She never meant to keep secrets from him, but somehow, in the month they’d known each other, one subject never came up.
Theresa Mary Roberts—don’t forget the confirmation name Elizabeth, just to get all the most important saints in there—looked at herself in the vanity table mirror, needing to preserve the memory of who she had been.
Elfin, people called her. Gamin, whatever that meant: bright eyes, pointed chin, short, fluffy hair. She touched the glass to reassure that she was really looking at her reflection and not a fantasy.
She couldn’t focus well anymore. Everything in her bedroom looked a bit fuzzy, and she was afraid that she’d lose her eyesight completely. Scared the bejeazuz out of her. Was that taking the Lord’s name in vain? She’d become so lazy lately. Worldly.
Scared her near to death. That was better, and far more to the truth.
She wanted more time! This wasn’t fair, and yet—she’d been given something so very precious. She’d had more time than many, and experienced more joy than most. She just wanted to look into his bright blue eyes again.
Like that song by the group Heart, one of the first she’d heard last fall: “Never seen eyes so blue…try to understand, I’m a magic man…”
Her magic man. Oh, Dave. He’d taken her places she’d never even imagined. Given her love and respected that she was an old fashioned girl. Didn’t—what was the slang the teenagers at the school used? Didn’t put out before her wedding night.
She’d simply never told him much about her past. Not about her family—the ones still speaking to her. Not about where she’d lived until six months ago.
Had she lied to him, or simply neglected to tell the whole truth? When had the facts fallen away in her headlong rush into love?
She inspected herself, touched the tiny bandage on her forehead. Such a small wound to be so deadly. Didn’t hurt, didn’t seem dangerous enough to rob her of so much.
Terry fingered her short curls. Remembered the long flowing hair—her older sister had called it hippie girl hair. She’d cut it exactly eighteen months ago. Placed a white novice veil on her head with true religious zeal and planned to marry Christ. But questions had plagued her.
She’d loved the quiet hours of prayer, chanting Latin phrases under her breath. Been grateful for the chance to humble herself before the Lord, lying prostrate on the stone chapel floor. Had relished teaching the special children at the school. Except, when she closed her eyes to sleep, fears had paralyzed her, seeding doubt.
That she could never measure up to Mother Anne, the mother of her heart since her own mama had died so long ago, had kept her awake nights. She’d knelt below the crucifix, praying that He would send her a solution.
Talking to Mother Anne had been difficult. Taking the veil off had been the hardest thing she’d ever done.
She’d walked outside the gates of the order on September 5th, 1976 for what was supposed to have been a year long sabbatical. Six months later, her life was nearly at an end. Would probably be over tomorrow. With any luck, maybe He would grant her another day.
To see Dave one more time. To feel his kiss on her lips, and taste his skin. To infuse his love in every fiber of her being one last time.
Had she chosen the right path or the very wrong one? She’d given up on spiritual love for the physical. Had her flesh been weak, then? Or had she just been human, after all?
Looking at her pale reflection, she searched her face—and her heart—for regrets. Found none. She still had Jesus in her heart. Had just opened the door wider to let in Dave, too.
What a gift he was. Ever and always, she would never regret David Starsky. His joy, his generous spirit and boundless love for her. He would pull down the moon for her.
He’d asked her to marry him, but she couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair. Not to either of them.
Terry knew one truth. She would have to tell him the last of her secrets.
Pulling the old chenille bathrobe around her body, she turned to survey the bedroom that could be her sepulcher.
Mother Anne had come to sit with her and brought a bouquet of white roses. She’d heard Terry’s last confession, blessing her before leaving with tears in her eyes. Terry swallowed, fighting back tears of her own. She’d already cried an ocean.
She wanted those closest around her—not just Dave and Ken, but all the others. Sister Gabriel and Sister Mary Katherine, she loved them more than the sisters she’d been raised with: Clare and Rose who’d never understood her devotion to God.
Terry pulled her bear, Ollie, into a cuddle, kissing the crown of his furry head. She’d never apologize for jumping the fence for a chance at life and the prize of love, but she truly wanted to go back. To take Holy Vows.
She’d lost that chance, and it hurt more than she’d expected. Hurt as much as leaving Dave would.
Carrying Ollie, Terry walked carefully to the table, feeling the need to hurry before her eyesight faded even more so. She could sense black clouds hovering on the periphery of her vision like portents of the grave.
“Not yet,” she said out loud.
She wrapped Ollie in a yard of crinkly tissue, and took up a pen to write the note to Hutch. That made her cry, but she’d always known who loved Dave even more than she did.
Only one more thing to do—the guys would be there in half an hour to take her to Marshall School, for basketball practice.
She didn’t have any paper but she didn’t need any. The How to Win at Scrabble book that she’d bought the week before—literally two days before the beginning of the end—had a few blank pages in the very back.
Flattening the book to keep it open, she touched her pen to the page and wrote: “To my best friend: I have a story to tell you about a girl who wanted to become a nun…
Cold late night so long ago
When I was not so strong you know
A pretty man came to me
Never seen eyes so blue—
Ann and Nancy Wilson