This is the final part of the post, Theresa’s Hope.
Cold shivers ran down Theresa’s back as she walked into her kitchen.
Leah, her daughter, sat on the floor with papers strewn all around her.
Had she gotten her husband to sign the papers or were they now getting into another round of the fight?
The look on her daughter’s face broke Theresa’s heart. Leah sat, staring blankly into nothingness.
Theresa blinked back tears, trying to at least appear strong for her daughter. It wasn’t an easy task as in that moment all her fears finally morphed into a comprehensible thought —
Had her daughter been eventually broken by the man she had chosen to share her life with?
She joined Leah on the floor.
“He signed the papers”, Leah said.
Theresa struggled to keep the tears at bay. Her daughter sounded lost, like she was reaching out from some place very far away.
“We did it”, Leah tried to smile, “It’s over”.
This time, the tears flowed as if something was broken. All her efforts despite, Theresa couldn’t stop the flow.
She held her daughter. “I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry….”
When Leah had shown up at her house three months ago with bruises poorly covered with makeup, Theresa had gone into fight mode. She had rallied friends, resources and all the help she could get.
Leah had said Levi didn’t always show that much aggression unless he was drunk.
After trying but not succeeding in getting Leah to see from other perspectives, Theresa had finally given up the diplomacy and had asked her daughter, “Why are you in my house then?”
Leah had shrugged and then burst into tears.
The sight and sound of it was gut-wrenching. That was the day Theresa had made the decision to save her daughter.
They did everything — Lawyers, Doctors, Pastors — everywhere they thought they could go, they went.
The plan was simple. Get Levi to voluntarily transfer control of assets to Leah and the children.
Before long the documents were prepared and ready to be signed. The biggest challenge the lawyers saw was — why would Levi want to sign those papers?
Leah said that wasn’t a problem at all.
“Why…? How…?” Theresa believed her daughter was being too optimistic and she had told her so.
Leah had only laughed and reminded her of what they had always said they believed as a family. “There’s no such thing as too much optimism”.
Now is not the time, child!
It was what her grandmother had always said —
There is no such thing as too much optimism. You only need to have the faith of a child to see that this is true.
Maybe it’s true, but there was still the challenge of getting the papers signed.
“How do you intend to get these papers signed?”
“I’m married to an alcoholic with a big ego”, Leah had told her, “If I massage that ego long enough, I can get any paper signed”.
It was a long shot, but now those papers were strewn all over her kitchen floor, signed.
Maybe it even could be deemed a miracle.
So why was she feeling those massive knots in her stomach as she went through the papers?
The uneasiness Theresa felt grew until she decided to call it a night.
Maybe by morning she’d be able to think more clearly. She had lost her appetite, but she could still feel the throbbing and aching of limbs and joints.
Sleep was far from her. She tossed and turned endlessly until she sent a cry to heaven for help.
In that moment it was as though she was transported back in time to when the fight was with her own husband.
Jerome had maintained the whole time that he didn’t know the woman claiming to be his wife.
Nothing had been in his favour because the woman had shown up with all kinds of proof and evidence to back her claims.
Theresa had been livid. Her mother had lived through betrayal. Her elder sister too. She was determined to fight back in her own case.
So she had fought and taken from Jerome, every last thing she could. She had invested herself in the marriage and she would reap the dividends of that investment.
As Jerome walked out the front door with his last suitcase, he had stopped for a moment. His voice shook and his eyes shone with tears as he told her, “I pray you never find yourself in a situation where only you and God know you’re telling the truth”.
She had slammed the door shut and willed herself to not think about what he had said.
The whole time her grandmother had told her to tread carefully.
But there was just too much pointing to the fact that Jerome had betrayed her. And it angered her that her grandmother seemed to be siding with him.
“You don’t even like him”, she had screamed at her grandmother one day.
The woman had remained calm and replied without missing a beat, “It doesn’t mean I’d sacrifice him on an altar not meant for him”.
“What does that even mean?” Theresa had asked her, “Have you been listening to all we’ve been saying this whole time? All that the facts point to?”
Her grandmother had regarded her again with that look that wasn’t that easy to decipher —
Was she hurt or disappointed?
When morning came, Theresa remained in her room. The uneasiness was gone. There was clarity now. The problem was —
What would she say to her daughter?
By noon Leah knocked on her door. She was ready to leave. The lawyers would send Levi the notices that needed to be sent. If he wanted to fight back, she had made sure he didn’t have enough money to do so immediately. She would travel with the children and try to figure out how to go forward from this point. But she would keep in touch with Theresa.
Before she could think about it and change her mind, Theresa plunged into this plea, imploring Leah to reconsider what they had done and try to find ways to be gracious even in the present situation.
She could see the confusion in Leah’s eyes, but she continued, “Your vows were till death do you part. You don’t have to die at the hands of the man you made those vows to, but moving on with everything but the clothes on his back is not a very gracious way to go about this”.
Leah reminded Theresa that it had been her plan from the beginning. “I was dragged into this, kicking and screaming. Why the sudden change now?”
Theresa went to her daughter and put her hands on her shoulders, “Stand on my shoulders, Leah, and walk on higher ground. Please”.
Leah turned away, but not before Theresa caught the stray tears she was trying to hide.
“I’ll talk to the lawyers”, Leah said through gritted teeth, “Is that gracious enough for you?”
“I just don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made”, Theresa called out as Leah left the room.
“You’re unbelievable”, Leah muttered.
After they said their goodbyes, Theresa watched the cab that had come to pick her daughter drive away.
Sometimes she wondered what her grandmother would have said after they found out that Jerome had been telling the truth the whole time. Her grandmother had passed before they found out that the woman that had showed up in her house claiming to be her husband’s wife was in fact a hired con artist.
She wondered again today —
What would her grandmother have said?
As she stood, watching the cab drive away, she made a desperate plea to heaven on her daughter’s behalf. She prayed that Leah would glean from the wisdom of those who have walked before her and do better at navigating the terrain her journey would lead her through — this is after all, the hope of every mother.
The song she had learned at the conference came to her mind again, but this time with new meaning.