When Tay woke up and found herself on the sofa with Ben hovering over her, she wondered what had happened. She could see the worry on Ben’s face and it confused her greatly, Ben did not like her so there was no way he could be worrying about her.
“Wait, let me help you, sit up slowly,” he said to her when she made a move to sit up on the couch.
When she was comfortable she looked around the room wondering what had happened. She was even more confused when she saw her uncle Mark sitting on a chair across from her with Grace sitting beside him. When had he come from? As she made to get up to greet him properly, he stopped her telling her to sit down and rest a little.
“You have been unconscious for quite a while and if you had been any longer, you would have woken up in the hospital because your young man is quite worried about you,” uncle Mark said
“My young man?” Tay whispered in confusion.
Her confusion increased when her uncle motioned to Ben, uncle Mark must be mistaken, Ben could never be that worried about her.
“What do you remember?” her uncle asked.
Looking back at her uncle, Tay wondered what he was referring to, had something happened before she passed out? She looked at each of them, one after the other wondering what was going on. Ben was now seated on the couch beside her, looking ready to jump if something happened. What was he waiting for? As she looked at him for answers, her for answers she began to feel as if this supportive looking Ben was familiar. She tried to figure out when Ben had ever been supportive of her and it took less than a minute for the memories to flood back in her mind. As they did, her breathing became laboured as she panicked again but Ben knelt in front of her and spoke to her and helped her calm down before she lost consciousness again.
“You have got to stop fainting on me Tay, I know I’m hot but it’s becoming too much of a habit,” he joked when her breathing was close to normal.
She laughed slightly as he had intended but soon the confusion settle back in, why was he helping her? Did he not hate her? When had uncle Mark arrived? He wasn’t here before. And where was everyone else, where had his parents gone to? Where had aunt Anne and uncle Alfred disappeared to?
“Good, it seems you remember now, and before you ask, I was there for most of the conversation. My daughter told me what was going on and I decided it was time I came and intervened in you situation, but it doesn’t really seem like I was truly needed because your husband handled the situation very well. I wasn’t so sure about him marrying my little girl but tonight he has redeemed himself a little bit. I will still be waiting for him to come to the house and apologize for abandoning my daughter.”
Tay looked at her uncle and tears started falling from her eyes. Considering her uncle Alfred hated her, uncle Mark was the only father she had left and she had not realized that he cared for her.
“What girl, did you not think I cared? I may not be good at sharing my emotions but I love you, child of my blood…”
“Hey, you have never told me you loved me!” Grace protested.
“Oh quiet, both your mother and husband tell you that enough as it is. But my brother and his wife are no longer available to assure their daughter that they love her. While I still stand by my decision to let Angie take you in instead of taking you in myself, it seems I failed in letting you know that she and Andy were not the ones you had who cared. And for that I am sorry my child, I am sorry for not protecting you from Anne and Alfred’s sharp tongues and from all the family drama. Do not worry, today, while you were unconscious, I made it known you were under my protection and were not to be messed with.”
With sobs racking her body, Tay stood up and went to kneel before her father, resting her head on his knees. It felt good to know that she still had a father even though hers was gone. While uncle Andy had filled that role for a while, a part of her had always been empty because of the knowledge that uncle Andy was by culture her husband not her father and that her dad had brothers who could have taken her in but neither of them had seemed to care. In fact, one of them had expressed the opposite. For the first time in a long time, she felt whole and loved and he rubbed her head and comforted until she stopped crying.
“Now get up and go back to your husband, I am still quite tempted to hit him but if he has you near him he will be safer.”
Laughing more strongly this time, Tay got up from the ground feeling as if a lot of weight had been removed from her shoulders. She did not remember the last time she felt so free. As she sat down beside Ben, her laughter stopped as she remembers the situation she was in. Taking a deep breath, she decided it was time to apologize.
“I owe you an apology, for marrying you under false pretenses. I knew you wanted children but I was too scared to tell you of my condition because I thought felt that I would rather you hate me than for there to be a chance that the children get separated. You hated me already anyway, so I figured if you hated me even more, it would not make a difference. I am sorry for deceiving you and if you decide to have children with someone who can give them to you, I can live with that,” she whispered.
