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Joy's Legacy Chapters 15-16

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CHAPTER 15

 

Dave was gone forever. Dead. The man that had been in the ambulance was his coworker, George. It was a simple case of mistaken identity that had left deep wounds of sorrow and regret in Joy’s heart.

 

Joy had heard from the policeman what they thought had happen, according to witnesses that had seen Dave go into the building, including Joy’s dad, Ed.

 

Dave and George had gotten the equipment that they needed to get the power to the other building just before the lights had gone out. Dave was about to leave with Ed, but George had called him back asking for help again, as someone was stuck in the elevator. The person, Joy found out later, was Dave’s old boss. The one that treated him so badly while he worked there.

 

Dave had hesitated, but decided that this was no time to hold grudges, especially when it was a life or death situation. Dave and George had been working on getting the elevator open when the bomb in the building went off. They had not yet been able to determine if it was a suicide bomber or if the bomb had been planted and set off with a timer. Either way, it really didn’t matter to Joy. Her husband was gone, and now she was left alone, faced to confront the reality of what was happening by herself.

 

Joy had collapsed again, and fainted in the arms of her father. The pain and sorrow of loosing Dave, especially in such a horrific manner, was almost too much for her to bear. The policemen and firemen that had found his body had come and talked to her. They would not allow her to see him, but she was welcome to come and be at least near his body. Joy had agreed.

 

They took her to where Dave’s body was, covered in a plastic bag, and Joy gently put her hand on where his heart should have been. She cried some more tears, wondering why God would have allowed such a horrible thing to happen to her dear husband. Why him? She asked God. Why now? We were supposed to grow old together. Joy shook her head. What was the point of talking to God, anyway? Had He listened to Dave when he had prayed that the Lord would keep them safe? Apparently not. Why should she think that He would listen now? No. Joy clenched her teeth, and shut her heart to God. She knew that deep in her heart she could never escape Him, but she told herself that she would never trust Him like that again. What kind of fool did He think she was?

 

Joy bent over and gently kissed the bag somewhere around where Dave’s face was. She felt her body trembling with pain, and her head pounding out of control.

 

“I love you, Dave. I love you,” she whispered towards the bag and then turned to leave. That’s when she had fainted. She had no idea how long she was out, but woke up wishing that she could still be out, and not have to face the reality of facing life without her best friend, her lover, her companion.

The policeman that had taken her to the ambulance was there, talking to Ed, Liz and Bethany when Joy came to. Joy thought that Bethany had handled everything pretty well, considering the circumstances. A paramedic helped Joy up from a stretcher that she had been laid on. He tried to keep a blanket around her, trying to keep her from going into shock.

 

Joy approached her family timidly, as though she wasn’t supposed to be there.

 

“Joy,” Liz said, putting her arms around Joy. Joy allowed a few tears to escape, but was trying to do her best to keep calm.

 

“Where’s Victoria?” Joy asked, looking around for her.

 

“She’s with your sisters. Joy, listen,” Bethany said, “the officer was telling us that we are welcome to take Dave’s body to bury it, but that what he really recommends is for all of us to just leave. Especially if we have a place to go. And I agree. I’m scared sh**less, and as much as I loved my brother, we have to go if we are hoping to not have the same fate as him. It’s really up to you, though.”

 

Joy looked at the officer, her eyes red and her head pounding from all the emotions she had just gone through.

 

“What would happen to Dave?” she asked quietly.

 

“Um, we would take the body to the morgue, and we could keep it there until you come back. If you never come back, then we would cremate his remains and keep them until someone comes to lay claim to them. We don’t have space to keep his body, but we do have a place to put his ashes. Would that be ok?” The officer responded nervously. Joy recognized him. She knew he was one that Dave had worked with before with the thefts in the building.

 

Joy nodded, another tear falling down her cheek. “Yes, officer. That will be fine. I have said my good bye’s, so if you guys want to, go ahead.”

 

“Oh, I’ll go first,” Bethany said, walking over to Dave’s body. She stood silently by the body, placing her hand on the bag. “Bye little brother. I’ll miss you!” She whispered quietly.

 

Next, Joy’s parents went over and each said a few words. The rest of Joy’s family wasn’t around, and she really didn’t want to prolong the agony. She wasn’t sure what to do about Victoria. Should she come and say goodbye to her Daddy? Would she understand?

 

The paramedics were about to load Dave’s body into the ambulance when Joy decided that yes, Victoria should get a chance to say goodbye to her father.

 

“Wait! Please, wait,” Joy said, her voice breaking again.

 

The paramedics turned to look at her, puzzled looks on their faces. “Is there something else?” One of them asked.

 

Joy nodded. “Mom, can you go get Victoria? I think she should be able to say goodbye.”

 

“Sure, honey. But are you sure?” Liz asked, concern in her voice. “Do you think she’ll be able to handle it?”

 

“I don’t know, Mom. But I do know that I don’t want her to hate me for the rest of her life for not being able to say goodbye to him.” Joy responded, wondering herself if she was doing the right thing.

 

“Ok, I’ll get her,” Ed said, heading up the hill to where the rest of the family was.

 

In a few minutes they were back, the whole family. Victoria ran to Joy, putting her arms around her legs.

 

“Mommy? Are you sad?” Victoria asked innocently.

 

Joy nodded, picking Victoria up and holding her close. “Yes, honey. I’m very sad. Victoria, sweetie, look at me.”

 

Victoria pulled back from the embrace, still in Joy’s arms, and looked at her straight in her eyes. Joy swallowed wondering if this was going to be the hardest thing she would ever do in her life. She hoped so!

