The Yo-Yo Theory: Chapters 5-6

Chapter 5

When I woke up, I was sure it had all been a dream. I was in a familiar place. Nothing so bizarre as time travel could have really happened. Then I felt the other person next to me in bed. Kaleb. It was real. My heart swelled with gratitude that I had been given this opportunity to feel what real love was like. I heard one of the girls whimper in her sleep. Soon, it was a chorus of grunts and snuffles. Some instinct inside me said they were looking for a diaper change.

I rolled off the bed and rummaged through the diaper bag for the necessities. I was no stranger to poopy diapers. I had helped change my youngest sister’s diapers many times. I lifted up one mostly sleeping baby from the crib. I was pretty sure it was Hannah, the one with shorter hair and rounder face. I knew they had color-coded green and purple pajamas, but in the dim morning light I couldn’t see color yet. And I didn’t want to wake up Kaleb just yet.

As I changed Hannah’s diaper, and then Naomi’s, I reflected on the talk Kaleb and I had had the evening before. The emotions it had evoked, the memories triggered, the joy I felt. I hadn’t known it could exist. I had always believed in true love. I had always believed in miracles, that dreams could and would come true, and that fairy tales were not strictly fiction. But to actually experience something that I had tried to imagine so many times was beyond compare.

The girls had remained mostly asleep while I changed them, but began to stir as light filtered through the heavy drapes.

“Thanks for letting me sleep a little extra.” Kaleb’s morning voice was soft and gravelly.

I bent down and kissed his cheek. “You’re welcome. I kept you up rather late last night strolling down memory lane.”

“Nah. I kept you up. I’m the night owl. I swear. You’re always asleep before me back home.” He sat up and turned on the lamp.

“That’s probably because of our two little bundles of joy. I can’t believe how much work they are!” I walked over to the crib and picked up Naomi, who had just sat up, blinking a bit in the brighter light.

Kaleb got a serious look in his eyes. “About that. What was up with you and Kristine at dinner last night? It was almost like, well, it almost seemed like the two of you had forgotten everything. I mean, you made that comment about giving birth and it sounded like you were saying you had given birth to the girls. Kristine didn’t even react. Is everything okay between the two of you?”

I swallowed softly, trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. I’d been so worried about sleeping arrangements, photo albums and broken yo-yos that I had put that conversation completely out of my head. Besides the fact that I’d almost said something quite stupid and seemingly insensitive, I hadn’t yet processed the fact that Kristine had been the surrogate mother of my children! How does a person even get their mind around a revelation like that?

“Yeah. We’re fine. I mean, between the two of us, our friendship, we’re fine. As for what I said last night… I guess I just got caught up in the moment. I didn’t mean it to sound like I was taking credit or anything. Kristine did something incredible and I can never repay her.” I tried to remember exactly what I had said. “I meant that the idea of raising twins would have bowled me over, and the thought of any woman giving birth to two babies at the same time. Whew! I don’t know how Kristine did it.”

The smile came back to Kaleb’s eyes. I guess I’d convinced him. “I’m definitely glad she did, and I’m sure I understand it even less. At least you know what it’s like to be pregnant and give birth.” Suddenly he paled. “I mean… Oh honey, this just isn’t our time for conversations about this stuff.”

I almost asked him what he’d said wrong when I remembered that I had had two miscarriages. I didn’t know how far along I’d been with either baby, but I guess far enough to have gotten a taste of what it was like.

“It’s okay dear. It’s all in the past, in fact, part of me has completely forgotten about it.” At least that’s true, I told myself. I didn’t like this constant game of trying to talk about things I had no idea about. Granted, teens do this all the time – talk about things they have no idea about as if they were authorities on the subject. But when it was my own life I wasn’t able to remember, and real-life situations on the conversational table, the truth was harder to recognize and seemed to matter so much more.

“I know,” he replied. “I also know that the memories will never completely disappear. Even though Hannah and Naomi will most likely be our only children, I know we’ll have eternity as well. And I look forward to creating world with you.” Yep. Kaleb Mitchell was definitely a romantic.

We made for a few minutes with a couple wide-eyed toddlers looking on. I was glad. It was good for kids to know their parents loved each other. I remembered once as a kid when a friend from school had come over to my house. Dad was on leave, and he and Mom were romping around upstairs. From my bedroom directly below theirs, we could hear Mom’s giggles, Dad’s laughter, and the pitter-patter of their feet as Dad chased Mom into the bathroom. I had been mortified. My friend, who I later found out came from a broken home, had expressed her wish that her parents were like mine.