“So those are my options huh, to either cheat on my wife or divorce her and lose the children?” he asked leaning back on the seat and closing his eyes for a moment. “Like I told my mother, I don’t really blame you for keeping this from me, I am not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I had been in your shoes. This is the situation and if God does not come through for us as he has done for other women in your family, short of using a surrogate, I will not be having any children of my own blood. Our four will have to be enough. I am not giving up on our marriage before I even give it a chance and I will not under any circumstances cheat on you, well, by the grace of God anyway,” he added.
“But if you did not know before why were you so angry at me when you came? How can you think our marriage could work?” Tay immediately regretted the question the moment after it was out but there was nothing to be done about it.
With all her faults, it was probably hypocritical of her to be questioning his behaviour.
“You know what I am interested in knowing that as well, which part of my daughter’s mistakes made you hate her and treat her the way you did?” uncle Mark asked.
Tay looked to the ground knowing that there was no truer implication than that, she had made a lot of bad decisions and it was probably true that a lot of Ben’s behaviour could be a response to her bad choices.
“I didn’t always hate your daughter, sir, in fact, I was in love with your daughter for a long time before things changed.”
“I am well aware of that so what changed?” her uncle responded.
Both Tay and Grace looked between the two men in shock, Ben, in love with her? And her uncle had known?
“My uncle chose her over me and I guess I resented that. When I went to uncle Andy one day wanting to ask for his permission to take Tay on a date, he told me that I was not good enough for her and that I should look elsewhere and forget about her. I did not understand then but I think now I do, he was only trying to protect her from my family, from my mother, and from me.
“Growing up, when people used to make comments about aunt Angie, my uncle always seemed above it and he ignored it. I thought for sure it wasn’t affecting him in any way but now…I was just too young to understand. Immediately after refusing for me to date her, he started cutting off his time with me and refusing to spend time with me. He would not invite me to his home anymore and would always choose to spend time with Tay more than me.
“That’s when I heard the first rumor, that he was actually having an affair with Tay himself and that the children were hers, not aunt Angie’s. I didn’t believe that though because I knew he was not the cheating kind, plus I had seen auntie Angie pregnant so I knew she was the one to give birth to the children. But then the story changed it was said they were using Tendai’s eggs and both uncle Andy and aunt Angie were grateful to her for donating her eggs so they would always choose her and protect her.”
“And you believed them?” uncle Mark asked Ben.
“Yes, because aunt Angie was always saying that without Tendai she would not have any children; she loved to praise Tendai as the reason she had a family, and she made everyone know that Tendai was her children’s second mother. She declared, even with just the first child, that it would be Tendai and no one else who got the children if anything ever happened to them. I may have been their godfather, but I was insignificant. And I felt that she was stealing my family away from me then. It was irrational but my mother and everyone fed that thought until it was real in my mind and it was all I believed. The resentment slowly turned to hatred and I am ashamed to say I told her I hated her, I showed her in any way I could that I hated her. I took out all my frustration on her.
“And then suddenly Andy and Angie were gone and they wanted me to marry her to keep the children together. How could they cast me to the side and call me unworthy and then write such a will? I remembered a conversation I had heard that Tendai had a crush on me so I figured she must have set them up to it. They always did say after all that they would give her the world and give her whatever she wanted, so if the rumor was true, then she had asked them and they had delivered.
“I resented being manipulated and I also resented their decree that she could adopt the children without me even if we were married but I could not do it on my own. It seemed that even in death, they were choosing her over me. And then to find out she had taken advantage of that clause in the will and adopted the children without even properly letting me know? I mean sure she was sending reports in her emails and whatever information but we both knew I wasn’t reading those, that whatever information I wanted to know, I asked the lawyers, my family or the children themselves.
“But somewhere along the way, God started working in my heart reminding me who I was in Christ and I decided to work on my marriage, to prove my uncle wrong, to prove I was more than worthy. The first thing I did was to read the emails and a discovered all the things that she was doing without letting me know in a way she knew I would actually receive the information, and I had no one to blame but myself.
