed. "Why, McKayla . . ."
Spent, all I could do was choke for breath between sobs. I felt Don's strong hands on my shoulders. He pulled me to my feet and led me back to the living room.
I fell on to the couch with Suzie. Don brought me glass of water while his wife held me in her arms. She was crying, too.
The rage passed. It was replaced by emptiness and silence. I was numb.
My head was in Suzie's lap. I curled up in the fetal position, still shaking. She stroked my hair and told me everything would be fine.
How can things be fine? I screamed on the inside. I was scared. I was angry. I felt deserted. For the first time in forever, I felt alone.
It took a while, but my breathing became calm. It wasn't regular, but I wasn't short of breath anymore.
"Amberle deserves to know," Suzie said after a while. "You need to tell her."
"I know, Mom." McKayla's voice seemed small, like a scared little girl.
Suzie patted me on the shoulder and helped me sit up. She gave me a hug and then got up and left the room.
I looked over at McKayla, nothing but hurt in my eyes.
"Why?" I whispered.
It took her a second. I saw her draw in a deep breath, as if she were steeling her courage. She sat down next to me and took my hands in hers.
"Amberle, I've got a disease," she said softly. "No, it's not AIDS or anything you can get. It's called Huntington's Disease. It's a degenerative neurological condition. Think of all the worst symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, put them together and that's what I've got."
"Is there a cure?"
"No, honey," she shook her head bitterly. "Not yet. I've got some options for therapy, but it's going to kill me. I don't have any symptoms yet, but they're coming. I could live for five years more years or I could live for forty."
"How . . ."
"It's a genetic condition," she said. "I got it from my dad. I knew there was a possibility that I'd have it, but I didn't go and get tested until last month. I came back positive for the gene. I just got the results yesterday."
"But surely that's only a pre-disposition . . . like alcoholism."
"Not with this one," McKayla said, looking away. "If you've got the gene, you're going to develop the disease. It's just a matter of time."
"We can get through this," I told her. I desperately did not want to let the woman that I loved go. Not like this.
"I don't want to put you through Hell, Amberle," she said, putting on a brave face. "Like with Alzheimer's, I'm going to lose my memories and my personality. I'm going to forget you. I'm not going to remember who I am. My body is going to fail me. I'm going to have involuntary muscle spasms like with Parkinson's. People with these diseases don't suffer. It's their loved ones around them who do."
She gave me a heartbroken look.
"I'm not going to be a burden for you," she said quietly.
"Don't I get a say in this?" I asked. "Don't I get a choice? I love you, McKayla. You mean too much to me. We'll work this out. We'll find a way."
"There's no way to make this work."
"Sweetheart," I turned her face so she was looking directly in to my eyes. "What are you always telling me? 'God will provide; we just need to have faith.' We will get through this. Have some faith."
"I can't ask you to give up your life for me."
"I'm not going to give anything up for you," I said sternly. "I'm going to give up everything for us. You wanted us to work. That means we stick together through thick and thin. Good times and bad."
Tears fell out of the corners of her eyes.
"If you don't love me," I said. "I'll walk away. I'll get back in my car and go home. Otherwise you're stuck with me. I promised you a long time ago that I would never leave you and I don't intend on ever breaking that promise. You made the same promise to me, McKayla. And I'm not letting you out of it. I love you too much."
"I know you do," McKayla whispered and she started to cry. "I love you, Amberle. I love you and that's what hurts the worst. I'm going to wake up one day and I'm not going to recognise you. I'm not going to love you. And I'm not even going to realise it."
"We'll worry about that day when it comes."
With that, I took her in my arms and cradled her to me. We sat there on the couch for a long time, the three of us—McKayla, the baby and me—wondering what the future held but knowing we were in it together.
Our baby was born three weeks later.
We named her Maureen Rene and gave her my last name, Goin. We toyed with the idea of naming her Christa or Talya (the female equivalent of Jesus, meaning "lamb of God") because of her "immaculate" conception to two lesbians, but instead decided to name her Maureen, a derivative of Mary (as in the Virgin), and Rene after my mother. She was healthy and the most beautiful thing either of us had ever seen. I toyed with the idea of quitting my job, but my boss talked me out of it.
He knew I was involved with another woman, but that didn't matter to him.
"You're a good employee, Amberle," he told me. "You get your work done, the guys in the warehouse like you and I don't have to tell you anything twice. I don't care who you're sleeping with or anything like that. If any of the guys give you any shit about it, let me know and I'll get rid of them."
And that was that. I know a couple of the guys were uncomfortable having a full-blown lesbian working in their office, but that was their problem.
"Listen, Amberle," my boss said one afternoon. "They liked you before they knew you were a lesbian. Now that they know, a couple of them are questioning whether what their preachers have told them is wrong. After all, you're not a monster who's trying to turn their children gay. Having a face to put on 'the enemy' really puts a crimp in some of these fundy Christians. I think a couple of the guys are also pissed that you won't go out with them now, but a few of the others are thinking about how hot you and your girlfriend are together."
I wished I had told him earlier because it would have saved me a whole lot of stress. He hired an assistant for me and even let me work some from home when I went back.
Why did I go back?
Part of it was because I needed something to do. I love my daughter but I wanted an identity that was more than just as "Maureen's Mom". I also wanted to give McKayla a chance to be the mommy, too. That had been her dream since she had been little and I wasn't about to take that away from her.
After I recovered and felt up to going back to work, McKayla took her maternity time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. I don't know if she was entitled to the leave, but her boss gave it to her anyway. She did all the mommy things around the house, and almost never called me wondering what to do with the baby. The only thing she couldn't do was nurse; in every other way, it was as if Maureen was her very own.