 

“Victoria, Daddy can’t be with us anymore, honey,” Joy said, her chin quivering and her eyes filling with tears once again.

 

“Why? Where is he going? He can’t come on the trip?” Victoria asked, a confused look crossing her face.

 

“No, sweetie. He can’t. And honey, we won’t be able to see him anymore, or play with him anymore.” Joy answered, holding Victoria close again.

 

Victoria pushed Joy back away to look at her face again. “But Mommy, I want him to come with us! Why can’t he come with us?” She whined, beginning to cry.

 

“Honey, Daddy went to live with God. He won’t be living with us anymore.” Ed intervened, knowing that Joy needed the help.

 

“He went to live at God’s house? In heaven?” Victoria asked, looking at her Grandpa.

 

“Yes, honey, he did.” Ed replied sadly.

 

“Well, I want to live there too. Can I live there with Mommy and Daddy?” She asked, not fully grasping the concept of death. Joy always wondered what would happen if someone close to her died, but she never imagined it would be like this.

 

She held Victoria close again, and shook her head. “No, honey. We can’t. I want to go live there now, too, but we can’t. Not now. Maybe later, but not soon. At least I hope not soon.”

 

The process of explaining to Victoria what was happening was not only painful, but also slow. Finally, she nodded her head in resignation, and held on to Joy.

 

“Are you going to live in Heaven too, Mommy?” She asked, her eyes filled with fear.

 

“No, honey. Not yet. I will do what ever I can to stay with you as long as I can, ok? Mommy will do her best to take care of you, no matter what happens.” Joy responded, tears running down her face again.

 

They had decided to not show Victoria where the body was, hoping that this way she would remember Dave alive and vibrant, not in a body bag. Joy had said one last, painful goodbye, and they had taken the officer’s suggestion.

 

Something else they decided is that Joy wouldn’t drive. They left their old car, and Ed drove her van. Liz went in the passenger’s seat and Joy sat in back with Victoria, while Roger drove Ed’s van, Juan drove Bethany’s U-haul, Marco drove Joy’s U-haul, and Ann drove their van. Joy wasn’t sure who went with whom, all that mattered is that she was able to sit next to Victoria.

 

Victoria fell asleep almost immediately, the toll of the night before and the emotions of the day catching up with her. Joy was grateful that her little girl could sleep. She leaned her seat back, and let everyone else take care of what was happening. Ed and Liz had done this trip before so they took the lead, with Roger and Marie being the last ones, since Marie had made the trip many times before as well. They had FRS/GMRS radios with them, and were able to communicate what turns to make and Joy was pleased to see how well they were working, and how much they helped.

 

Not long before reaching the edge of the twin cities, they slowed

down and had to stop for the police block. It was a large amount of

police, Joy noticed, and she was hoping that they would just wave

them through. No such luck, though. Why should this be any

different? Joy wondered. God had already taken the one she loved the

most, why should He concern Himself with the trip going smoothly?

No, Joy thought, it’d be too much to ask. Man! And I honestly

thought He cared about me!

 

She covered her face with a sweater that she had nearby, hoping that

by pretending that she was asleep they would leave her alone. It

worked in Mexico, so why not give it a try here?

 

She over heard her Dad’s conversation with the policeman about why

they had to all show their papers and say where they were going. Joy

had pre-arranged all of hers and her family’s, but hoped that she

wouldn’t have to pull them out.

 

She heard her parents getting out of the van, and closed her eyes

tighter. Victoria was still fast asleep, and she was hoping that

they would believe the same about her. Then, the door next to her

opened, making her jump. So much for pretending to be asleep, she

thought.

 

She went through the motions of showing her papers and Victoria’s.

Except that instead of showing Victoria’s, she accidentally showed

Dave’s.

 

“Who is David, Ma’am?” The older officer asked.

 

Joy looked at him surprised, then blushed when she realized the

mistake she had made.

 

“He’s my husband,” she replied sadly.

 

“Is he in one of the other vehicles?” The officer pressed, nodding

at the rest of her family that was also being questioned.

 

“No,” Joy shook her head. “He died in a terrorist attack at our

apartment complex today.”

 

The police officer looked shocked. “I’m, I’m sorry to hear that,

Ma’am.”

 

He walked away and yelled at the other officers to get the ball

rolling, that there were bigger fish to fry.

 

The officer walked back to where Joy was with Ed and Liz, and shook

their hands. “Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. We will let you

go now, and here, take this pass with you. If you are stopped again,

just show them this pass and it should get you through. I can only

give you one, but the rest of your family should be fine as long as

they are with you. And Ma’am,” he paused, “be careful. If things

don’t start getting better real quick, I’m afraid that this country

will cease to be as we know it, if it isn’t already too late.”

 

“Thank you, Officer” Joy said to the older man. “I appreciate all

your help”. A little late for my husband, though, she thought.

 

Everyone filed back into their vehicles, and started the trek to

Grand Rapids again. Joy settled back into her seat, glad that

Victoria had slept through the commotion. She wrapped the sweater

around her shoulders and closed her eyes before the tears could form

again. She didn’t open them again until a couple of hours later,

relieved that she had been able to fall asleep.

 

Ed had pulled over so that they could fill up on gas and they could

all use the restrooms as needed. It was also past everyone’s lunch

hour, and they wanted to get something to eat before they kept

going. Joy noticed that Victoria was gone, and her heart dropped to

her stomach. Soon she saw her coming out of the gas station with

Marie.

 

Marie came to Joy and handed her a cold pop, a sandwich, a bag of

chips and a cookie.

 

“Here, Joy. This is lunch,” Marie said, and helped Joy sit up.

