When I pulled into the driveway I put the car in park and sat for a few minutes. I had been gone for a little more than two hours, but I still wanted a little alone time before entering into a house full of people. Often as a kid I would escape the zoo which was disguised my house. I’d lock myself in my room, when I finally had one of my own, and lay on the bed thinking about... things. Just things in general, nothing specific really. It was great being in my own room, especially when I was almost never home and when I was, I was constantly with people. Sometimes I’d go down into the studio in the basement of my old house, the one my parents moved back into after most of us older kids left, and just jam a little on Ike’s old guitar or Zac’s drums or my keyboards. I’d set up the recording equipment and just roll, making up tunes and lyrics by myself, songs that no one would ever hear, not even my brothers. I think they knew that I had endless tapes of recordings but they never pressed me to hear them. Some of them could have been hit songs had we added a guitar rip, a bass line, and a drum beat, but my brothers never pestered me about handing over my soul to them. I’d offer a tune sometimes if we were jamming in the studio and they knew by the way I played it that I had thought of it long before. The only person to hear some of those tapes besides myself was my wife.
At age 17 I started traveling by myself, catching later planes to places to meet up with my brothers and managers. They respected my thinking time. Being constantly surrounded by people was enough to drive anybody crazy, and that was something that had to be avoided.
I leaned my head in my hand and started to weep, not knowing why or what was going on. I wiped my cheeks and took a few deep breaths. “What’s wrong with you?” I asked my reflection in the mirror. “You just came from a place where you talked your heart out with God and now you’re crying? You’re a twenty-seven year old man for Pete’s sake, get a grip already!” I shook my head at my reflection. “I can’t even tell if I’m happy or sad right now. Maybe I just needed to get that out of my system.” I nodded. “That must be it- Jeeze, Jordan, you’re talking to yourself, you really must be nuts.” I looked away from the mirror and shook my head. “Completely nuts.”
I opened the car door and made my way up the porch and into the back door of the house where I was greeted by our new welcome wagon: Avery. I knelt down and scratched behind her ear. She rolled onto her back and I continued to scratch her ear. I felt a hand on my cheek and then fingers scratching behind my own ear. I laughed and turned to my wife. She was holding Anya on her hip and stood up when I did.
“You’ve been crying,” she said, her face falling.
I was taken back, “huh?”
She reached out and touched my cheek with the back of her hand. “You’re flushed.”
“I’m fine,” I told her, touching her hand and bringing it down from my face. “I’m fine.” I smiled at my baby girl and grabbed her under her arms. Anya giggled and came to me, settling her bottom on my right arm and resting her head on my shoulder.
“Aww,” Clare said, “Anya missed her Daddy.”
“Did you miss me?” I asked the child. Anya stuck her fist into her mouth and pulled her legs in closer to my side. I kissed her hair and grinned at Clare. “Where is the child whom we call Zoë?”
“You’ve been thinking again,” Clare accused, squinting at me. “Whenever you do that you come back all philosophical.”
I chuckled. “It’s the way my brain was made,” I joked, “it’s not my fault. Blame my parents and their genes.” Clare looked at me for a few minutes while I rocked Anya back and forth, her eyes puzzled. “What?” I asked.
“I’m just thinking about what you think about.”
“You’ve been gone for nearly three hours, it brings up some questions in one’s mind as to what you could possibly be doing for three hours at a church. But you know what? For some people I can see why that might seem a tad strange but for you- you’ve been that way all your life.”
I nodded, “yes.”
“Taylor, were you crying?”
“Yeah, I was.”
I smiled, “nothing. Everything is perfect.” I nodded towards the kitchen table with my head. My wife and I sat down in the chairs with Anya on my hip, holding one arm tightly around my chest and the other still in her mouth. I patted her back with the hand that was not supporting her bottom and then reached across the table and grabbed onto Clare’s hands.
“You would tell me if something happened, wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t mean right now,” she went on, “I mean, in Los Angeles.”
My face fell. “What do you mean?”
“You were gone for so much longer than we expected-”
“I was delayed and or canceled over four times!” I told her. “I don’t even know how I got back here!”
Clare sighed and tried to smile, “I’m sorry.”
I leaned closer to her and looked deep into her eyes, understanding what was really plaguing her. “I would never be unfaithful to you, never ever.” I freed my hand from hers and placed it on her cheek. “You’re my angel.” She smiled and looked down at the table, touching her fingers to my hand. I grasped her hair lightly, “My beautiful angel.” I tapped her check lightly with an open palm, “don’t ever doubt it.”
“I realize how stupid I am,” my wife said, “I realize how possessive I am.”
“I understand.” I took her hand in mine once again and leaned in close, touching my forehead to hers. “And you are not stupid!” I kissed her nose and sat back up straight, “just in need of some major relief.” I looked down at her stomach.
“Definitely.” She rubbed her stomach with her free hand. “They’re doing some major backflips in here.”
“One month to go,” I reminded her.
“I wish it was now,” she sighed.
“It’ll be soon,” I promised.
She narrowed her eyes at me, “you better know what you are talking about.”
I leaned my elbow on the table, my fingers still entangled with hers. “How many pregnancies have I witnessed in my own houses?”
“Six,” Clare responded in a low voice, “seven including Zac but you were three at the time.”
“That’s right,” I told her. “If anyone knows what they are talking about it’s me.”
Clare laughed at my pretend knowledge and shook her head approvingly. “OK, DR. Hanson,” she joked. I chuckled as her laughter died down. I played with her fingers a little and brought her hand up to my mouth, kissing her fingers. “Taylor, can I ask you a question?”
“Mm-hmmm,” I hummed.
“What did you think about today that made you cry?”
I shrugged and took her hand down from my lips. “A great number of things,” I said. “The mere fact that I was able to return home for the holiday season for instance. I thanked God for permitting me to arrive home to be with the people I cherish and adulate-”
“Small words, small words!” Clare warned with a laugh. “You’re getting abstrusive again. Mom and Dad should have named you Phil, short for Philosophical-o.”
I took a deep breath, “when I was there I realized something. I was sitting for awhile reflecting on the year and I understood something that I never really acknowledged before.”
“What is that, Jordan?”
I kissed my wife’s fingers again lovingly and held them to my cheek as I spoke, “There was a chance that I would not be here today. If it wasn’t for His help I would never be sitting in this chair again, holding your hand.” I lowered her hand to my heart, touching her knuckles to my shirt. “It stopped a few months ago,” I went on. “But it’s beating again.”
Clare looked down at the table and adverted her gaze to our hands. She swallowed hard. Anya sighed and her whole body shook. She didn’t know what we were talking about and I was happy at that moment that she didn’t.
My wife and I sat in silence for awhile, the only sounds in the room came from Anya’s baby sighs that came from time to time and my heart beating loudly in my throat, the latter was something that presumingly only I could hear.
“I wanted to send him a Christmas card,” Clare said suddenly, not moving her eyes from my chest. “But I don’t even know his name!”
“Who?” I asked.
My wife looked up at me, her eyes wide with confession and red brimmed around the edges. “The man who saved your life.”