Being married was great! I was sure that in the previous five years we’d had an argument or two, but so far, I didn’t have any reason to complain. Of course, in my mind, I’d only been married for less than a day. Maybe that’s what every marriage needs once in a while, to remember what it was like back at the beginning.

*****

After breakfast, Kaleb and I went out riding. His old friend, Nick, was in town too, with his new bride, Sherry. They’d been married for a couple months and Nick was showing Sherry where he grew up and introducing her to his old pals. Kaleb had invited them to come over to go riding, hoping to get city-girl Sherry to loosen up a bit. Riley had enthusiastically volunteered to babysit the twins while we were out.

“Anne, would you help her out a bit? I know you like to keep a faster pace, but she’s never ridden before, and she needs a female friend. Nick’s head over heels for her, but I don’t know if she feels quite the same for him. Sometimes, perceptions change a little after you actually get married, right?” By the way he said it, I figured we must have had some serious disagreements in the first few months of our marriage or something. I wondered what perceptions he’d had of me that had changed after we got married? I’d have to figure out how to ask him later.

Nick had ridden over with Sherry on a couple of his family’s horses. Kaleb saddled us up. Star Sight, an old but still spry sorrel mare, was one of my favorites. At least, she was old by horse standards. She’d just been born a few months before in my “past” memories. I’d been there with her dam, and helped clean her off so she could eat. We’d become instant friends. Apparently, we still were. She was getting rather slow, but still had a lot of spirit ten years later. I expected that she had been quite fast at some point in time, but now she seemed content to walk along at the mild pace I was setting for Sherry and her mount.

I tried to talk to Sherry, but she was either shy or quite stuck up. She wasn’t at all the kind of girl I’d have imagined Nick would pick. She was beautiful, I’ll give her that. One of those Barbie types. And from the looks of her outfit, she had some money behind her. I knew Nick didn’t have any.

We rode up the trail for a couple miles, and then stopped to eat the picnic Mrs. Mitchell had sent along. Kaleb and I wandered off for a few minutes to find the creek and talk.

“How did it go with Sherry?” he asked once we were out of earshot.

“Not very well,” I admitted. “I don’t think she said more than two words together the entire time. Mostly she just grunted, said ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or looked at me like I was an alien. I tried, I really did. At first I thought she was just really shy, but I get the feeling she’s more stuck-up than anything. I don’t want to say that about Nick’s wife, but it’s true. I don’t know what he ever saw in her!” It was odd how much I cared. Nick had always been Kaleb’s friend. I knew him well enough, but we’d never really been friends in our own right.

“It’s okay. I got the same impression. And from what Nick was saying on the ride up, she’s not the same woman he married. It lasted about a month and then he said it seemed like she just stopped trying to impress him and he got to see her for who she really was.” His brows knit together in a frown. I could tell he was upset about his friend’s lackluster marriage.

“Well, we’ll do what we can. She’s probably just out of her element. And marriage takes some adjusting for everyone. I’m sure Nick’s not quite everything she dreamed he’d be either. You sure weren’t.” I managed to keep a straight face.

“What?” He looked almost panicked. “What do you mean I wasn’t everything you’d dreamed of? You never told me that. I thought you were happy and…”

I cut him off. “You’re more than I dreamed you’d be.”

He took a quick breath and relief washed over his face. “Sorry. I guess I’m a little upset on Nick’s account.” A little sparkle lit his eye. “I should have known you were teasing. I mean, you are quite the little flirt you know. I don’t remember how often I caught you looking at me when we were kids. It seemed like every time I’d look up at you, I’d either catch your eye or catch you glancing away. I knew you liked me, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about it until that night when I got home from my mission.”

It was definitely odd thinking about being armed with all this information if I kept my memories when I got back to my real time.  “What happened that changed your mind?” I asked before I could think about the probability of having heard this before.

“You sure do love to hear this story, don’t you? I swear you make me tell it to you at least every other month or two.” Oops! Good thing my love of story-telling had rescued my big mouth!

“Of course. You tell it so well. And it makes me happy to hear it.”

“Happy? Okay, well I guess the result is happy. It still surprises me you enjoy hearing about such a miserable experience. But hey, anything to please my sweetheart.”