 

“I’m really not too hungry,” Joy replied, taking everything from

Marie, glad to see that it looked like they had taken good care of

Victoria.

 

“Eat. You need to eat.” Marie pressed.

 

Joy shook her head slightly, and gave it her best shot. She got half

way through the sandwich, ate some chips and the cookie. She felt

guilty for eating the cookie instead of the sandwich, but was glad

to have made that choice. She had also been very glad when Marie

offered her a bottle of cold water instead of the pop. Joy took the

water, savoring the soothing effect it always seemed to have on her.

 

 

Joy put the remainder of her lunch into a small garbage bag, and

tossed it into the garbage can. She stretched, glad to know that her

body wasn’t hurting, at least not just yet. She knew that the events

of the day would finally catch up with her body at some point.

 

Joy leaned back into the van and grabbed her purse. “Marie, will you

stay here with Victoria? I’m going to go to the bathroom and freshen

up a bit.”

 

Marie nodded, her face somber. Joy knelt down in front of Victoria

and gave her a hug.

 

“Mommy will be right back, ok?” Joy whispered in Victoria’s ear.

Victoria nodded, looking at Joy sadly with her bright blue eyes.

 

Joy kissed Victoria on the cheek, and went inside of the gas

station. Several of her family members where there, buying some more

things, and just walking around, resting their legs. Liz saw Joy and

made a beeline for her.

 

“How are you doing, honey?” Liz asked, putting her arm around Joy’s

shoulders.

 

Joy shrugged. “I don’t know. Ok, I guess. How long does it take for

a woman to get over her husbands death?”

 

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Joy said when she saw Liz’s lower lip started

trembling. “I’m doing better. It helped to get that nap in, and as

much as I hate to admit it, it helped to eat, too. Now I just want

to go to the bathroom and wash my face a little.”

 

Liz nodded and leaned into Joy to give her a kiss on her cheek.

“Victoria seems to be doing ok, for now.” She said, walking to the

bathroom with Joy.

 

“Good, good.” Joy replied, glad that she was, at least for now.

 

Joy went into the bathroom by herself and looked at her reflection

in the mirror. Her eyes were puffy and her face was streaked. She

must have gotten dirty through the whole ordeal and not noticed. She

washed her face, and reached into her purse and freshened up the

little makeup that she was wearing.

 

I will not embarrass Dave by being the pitiful widow, Joy thought.

She took her blouse off and scrubbed more dirt off of her body

before putting it back on. She tried to clean her legs as best as

she could, and wondered why she had decided to wear shorts. Oh,

yeah, because it’s hot, she reminded herself. She pulled her hair

down and ran her wet fingers through her hair before pulling it back

up into a bun.

 

She looked at herself in the mirror one more time, satisfied with

how she looked. I have to be able to get through this, she said

quietly to her reflection in the mirror. I need to be strong.

Victoria needs me and my family needs me. From now on, I will try to

keep my grieving to myself.

 

Joy opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom, surprising Liz.

 

“Well, you look much better!” Liz said, smiling.

 

“Thanks,” Joy replied. “Where is everyone else?” She asked, looking

around the store.

 

“They’ve all gone out, everyone is anxious to get going. This was an

expensive stop!” Liz said as they made their way back out to the

vehicles. “You know what we paid for each lunch? $20! But the guy

convinced your father that it was going to be much more at a fast

food place. Gas was $3.50 a gallon! That’s the most we’ve paid the

whole trip. You know how much that is to fill all of these

vehicles?”

 

Joy shook her head in amazement as they reached her van. It was

going to take her a while to assume full possession for their stuff.

It had always been their stuff, hers and Dave’s. And now with him

gone, Joy would be making the decisions on what to do with

everything by herself. She wondered if it would even matter anymore,

if they would all just die. Joy shook her head again as she got into

the back seat and put her seatbelt on. She wasn’t going to make it

too far if she kept having this negative attitude, she told herself.

 

She reached over and held Victoria’s hand. Victoria held hers a

little tighter than usual, and Joy was glad that she was able to sit

next to her daughter and not worry about driving.

 

They made there way the last two hours to Grand Rapids, and just

before entering the city they were stopped again by a police

checkpoint. They waved them through when Ed showed them the pass and

told the officer how many vehicles were with them. Joy was relived

that they didn’t have to go through that again.

 

Liz borrowed Joy’s cell phone and called Linda. When she didn’t get

an answer at her home, she decided to call her cell phone.

 

“Hi, Linda? This is Liz,” Joy heard her say and then paused for a

response. “Oh, that’s why you aren’t home. So do you want us to meet

you there? Ok, hang on a second, let me get something to write on.”

Liz spent the next several minutes writing down directions. “Ok,

Linda, we’ll see you in about an hour, then, ok?” Liz hung up the

phone and related what she had just talked about with Linda.

 

“She says that Grand Rapids was getting too scary to be there, even

in the smaller towns around it. She is staying at Rebecca’s place,

and said that we should go there, and we would figure out what to do

once we got there. I’m not sure that Rebecca will have enough space

in her house, but at least we will be safe. With all that land

around her, we should be, anyway!” Liz said looking back at Joy and

Victoria.

 

Joy could tell that Liz was wondering if she had said the wrong

thing. Joy didn’t want her family to worry about walking on

eggshells around her, so she smiled a slight smile. Liz smiled back

and turned around and started giving Ed directions as to where to

go.

 

Joy sighed. Another hour? She looked at her watch. At this point

they wouldn’t be at Rebecca’s until 8:00pm or later. She looked over

at Victoria who had fallen asleep again, and touched her hand

softly.