We promised one another that the little girl was our daughter, not mine. We knew that one day we'd have to explain to her why she had two mommies, but we'd cross that bridge when we got to it. When I look back now, I realise that the 12 weeks she took off were the happiest I had ever seen her. McKayla worked a little bit with some of her high-profile clients, but most of the time, she just stayed home. She glowed and only grew more beautiful in my eyes.
When the baby was six months old, McKayla and I got married. Not actually married, but it was close enough for us.
Once the baby had settled into a regular sleep schedule, McKayla and I spent the next several months planning the wedding. Let me say this: if you can plan a wedding with another woman and don't want to strangle her by the time it's all over, your relationship is in very good shape.
At dawn on a warm September morning, we stood on the beach behind our house and said our vows as the sun rose. All of our family came in. Brin stood next to me and Uncle Bill gave me away. Allyson was McKayla's maid of honour and Don escorted her to my side.
We both wore elegant wedding dresses that were just short enough that they didn't get wet as the ocean washed over our toes.
Each of us wrote our own vows. We promised to love and cherish each other forever. I think McKayla wanted to get married in the Church, but we knew that would never happen, so we settled for the next best thing: right in the midst of God's glorious creation, just before daybreak, with the sounds of the ocean around us and surrounded by the people who loved us the most.
After saying our vows, exchanging rings and taking some pictures, we went inside and began an all-day party. We had brunch for everyone who got up before dawn and then things got cooking later. Using the baby as an excuse, we had a little bit of time to catch a quick nap (read: post-nuptial nookie) around noon and then went out.
We spent the day with our families; we had an afternoon tea, then Brin and Ander snuck me away before dinner. McKayla and the baby were off with Don and Suzie.
When we arrived at the country club, I saw McKayla holding Maureen in her arms. She was back in her wedding dress because she thought I was putting mine back on. She looked radiant. Her smile stretched from ear to ear. I stared at her for a minute. She hadn't seen me yet. I watched her move around the room, greeting each of our guests.
My lover . . . my best friend . . . my wife . . . she looked so alive. So animated. So vibrant.
Bretlynn was with McKayla and pointed over towards me. Our eyes met. Time seemed to stand still for a moment. Everyone else in the room faded away and all I could see was my wife and my daughter, the two people I loved more than life itself.
McKayla walked over to me and we stood there for a second. The room fell silent.
In unplanned unison, we each curtsied, holding our skirts out and bowing our heads slightly. McKayla's eyes twinkled.
I was wearing one of my mother's old SCA outfits. It was a two-piece skirt set that had a double-lacing bodice with elegant silver and black jacquard trim over a long-sleeve white cotton blouse. The skirt had alternate panels of kelly green and royal blue that matched the bodice, and it flared out from the waist.
My brother, sister and I had gone through our parents's things and found the outfit. It must have been one of Mom's favourite outfits because Dad kept several pictures of her in it around the house.
Flowers were woven into my hair, which was pulled back into a tight braid.
McKayla shifted Maureen out of the way and pulled me into her embrace. I put my arms around her and we kissed. It was a long, hard, sloppy kiss. Her tongue entered my mouth and for a moment we were oblivious to everyone else around us, even our daughter. Finally, I pulled away, worried that either our friends would tell us to get a room or I would give in to the temptation to tear her clothes off and take her right there.
"You look stunning, Elven Princess," McKayla said softly. There was an edge to her voice, part amused, part longing. Her hand caressed my cheek. I turned my head so she could get a good look.
On the tips of my ears, under gobs of glue and flesh-coloured make-up were movie-quality latex points. Ander had found them on the internet at some Lord of the Rings costume site. Brin put them on and made sure they looked like they were my real ears.
"As do you, m'lady," I replied gently. I kissed her again, this time for just a moment, but I could taste the hunger on her lips.
I slipped my hand into the crook of her arm and we continued to mingle about the room.
We sat down for dinner a little bit later and after that, things got crazy. There was a lot of drinking involved (not by me; I was still nursing), some dancing, some karaoke and some more drinking. Allyson and McKayla ended up singing some gawd-awful rendition of "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' With Lovin' On Your Mind" that was fall-on-the-floor hilarious. Allyson was blitzed and my wife was on her way. Suzie wouldn't put Maureen down so we made her the front of the congo line.
Everyone had a good time and that's what we wanted more than anything. For our friends and family, the people we loved most in this world, to be together. The fact that it was to celebrate the commitment McKayla and I were making was just the icing on the cake.
Oh yeah, there was lots of cake, too. We did the bouquet toss and the garter belt thing (twice). And McKayla found out that somewhere along the way, my panties had mysteriously disappeared . . .
I dragged McKayla out of the banquet room a little after 9:30. Don and Suzie were keeping the baby at our house and I wanted to have my bride on our wedding night before she passed out.
We went back to the Breakers, and this time we had the honeymoon suite. We already had our keys and went straight up to the room. The night bellhops gave us a couple of raised eyebrows, but we didn't care.
Right after Maureen was born, I decided I didn't give a damn what other people thought about McKayla and I. If they didn't like seeing two women in love holding hands, then they can go to Hell. Life is too short to not have the person you love at your side at all times. I wasn't going to worry about how other people looked at us.
McKayla's disease was going to take her from me. I knew that, and I dreaded thinking about it. I dreaded the talks we had about living wills and institutional care once she got to the point when I could not longer care for her at home. I dreaded thinking about the day when I would have to explain to our daughter why her mommy doesn't remember her name. I dreaded thinking about the day when the most beautiful woman in the world wouldn't know that she was the center of my life.