Her Secrets & Mine - Chapter Twenty Two

The water was cool and crisp as it sloshed against my feet. I sat alone, waiting for the sun to rise. I couldn’t sleep and headed out to clear my head around four. What I had done to Penny was uncalled for. I couldn’t get the look in her eyes out of my head, no matter how hard I tried. I thought about the time and effort that Penny put into helping me find myself. She made me feel pretty, made me laugh, helped me remember Mama through her stories, and was administering my “daily dose” in safe amounts. I knew that I would have to apologize. I just hoped that she could forgive me-- I of all people knew how hard it could be to forgive.

The sun crept its way over the ocean, slowly and brilliantly. The soft morning light revealed other people in the distance-- some watching the sky, some walking the strip, and some searching for seashells already. Just as I realized how cold I was, I felt a blanket being draped gently around my shoulders. “Hi.”

“Hi.” Penny sat down beside me and handed me a cup of coffee. “Couldn’t sleep?”

“No, I’m sorry…” I began.

“Shh.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “It is forgotten.”

The empty air between us was heavy with silence. I didn’t know what to say and had a feeling that she didn’t either. I would have apologized every five minutes if she had let me, but instead we just sat sipping coffee until finally Penny stood up, handed me letter number two, and headed inside without a word.

Dear Addy,
       Do you remember when you were a little girl? You loved your father so much that you always said you wanted to marry him. Anna of course wanted to marry Tom Hanks, but not you! You only had eyes for him. I always envied how easily love came to you. You didn’t have many friends and I always suspected that it was because you had already spent all of your love and energy on us.
       One day all of that changed. I watched you go from a sweet little girl who was eager to please, to a troubled girl who resented nearly everyone. I kept telling myself it was a phase, but the phase never ended. I watched you go from idolizing your father to idolizing me, and I’m afraid that I am not worthy of it. I am human, just like everybody else. I have made more than my share of mistakes, only problem was you were blind to them and still are, and I selfishly left it that way. 
       Addy, I even lied to you today. When you called me and asked if I was okay, I told you how well I felt and how things were looking up. The truth is that things are not looking good at all. I only have a few weeks left on this earth and I plan to write to you every time I have the strength. I want to say the things that I was never brave enough to say, even if it means falling off of my pedestal that you’ve kept me on for so so long.
       I know this doesn’t make much sense now, I am going to take a nap before I write any more, but please know that I love you. I have always seen past the walls that you put up and have gotten to experience the real Addy. I want you now to make sure that other people see it too.
       I believe in my heart of hearts that there is a man waiting for you somewhere. I know your Daddy made mistakes, but you can’t hold them against every man in the world. Someday you’ll need a man like your Father. Someday very soon you won’t have me to cling to anymore. I’m sorry I let you cling to me for so long, it was selfish.
       I’ve really come to rely on your father more and more lately. He taxis me from appointment to appointment, and even paints my toenails! Do you remember when he used to paint your toenails, Addy? I bet you do. Take hold of those memories and try to understand that your father now is the same exact man as your Daddy was then.

All for now and all my love,

Uncontrollable tears began streaming from my eyes. The anger from the day before was gone without a trace, and the saddness that you expect with death flooded in. I felt guilty for giving Mama a reason to write me at her weakest time and teach me the basic aspects of being a human. Love, acceptance, tenderness, family, friends, memories. Unlike the letter before, I didn’t analyze, reread, or read into this one. I just took it for what it was and vowed to become a better person. I had wasted too many years… Far too many years.

Penny was cooking a warm breakfast when I came in. I wrapped my sandy arms around her, and knew that she understood. Penny knew that I was sorry, Penny knew that I was sad, and Penny knew that I was ready to heal. I didn't know which piece of Mama was more important-- her letters or her best friend. They were both going help me find the Addy that I had lost all those years ago.