 

They made their way in silence after Liz notified the other drivers

through the radios what the change in plans was. Joy looked out the

window, enjoying the scenery as much as she could before the sun

went down completely.

 

Northern Minnesota was a beautiful part of the country. With all the

lakes and forests, it was a natural place for people to want to

vacation in. Joy wondered if this would also be a place where people

would want to come to, as things were getting bad. She had read

about people being survivalists, but she and Dave had never made it

much past the bug out bags stage, until now. This was the most that

they had pushed to do, other than having food and water stored in

their apartment, enough to last them a couple of months or so. Now

they had food to last for months, but Dave wasn’t there to enjoy it.

Joy shook her head and made herself look at the beautiful scenery

again before she started crying.

 

This last leg seemed to last forever for Joy. Finally she started

recognizing some of the landmarks that led to her cousin’s home.

When they got to the edge of Seth and Rebecca’s property, they found

one of the kids waiting there for them. Ed slowed down to a stop and

rolled his window down.

 

“Hi there, John! How are you doing?” Ed said, getting out of the van

and shaking John’s hand. John was about Allen’s age, and Joy

wondered how well they would get along. They both liked the outdoors

a lot, but they had never met, and Joy knew that some kids just

didn’t get along.

 

“Good, Uncle Ed, thanks. And you?” He responded shyly. Joy smiled.

John really liked Ed, and Joy knew he considered it a special treat

for him to visit.

 

“Good, thanks. Do you want to ride with us?” Ed asked, nodding

towards the van.

 

John nodded. “Mom said I should take you over to the Larson’s old

place. Is there room in here for me?” He said, looking at the van

and how full it was.

 

Ed looked back and shook his head. “No, I don’t think so, John. But

there is in one of the U-hauls for sure. Why don’t you go hop into

one of those and then lead us over there?”

 

John nodded. “Ok, Uncle Ed! I’ll see you over there!” John took off

running to one of the U-hauls, and soon the caravan was on its way

again, led by the U-haul.

 

They pulled up at the farmhouse, surprised at what they saw. There

were a lot of people, tens, maybe even hundreds working on some

cabins, and the farmhouse seemed to have some people in it, too.

Everyone got out, glad that they were able to stretch again. Joy

walked around the van and got Victoria to let her run around,

looking at all the pretty flowers.

 

Joy looked around. She had heard about this place from her cousin

when she had encouraged Joy to move to the country and live a more

self-sufficient life. Joy smiled slightly. This was great! This

Larson couple that Joy had never met but knew about, were the old

fashioned kind of farmers, and they grew most of what they ate, plus

canned more to sell and have for the winter.

 

Joy’s thoughts were interrupted as Linda and Rebecca came out of the

farmhouse.

 

“Welcome! Welcome!” Linda said, walking towards Liz to give her a

hug. “Man, you look tired! Was it a longer trip than usual?”

 

Liz nodded as she returned Linda’s hug. “I’m so sorry about James,

Linda,”

 

Linda smiled at Liz “Me too, but I’m glad he isn’t here now to see

this turn of events. He would not like it at all, and we would sure

hear about it, too! Now where is that little red head?” she said,

looking around for Victoria.

 

“Victoria, let’s go see Aunt Linda,” Joy said, holding Victoria’s

hand and walking towards the entrance to the farmhouse.

 

“Hi Aunt Linda,” Joy said, giving her a hug and then allowing her to

give Victoria a hug too.

 

“Oh, you are so big! How did you get to be so big? I bet I can’t

even carry you anymore! Oh, and look, there are your aunts!” Linda

said, trying to lift Victoria and then giving up and just giving her

a hug.

 

Everyone else exchanged hugs and introductions. Linda had never met

Ann’s family, and of course, no one had ever met Roger or Bethany,

either.

 

As they all walked into the farmhouse to talk, Linda approached Joy.

“So where’s Dave? Will he be coming later?” She asked, not knowing

what had happened.

 

Joy bit her lower lip and tried to control the tears that were

threatening to come again. She looked at her aunt and shook her

head.

 

Linda look surprised. “No? What do you mean? Is everything ok?”

 

Just then Ed appeared in the doorway, and attempted to rescue Joy.

“Why don’t we tell you about it inside?” He asked.

 

“Ok,” Linda said, putting her arm around Joy’s shoulders. Joy wasn’t

sure she was ready to tell what had happened just yet, especially in

front of strangers.

 

They made their way inside to the living room and Joy sat at one of

the rocking chairs. Victoria came and sat on her lap.

 

Everyone became quiet when she walked into the room, and Joy hoped

that they would stop doing that soon. She was going to need their

help if she was ever to hope to get back to normal, whatever normal

was.

 

“Well, I think we have a lot to talk about,” Rebecca started. “Do

you want to tell us how your trip went first?”

 

Ed nodded. He related the events of the day as best as he could

without going into so much detail that it would wound Joy even

further. He even related the stops they had to make along the way,

including the last stop for gas, where they had paid $3.50 per

gallon.

 

Linda and Rebecca sat there stunned. They had heard of the attacks

in the Cities, but never once thought that it would affect them this

closely. They cried silently, joined by everyone else in the family,

including Joy.

 

“But, here we are. The Lord is still good, and He has brought us

this far.” Ed ended.

 

Joy looked at her father with anger in her fiery blue-green eyes.

How could he say that? How could he say that God had protected them

when Dave was dead? She shook her head. She knew better than to get

into a theological argument with Ed. He was very knowledgeable, and

could easily prove her wrong. She didn’t want to be proven wrong.

