For an instant, Adison could only stand there and stare at her mother.
"I know what is important in life," she said. "I'm a Christian, I go to church regularly. I pray, and I'm sincere about it. I love you, I miss Dad, and I'm…"
"Holding a grudge against Trace O'Connor for going in to the military instead of marrying you," Helen finished.
Adison felt like she had been punched in the stomach, and for a moment, she had to concentrate just to breathe.
"I do not begrudge Trace the right to serve his country."
"Don't you?" Helen asked.
"Then, why aren't you married to him? Why have you avoided his family, all these years?"
"Because," she choked out, "it hurts too bad! Because he chose the army over me! And… And, because I made a promise to help injured soldiers. How was I supposed to do that while living on a base? And, what if… What if he got his fool self k-killed over there in Iraq, like Daddy? You forget, Mom, I know how hard it was on you, when they came and told us Daddy was gone, and I don't want to go through that."
Tears glistened on Helen's lashes, and it took her a moment of swallowing hard before she could answer. When she did, her voice was so soft, Adison had to lean close in order to hear.
"And, you, my daughter, have forgotten that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Furthermore, if helping injured soldiers is what you are really called to do, then maybe you should get your rear over to the O'Connors and start doing it!"
With that, Helen stood and went in to the house, allowing the screen door to slam shut behind her.
Feeling as if she had missed something very important, Adison blinked, realizing only then that she was alone on the porch. She rubbed a hand across her eyes, and tried to recall what her mom had just said, but it was like her brain had stopped working.
They had been talking about her dad, hadn't they? And, her mom had said that it was better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Then, she had said…something about…helping injured soldiers and the O'Connors…and…
Oh, God no!
The exclaimation was somewhere between a cry and a prayer, and the sound of her own voice, raw and pleading made the little hairs at the nape of her neck stand at attention.]