I’m gripping the steering wheel so tight my knuckles are white. I can’t break from the sheer panic that ran through me with her comment. She’s out for blood and whether it’s Lucy’s or mine I’m not quite sure anymore. I know one thing, I’m glad she didn’t see the look of terror on Lucy’s face when she brought up thanking me properly. Lucy can take care of herself but she’s more of the think it through and then pounce type not the fly by the seat of your pants kind of gal. I knew I had to act quickly or else Lacey would have forced the issue. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to ring her neck though.
Driving back to the wedding venue I’m distracted. The reality of the day is creeping in and I’m wondering how this day will unfold. Even though I’m not sure what Lacey’s true end game is I could tell Luce wasn’t happy. As I round the building I see them, Lucy and Lacey outside the back door of the salon and it looks like Lucy is reading her the riot act, that’s my girl, I think as I keep going hoping they don’t see me. I make it past with no issues and wish I could know what she was saying. Was she really telling her off, was she threatening her, or was she just letting her continue to walk all over her. I won’t know until later, I’m sure but I hope she stood up for herself. I couldn’t take it if I knew that sometime down the line she was continuing to let Lacey rule her.
Whether together or not I still care about what happens to her and how her life is. Which as I pull in to the venue I remind myself is a total lie. I want her in my life, more than I think I’m willing to admit. It’s just not going to be as easy as I wanted. It doesn’t matter how much I have to remind myself that my own flaws are what led me down this path. I sit for a few minutes just trying to compose myself before I head into the boathouse. The guys shouldn’t be back for at least a half hour or so but that gives me time to get ready without prying eyes or the awkward quiet that would inevitably occur. It is not some big production but when people haven’t seen it before it catches their eye.
“You don’t have any doubts about this do you?” JJ asks.
“Not one. I was meant to be with her. She is home to me, she’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thoughts that drift out of my head as I fall asleep…” I answer as I finish knotting my tie.
“I just don’t understand it. How is it so easy to imagine life with her?” he asks stepping in front of me.
“Honestly? I could tell from the moment I saw her with Mara and D. The way she wouldn’t look at me, but was looking at me… how when they finally came over to talk to you I didn’t see anyone but her, I could not wait to hear what her voice was like…” I describe as I knot his tie for him.
I flash out of that particular memory as I hear someone approaching, luckily I’m all but dressed. I toss my jacket over the chair beside me and quietly move to see who’s coming. Her father is just entering the room as I peek out and we nearly collide.
“Jack,” he says as I try not to take out his legs with my footplate.
“Aidan, sorry. I heard someone…” I blurt out a little nervously.
“How are you son?” Aidan asks after a moment of awkward silence.
“I’ve been well, really well mostly… you?” I manage to ask.
“Still above ground so I guess that’s a good thing,” he laughs at the little inside barb we used to use.
This brings a smile to my face and I can feel the nervousness leaving my body as I make my way back into the room. Aidan has never once come to ask me what happened, he’s never treated me like I did something wrong and I wonder now if Lucy told him what I did. It surprised me when he didn’t. I never pegged him to be confrontational but if it was my daughter, I don’t know that I could have kept quiet. He never did though. He let us, well at least me be, even though I can imagine that Maryanne probably drove him crazy that he didn’t. He’s probably the only reason Lucy and Logan ever survived with Maryanne and Lacey. Keeping those two grounded had to have been a challenge and I have envied his resolve on many occasions for putting up with them. As I watch him pulling out his suit I’m actually wondering if today will be the day he asks.
“I heard there’ve been some new developments?” he half asks, half states and I know it’s coming.
“Not that new actually, I’ve just been working really hard to not be the asshole anymore, working on getting over myself…” I spew before I can filter it.
“Huh, took you long enough, kid…” he says turning his head expectantly towards me.
“Yeah, I know,” I respond.
“How’s that working for you?” he asks.
“I’m getting there… nobody’s perfect Aidan, but it is getting easier,” I answer as honestly as I can.
“Good. You know I have a story for you…you game?” he questions, stopping what he’s doing to come over and sit nearer to me.
“A while ago I happened to be at this store, let’s call it Bob’s. I watched this young guy, probably around your age, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the issue was. He was angry, and I mean it radiated off of him something fierce. And well, you know me, I’m not one to judge really but I couldn’t help but let myself follow behind him…” he pauses and I know exactly what he’s referring to.
