Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 6 months, 1 week, 3 days
Juliana took some much needed time off to get her head back in the game as Kevin suggested. Her body trembled as she approached Trish; she was just as nervous as when she had to deliver the news of her inheritance. Similarly to last time, sleep evaded Juliana the night before as she attempted to psyche herself up for the confrontation. Trish wasn’t happy about her absence, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. The words barely slipped past Juliana’s lips, but she uttered them and felt so empowered by the small act. She didn’t know how these things worked or how long she would be gone, but she didn’t care; she needed it.
The first day, she slept a lot and kept to herself. Harriett ran across her mind quite often. It felt good to cry without worrying about what she needed to do next or prying eyes. She could fall apart and worry about putting herself back together later. Kevin checked on her via text. Her well of emotional energy was almost dry, and if he heard the pain and exhaustion in her voice, he would worry and want to see her. She couldn’t force enough energy to entertain a conversation or visit and appreciated him not calling.
The second day, she got a timely letter from her mother. It arrived a few days before, but no one had checked the mail. Hillary must have slipped into her room while she napped because she found the envelope on the dresser.
(translated for your understanding)
My sweet child,
I love you so much. It pains me to know you are going through a great loss and I am not there to comfort you. I’m sure the rest of the family and your friends have stepped in to fill that gap in your life, but I know you miss Harriett a great deal. I am very sorry to hear about this. If I could, I would swim across the ocean and back just to wrap my arms around you.
You make me so proud, Juliana. I don’t think you realize what great strength you have. Sending you away was the craziest idea that has ever formed in my head. But, do you know how I was able to entertain such a crazy thought? It was not an easy decision at all because I anticipated never hearing from you again, and it tore me up inside. But, I did it because I knew you would be able to find your way. You have a quiet kind of tenacity. You love to learn and figure things out. You’re smart, discerning, and have good sense. I knew it would take you a while to realize these things, but when you did, I expected that you would do well for yourself…and you are! You have so much potential waiting to be realized. That is why I sent you. You needed to be in an environment where you could blossom, and you would not have that opportunity here. Besides, I wanted someone from our family to have a good chance of survival. Whatever happens to the rest of us, you will go on and make the Sepulveda name great. I know it. I can feel it!
I say these things because I want you to always do what you feel is right. You always have a strong sense about what is right. That is a gift, and not everyone has that. You live in a different world I know nothing about. To be painfully honest, as your mother, it’s very scary. I can only guide you by my own experiences and by what the good book says. It’s time for me to exercise a bit of faith and believe I have done a good job raising you and trust you to continue making good decisions. Kevin does sound like a wonderful young man, and if you say he is trustworthy, I will believe you although I will always be concerned about you in that way until you find the one you want to marry. I hope this is a long-lasting friendship. You can use a few friends who will be around for the long haul. His name comes up quite a bit though, and you write about him so lovingly. If I didn’t know any better…well, I’ll keep those thoughts to myself. I wouldn’t want you rolling your eyes at me. 🙂
Congratulations on getting a green card! That is such wonderful news amid the sadness. I’m glad I sent your birth certificate when I did although I’m sure you could have obtained residency without it.
How is work? And what about this gallery? I still cannot believe Kevin is that generous for no reason. There is a reason, but I won’t speak of it until you’ve realized what that is if you haven’t already. I believe you have. I’m half expecting your next letter to contain important news. Anyway, I wish I could come and see your work. I’m sure you’ve improved so much. If I didn’t think someone would steal it, I’d ask you to send me a painting but that would be asking for trouble.
Has Hillary had the baby yet? I’m glad to hear she and her father have been getting along. I can’t imagine living in such a contentious environment. That poor man. I do know what he’s going through. If he’ll receive it, please extend my deepest sympathies.
Again, I love you, my beautiful daughter. I am proud of you. Every time I hear from you, I’m even more proud. I will always be proud of you. Be encouraged, my child. Don’t be afraid to reach inside and use what you already possess to do what you need to do. I love you, I miss you, and I pray for you every day. Take care, my love.
Juliana did roll her tear filled eyes. She did have important news to share with her mother, but not the news she expected. Later on, when she had a clearer head, she’d attempt to explain dating to her foreign, old school mother.
The letter couldn’t have come at a better time. Between Kevin’s love and encouragement, Mamá’s letter, the small victory she had earlier in the week, and the time she took for herself, she did feel empowered and a bit more confident. She would probably always feel nervous to do new things and confront people, but the confidence would be the key to making it bearable for her.
After being cooped up in the house for a day and a half, going through a range of emotions, Juliana decided to get outside and enjoy the breezy air and sounds of nature. Being chauffeured everywhere had its benefits. She could get to places quicker and see new things farther away from home. In Kevin’s car, she had enjoyable company, a plush, comfortable seat, cold air or warm heat, music, good conversation, and that sweet, musky scent she loved so much. All of that luxury was lovely, but she forgot how much she missed cool, natural breezes brushing across her face, the rustling of leaves above her head, the smell of the river and the sound of it lapping on the bank. She even missed the distant sounds of children playing.
As she walked through her neighborhood, she noticed her body missed walking too. It showed its displeasure with her new sedentary lifestyle in ways she never had to worry about before. On one hand, she didn’t mind the extra weight because it meant she was healthy and taken care of. But, on the other hand, buying new clothes with every new dress size cost too much. While she was grateful to have the means to have a closet full of clothes, she didn’t think it was the best way to spend her money–especially if she wanted to move out. Perhaps a leisurely walk before or after work would get her back in the habit but also create some margin in her day. She had always allowed her problems to compound and never made any space to decompress. After experiencing what it felt like to finally explode, she knew her mental and emotional health needed to be a priority.
Walking through the garden behind her house, she thought about the library. Harriett was the owner and hired a staff to run the place so she didn’t have to although she did. Kara was a good librarian, and contrary to popular belief, Trish was too before Harriett died. Juliana knew quite a bit about the library, but because Harriett did so many things she did not need to, the lines between her duty and her passion blurred and confused Juliana leaving her clueless on what she was supposed to do. Although she had much to learn, she recognized Trish was taking advantage of her ignorance. It was time for Juliana to step up and take action. No longer could she hide in the office paralyzed in fear. Community Library was her baby now, and she needed to care for it and make Harriett proud. After she finished crying over her loss and getting the rest she desperately needed, she would tackle her ignorance and do some research. If she could figure out what exactly her role as the owner of a private library entailed, and Trish’s role as a librarian, she would have a decent amount of arsenal to combat Trish and make her own decisions. Other important questions she had like could she still work as a library assistant while being the owner and how all the financials worked would be answered in time. The amount of knowledge she needed to acquire frightened her for she had huge shoes to fill. But, as Kevin told her, Harriett wouldn’t have left her in charge if she didn’t think she could do the job. The learning curve was steep, and it wasn’t going to be an easy climb, but she could do it. She understood that now.