God had allowed this to happen to her dear husband, and she wouldn’t

forget it any time soon.

 

“Well,” Linda said, clearing her throat and dabbing away her tears,

“uh, do you want to know why we are here?” she asked.

 

Everyone nodded, including Joy, glad to have a change in topic.

 

“Well, we brought you all here for James’ funeral.” Linda continued.

“I’m not sure what we will be doing about that, but for now I think

it would be the best to stay here. From what you are telling me, and

what our neighbor has seen even in the small towns around here, it’s

not safe to be out there.

 

Anyway, we brought you all here, more than just to be here for the

funeral. Apparently, James had some money that I didn’t know about.

But half of it was yours, Liz. He left in his will that it be given

to you after his death. Why he did this, I’m not sure. But under the

circumstances, I’m glad that you are all here for it now.” She

paused to allow them to take it all in.

 

When no one said anything, Linda continued. “We have taken some

liberties with the money that was left to you. For one, we bought

this farm with it. The Larson’s have had it up for sale for a while,

and under the circumstances, we thought that you would want to have

a place to live. We don’t know what will happen, and we are assuming

that you won’t be able to go back home for a while, if ever.”

 

“You bought the farm for us?” Liz asked, in disbelief.

 

Linda nodded. “Rebecca and I figured that if you didn’t want it, we

could always sell it to the Reservation just West of here, and give

you the money.”

 

“So, are you building those cabins too?” Ed asked.

 

Rebecca shook her head, and explained the agreement that they had

made with the Reservation.

 

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to ask you first, Uncle Ed, I really

didn’t have much time to decide myself. You are still ok to sell the

whole property if you want, but with things the way they are going,

I would suggest you taking their offer.” She ended, handing some

papers to Ed.

 

Ed looked over the papers and saw what she meant. They would own the

cabins and everything that was put in them free and clear, as long

as Ed agreed to be a Minister to the Reservation.

 

“Don’t worry about signing anything tonight, Ed. There is going to

be a meeting with the Reservation elders and our other neighbor,

Jack, and you guys if you are up to it tomorrow. You can think about

it until then.” Linda said.

 

Ed nodded. “A meeting would be good. Then we can work out the

details. Thanks for thinking of us, Linda, and Rebecca. We weren’t

sure what we would do, or where we would go, but we have a bunch of

stuff with us. Wow! The Lord has interesting ways of providing for

us!”

 

Just as he was finishing that last sentence, John ran in the door.

 

“Mom! Dad just called me and said to tell you that he was listening

to the radio and that there has been a major development. The

President has declared Martial Law in the whole country!” he cried.

 

--------------------

 

 

CHAPTER 16

 

 

What a rough night it had been. They had all talked, well into the

night, discussing the situation and what to do about it. Seth had

joined them with the rest of their kids, and the children had all

fallen asleep on the floor. Allen and John had been allowed to stay

up with the adults, with the understanding that if they were going

to be treated as adults then they needed to act as such.

 

Joy wasn’t sure, but she didn’t think that there had ever been a

Martial Law declared in the whole country before. She wasn’t sure

what it all meant either, but was glad that they were at least safe

for now. Safe, Joy thought shaking her head. Well, at least

relatively safe.

 

They had listened to a prerecorded message from the President,

urging people to stay in their homes as much as possible until they

could get things in order. He claimed that things would settle down,

and that they would get through this together. After all, this was

America, and America always found a way to bounce back. He warned

that if other countries continued to attack the States as they had,

the United Stated would retaliate in kind. Joy wondered what that

meant. He also warned that China should keep their ships further

away off the coastline. He had lingered a little on that, asking

people to make sure that they had enough supplies in their home to

last them at least for three weeks or more, until the Red Cross

could get to them if disaster hit.

 

Joy and her family speculated about what it all meant. Rebecca and

Seth shared about their experience with Mr. Bodaway, and what he had

told them. Finally, Seth, Rebecca and Linda headed back to their

home, leaving their kids camped out on the floor.

 

Joy had been able to sleep in one of the rooms with Victoria. She

felt bad that other than her parents, she was the only other adult

sleeping in a bed. Joy knew it was planned that way, considering

what she had been through. She snuggled in close to Victoria, not

wanting to feel so alone.

 

Joy finally fell asleep. She made up her mind that she would do what

she could to be strong and help her family. This was not a normal

world anymore, no matter what the President said. She woke up with

the rooster, and spent some time just staring at Victoria. How glad

and relieved she was to have her. Joy wasn’t sure she would have had

the will to keep on living if she had lost both of them. By still

having Victoria, Joy felt the need not only to survive, but also to

thrive in her new environment. She knew it would be a while before

the pain of losing her husband would go away, if it ever did. But in

Dave’s honor, and for Victoria’s sake, she would continue her life.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Jack woke up with a start. What was that? Where was he? As soon as

he looked around he realized where he was. He had heard Seth and

Rebecca come in late the night before, glad that their family had

arrived safely. He had heard them talking a little, but couldn’t

understand what they were saying and soon he had fallen back asleep.

 

 

Jack stood up quietly, not wanting to disturb Luke. He stretched and

changed into his clothes. He pulled on his boots and buttoned his

shirt in the dark. He made his way to the bathroom quietly and did

his morning routine. He looked at himself in the mirror, wishing

that he could shave. He rubbed his chin, feeling the stubbles

against his hand.

 

He left the bathroom and went back into the room he was sharing with

his kids. It was hard getting any more than two hours of sleep at a

time with the twins, but he was glad that Luke seemed to sleep

through it. Luke was still not talking much, but was at least more

interested in the babies.

