Some days I should stay asleep.
There is no way I should be the one standing here.
Opening the front door and greeting every hopeful and tired face who could drag themselves to the Tio’s Small Group tonight.
She’s too sweet, too soft and too hopeful.
Why do I have to be her daughter?
I’ve got one tenth of the heart she had. She’s my only soft spot.
Which is why I’m here heading up her group tonight.
I hope I can fake this long enough.
“Megan!” Mrs. Jones smile is bright in spite of her sad eyes. “I’m so glad to see you and how is Tio?”
“Mother is fine.” I say, holding the door open. “Come on in.”
Mom’s updates replay in my head.
Mrs. Jones is getting divorced from her banker husband of twelve years because he was cheating on her.
How do I help someone like that?
Mrs. Jones crushes me in a welcome hug. I try not to inhale her coat fuzz as I hug her back.
Oh Sugar Snap.
“I’m fine.” She tells my shoulder. “You don’t know how much it means to me to be able to come here every week.”
A fresh round of tears break the floodgates.
I pat her shoulder awkwardly until she can compose herself.
She pulls away, eyes sparkling with unshed pain. “Thank you.” She whispers. “I’d better go freshen up.”
By the time I think to hurry after her, the others trail into the living room.
There are careful greetings, none as smothering as Mrs. Jones’.
I think I am failing the one important test of my life.
There is Ken Douglas.
Ken is suffering from a heart condition that he can’t bear to break to his cancer-riddled wife. The doctor bills are piling up, he can’t afford the operation his wife would insist on.
Marian Lovesworth. Her left arm is in a cast.
Marian survived a holdup at the grocery store, with one shot to her left shoulder.
Allison Cooby, three earrings in each ear and a smile coated in sugar-candy pink.
Allison finally broke up with her abusive boyfriend, but she’s pregnant.
I wonder if this is prayer group or a crisis center.
“Hello.” My voice squeaks. I clear my throat. “Sorry. Hello. I’m Tio’s daughter, Megan. I know you all must miss her. She uh, is doing well now, thank you, the stroke was not serious. Thankfully, she will be home next week, I really don’t think I’m cut out for this sort of thing.”
Allison giggles nervously.
“There’s not a whole lot to be cut out for, Miss Megan.” Ken drawls. “It’s jest talkin’ to the Lord, straight from the heart.”
A smile is summoned to my face. “Of course. Now uh, how exactly did, Moth-I mean, Tio, do this?”
“We hold hands and whisper.” Marian volunteers. Her face is so pale her freckles look painted.
She extends her hand.
Everyone begins to shift and shuffle as hands are joined and Brad Mason takes my other hand.
Marian begins the first prayer. “Dear Heavenly Father, I cannot thank you enough for being with me this week. I was so scared, I thought I was going to die, thank you for being with me through that. Even in the hospital …”
Ken picked up. “Father, yes, thank you for Marian’s safety and healing. Please give me the courage as Lillian and I face these trials before us. I do not ask you to take them away if it is not your will, but I as for the strength and the love to endure it…” His voice cracks.
“And Daddy, thank you for keeping a roof over my head.” Allison sniffles. “Especially for this little nightmare that you’ve turned into a miracle. I didn’t know you had so many angels to help me.”
“Father, we also ask your blessing and healing upon Tio and her daughter, Megan. Thank you for helping her to carry on while her mother cannot-”
Brad’s voice fades away in the fresh tears that are streaming down my face. I guess I do have mother’s heart after all.
There are no hypocrites here.
Just honesty…and a whole lot of love.
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