Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 6 months, 3 weeks, 4 days
Hillary had not seen Dr. Still in almost two months. Previously, they made plans to adjust the schedule a bit once Abigail was born, but neither could anticipate tragedy befalling her. It knocked Hillary’s world completely off its axis, but to her surprise, she didn’t sink into the deep abyss of despair. She wanted to wail and groan and wallow in grief, but she couldn’t. She had people who depended on her will to be strong and carry the weight of the grieving family. She didn’t have the time or the energy to make an appointment, and for a while, she was fine. But soon enough, she felt herself drifting back toward the abyss. Some days it was easy to throw herself a pity party. Other days, self-destructive thoughts of old returned, and she entertained them. Staying in that place and drifting further out would have been so easy to do, but things were different now. Not only did people depend on her, but also she had a fragile friendship she wanted to see mended. She couldn’t go backward without damaging it. She had to keep moving forward.
“How have you been since your mother died?”
Hillary sighed. “Ok, I guess. It’s hard, but…I’m making it.”
“I have to do everything now.”
“Explain what everything is.”
She had been so out of practice, she failed to remember how much Dr. Still made her talk. “I have to cook all the meals, clean up…and poor daddy…I try to take care of him, but he misses her so much. He won’t do anything. I mean, he never did anything before but he really won’t now. He’s just so sad! Oh, and then, of course, there’s the baby. And, I went back to work three weeks ago. I’m just so tired.”
Dr. Still giggled.
“You’re doing so well, Hillary!”
She smiled nervously. “I don’t know about that.”
“Your mother would be so proud of you.”
“Proud of what?”
“When you first came to me, you said your goal was to become a better person. And, all this time you’ve been talking about Jase and what you want your future to be like…Hillary, you’re doing it! You are that person!”
She shrugged. “I’m just doing what needs to be done. I’m not sure I’ve changed.”
“But, that’s just it, Hillary. You’re doing what mothers and wives do. We have that ‘do what needs to be done’ attitude. You said you wanted to be a good mother and get married one day. You’re already thinking like the person you want to be.”
Hillary had been changing the entire time and hadn’t even noticed she almost accomplished her goal. Two weeks ago, her father said her mother would be proud. She didn’t know what for, but knowing so made her happy.
Tears spilled from her eyes. “Wow…. I guess mama would be proud of me.”
The doctor grabbed some tissues and handed them to Hillary. “She sure would…. Take a moment, and then tell me about why you’ve come back.”
Hillary took a few deep breaths and dabbed her eyes. “I’ve been thinking bad thoughts again. It’s kind of a cycle that keeps happening.”
Dr. Still grabbed her notepad and a pen. “Ok. Tell me about this cycle.”
She shifted in her seat. “Jase watches Abigail while I’m at work. He’s so good with her, and she just loves her daddy.”
A few memories of seeing them together came to mind, and she couldn’t help but grin. “He tells her he loves her all the time. It makes me so happy to know that she’ll grow up with her daddy’s love.”
The tears crept up on her again. “I’m so glad Jase is her daddy and not the other guy I was with. That makes me start thinking about all the stupid stuff I did and how things could have turned out differently. But then, I look at Jase and I see how wonderful he is. He’s always been that way…I was just too dumb to see it. That’s when I start going down that road again. I start thinking he’s too good for me and I don’t deserve him.”
The good doctor put down her pad, leaned forward, and grabbed Hillary’s hand. “Hillary…that’s who you were. You’re right…Jase is too good for the old Hillary. The old Hillary doesn’t deserve him. But, you…the new Hillary deserves a chance at a healthy relationship. You deserve someone who loves you. Don’t dwell in the past. Focus on who you are becoming. Don’t count yourself out before it happens.”
Hillary smiled and appreciated the vote of confidence. “Can I ask you something unrelated?”
“Are you expecting?”
The doctor smiled sheepishly. “Yeah…. We were so not expecting this at our age.”
“How exciting! Do you know what it is?”
“They are twins. A boy and a girl.”
Hillary’s jaw dropped. “Twins?! Oh my word! You already have a boy and a girl, right?”
“I have no clue what I would do with twins right now. Forget four children. Maybe if they were all spread out like yours…but not that much. Two teens and two babies…man!”
Dr. Still chuckled. “You do with four the same as you do with one but with more organization.”
Much like her sister, Dr. Still was so poised and confident. She didn’t seem phased by the surprise at all although she had probably gotten over it by the time Hillary discovered her. It was refreshing to know not everyone got frazzled by every curve life threw at her. Maybe the confidence and poise was something that came with age. It was hard to imagine herself that way, but at least now she knew it was possible to possess such qualities. She was in no rush to get to their age bracket but looked forward to being more like them soon.