“Listen I just can’t today JJ,” I growl into the phone.
I’ve been having a rough few months, adjusting to a new role at work, adjusting to life in a chair and a life without her and I just can’t meet him today. I’m just not able to put up with his happiness today. In my haste to finish the conversation with him, I drop my phone, and then when I reach down to get it the contents of my basket spill all over the floor and like a toddler I sit stewing and slamming my fists against my wheels. Eventually, I pick up my items and checkout allowing myself to further wallow in those self- destructive thoughts as I race back to my house.
“I kept my distance but I couldn’t shake that scene from my mind for months, here was this grown man, struggling obviously with his demons and I couldn’t help but think how alone he seemed. Just couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t have to be, you feel me?” he says.
“Yeah. He didn’t have to be. He didn’t know how to ask for help, not then, when he couldn’t see out of his own field of view. His whole perception was probably skewed, warped somehow and he may not have known how to straighten it out…” I try to explain.
“See what he didn’t realize was that even with that out of whack view there were people willing to help him straighten it out, willing to plot the course with him,” he says, his face sad.
“I like to think that eventually, he figured that out… realized that even though it felt like it was too late, maybe he should try to right the course anyways,” I offer.
“Jack, the only time it’s really too late is if you’re six feet down…” he trails off as he heads back over to his things to pull out a suit jacket.
While I thought he’d berate me or ask me what really happened I figured I could handle that. This though, throwing up one of my weaker moments in a way that was worse. It didn’t matter then to me who saw that, but knowing he was there, he was watching my selfishness it cuts me deep enough to make my stomach roil up at my actions at the person I had allowed myself to become. It took a lot to pull me out of those days and it didn’t happen in some made for TV minute of enlightenment. Months I carried on like that and then one day my own father said something to me that really made me think about what I did have left.
“You aren’t going to make it out of this are you?” he asked me after a particularly bad moment with my temper blazing.
“What?” I seethed.
I don’t know what I was really asking what to, that he had the audacity to say that, or what did he mean but it came out anyways and he continued, “You aren’t going to make it through Jack, are you? I mean it’s been too long, too long of wondering if my son is going to make an appearance or is it going to be this stranger who has my eyes. This person who is nothing like the boy I raised, who nearly killed us all with an accident… it was an accident Jack. Accidents happen all the time and even though it changed everything for you, it did not mean everything else had to change. Why can’t you see that? What is keeping you from seeing that? No one else changed it was you…”
I knew exactly what he meant. I saw the changes in myself from the moment I woke up. I was different, not them. I created it all and I needed to see that, face that this was an accident and I had to either get over it or let it take over me.
I wasn’t lying to Aidan when I told him it was getting easier, it was and it took a long time to get to the place I was in, in this moment. Who knows where I’ll be in five or ten years. I know one thing though it doesn’t matter if I get out of this chair or not. What matters is if I can make it through what life throws at me.
“Listen, loser, we need to talk,” JJ says slugging my arm, pulling me from my thoughts.
Following him out of the room he leads me to a room full of off white linen, bouquets and other wedding paraphenalia until finally, he pulls out a chair and points to the spot directly in front of him.
“I’m listening,” I say, curious.
“I know… I understand now. Even up until this morning I didn’t get it, through 18 holes I didn’t get it, but then I”m driving back here, and out of nowhere it hit me. BAM! I can’t imagine my life without her. Without her insanity, without her moments of brilliance or her horrible hair in the morning…” he says with a huff before continuing, “I know this is tough for you, hell it’s probably a form of torture in some no name country but I remember not being able to wrap my head around you and Lucy when you got married, I remember you trying to explain it to me and just feeling like your answer was so stupid. It wasn’t. It was probably the best explanation anyone could have given…”
“Glad I could finally fit something in that big melon of yours that made sense, even if it took seven years,” I say, shaking my head and wondering if he got into Logan’s hooch stash.
“I just wanted to tell you before the craziness starts that I get why you are doing this and it doesn’t matter what any one of us thinks, it only matters to the two of you. Lucy isn’t dumb and she knows what you’re doing too even if you haven’t told her yourself. Don’t let some random date deter you… I don’t know this guy she’s bringing but maybe she needs to see that he isn’t you… Don’t let it stop you from trying to get what you want okay?” he says seriously.
“She knows… and thanks,” I say popping my brakes to go back to getting ready.