Copyright© 2017 Rebecca Jane
All Rights Reserved.
Author's Note:Okay, this is one of the chapters that I have been waiting to write from the very beginning. I hope that you find this one has made the journey I’ve taken you on so far worth it. Hope you all enjoy. ~Rebecca
Dana and Steve were sound asleep when two bundles of energy burst into their bedroom in the early morning, both young girls were acting like it was Christmas morning. They had remembered that today was Sarah’s birthday, well at least Larissa remembered and had reminded her sister.
Larissa pleaded with them, “C’mon get up! We have to get ready for church!”
Steve groaned, but looked at the clock and saw it was over an hour before the family had to be awake. He mumbled, “Rissa it’s still early, we’ve got plenty of time. Just let us lie here a bit longer.”
The small girl wasn’t having any of that though, “ But it’s Sarah’s birthday… The sooner we go to church, the sooner we can start her party…”
Dana giggled, “Baby, church will start the same time as it always does, no matter how early we get there.”
Larissa groaned, “But mooooom, it’s Sarah’s birthday!!!”
Steve shook his head, “It will be her birthday all day, we have plenty of time.”
Undeterred, the stubborn six year old said, “Okay fine… C’ mon Ally, I’m gonna give you your bath.” She then grabbed her little sister and started to pull her out of the bedroom.
Steve quickly remembered the last time she was going to help and bathe her sister, and the flood that occurred. He sat straight up in bed, “No!”
Dana chuckled again, “She’s just excited, and wants to help.”
Steve slid his legs out from under the covers, “Fine, Ally I’ll give you your bath. Rissa stay here with Mommy.” Ally just squealed and ran towards the bathroom, while Larissa just smiled at her victory and nodded at her Dad.
Dana looked to her daughter and asked her, “Sweetie come up here and snuggle with mommy, okay.” Larissa just grinned and hopped up in the bed with her, and as she snuggled up to her she felt the baby move.
She exclaimed, “Momma the baby kicked me!!!”
Dana smiled at the wonder in the young girls face, “She’s just excited to meet her big sister.”
The little girls eyes grew wide, “It’s a baby girl?” Dana nodded, then Larissa bent over with her face right up to her mothers belly button and said, “I wanna meet you too, but quit kicking Mommy okay…” She then felt the baby move again, and looked towards her mother and stated, “She doesn’t listen, just like Ally…”
They laid there for a few minutes, Dana staying tickled at how Larissa kept scolding her belly. After a few minutes, she noticed how Larissa’s face had scrunched up, so she asked, “Whatcha thinking sweetie?”
Larissa looked up at her mom, still in deep thought, “I was thinking whats her name gonna be…”
Dana realized they hadn’t even talked about it yet, she had an idea but hadn’t voiced it to her husband. She smiled, “Daddy and I haven’t decided yet, what do you think we should name her?”
Larissa’s face scrunched up for a moment before she said, “I was thinking…. You know how sad Sarah gets when she thinks about Aunt April since she went to heaven?” Dana nodded, and the girl continued, “I was thinking that if we named her April, that anytime Sarah missed Aunt April she could hug baby April and she’d be happy again…”
The sweetness of her daughters comment made her eyes start to water, she told her, “That’s a really good idea… We’ll have to ask Sarah what she thinks about that okay?” Larissa nodded excitedly as Dana motioned her in for a hug.
In another neighborhood about twenty minutes away, Sarah had already been up for a while. She had had a very restless night, so she had gotten up very early and started her yoga routine. While she rarely did yoga on consecutive days, she really needed to clear her head so she could prepare for the day. While she knew why April had done what she did, knowing didn’t make it any easier to accept. That and now she could only imagine what her parents had gone through on their own, she imagined that they shared the same loss that she had felt for the last two decades. The revelations that her parents had wanted her back had drained most of the anger she had felt towards them, now she was feeling remorse at what could have been.
When she had first given up trying to sleep any longer, she had strongly considered to call today off and just stay at home alone. While that’s what she wanted to do, she knew how many people were counting on her showing up today. Her fear of letting anyone down, quickly overrode that idea. Thankfully her morning yoga exercise had helped clear her mind enough to focus on her day and what she had to do. With her mind in a much healthier place that the previous night she started preparing for the first part of her day.
Bill and Joan had also woken up early, they too had had a rough night. When they had gotten to the RV from the pre-party, they both were emotionally wiped out. Joan had been crying the entire drive back to the RV and Bill tried his best to console her while driving and also dealing with his own emotions. Once they had gotten into the motor home, they had both collapsed in each other’s arms.
