Familiar Face

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Chapter 25

Chapter 25

Anna’s Journal Entry forSunday, Nov. 20

When Dr. Drummond gifted me with a journal, I questioned the value of journaling as a therapeutic tool. For me, blank pages were almost as terrifying as the nightmares I was experiencing. First and foremost, I wasn’t a writer. Secondly, by writing about my fears and frustrations, I was admitting that I was neurotic, or so I thought.

“Dr. Drummond convinced me that my writing didn’t have to meet the standards of a publisher. But, it was when she told me not to come back until I was willing to try journaling or to submit to hypnosis, that I changed my tune. Tough words from a therapist who had been supportive through thick and thin helped me to put things in perspective. I reluctantly agreed to take pen to paper for a least a month. For the first week, I moaned and whined because I was angry with her, but then I settled down and began to analyze why I reacted to various situations the way I do.

So . . . here I am six months later still writing. Until this past week, I’ve faithfully scribbled at least a line or two every day. This week I’ve procrastinated. It is now late Sunday evening, and I refuse to go to bed until I fill the three blank pages in my journal. I’m not sure that I will buy another journal. I haven’t learned to enjoy writing. I much prefer to live.

“Here’s part of the problem, I would rather write about the extraordinarily beautiful fall colors this year than write about issues that make me sad. Last week’s temperatures were unseasonably warm during the day and pleasantly cool in the evenings. Since I am no longer constantly looking over my shoulder for a stalker, I have enjoyed walking to work in the mornings and strolling home at the end of the work day.

“Yesterday, I ate lunch at Millie’s. It wasn’t the same without my buddies Lindsey and Kelli, but I saw a few familiar faces. One elderly woman said that she had wondered if I’d moved away. Worse yet, ill. One young mother told me that her four-year-old had asked more than once why the pretty ladies weren’t at their usual table. How sweet is that? If you add amazing weather and a return to Millie’s to all of the other positive things in my life, I’m truly blessed.

“My first morning back at the office, I was welcomed back with open arms. Alicia decorated the parlor with balloons and a Welcome Back banner. Instead of the usual donuts and coffee, she’d splurged with Danish and other scrumptious delicacies from Baker’s Dozen, a new bakery nearby. We socialized until nine-thirty. My co-workers' love and support has helped during the past few months and will continue to help erase my founded and unfounded fears.

“With the help of Mark’s copious notes, I have been able to handle the daily routine and to host two scheduled events seamlessly. My second day back, Marian called me into her office. She informed me that Natalie had decided to pursue a career other than the directorship of the Grace McMatthews Foundation. She asked if I was interested in the director’s position when she retired.

“Six months ago, I would have been over the moon with excitement. I thanked her, but declined her offer. My future is uncertain, and I don’t want to make a promise that I can’t keep. I explained that Mark and I were planning a future together. Any career decisions we made would be made by mutual agreement. She was disappointed that I said no, but her eyes twinkled when she made the comment that it was about time that Mark and I took off the blinders.

“Ben and I talked several times this past week, but I only received one cryptic email from Beth. I tried not to take the snub personally, but it is hurt. Ben was surprised about her lack of communication, because she had taken the news about James better than he had predicted. His only comment was, ‘Give her time.’

“Friday was one of those TGIF days, so I was dragging by the time the work day was over. My aching shoulders were forgotten when I saw a UPS package propped against my front door. I suspected that it was one of Mom’s care packages. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how she always knows when my spirits need a lift. Her little surprises always bring a smile to my face.

“There was no smiley face on the wrapping, so my eyes immediately zoomed to the return address. Laurel Springs, Virginia. My hands began to shake, and my heart began to race. Cautiously, I put the package on the kitchen table. After Beth’s cryptic email, I didn’t know what to expect.

“While I prepared and ate a simple meal, I avoided the package as if it were a poisonous snake or a package filled with anthrax. When I could no longer contain my curiosity, I slowly removed the brown paper wrapping. Inside, I found a leather-bound, personalized family photo book published by Shutterfly. Jessica was engraved on the front cover. I hugged the book to my chest and sobbed.

“When my emotions were back in check, I headed to my favorite reading chair, turned on the light and opened the book. There was a letter from Beth tucked inside the front cover.

“The book was a gift from Rosalie and Jamie Summerfield. A gift that had been created when Beth and Ben were in high school. Beth had been designated the caretaker of Jessica’s copy. Their (my) aunt and uncle had spent weeks choosing photos and writing captions. Before the photos became too faded and brittle to be handled, Rosalie and Jamie wanted to preserve them. They had four books printed. One for their family, one each for Ben, Beth and Jessica.

“I pored over the photos for hours. There were baby pictures, holiday and special event photos and photos of everyday life: Ben playing catch with his (our) dad, Beth and Mom (I’m getting the hang of it) making cookies, Ben jostling me on his hip, Mom and Dad caught in a kiss, etc. I made two very important observations. Our family had been happy, but I am not a mirror image of Mom. In some of the photos I could be her clone, but in others, the resemblances are far less striking. Her smile was different, and so were some of her mannerisms.

“The differences might seem trivial to most people, but to me the differences are important. I like resembling my biological mother, Claire Summerfield, but I want the Summerfield’s to accept me as Anna Kingston. I’ve been raised a Kingston. That isn’t going to change.”

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