I had to stop putting my foot in my mouth. “So, you going to tell me or not?” We had sat down by the edge of the creek to wet our feet a little.

“Of course. It was a dark and stormy night…” He stopped when we heard voices behind us.

“There you two are.” It was Nick and Sherry. “Thought you’d run off on us,” said Nick.

“Nah, we just decided to cool our heels a little. Come on over, the water’s fine!” Kaleb motioned them over. “Pull up some dirt.”

The instant look of distaste at his choice of words that flashed across Sherry’s face confirmed my suspicions. She was a prissy city girl, and didn’t like dirt. Oh well. She’d better learn to like it in it’s natural element at least.

Nick and Sherry sat down. Nick carefully pulled off his shoes and socks, tucking them aside neatly. Sherry looked unsure.

“Come on Sherry. Join the fun. The water’s not too cold. It’s shallow enough that the sun has heated it a little.” I was tempted to splash her a bit, but didn’t want to make her hate me. Nick didn’t share my qualms.

“Yeah hon. Come on in, it’s great!” He stood up and splashed out into the middle of the creek, kicking up a spray as he went. The rest of us all got hit. Sherry shrieked, Kaleb yelled, and I laughed. Kaleb decided to get even and stood up as well. Nick knew what was coming and took off upstream, splashing as much as possible. Sherry and I watched as Kaleb caught him and they started wrestling. They were pretty evenly matched and I can’t tell who got whom, or which was more wet. They both took the other one down a couple times and finally traipsed back to us like two wet puppies pleased that they had caught the Frisbee.

They sat down again on the packed dirt to dry. Nick stubbed his toe on a rock as he walked up the shore, and as he hopped around making faces, I saw a genuine smile cross Sherry’s face. It wasn’t a mocking smile, more like a “he’s so funny” smile. Nick sat down next to her and seemed pleased with himself. I half wondered if he’d stubbed his toe at all, or just acted like it trying to make his wife laugh.

“So what were you two old married folks talking about before we crashed your party?” asked Nick, wringing the water out of his shirt onto Sherry’s now bare feet.

“Kaleb was going to tell me the story of how he changed his mind about me, right after he got home from his mission,” I said.

“Again? Hasn’t he told you that story a couple of times already?” said Nick with a smirk.

“Of course. But I still like to hear it.” I beamed a smile at Kaleb. “Why don’t you share it with Nick and Sherry too. Maybe it will… make them laugh.” I’d been about to say that maybe it would help them out in their own marriage, but I decided I had better mind my own business.

“Nick’s heard it at least once. But I’d be okay with sharing it again. Why don’t we eat while I talk? Let’s bring the basket over here. I like the water.”

We untied the horses from where we’d left them and tied them up again closer to the water. They seemed to like the cold water too.

We spread out our fare and settled in under a nice shady tree. I was a little nervous about this story. Supposedly I’d heard it a couple dozen times already, but in reality, I didn’t know what to expect. Had some sort of difficult experience during Kaleb’s mission had helped him realize he loved me? Or was it seeing me again after two years of absence and realizing I wasn’t a kid anymore? I was also curious to finally find out where he went on his mission. Sherry asked the question I couldn’t.

“Where did you serve your mission, Kaleb?” It was the most words I’d heard from her at one time. Her voice was soft and silky, with a hint of timidity. Maybe I’d figured her wrong.

“Boise, Idaho. It was the butt of many jokes after that movie. But it was a great mission. My original call was for Argentina, but for some reason, my visa was denied, and I ended up staying where they’d temporarily reassigned me, in Idaho.”

 

Chapter 6

He’d served in Idaho? How un-exotic. Just a couple days earlier I’d overheard the 19 year old Kaleb talking to Nick about how excited he was to serve outside the U.S.; about how he really wanted to learn a language. He’d been working on learning Spanish for years, and really wanted to “get it down pat”. I bet that had been a let down when they’d switched him to Idaho. Sherry echoed my thoughts.

“Idaho? That kind of sucks.” Her mouth twisted into frown. “I thought Nick told me you speak Spanish. Did you learn it in Idaho?”

Kaleb chuckled. “Actually, I did. A lot of people don’t realize how large a Hispanic population there is in the United States. In fact, every state-side mission has at least a couple Spanish-speaking missionaries. I was lucky. I guess they felt that I was advanced enough in my still limited Spanish to continue serving in the language of my original call. And yes, I served in Idaho, with a little bit of Oregon mixed in. It was a wonderful experience though. I realized after I’d only been there a month that if my visa never came, I’d be fine with it. When they first told me at the Missionary Training Center that I hadn’t received my visa yet and that I’d be temporarily reassigned state-side to wait for it, I thought about the same thing as you just did Sherry: it kind of sucked.”