They both had been amazed at being able to meet their child that they had thought had been lost to them forever. While Sarah had been so different than the son that they remembered, those things about Brian that were the best parts of him were still apparent in Sarah, even more so. They both knew the meeting would be difficult and that Sarah would be angry at them, but they had been willing to do anything to get to know their child again.
Sarah had exceeded any expectations they had ever had for Brian, her dedication to her school, work, but most importantly the amount of people she had in her life, and how much those people thought of their daughter. It was if the best parts of the son that they remembered, had been multiplied exponentially into something so much greater.
Bill had been the first to wake up that morning, to find his wife snuggled up to him with her head on his chest, and his arm around her. While they had never intended for it to happen, they hadn’t had that closeness with each other for years. He had laid there for about half an hour before he had to disturb her so they could start getting ready to meet the McMasters’s for church.
The Richardsons were about ten minutes early arriving at the Unity Church that Steve had given them the address to. With Bill’s incessant idea to always be thirty minutes early to everything, that meant they had almost forty minutes till the service was to start. Being as early as they were, they decided to wait in their car until they saw Steve, Dana, or the kids. They spent their time waiting in the small Prius talking and holding hands with each other, something else they hadn’t really done in a long while.
By the time Steve and the girls arrived, the Richardsons had only been waiting about fifteen minutes. They had been so caught up in their conversation, they both jumped when Steve knocked on the window. After a few laughs and hugs between the couples they walked together to the entrance of the church.
Bill and Joan both were surprised at how friendly everyone they had met were, they had forgotten how a church was supposed to feel. They had tried multiple different churches back home but had stayed within the fundamentalist churches, and had never felt as welcomed as they were right now.
Once inside the main building Steve spilt off from them carrying Ally to her Sunday school class, and Dana and Larissa showed them all to their pew. They had barely gotten settled in before Steve had returned and taken his seat with his family.
Curious, Joan asked him, “Does Larissa not have a school here?”
Steve chuckled softly, “She does but she’s got something she’s going to help with at the beginning of the service.”
Joan looked at the small girl, and had to stifle a bit of laughter. She hadn’t been sure what she was doing, but she realized that she was telling Dana’s belly to behave for church to her mothers amusement. Joan then looked around at the sanctuary, amazed at how beautiful the scene was. There were huge picture windows on two sides of the large room, and the view of the church grounds gave the impression that you were almost in an outside service. She then started to take notice of the people filing in, there were many couples holding hands, and quite a few same-sex couples holding hands. She was amazed at how everyone was greeting them with hugs and smiles all around. She couldn’t help but utter, “You would never see that at our old church…” The sight almost brought a tear to the older woman’s eyes.
Dana didn’t quite hear her, and asked, “What was that?”
Joan had blotted her eye’s carefully as to not damage her makeup and softly said, “I just said you would never see couples like that being welcomed like that at any of the other churches we’d been to…” She smiled and blotted her eyes again before saying, “It’s beautiful… I wish Sarah was here… They’d accept her here right?”
Dana saw the worry on Joan’s face so she tenderly grasped her hand in hers and reassured her, “They do accept her, completely… Like Steve told you, she normally sits with us… She just had something else to do this morning so could sit here with us today.”
Joan looked at her husband, and saw that him and Steve were in a conversation about work. She went back to happily watching her grandchild talk to her unborn baby sibling through her mothers belly.
About five minutes before the service was to start, a man in his late thirties came out and sat at the piano and started to play. Dana leaned over to Joan and whispered, “That’s Jason, the music director, he’s another friend of ours, and Sarah’s. He’ll be coming this afternoon as well so you’ll get to talk to him at the party.”
Jason finished playing a couple of minutes before the service was to start, then he swung the mic that was on the piano over and spoke into it, “Good Morning Unity, I hope you all are having a great morning. I wanted you all to know that we’re all in for a treat this morning.” At that time a lady, probably in her early fifties, came out of the side door and following her was Sarah. Jason continued, “Our very own prayer chaplain is going to sing us our call to worship, so lets wish a great Unity blessing for her before she starts.”
At the sight of Sarah walking in behind the minister, Joan reached over and squeezed her husbands hand, which he returned just as much. As the minister moved on towards her seat, just to the right of the pulpit, Sarah went up on picked up a guitar that was sitting in its stand, and wrapped the strap around her. She was beaming as she walked up to the microphone as she glanced around to everyone. She paused just a second when she saw her parents sitting with her friends. Her parents noticed her pause and flinched, wondering if Steve had done the right thing by inviting them. Then she broke into a sincere smile as she nodded to them, that caused them to breathe a small sight of relief.
Looking back over the congregation she smiled as she spoke into the mic, “Good morning everyone!!! I hope everyones in a great mood today… If not, you’re going to be.”