 

He sat down on the floor in the corner of the room and reached for

his Bible. He read a few chapters in the Old Testament, and then

flipped to the New Testament and read from there. He was always

amazed that it seemed as what he was reading really applied to his

life. He liked his routine. He would spend time in the Bible,

studying and meditating in what he was reading, and then he would

spend some time praying. He tried to be as open with God as he

talked to Him, and fully expected God to be open with him. It was

this relationship that had allowed him to make it this far, not just

with the death of his wife, but in other areas as well.

 

After his devotions, Jack got up and checked on the babies again.

Grace was stirring, so he picked her up and held her, hoping that

she wouldn’t wake up her brothers. He still couldn’t believe that

the situation he was in. With Carol gone, and his house no longer

livable, he needed to change his whole outlook on life. Especially

with the way things were going. How was he going to raise three kids

by himself? How was he going to provide for them to survive? He

shook his head and leaned over to kiss little Grace’s head. He

reached over for the bottle that he had prepared and fed her. She

seemed content enough.

 

Just after burping Grace and changing her diaper, Victor woke up. He

wasn’t as happy as Grace had been, and his crying woke up Luke. Jack

put Grace down and picked up Victor, changed his diaper and began

feeding him.

 

“Good morning, Luke. Did you sleep well?” Jack asked his oldest son.

 

 

Luke nodded and rubbed his little eyes. He stood up and went to

stand by his father.

 

Jack looked at Luke and wondered if he was really warming up to his

siblings. “Why don’t you go play with Grace? Just make sure you are

really gentle with her. She should be pretty content right now.”

 

Luke walked over to where Grace was laying. He gently reached and

touched her hand, and leaned in so that he could see her better.

After Jack finished feeding Victor, he changed his diaper and made

sure that he was content. Luke made his trip to the bathroom, and

pretty soon there was a knock on their door.

 

“Come in,” Jack said as he tried his best to make the bed.

 

“Hey, Buddy,” Seth said as he walked in the room. “Oh, now look at

these little ones. They are both happy, at the same time! How did

you sleep?” He asked Jack while he picked up Grace.

 

“Well, not too bad considering that I only got two hours at a time!”

Jack responded, amazed at the truth of his statement.

 

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it Grace?” Seth said in a voice that Jack

had never heard before.

 

Jack smiled to himself. If you ever want to hear anyone act stupid,

just hand ‘em a baby, he thought.

 

“Well, Rebecca’s family arrived last night,” Seth said, caressing

Grace’s cheek.

 

“Yeah, I figured that much when you guys came home so late.” Jack

responded.

 

“Minus one,” Seth said quietly.

 

“What?” Jack asked, stopped in his tracks.

 

Seth looked down at his boots, trying to figure out how to say what

he had to say next. He looked back up at Jack who had stopped what

he was doing and was waiting for Seth to continue.

 

“Well, apparently there was a bombing in the building that her

cousin lived in. Well, in one of them, anyway. All I know is that

Rebecca’s family was all ready to go when it went off. For some

reason Dave, the husband of the cousin that lived in the city, was

in there, and died immediately. Her cousin, Joy, is pretty

distraught, but I think she’ll pull through. You could tell last

night that she was really trying to be strong.” Seth informed him.

 

Jack took a deep breath and shook his head. “Well, I know what it

feels like.”

 

Seth nodded. “Yeah. It makes one wonder how many of us are going to

know before all this is over.”

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

It had been an interesting morning, trying to figure out breakfast,

what to eat, what to eat with, and where to eat. They all had cereal

again, enjoying the fresh milk that one of Rebecca’s kids had

brought over. One of the neighbors had cows, they learned, and they

always had fresh milk. Joy wondered if she could put her cheese

making skills to work with the milk. Well, not today, she thought.

 

It was going to be a full day. The family had taken a vote, and had

unanimously decided to stay until things settled down enough for all

of them to be able to go home. Joy wasn’t sure what that meant for

her, as her home was now gone.

 

Joy allowed Victoria to play with her new found second cousins,

making sure that they wouldn’t take her too far and that they would

take good care of her. Joy desperately wanted to keep Victoria with

her at all times, but knew that she needed to make things as normal

as possible for her, so she let her play.

 

Joy busied herself with going from room to room, taking inventory of

what the farmhouse had. How many rooms? Three. A master bedroom and

two small rooms. There was a queen size bed in the master bedroom, a

double in the guestroom, and two single beds in the other room. Joy

walked around the house, making notes and counting things. It was

keeping her from thinking too much about Dave, anyway.

 

All the men in the family, including Allen and John, who had come

over to help, were working on the cabins. They were trying to get

them done as soon as possible, so that they could all settle in. The

rest of the ladies were working on sorting the stuff that they had

brought into piles per family. Joy wished that they could all just

share everything, but knew that she would be voted down on that.

 

Joy couldn’t believe how much the previous owners had left. Not only

their furniture, but also all their dishes and food, and all their

appliances and anything that one would need in a home. She looked

around for things that they had more than one of, so that it could

be used somewhere else.

 

She made her way to the basement to find a large assortment of

books. Anything from cookbooks, canning books, anything to do with

farm living, and even a few children’s books. Joy smiled as she

realized that most of the children’s books had been very well used,

and were probably ones that the couple had read to their kids.

 

She found the cellar room, and was shocked at all the canning

supplies that were there. Later on she would realize that with a

garden the size that they had kept, the lady had to have this much

stuff. Joy wished that they were still there. Books were good, but

experience was better. Much better.

 

Joy was amazed at how organized the previous owner had been. The big

cellar room was organized like a store, and there was expiration

dates clearly labeled on everything. Joy noted on her notebook that

there was a lot of canning supplies, and moved on.