Sherry actually laughed, and Nick’s grin broadened. Maybe he was seeing some remnants of the woman he thought he had married.

“At any rate, serving a mission was the best thing I’d done in my life up to that point. We did a lot of walking and biking, and had a lot of disappointments. But there were plenty of miracles and moments where heaven drew a little closer that balanced it all out.” He paused to nibble his sandwich a little.

I figured he’d tell about his original story now, but apparently, Sherry wasn’t done asking questions.

“Why did you want to serve a mission Kaleb? I’ve asked Nick the same thing and his answer is always that he knew it was what he had to do. Did you have another reason?” Nick looked at his wife. I guess he hadn’t realized she’d wanted more of an answer from him about his reasons behind serving a full-time mission. I was sure there would be another conversation in their future about it.

Instead of answering right away, Kaleb did something odd. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a piece of paper, worn and refolded many a time. As he spread it open, I was surprised to see my handwriting on the page. It was a poem I had been working a week ago (at least, a week and ten years ago). It had been a personal piece, something I wrote about my own growing testimony of Christ. Had I given a copy to Kaleb? Did this have anything to do with why he’d changed his mind about me?

“Anne wrote this before my mission. She wrote it while she was at our house one Sunday afternoon. This wife of mine is a bit of a perfectionist, and so after she’d gotten the rough draft done, she recopied the whole thing out nicely on another piece of paper. She tossed this one in our garbage.”

I looked closer and sure enough, he was holding my first copy, which I had thrown away. There were a few lines scribbled out with words written in randomly, but the whole poem was there. He’d rescued it from the trash?

He continued. “I was taking out the garbage when it fell out and caught my eye. I read it. I felt like she’d written what was in my heart, answered questions I hadn’t been able to voice. She didn’t know I had it until we were married. She sure was surprised.” He turned and smiled at me. I’m sure I had been, I still was.

He began to read it.

A New Day

Innocent and pure

I was born.

And grew.

And learned.

Good and evil influenced

My decisions.

I had a lamp,

Lit by the Light of Truth.

But slowly I caused it to dim

Through the foolishness of youth.

Upon recognition of my darkened state

I reached for a light

From a higher place.

I watched as that Light

Called, Cried,

Healed, Helped,

Raised, Righted,

Improved, Instructed,

Showed, Shared, Suffered,

Taught, Trusted,

and Died.

And yet,

The Light did not go out.

I felt to watch a dawning,

Rejoicing with angels,

To herald the Light –

The Light of the World.

The Light that opened my heart.

And through all my stumbles,

My falls in the mist,

I hold to my Guide.

I know I can find safety

And bright, shining love,

Sweeter than all.

He lives.

As he read, I remembered the emotions that had driven me to write it. It had been a good Sunday, one where I felt I had really learned a few things at church. I was still on a bit of spiritual high when I went over to the Mitchell’s house that evening. It had been one of those times when doubt fled and the truth of the Atonement and the Savior’s life distilled in my heart. I had written it to remind myself that my life had a plan, and that I wasn’t alone. It was also exactly what I needed to hear at the moment, when life was confused and I wasn’t sure what the future, or even the past, held. Just as I had felt the night before, God was guiding my life. There was a time and season for everything, and a reason behind it all.

“So basically, this poem reminded me of my real reasons for wanting to serve a mission. I had a testimony of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to share it. That’s why I served a mission. Every other reason was only ancillary. And I still have that same knowledge. It’s grown and stretched, but the basic truth is the same: Christ lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer. God has a plan for our lives. We are loved.” I think it was a Sacred Grove moment for all of us. As we sat there in the shade with the late morning sunshine all around us, I knew I was reminded of the stories of a boy who had gone into a grove of trees to pray and had come out changed forever. That’s what the Gospel of Jesus Christ did to people – it changed them for the better.

After a few moments of quiet reflection, Kaleb brought us back to the present. “Well we should probably get going. I’m sure the girls are getting restless.”

“But what about how you decided Anne was the woman for you? Weren’t you going to share that story?” Sherry sure did seem to open up for Kaleb. But hey, maybe he’d go into more detail with her there since she was the only one who hadn’t heard the story.

