At Last

October 31st, 2020

Andrew watched carefully as JenniAnn trudged up the steps, headed towards their bedroom, following their highly modified October Fun Festival in the Fields of Gold.

He feared that carrying on with the celebration had been a bad idea...  Yes, everyone had worn masks.  Yes, distance had been observed.  But seeing their friends and not being able to hug them... that had taken a toll.  On him, yes.  But more on JenniAnn.  He'd hoped it would cheer her and break up the monotony of their COVID-era lives.  But it seemed he'd been wrong.  He was grateful that Allison and Robert were watching the kids that night.  He needed to fix his mistake and focus on his anam cara.

JenniAnn hadn't been doing well over the past couple of weeks.  Her concerns about the upcoming U.S. election had mounted.  It wasn't uncommon for Andrew to wake up in the middle of the night to find her checking news sites.  And then her hometown's COVID cases had sky-rocketed leaving hospitals closer to capacity than they'd been during the entire pandemic.  Finally, Rose had received a call informing her that one of the health care workers at her OB-GYN had tested positive for COVID.  Rose herself had tested negative... thank God... but there had been a handful of days of frantic waiting with Rose, Max, and Landon sequestered to their room.  That had shaken everyone's nerves!  Andrew squeezed JenniAnn's hand as he remembered.

Once they were on the landing, JenniAnn turned towards the angel of death and smiled wearily. 

"Thank you for everything you did to put that together.  I... I feel bad.  A lot of it was on you.  Even our costumes..."  JenniAnn reached back and touched her delicately carved, white wings of balsam wood.

Andrew beamed.

"Anything for my angel."

JenniAnn blushed and bowed her head.

"I... I don't feel very angelic.  Even dressed like this."

Andrew wanted to hold her but her wings and even his own complicated that.  Instead, he caressed her face.

"Why don't we get washed up and ready for bed then talk about that?" he suggested.

JenniAnn gave him another tired smile and nodded.

They stepped into their room where they helped each other out of their angel wings.

"We'll have to figure out something to do with those.  Some sort of art," JenniAnn suggested.  "They're too beautiful for storage."

"I'm glad you think so."  Andrew kissed her forehead then went to collect his pajamas.

JenniAnn watched him, suddenly hating the idea of sending him off to his old room.



"What if... and only if you want... what if... if we both wore our swim trunks and... and..." 

Andrew moved closer and took JenniAnn's hands in his.  She rested her head on his shoulder.

"I just... I don't want to... to be away from you."

"Laja...  I...  It would be fine with me.  More than fine."  Andrew tried to keep any hint of eagerness out of his voice.  He didn't want to push her... but he wanted this.  "So long as you're comfortable with..."

"I... I guess we won't know til we try?  And I want to try."

"Then let's try."  Andrew lifted her chin and smiled at her before kissing her forehead.  "Bath or shower?"

"Bubble bath."

"All right.  How about I go in there and you come in when you're ready?  And if you change your mind... that's fine, too."

JenniAnn nodded.

Andrew squeezed her hand, added his swim trunks to his pile of bedclothes, and then entered the bathroom and began to draw the bath.

He'd only been in the tub for a few moments when JenniAnn entered.  He smiled at her.

"I always thought those were cute."  He gestured to her swim trunks which were covered with brightly colored doves and peace signs.

JenniAnn returned his smile.

"I was just grateful that I found some.  Womens' swim trunks aren't exactly easy to come by."

"I imagine not.  But those are so you.  Meant to be."

"Guess so..."

JenniAnn set her pajamas on the counter then peered at Andrew.

"This... this is all right?" she double-checked.

"With me?  Yes.  With God?"  Andrew peered up.  "I mean...  It's really no different than when we go swimming except, well, your lack of a top.  And it's not as if..."

JenniAnn laughed.

"Not as if you've not seen me topless," she finished. 

"Right.  So really it's a matter of if... if it's all right with you.  I don't want you to be uncomf..."

Andrew was interrupted by JenniAnn stepping into the tub and sinking into his arms.  He sighed when she nuzzled his neck.

"This... feels good," she murmured.

"Yes.  It does."  Andrew kissed her hair.

"I... I'm sorry that... that I haven't been myself lately."

"Laja...  No...  Please don't.  There's no reason to apologize.  But I'm sorry if continuing on with the festival just made things more difficult for you."  Andrew brought one of her hands to his lips.

"Oh love...  No.  It didn't.  Truly.  It was good to see people even if... if we couldn't hug.  I'm glad we did it and I'm so grateful to you for pulling it together when I was so... unmotivated.  It's just really setting in that... that nothing's going to be the same.  Not Thanksgiving.  Not... not Christmas.  Joshua might not even come.  I mean it wouldn't be fair to be here and... and everyone else kept away," JenniAnn fretted.

"We don't know Joshua's plans, Laja.  So you can't say that for sure," Andrew countered.

"No...  I spose not.  But... hard to imagine otherwise.  And then there's the looming election and I keep going from hopeful to... to afraid.  And the rising case numbers and...  And I just... I don't feel like myself."  JenniAnn began to cry.  "This... this is the closest we've been in... in a couple weeks.  And I know it's not you..."