As she left the room, her eye caught what she thought were just a

bunch of large plants, next to a large window that stretched up and

over the ceiling.

 

She walked over and was amazed at all the trees there. She didn’t

recognize all of them, but was shocked to see one with avocadoes on

it! Now how could that be? She wondered. She touched to avocadoes on

there and realized that a couple of them would have to be eaten soon

if they didn’t want to waste them. She shook her head in amazement,

and decided that she would have to come and spend more time there

later.

 

Joy finished making her rounds in the house, noting everything that

needed to be noted. There was plenty of dishes, towels, sheets and

other home items for all of them, the woman must have collected

them! Joy wondered if she should have even bothered to bring her

own, but there was no way for any of them to have known.

 

Joy made her way back upstairs to find her mom and the other ladies

in the kitchen.

 

“How’s the inventory coming, Joy?” Bethany asked as she helped make

sandwiches for the men outside.

 

Joy smiled and held the notebook up. “Well, there is a ton of stuff

here, and I think that together with what we brought, we should be

ok. What are you making?”

 

“What does it look like?” Bethany answered, a little short.

 

“Sandwiches, hon. Do you want one?” Liz asked, ignoring Bethany’s

sudden change of attitude.

 

Joy nodded. “Hang on. I found something you may be interested in.”

 

Joy went back down to the basement and pulled two of the avocadoes

that were ready. She ran back up the stairs, excited to show her

find.

 

She shared the avocadoes with everyone but Bethany, who claimed she

didn’t like them. They added them to the sandwiches, and Joy ate

with Liz, as the rest took the food and drinks and ate with the men

outside.

 

“These avocadoes aren’t too bad, are they?” Liz asked.

 

Joy shook her head and swallowed another bite full. “Not for a

miniature tree! You said they have a garden?” she asked, taking

another bite from her sandwich.

 

“Huge! I’m not sure how they did it all, but hopefully we’ll all

learn real quick. And Rebecca said that they also did a lot of

trading with the people in the Reservation and with their other

neighbor. He’s the one that supplied them with milk.” Liz answered,

finishing her sandwich and started to clean everything up.

“Well,” Joy said, finishing her sandwich, “I’ll help you clean up

and then I just have upstairs to finish. Then I can go and start

looking at their barns and the garden.”

 

“Ok, hon, thanks. Oh, and later on, about three o’clock, we are

supposed to all go to a meeting over at the Reservation. They want

us all to go, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Liz said,

beginning to wash the dishes.

 

Joy nodded. “Sure, I’ll go. It’ll be interesting to see what the

whole thing is about,” she said, putting away the food.

 

They chatted about what was going on with the cabins and the stuff

they had brought while they cleaned up, then Joy made her way up the

stairs, while Liz continued to separate the items that they had

brought

 

Once up-stairs, Joy was thrilled by what she saw. This must have

been like a personal sanctuary, she thought as she looked around.

The room was painted in a soft yellow, with a wall of bookshelves

dedicated to craft books on one side. There was a large table in

which Joy guessed the lady made her crafts, and a long closet on the

other side of the room. Under the only window in the room stood a

treadle sewing machine, and on the opposite side was the door she

had just come in.

 

Joy opened the door to the closet, amazed at all the supplies that

were there. This would also be fun to go through another day. She

closed the door and looked around the room again, taking it all in.

This must have been the lady’s favorite room in the house, Joy

thought to herself.

 

She walked across the room and sat on the rocking chair in front of

the bookcases. The chair creaked a little as she rocked back and

forth, but not so loud that it was annoying. Joy ran her hands over

the arms of the chair, enjoying the feel of the wood. The chair

looked to have been hand made, and Joy wondered if the lady’s

husband had made it for her. She could just imagine the older lady

sitting in this chair, knitting or crocheting, humming to herself.

 

It was a perfect place for the chair to be, too, as it gave full

view through the window. Joy rested her head back on the chair and

relaxed, soon falling asleep.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Jack stretched his back and heard his bones crack. Would it be too

much to ask for a chiropractor to show up? He wondered.

 

Jack and Seth had spent the morning at his place, putting away the

furniture into his storage, and salvaging anything else they could

out of the house. Seth had helped for quite a while, and then headed

back to the old farm to help his family with the cabins.

 

Jack could see that a lot of activity was happening, and wondered if

he should be over there helping them too, but if he was going to

make it to that meeting, then he had to hurry.

 

Luke was more help to Jack than he had expected. He was quite the

little guy, trying to impress his Papa. He didn’t say much, but

worked along side Jack in a quick, efficient manner. Jack was sure

not to overload the boy, and allowed him time to just look at

things, and even time to play.

 

After Seth had left, Mr.Bodaway had come and spent some time with

Jack. Jack took this opportunity to eat the sandwiches that Rebecca

had sent along, and he was reminded again of how grateful he was for

his neighbors. Linda had offered to take care of the babies, and as

much as Jack didn’t want to leave them, he realized that if he was

going to get anything done, he would have to take people’s help.

 

Jack offered a sandwich to Mr. Bodaway, which he gracefully

declined.

 

“So, how are you doing, Jack?” Mr. Bodaway asked, looking intently

into Jack’s eyes.

 

“Well, I suppose not too bad, considering the circumstances,” Jack

replied, putting his hand up to cover his mouth as he ate.

 

Mr. Bodaway nodded and rubbed his chin. “Well, we should be done

with those cabins today, then we can start on yours tomorrow, if

that’s ok with you.”