“But then it was also just also another reminder of how I was a puppet in this whole situation and how much more control she had. It left me feeling powerless and so I got mad and vindictive and tried to hurt her back. Of course, the children stopped me right at the beginning and I was back to wondering how to fix things and not knowing how to get her to talk to me. I tried to spend time with her and the children, hoping I would one day get a moment to speak to her but the damage had already been done and my wife hated me and wanted nothing to do with me.
“It wasn’t until tonight when I heard her talking with Grace in the kitchen that I found out about both her inability to have children and how alienated from her family she was. The pain in her voice when she was speaking…I don’t know, uncle Andy was right, I wasn’t good enough for her, and I don’t know if you can ever forgive me sir for how I behaved.”
Tendai wondered if she should be offended that they were talking about her as if she was not there. But she listened to him and watched him speak, she realized that she had way off base on a lot of things. Yes, he had hated her but his treatment of her that day he came home was because of her and how she had hurt him. She knew hurt people hurt people and he had been operating under so many years of hurt. And these past months when he was invading her time with her children it had been because he was trying to spend time with her? How could she have been so oblivious to what was happening around her?
She had judged him so harshly and had not given him a chance. And now she realized that it was her fault that her aunt and uncle had cut him off. It wasn’t until she declared that she no longer loved him and had moved on that he started showing up more often, and she now realized it was because they started inviting him more often when she got over him. Again, it was all her fault.
“I’m sorry, it was all my fault it seemed,” she whispered.
“What?” both Ben and her uncle asked at the same time.
“I didn’t just have a crush on you, Ben, I was completely and totally in love with you until you started to treat me like your worst enemy. Before then, you could do no wrong, you were perfection itself in my eyes. But I knew I could never be with you because firstly I never expected you to feel the same way, but secondly and most importantly, you wanted children and I could never give them to you.
“So for years, I tried to find ways for the doctors to fix me so that I could be able to have the option to give you the children you wanted if you ever looked my way and I don’t think that aunt Angie or uncle Andy appreciated that. I was trying to change my imperfection for you, not for myself because in my mind you could never accept me any other way. So that’s probably why they cut you off, and probably the reason they changed their mind was because you made me feel differently about you; you broke my heart and I just learned not to love you anymore.”
She looked up at everyone before she finished off saying,
“It wasn’t that you were unworthy, it was just that I was too damaged emotionally to handle the disappointment that would have come with a relationship between me and you,” Tay said, looking up at the wall to look at the words that had proved to help keep her sane whenever she looked at them over the past two months
“Jesus loves me, Daddy God loves me, so what could I ever lack? I have I Am on my side, I am good.”
It seems she was more affected by what had happened when her parents died than she liked to believe but her aunt and uncle had known. And with her fantasies of having a husband like her uncle Andy, she had fallen in love with a guy she knew uncle Andy was grooming to be a good man. A man she knew both her aunt and her uncle loved and were proud of. All this time he thought he was unworthy when in fact she was the one who was unworthy, she was not strong or resilient like her aunt Angie. She was weak, and maybe it was time she just admitted it and stopped fighting, she may not be strong, and she may not have an Andy but she had Jesus whose grace was sufficient for her and it was made strong in her weakness. God would not bless who pretended to be and if she kept on trying to be strong on her own, she was doomed for even more failure.
“I have pretended to be so strong and have held on for so long but I am just so tired now, there is no more fight left in me. I think I just want to sleep n…”
“Since when have you been fighting for survival?”
“What?” she looked at Ben in confusion.
He let out a sad laugh before he grabbed her hand.
“They were trying to protect your heart and I broke it anyway. Are you going to deny that the battle became real for you when I turned against you? That before you were trying to pave a way for a better life but after me, you were just fighting to keep your head above the water? What they feared happened anyway didn’t it? And they died not knowing what had really happened, what had changed you because if they had, they would not have invited me to be so close to you where I could inflict even more damage.”
