Home Run (The Boys of Summer 2) - Page 60

I nod and am thankful she’ll take care of that for me. I step into the closet and turn on the light. Rows of clothes hang there, untouched for months with a layer of dust on them. I reach for the box marked “personal” and pull it down and sit on the floor with it. I’m careful when I lift the dust-covered lid and place it right side up.

Inside is a stack of cards, each addressed to its recipient. As I look through them, I notice that these are all for her former co-workers and friends. These are friends that she pushed away when she was diagnosed with cancer. Part of me doesn’t want to mail them for fear they may open old wounds that have since healed for people. But part of me knows I have to, to fulfill her wishes, even if I don’t agree.

“Here, this one is for you,” I say, holding up an envelope for Stella. She takes it and holds it in her hands for a moment before tearing it open and reading it aloud. I try not to watch, but I can’t take my eyes off of her.

My Dearest Stella,

I have known you almost as long as I’ve known my daughter, and not a day has gone by when I haven’t loved you. Be strong for Ainsley, because she’s going to need you when I’m not here.

Someday, you’ll find happiness, and when you do, please know that I’ll be with you every step of the way. In my jewelry box, you’ll find a blue velvet pouch. This is my gift to you on your wedding day. It’s not much, but when I saw it, I thought of you.

Love always, Janice

Stella wipes the tears that have fallen and goes to my mom’s dresser, pulling open the drawers of her jewelry box until she finds the blue velvet bag. The blue sapphire dangles from a chain, catching the fading sunlight just in time.

“It’s beautiful.”

“It is. I was with Mom when she found it. I didn’t know she was buying it for you,” I tell her as I lean against the doorjamb with my own letter in hand.

“Is that for you?” she asks, suddenly aware of what I’m holding. I nod and pull my lower lip in between my teeth to ward off the impending tears.

“Are you going to read it?”

I look down at my hand and back at her. She knows I’m fearful, yet curious as to what’s inside the envelope. “I have to, right?”

She nods and reaches for my hand, pulling me over to the bed. When I was little, I used to sleep with my mom because she had the most comfortable bed. I reminded her of that not too long ago when I curled up with her in this one, only for her to tell me that her bed was so old and falling apart that she had put egg cartons under her sheets for comfort. Now that I think about it, it must’ve been a comfort thing in the sense that I was always near her.

Carefully I slide my finger under the flap of the envelope and move it along until I can access the letter. It’s five pages long, and the last thing I have in her handwriting.

To my beautiful, sweet, caring, and loving daughter, Ainsley,

There are no words to describe the amount of joy you have brought to my life. You have been my light, my path, and the bridge that I traverse daily to a better life. When you came into my world, you changed me for the better and for that I will be forever grateful.

She continues to go on about our lives together and how proud she is of me for going to college and getting my degree. My mom apologizes for getting sick—as if she could control that.

I continue to read about what she wants for me. She asks that I wear her earrings as my “something borrowed” when I get married and use the handkerchief that my grandfather always carried in his pocket but never used as my “something old.” My mother encourages me to have children, travel, and find the love of my life, adding that it doesn’t have to necessarily be in that order.

Stella and I both laugh at that.

And now for what you’ve been waiting for. For years, I’ve kept this secret out of love for a man I once knew and out of selfishness for fear you would choose him over me. I was young and foolish when I met your father, and I fell easily for his charm. By the time I found out he had another woman, it was too late, and you were already growing inside of me. He doesn’t know about you, Ainsley. I never got the chance to tell him. When I found out I was pregnant, he was long gone, and back then we didn’t have the Web to help us find people. I waited for him the next year, but he never returned.

He’s the reason I have discouraged you from dating athletes. I was so angry and hurt, left as a teenager to raise a child on my own, that I wanted to prevent you from experiencing the same pain. I knew someday I would have to tell you this, but I never had the courage. I wouldn’t be able to bear seeing him again, so I waited. I selfishly waited until I didn’t have to face what I had done to the both of you. I hope that someday you will be able to forgive me.

His name is Wesley Wilson. He was a strapping young man, so full of charisma, and very handsome. You look a lot like him. He played for a baseball team, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the name, but do remember they were from the northern part of the Midwest. If you decide to find him, please let him know that I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone.

I set the letter down on her bed and collapse in a heap of nothing. She kept him from me this whole time, and while I had an inclination, I had always hoped she didn’t know who he was.

Stella leaves my side, only to return with a roll of toilet paper.


“I’m sorry, Ainsley.”

“I know. I am, too. I don’t even know what to think.”

“Are you going to look for him?”

I shake my head. “I don’t think so. I don’t know. What if he has a family and he doesn’t want me? I don’t think I can go through any more pain.”

Tags: Heidi McLaughlin The Boys of Summer Romance
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