 

“Yes, of course,” Jack replied, his voice filled with gratefulness.

 

“And how about you, Mr. Luke? How are you doing?”

 

Luke looked up at the old man and nodded, his eyes full of wonder.

Jack smiled as he witnessed the exchange between the two. Luke had a

great admiration for Mr. Bodaway, and it seemed to Jack that the

feeling was mutual.

 

Mr. Bodaway and Jack chatted for a while about the new cabin that

was going to be built up, and then Mr. Bodaway’s voice grew somber.

 

“You know that Rebecca’s family has arrived, right?” Mr. Bodaway

asked Jack, glancing at Luke.

 

Luke had finished his lunch, and was finishing up his cookie.

 

“Luke, why don’t you go put those small bags in the storage?” Jack

asked Luke, knowing where Mr. Bodaway was headed.

 

Luke nodded his head and took off running. Mr. Bodaway moved so that

his back was to Luke, but he was still facing Jack.

 

“Did you know about the death?” He asked solemnly.

 

Jack nodded. “Yeah, Seth told me this morning.” Suddenly Jack’s

appetite was gone. He stuffed the last bite of sandwich in his mouth

and put all the garbage in the garbage bag.

 

“Well, I was talking with Ed, the father of the clan, and he has

agreed to allow you to stay at one of the cabins until we have yours

done.” Mr. Bodaway said, looking at Jack to pick up any clues as to

how he would respond.

 

Jack looked at Mr. Bodaway surprised. “Really?”

 

Mr. Bodaway nodded. “What do you think?”

 

“Well, what does he want in return? Money may not be worth much in a

little while.” Jack said, raising his eyebrow. He was tired of

having to depend on the generosity of his neighbors, but there was

really not much else he could do. If he could somehow pay them for

his time at a cabin, then it would really be nice to be able to have

a place of his own, and not depend on Seth and Rebecca so much.

 

“I knew you’d ask that, so I told them that you could probably

provide them with enough milk for everyone, plus eggs and help with

teaching them things. Listen Jack, we are all going to have to help

each other. You think this is bad? Just wait. It’ll get worse. And

we can’t go around making sure that everything is fair. There will

be a time that they may come to lean heavily on you, and I know you

will be with them one hundred percent.”

 

Jack nodded his head, embarrassed. “I know, Mr. Bodaway, I’m just

not used to taking so much help.”

 

“I know that Jack. But remember. Most of these people, if not all of

them, don’t know too much about farm life. Ed said that they had a

farm when they first got to Mexico, and even made cheese to sell,

but he was more on the administrative end than the working hands

end. So they will also need a lot of help.” Mr. Bodaway replied.

 

“Well, I’ll be happy to help any way I can. So, what’s this meeting

about?” Jack asked, wanting to change the subject.

 

“Ah, I guess you will just have to find out, eh my friend?” Mr.

Bodaway laughed. “Well, it’s mainly for all of us to get together

and get to know each other a little. We will be having supper there,

and then you can all possibly move in to the cabins tomorrow. You

know that Preacher man, he’s actually excited about being here.

Maybe not the circumstances, but as they say, once a missionary,

always a missionary.”

Jack looked at Mr. Bodaway surprised that he knew even that much

lingo. Mr. Bodaway smiled, knowing what Jack was thinking.

 

“Actually, he said that,” Mr. Bodaway said laughing.

 

Jack laughed with him, realizing how good it felt to laugh.

 

“Well, I better get going,” Mr. Bodaway said. “I’ll see you over at

our place then?”

 

Jack nodded. “You bet!”

 

Mr. Bodaway left after waving goodbye to Luke and Jack continued

working, trying to get as much accomplished in the little time he

had left.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Joy smiled as Dave tickled her arm, giving her goosebumps up and

down her legs. “Stop!” she said coyly. She laughed and tried to run

away from him, but her legs wouldn’t budge. She tried moving them,

but she couldn’t seem to even put one in front of the other. She

turned around to face Dave, only to find that he was gone, replaced

by a black body bag in front of her, with a piece of paper on it

bearing his name.

 

“No!” she cried as she opened her eyes with a start.

 

Joy looked around the room that she was in, trying to remember where

she was. Panic settled in her stomach until she recognized where she

was, and the events of the last couple of days caught up with her.

She leaned her head back in the rocking chair, wondering when her

heart would stop beating so hard, tears streaming down her face.

 

“Joy?” She heard her Mom calling from downstairs.

 

Joy got up and tried to sooth her hair and face. She made her way

down quickly, more than anything to get away from the dream.

 

“Are you ok honey?” Liz asked concerned.

 

Joy nodded. “Yeah. I fell asleep up there, and had a bad dream. I

hope I don’t get those too often.”

 

“I’m sorry Joy,” Liz said, giving her a hug. “Listen, we have to get

going to that meeting. Are you coming? We are going to be there for

supper too, as far as I understand.”

 

Joy nodded. “Yeah, I’ll go. What about Victoria?”

 

“She’s already in the van, waiting. We were just waiting for you.”

Liz replied, looking out the front door.

 

“Ok, let me just go to the bathroom real quick and I’ll be right

out.” Joy said.

 

Liz left and Joy made her way to the bathroom. Once there she looked

at herself in the mirror, and decided that she was fine.

 

She hurried to get to the van, and was happy to see that the place

next to her daughter was still hers. It appeared that John and Allen

were getting along just fine, and she was glad to see that everyone

decided to go to the meeting.

 

She settled in for the ride, enjoying the time with Victoria.

Victoria talked non-stop all the way to the Reservation, relating

the events of the day to her. Joy wondered if the fact that she

 

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