Then Jason interrupted her on his mic, “Oh and everyone I have it on good authority that its also her birthday today. You’re what twenty four today right?” He said smiling, while the whole congregation yelled out happy birthday.
Smirking at him, she said, “Thank you everyone, and don’t listen to him… I’m glad to announce that I’m thirty five today, and I’m good with that… Just as long as I still look twenty five.” The congregation laughed along with her joke, then she continued, “I’m going to play an older contemporary song, it’s Open The Eye’s of My Heart. It’s a pretty easy song to sing, so once you all get the words down please help me by singing along… Speaking of help… Is there anyone out there that would like to come up here and help me out, I have a microphone right…”
A shrill young voice shouted out, “Me! Me!” As Larissa bolted out of the pew and sprinted up to Sarah. Everyone was chuckling at the young girls enthusiasm.
Grinning at her as she was making a beeline to her, Sarah said, “Let’s give a warm welcome to my good helper Larissa.” The young girl immediately wrapped Sarah in a hug, and then eagerly took the microphone from her as the congregation clapped.
Both of Sarah’s parents were amazed at seeing their daughter up on stage, and how confident and at ease she was. This was something they would never have imagined of their child, at least the she one they had known. They just sat there in awe, still clutching each other’s hands tightly. Dana and Steve both glanced over at the older couple and smiled.
It had only taken Sarah a few seconds to get Larissa situated, and as she got her guitar ready she asked through the microphone, “Okay are you all set?”
Larissa nodded excitedly and not realizing she still had the microphone up to her face, she told Sarah, “Yup, just try and keep up okay…” The entire congregation started chuckling, they had seen this before from the two ladies.
Sarah just gave her a sideways grin, and joked “You have been spending way too much time with your daddy.”
Everyone heard Steve say, just loud enough to be heard, “Hey!!!”
Larissa just nodded, and said, “I’m ready…”
With that, Sarah started the opening, with Jason accompanying her with the piano, and started singing the words. She had been so unsure of herself when she had arrived this morning, and had contemplated calling off performing due to how conflicted she had been. Reverend Kathleen, or Kate as she preferred, had been there and had seen how troubled she had been. That had been why neither of them had been out earlier, after a long talk with Kate, Sarah decided to perform. While still conflicted, she was much more at peace than she had been since her parents had shown up the day before. As always, once she started playing, and Larissa started singing, all her conflicts went away and she joined the young girl.
“Open the eyes of my heart Lord, Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you, I want to see you…” While she had sung those words countless times, in that moment they suddenly struck home… She had kept her heart so closed off towards her parents for so long, it had been so hard for her to let them in again. The more she played, the more resentment she was able to let go of. As she looked around at everyone here eyes locked onto her parents, and when she saw them singing along it almost brought tears to her eyes. Her voice caught for a split second, not enough for anyone to catch it, but she continued to sing. When she started the last verse she quit singing to let the little girls high soprano carry the song to the end. Once they finished the whole congregation stood and applauded, which only caused Larissa to ham it up and start bowing dramatically. Which only caused the adults to giggle.
Sarah stepped away from the mic and shouted, “Give Larissa a hand everyone.” She then bent over and gave her daughter a hug before shooing her back to her parents. She ran up to Steve who scooped her up and started to take her to her class. Sarah then spoke again, “Ok, now everyone lets stand and sing the first hymn, I’m going to stay and accompany Jason if he doesn’t mind.”
Right before Jason started to play, Steve had gotten to the side door and he paused as he leaned his back up to the door. He then nodded to Larissa, so she then yelled out, “Rock on Sarah!!! Rock on!!!” The crowd again burst into chuckles, Sarah’s squinted her eyes to her friend.
Sarah then spoke back into the mic, “Yeah, definitely too much time with your Dad…” She was still smiling, and the congregation continued to laugh at their shenanigans.
Steve just looked hurt for a split second before he nodded to his daughter and as he backed out of the door, they both shouted, “Rock on Sarah!!!”
Sarah just shook her head laughing, “Okay now that the troublemakers are gone lets get started.”
Jason then started playing a jazzed up version of This Little Light of Mine, while Sarah switched to playing a lead guitar along with him. Joan and Bill were amazed at the energy that was in the church, then again they were initially taken back by the behavior, but realized that that was contributing to the amazing feeling that resonated throughout the building.
Once the hymn was finished, Sarah put the guitar down and went to sit next to Reverend Kate, while another person came up for the announcements. Right after those were finished, they then moved to welcoming newcomers to the church. There were about half a dozen people who stood up, including Bill and Joan after they were nudged by Dana.
Everyone was asked to stand and sing the next hymn, and once it was finished Sarah was looking for her Daily Word book. She knew she had it earlier, but it wasn’t anywhere by her seat or in her backpack.
