Three weeks after their anniversary, Eric died. Marilyn was beside herself with grief and was absolutely inconsolable. How was she ever going to recover? He was the love of her life. When he was buried, she felt as if she went into the ground with him.
Erica was only eight years old and really didn’t understand the concept of death. She just knew that her daddy wasn’t there anymore. Marilyn tried to explain to her that God had decided He needed another angel in Heaven and chose her daddy.
Marilyns’ mother and father asked her to bring Erica and come stay with them for a while. Marilyn asked them if they would just let Erica stay because she needed to be alone.
Every night, Marilyn would go to the room in the basement. She knew that her screams would be silent there.
Often, she would wake up the next morning on the floor or sitting in Erics’ barber chair. That chair was one of Erics’ most prized possessions. It had been in his grandfathers’ barbershop. She could still picture him sitting in it, playing his guitar and smiling at her as he practiced a new song.
Friends and family called, offering condolences and help but Marilyn, as graciously as she could, always declined. She told them that she just needed time.
She knew she needed to return to work. She knew that Erica needed her and she made her best effort to at least try to function, although she was in a zombie-like state most of the time.
She refused to talk about Eric and all of her medical training told her that she was doing the wrong thing by shutting herself off but she continued to withdraw.
She finally sought comfort in the counsel of Reverend Nick Burke. She and Eric were members of the church but due to their schedules, they couldn’t always attend services.
Reverend Nick was a handsome man and a confirmed bachelor who always said he didn’t have time for a wife because he was too busy serving God. He was well liked in the community and had a reputation for being kind and understanding. He had given a wonderful eulogy for Eric and had virtually held Marilyn up during the service.
Reverend Nick told Marilyn that he was always just a phone call or short drive away. He came over often and was always ready with an inspirational scripture, meant to try to inspire her to, as he put it, find a reason to carry on.
Although Marilyn wasn’t yet ready to attend church because she was angry with God, she allowed him to come pick up Erica and take her to Sunday school.
As they talked about life after Eric, Marilyn said “you know, Reverend Nick. I could never think about him without smiling. Now, I can never think about him without crying.” Reverend Nick said he knew she would find it impossible to believe but it would get easier with time.
Reverend Nick became a fixture in Marilyn and Ericas’ lives. They often had dinner together and he was very attentive to Erica. He was always willing to help with homework and taught her how to ride her very first “big girl” bicycle.
Marilyn was grateful for his gestures until he did something that was unpardonable.
They were sitting on the sofa one night and as Reverend Nick took Marilyns’ hand, he said “I love you.” Being a man of God, he was supposed to love everybody so she thanked him but when he kissed her, she recoiled in disgust.
He apologized profusely but he had crossed a line. She told him that he was never again welcome in her home. She pushed him away as he tried to embrace her.
He said he thought she was being emotional and overreacting and had maybe misinterpreted his intentions. Marilyn raised her voice when she asked him how she could misinterpret an unwelcome kiss. She then told him that she never wanted to see or hear from him again.
Reverend Nick ignored her statement and continued to call but Marilyn refused to answer. He left messages every day, begging her to forgive him but those messages were never returned and forgiveness was never granted. He came by her house and knocked on the door but she ignored him. He sent flowers but she threw them away.
When Erica noticed that Reverend Nick wasn’t coming around anymore, she asked if God had needed another angel. Marilyn told her that there were other people who Reverend Nick needed to help so he was spending time with them.
Reverend Nick left one last message, asking if it would be possible to come get Erica and take her to Sunday school. He knew how much she enjoyed going and so did Marilyn. While he was once again, begging for forgiveness, Marilyn picked up the phone and tersely said “stay away from me and stay away from my daughter.”