Ben laughed bitterly before he stood up and started pacing around the room. The day was not going as she had expected and Tay wondered once again what was going on. She couldn’t deny what Ben had said because he was right, he had unknowingly popped the bubble of protection that she had hidden in and exposed her to the harsh realities of what people thought of her. While she had always been somewhat affected by her family’s talk, it wasn’t until after he broke her heart that she started believing in some of what they said.
His rejection had caused her to fall into a deep well of despair where she lost her confidence and started to question everything she thought she knew. And forced her to face her fears, to face the opinions of others and deal with her own negative perception of herself. And while she thought she was winning, she had obviously just been fooling herself. This battle was one she could never win on her own, it was not her own hand that would bring her victory.
“It seems as if the two of you have a lot of things you both need to work through. I have heard a lot of things tonight that I would have never wanted anyone I care about to experience and I just realized I could have stopped a lot of this from happening,” uncle Mark said after a moment of silence.
“No child, you cannot deny this, all you wanted was to be loved and accepted but with the exception of Angie and her husband, you felt like you had no one. And I can imagine you were attacked a lot for staying with Angie and if I had just made my feelings known at an earlier date, you would have escaped with a lot less scars. And all that hate directed towards you as a child, all because of who your mother was. I did not defend your mother because your father said he could protect his own family from our vicious siblings but when your parents died, I should have stepped in,” uncle Andy added.
“Her mother?” Ben asked as he came to a stop.
“Yes, the reason my siblings hate your wife, she was not my brother’s first wife, she was the daughter of his second wife. A woman he married after his first wife had died, ignoring all the suggestions our siblings threw at him. When he married her, Tay had already been born, she was born out wedlock, leading to the rumor that she might not even be my brother’s child. But anyone with eyes could see that she was a spitting image of Angie, and her father did not doubt her parentage, so neither did I. Anne and Alfred though, were not pleased and they never forgave Tendai’s mother or now Tendai herself for interfering with whatever they had planned for my brother.”
It was the first time that Tay had heard this and for the first time in her life, she had an answer as she why her own family would not accept her.
“Is that why even Simba and Ropa refuse to acknowledge her father?” Grace asked.
“Who is that?” Ben asked.
When neither her uncle or Grace answered, Tendai realized they waiting for her to decide whether she wanted to discuss her siblings. To be honest she had forgotten all about them having long since adapted to life without them. Her older twin siblings had left the family long ago to stay with their mother’s family. They were only in contact with aunt Anne and uncle Alfred and Tendai finally understood why. She just nodded, indicating for her uncle to go on.
“Simba and Ropa were my brother’s children by his first wife. They were about 12 years of age when a two-year-old Tendai came to live with them, and unfortunately, Anne and Alfred poisoned them against Tendai and her mother. No one in the family except for Anne and Alfred have heard from them since my brother died, and they do not acknowledge Tendai as their sister,” her uncle explained
Tendai refused to look at her husband as she thought of the siblings who had refused to acknowledge her existence. Was she meant to just live a life where someone who was supposed to love her rejected her? When she proved to be the worst wife in history even after they had tried, would Ben reject her too? And leave her even more broken? Was it even normal for one person to experience so much rejection in their life?
“Give us a chance.”
She looked up at Ben as he took her hands and knelt before.
“I can almost feel you give up but I need you to give us a chance, I know I am not so worthy of your trust but trust in God, trust that He is going to make this situation to work out for your good. He knows the plans He has for you, for both of us and we just need to both trust in him and give it all to him. He will lead us where we need to go and teach both of us to love again, we can leave it all up to him and just lean on Him together, even as we do it separately.”
As she looked into Ben’s eyes and she saw the hope in them, she considered his words and realized he was suggesting something she could do. She didn’t have any more energy to fight for her marriage or make things work. But giving it all to God and trusting God to lead her in the way she should go? That was a plan she could get behind. The only way they could have a future was if somehow God was involved in it.
All she needed to do was to trust in Him and let go.
Sure it probably was not going to be a walk in the park but with God’s help, their marriage would be a success. They had to build their marriage with Christ in the middle and it would become unbreakable.
And she finally decided to give it all to Jesus and receive from Him the healing she wanted for her broken heart.