After a few seconds of looking Kate reached to her small stack of books and grabbed hers to hand to Sarah, “Here take mine, I have a post it stuck to todays page.” Sarah thankfully took the book and as she made her way to the podium, no one noticed Kate reaching behind her to put Sarah’s book back with her things.
When Sarah got to the podium she said, “Hi everyone, I’m Sara Marks and I’m your prayer chaplain for the day. I, and the other chaplains, are here for anyone that needs private prayer or someone to listen. We will all be here after the service for anyone that needs us, just come find anyone of us and we’ll be there.”
She started to open the book to where the post it note was stuck, then she read what was written on the note.
I think there should be a change for today, I want you to read yesterdays word. I think its highly appropriate for you right now. Also the lesson afterwards, don’t you think that should go both ways?
Confused as to why Kate would want her to read yesterdays lesson, she pulled the note off and the Word for yesterday make her heart skip a beat. She then looked towards her minister, who just smiled kindly and nodded her head. Sarah spoke, “Okay, wow… Today I’ve been asked to read the word for yesterday, I hadn’t prepared to read this one so please bear with me…” She then quickly scanned the page and immediately got choked up at the thought of what it said.
She cleared her through, and started to speak, her voice cracking slightly, “The word for yesterday was Family… Our expanded concept of family includes all people… The people we call family are united by birth, like minds, or spiritual connectivity. We are all children of God, linked in spiritual oneness with each other and kindred souls regardless of our perceived differences…”
She had to pause to wipe her eyes, before she continued, “As with immediate and extended family, we may not always see eye to eye or connect heart to heart. During those times, let’s remember that those who may be the hardest to relate to as family could very well be the people needing our compassion and prayers the most…”
She looked out into the congregation, and once again locked eyes with her parents. She was doing her best to hold back the tears, but seeing both of her parents wiping their own eyes caused the damn to break. She then looked at the bottom of the page and saw the lesson, and with the message Kate had written, it took her about a minute to compose herself. She wasn’t aware that Kate had come up until she placed a hand on her shoulder.
Kate asked her gently, “Are you okay? I can finish this.”
Sarah shook her head no. “No I’m okay, just give me a second.” She cleared her throat and blotted her eyes again, she then said to the crowd, “I’ve got a confession to make to everyone… I almost couldn’t be here today… I know that it’s one of my responsibilities to be here and help anyone in need… Today I didn’t think I could do that… I’m sorry…”
She glanced at Kate, who nodded her head for her to continue and gave her a supportive smile. Sarah started up again, “The lesson I was supposed to read was about the prodigal son… But Reverend Kate brought it to my attention that it should go both ways… The story talks about a son who decided to take what was his and walk away from his family… When he realized what he threw away, once he had nothing, his father took him back without question…”
She smiled through her tears, glancing around she saw how everyone was transfixed with what was going on, finally she focused on her parents. She then said, “I’ve failed that teaching… Most of you know my story, to those that don’t… I wasn’t born Sarah Marks… My parents named me Brian… Due to some severe miscommunications we split our ways almost twenty years ago… I had never thought I’d see them again… I don’t think they thought they would see me again either… Well yesterday they walked back into my life… I let anger win… I couldn’t let it go… I behaved and said some cruel things…”
Sarah started crying in earnest now, which made it hard for her to continue, but she did her best, “I couldn’t forgive them… Mommy… Daddy… I’ve missed you so much... I’m so so sorry for all the things I said… Can you forgive me?”
Bill and Joan stood up and started to walk towards her, they were both motioning her towards them. Sarah quickly glanced at Kate, who smiled again and nodded to her. Sarah quickly stepped down from the pulpit and raced to her parents, where they all three embraced.
Bill spoke, “We’re sorry too, for everything… We love you Sarah… We never stopped.” Joan just nodded, she was unable to speak from the tears.
Sarah smiled and returned their embrace, “I love you too… I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed telling you that…”
With Kate looking down at Sarah and her parents, she noticed almost everyone in the congregation was wiping their own tears. She just smiled and took over at the pulpit, but not before wiping her own eyes.
Author's afterword:I have a bit of a confession for this part of the story. The word of the day is an actual thing at a Unity Church. I’ve attended one for a bit over 5 years, and it was honestly the very first place I felt unconditional acceptance early on in my transition. More acceptance than I even found in support group, or LGBT establishments. This word of the day (while I streamlined it a bit) was an actual one I received in my subscription. While this story was still a concept, I was trying to figure out how to have Sarah have her aha moment… The day I was trying to figure that out, I got this update… Anyway, thank you all for reading and all the comments you’ve left. Much love, and many hugs to you all. ~Rebecca
To be continued.
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