“Oh yeah. I was going to tell the story of how I realized my wife wasn’t just my little sister’s friend anymore. Well, it was a dark and stormy night.” We all laughed.

“It was!” Kaleb insisted. “My flight got in about 11pm. I don’t know why they couldn’t have gotten me an earlier flight. It would have almost been faster to drive home from Idaho. Maybe it’s because it was the week of Thanksgiving and flights were scarce. It was stormy and dark outside when I got off the plane. As I arrived at the baggage carousels, there was my entire family, and Anne of course, with signs and balloons galore. I was still technically a missionary, so Anne only got a handshake, and everyone else got hugs. She looked kind of upset when I only shook her hand. I had known for a long time that she liked me, but I didn’t want to give her any false hopes. I just didn’t see her as anything more than my little sister’s friend. At least, that’s what I told myself. I still had her poem folded up in my wallet, where it had been for the previous two years. Basically, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted. I was still trying to figure out who I was.

On the way home from the airport, it was raining hard. Anne had driven up on her own and the rest of the family came in our van. Kristine had offered to go with Anne, but I wanted my family close. I hadn’t seen them in a while. Anne was behind us most of the way, until we got to the canyon. We all stopped for gas and she ended up in front. Maybe it would have been better if we’d hit the deer in the van, but her little Geo Metro just crumpled. I felt like it was my fault. Not only had I asked Kristine to come with us – she has excellent night vision and always sees the deer with plenty of time – but I was the reason Anne was in front. We’d driven off at the same time, but I had forgotten my CTR ring in the bathroom where I’d taken it off to wash my hands. My family waited while I ran in and got it. We caught up to Anne right before she slammed on her brakes and into the deer. I still wonder…” He choked up a little.

“We went to the hospital with the ambulance.” He continued.

“Wait, what do you still wonder?” I asked, forgetting I was probably supposed to know the answer.

“I wonder if that crash is the reason you had the miscarriages. I wonder if it damaged something. I guess I still feel guilty.” He took my hand and squeezed it.

“Don’t. What happened, happened. I’m okay now. We have two beautiful daughters. We made it through. And look where that night got us.” I could see where this was leading. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it though.

“Thanks hon. Um… well, we went to the hospital with Anne. Gratefully it wasn’t too serious. She’d hit the steering wheel pretty hard – for some reason the air bag hadn’t deployed. Defective, they said. The car company paid her medical bills without a fight. A couple broken ribs, one had grazed her lung, and a gash on her leg from her keychain that was hanging down.

“My change of heart came when they let us see her. She was awake and although she was the one all banged up, she was the one comforting us, telling us she was fine, getting us to laugh. I guess the whole thing made me realize what I had known all along. That Anne was special. Something about watching her, bandages and tubes, trying to liven up the somber feeling in her hospital room, made me stop and take stock as I hadn’t ever been willing to do. She’d been a part of my life for so many years, I’d gotten used to having her there. Those moments of not knowing if she was okay, of thinking she might be gone from my life, well I knew I had to keep her around. And I haven’t regretted that decision, not once.”

He kissed me lightly and gave me a hug. “You sure are a glutton for punishment though darling.”

“Nah. I’d just do anything to keep you around.” I winked at him.

We cleaned up our picnic and packed it back into the saddlebags. The afternoon sun had heated things up, so we went to dip our feet in the creek one more time. I made the mistake of splashing Kaleb, who retaliated full force by picking me up and sitting me down. That water was much colder when more of your body was exposed to it! I was grateful I was soaked though as we rode through the heat. I don’t think I got as hot as the others. Small favors.

When we arrived back at the house, Kaleb invited Nick and Sherry to hang out for a little while and let the horses cool down in the barn. Sherry had finally come out of her shell and seemed happy to accept the invitation.

As we walked down the path to the house, hand in hand, Nick and Sherry behind us, I suddenly heard Sherry yelp. I turned around to see her on the ground, cradling her ankle. She’d tripped on an uneven spot and twisted it. She assured us it was nothing, but cried out as soon as Nick tried to help her to her feet. It would have to be wrapped. The guys were all for carrying her into the house, but she said she’d rather sit out in the sunshine while we doctored her up. I offered to run in and get a wrap. She asked Nick if he’d bring her something to drink. So the two of us headed into the house. A few moments later, I came back out, bandage in hand, only to see my husband being kissed by the golden haired hussy.

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