"Laja..."  Andrew cupped her chin.  "It's normal to not feel, well, let's say amorous, for lack of a better word, when you're going through stuff.  I... I wish I could help you.  But I know this isn't something I can fix.  It... it's just all so... so big."  Tears welled in his own eyes.  "But what I can do is assure you that... that I'll be there.  And there's nothing you have to do to... to keep me here.  I don't want you to do anything that doesn't feel right."

"But it does feel right," JenniAnn protested.  "I'm just... exhausted.  By the time we go to bed...  I just want to sleep."

"And that's okay, Laja.  It really is."  Andrew ran his hand up and down her back.  "I mean think of it this way...  For thousands of years, I slept alone.  So even just sleeping beside you... that's more than I've had for the vast majority of my life.  And it means so much to me.  If that's all I ever had with you...  That would be enough."

JenniAnn smiled and began to hum a song from Hamilton.

Andrew laughed before beginning to sing.

"'Look at where you are...  Look at where you started... The fact that you're alive is a miracle.  Just stay alive, that would be enough.'  Not my words... but I mean them, Laja."

"Love..."  JenniAnn brushed her lips against his.

Andrew returned her kiss then cradled her face in his hands.

"Do you think... maybe... it might help to talk to someone?  Like a therapist?  Someone we don't know," Andrew suggested.  "I mean... you might need to be creative with some things.  But dealing with the pandemic... that's pretty universal right now."

"Yeah...  Maybe..." 

"And something I've been wondering about...  Now that Avi's weaned himself, you're not getting that oxytocin you got from nursing him.  And you're also not getting those quiet times throughout the day when you'd sit with him.  Maybe you need to replicate that somehow.  I mean not the nursing, of course.  But taking time to just sit.  You go and go and do and do, Laja.  No wonder you're worn out."

"That's true.  I guess I just got it in my head that there were so many ways I could use that extra time.  So many little projects to be done.  But then I just got overwhelmed.  And... I do miss that time with Avi.  Sometimes he'll still cuddle at least.  But... he's becoming so independent."  JenniAnn sniffled.  "I know it's ridiculous but... sometimes I'm a little jealous of Evie.  I'm jealous of a two year old..."

Andrew's arms tightened around her.

"Laja...  That's not ridiculous.  It's normal to miss the little baby that once was.  And Evie is the one that Avi spends the most time with.  But maybe..."  He nuzzled her hair.  "Maybe we should take a hint from Avi and Evie.  At any point of the day you can find them sitting among their toys, arms around each other.  Maybe... well, maybe we don't need to be quite so married to the night."

JenniAnn laughed.

"I think you're angling for some daytime canoodling," she teased.

Grinning, Andrew shrugged.

"I mean if it's for your emotional well-being... I could make the sacrifice," he jested.

Continuing to laugh, JenniAnn buried her face in his hair.

"I love you..." she murmured.

Andrew stroked her back.

"I love you, too."

JenniAnn yawned as she rested her head on the angel's shoulder.

"I think we need to finish up here and get you to bed, Laja," Andrew suggested.

JenniAnn gave him a sleepy nod.

The two finished washing up then changed into their pajamas and settled into bed where Andrew brushed out JenniAnn's hair as quickly but gently as possible.  He wasn't quite done before she fell back against him, asleep.  He tried his best to smooth a couple of remaining tangles then set down her brush and wrapped his arms around her.

"Sleep well, my Laja," he whispered.

Then he closed his eyes and prayed that the days ahead would bring her peace and that God would grant him the wisdom to know what she needed from him.


November 7th, 2020

As planned, Andrew and JenniAnn made time in the afternoons for each other. 

It turned out to be an even greater blessing given JenniAnn's mounting anxiety as the days wore on without a decision made in the presidential election.

When Saturday rolled around, the weather in Dyeland was unseasonably pleasant.  The sun was shining and there was a soft, warm breeze.  And so, after some dancing and cuddling, the two had opted for a nap on their balcony... or at least JenniAnn had.  Andrew dozed but mostly remained awake, admiring the beautiful day and thanking God for it.

And then his cell phone went berserk.

Thankfully, he had it on silent mode but that didn't stop the phone from vibrating incessantly on a side table.

Andrew grabbed the phone and stared.  There was a text message from Ivy... a voicemail from Max... a news alert... another text message from Allison.

Even though he would seldom awaken JenniAnn from her sleep, he knew he had to then.  Gently, he began to shake her.

"Laja... Laja, wake up, darlin'," he drawled.

"Hmm?"  JenniAnn blinked awake.

Andrew handed his phone to her.


After rubbing her eyes, JenniAnn looked...  then she peered back up at Andrew.


"So it would seem."

"They... they did it."

Andrew smiled.

JenniAnn let out a quaking sigh of relief before hugging Andrew.

"I'm so relieved..."

"I know."  Andrew kissed her hair.

JenniAnn smiled at him and stroked his face.

"I know you're supposed to be apolitical but... would that prevent a celebratory dance?" she questioned.

Andrew laughed.

"Apolitical... with everyone but you which I think you're very much aware of given many of our conversations.  Perk of being my anam cara."

Giggling, JenniAnn nodded.

Andrew rose and held his hand out to her.  Once JenniAnn was on her feet, they began to dance.

JenniAnn smiled as the song Andrew had chosen played.  It was truly perfect.

At last...
My love has come along.
My lonely days are over.
And life is like a song.
Oh yeah, yeah...
At last...

The End

Works Cited:
"At Last" by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren

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