I wasn’t married but I was pregnant. It happened when my boyfriend and I got frisky and ended up in bed. I felt guilty afterwards because I was supposed to be a Christian. I was raised in a strict Baptist family and having sex or getting pregnant before marriage was a no no. So, to say that I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that I was pregnant would be a gross understatement. Desmond took it a lot more calmly than I expected. He told me that we could get married before I started to show. I agreed. I didn’t want my child to be born out of wedlock. And, besides, Desmond and I loved each other. I know that he would have eventually asked me to marry him because we had talked about it several times.
After he bought me an engagement ring, we went to see my parents first. I told about pregnancy and they were understandably upset. “Getting married because you’re having a baby isn’t a good reason for getting married,” my father told us.
“Marriage is such a big step,” my mother added. “You better make sure that this is the best thing for you two.”
Next, we went to see Desmond’s family. I could just imagine how thrilled they would be, especially, his maternal grandmother. Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel accepted by them. I think they all would have preferred if he had married a white woman. Some of them quoted the Bible where it says “Everything after its own kind.” I didn’t bother to tell them that God was talking to the birds, fish and animals not to Adam. He hadn’t even created Adam as yet. And the same God who made white people made the other races and in His image too.
The only person who was friendly towards me and didn’t seem to have a problem with my color was my father-in-law. He was such a nice man. I really liked him and I felt comfortable talking to him. He didn’t judge me and he didn’t lecture us. I knew that we had his support.
Fortunately, my father-in-law was with me when a policeman showed up at the apartment to inform me that Desmond had been run over and killed in a crosswalk when he was returning from lunch early that afternoon. This happened in front of his office. The policeman said that it was a good thing that I wasn’t alone because of the stress that such tragic news could on my pregnancy. I knew that there wasn’t anything I could do. Desmond was gone and I was going to experience the rest of my pregnancy without him. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
I got support from my father-in-law and my family but it was hard having to explain why Desmond wasn’t with me. At each appointment, it would be a different midwife, who would remark, “Is your husband not joining us today?” and then I would have to explain he was dead. And it was hard going to prenatal classes with my brother or my father-in-law. My pregnancy experience which should have been a really happy one was somber. I kept thinking Desmond should be here. When our daughter was born seven months later at 8lbs, it was her grand-father who held her in his arms. As I watched them together, I tried to picture Desmond holding her in his arms.
Desmond and I had come up with boys’ and girls’ names which we really liked and I named our daughter, Nella after his mother whom he adored. When I look at Nella, I see her father. The same hazel eyes and nose. Her hair was dark brown like his. She was beautiful. Desmond would have a very proud father and spoiled her rotten.
My parents fawned over her. Desmond’s family, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered to meet his daughter. His father was the only one who was there throughout my pregnancy. He came over to the apartment every other day to see Nella and me. While I took a nap or relaxed in the sofa, he took care of her. It was a real treat having him around. I began to look forward to seeing him. And I could tell he enjoyed being with us.
I don’t know when it happened. It must have been gradual but, four years later, on a Sunday morning, I woke up and realized that I was in love with my father-in-law. As I made breakfast, I wondered what he would do if he knew. Would he stop coming over? I couldn’t bear the thought of not having him around anymore. I had to make sure that he never suspected how I felt about him. I would act like I always did in the past. I had to remember that he was Desmond’s father although he was a widower and currently not in any relationship.
It’s late afternoon now and Nella’s taking her nap. My father-in-law is standing at the window, looking out. He turned when I entered the living-room. “Symone, I need to talk to you about something that has been on my mind for a long time now,” he said.
I could tell from his expression that it was something serious. I sat down on the sofa and patting the cushion beside me, I said, “Tell me what’s on your mind.”
He came over and sat down beside me. His eyes met mine. I could tell that he was a bit nervous. “I don’t know if I have any right to tell you this even now that Desmond’s no longer here.”
“Tell me what it is, Dad,” I urged him. “I’m a big girl. I can take it.”
“First, I would like you to call me Patrick instead of Dad.”
“All right, Patrick.”
“Symone, I know I’m more than twice your age but over the last few months my feelings for you have changed.”
My heart was pounding. “What do you mean your feelings have changed?”
“I’ve fallen in love with you.”
“Oh, Patrick,” I cried and I threw my arms around him. “You don’t know how happy I am to hear that.”
“You are?” he exclaimed when we parted.
“Yes! You see, I’ve fallen in love with you too.”
He held my hands in his, his eyes riveted on my face. “I’m relieved to hear that,” he said. “For the longest time, I have wanted to tell you how I feel but I was afraid of how it would affect our relationship.”
“I have wanted to talk to you about my feelings too but was afraid for the same reason.”
“My newly discovered love for you wasn’t the only thing I have been struggling with.”
I frowned. “What else have you been struggling with?” I asked. “Are you worried about what the rest of the family would say?”
He shook his head at once. “It doesn’t matter to me what they say. What concerns me is what the Bible has to say about the relationship between a man and his daughter-in-law.”
“Yes, in the book of Leviticus it says that a man shall not uncover the nakedness of his daughter-in-law because she is his son’s wife—he, the father-in-law, shall not uncover her nakedness. In fact, if a man had sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them were put to death because they committed a perversion. This doesn’t apply to you and me, though because nothing ever happened between us when Desmond was alive and even after he died. Besides, I’m a widow now and according to the Bible, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, she is no longer bound to him; the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. Then she can marry someone else if she wants to. That would be wrong while he was alive, but it is perfectly all right after he dies.”
Patrick released his breath. “So, if I wanted to marry you, there’s no law to prevent us?”
I shook my head. “No. In-laws can now also marry provided they are both over 21 and any former spouses must be deceased.”
He pulled me into his arms then and hugged me tightly. “I don’t think Rosalind and Desmond would begrudge us finding happiness with each other,” he murmured.
No, I thought, Desmond would want me to be happy. He would want me to move on with my life. And now, that was possible. I had fallen in love with an incredible man. Yes, I consider myself to be extremely blessed for having found love a second time around. A year later, in spring, we got married in a small, intimate ceremony. Nella was our flower girl. She looked so adorable in her pale pink satin dress. Now she has a new Daddy although she calls him, “Grandpa”.
My in-laws and family think it’s wrong for Patrick and me to be together and are concerned that our relationship would be very confusing for Nella. He’s her grandfather but now he’s also her father because he is married to me. We have told Nella about Desmond and shown her photos of him. She knows that he was her Daddy and that he died. We told her that one of these days she will see him. And she’s fine with that. She’s not confused about anything and she’s excited about the new baby brother who is arriving in three months. That reminds me, I have to ask Mom to babysit Nella because Patrick and I have a prenatal class to attend this afternoon.