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By Dotty


I hate flying into Maine. Every time I do, I wind up an emotional wreck! Naomi Sandburg thought upon landing at the small airport outside Bangor. God or Goddess, I wish I was anywhere but here.

Catching the first available taxi, she briskly gave the address to a local cemetery. Apparently realizing she was not in the mood to talk, the driver left her to her thoughts.

Arriving at the cemetery, she made her way to the grave she had come to visit.

Kneeling down, she began to pull weeds and clean up around the grave.

Speaking softly, Naomi spoke, "Hi, Emmy. I'm so sorry it's been so long since I came to visit. Please forgive me. I promise to come visit sooner next time. I love you sweetie and I always will."

"Blair is doing so well. You'd be surprised. I am. I never thought my baby would take to being a cop, but he has and he's really good at it. He tells me he's in a place where he can really help people. I still worry and feel guilty over what happened with the dissertation. He tells me he and Jim both forgive me. I guess the problem is I can't forgive myself. I shouldn't have interfered, but I honestly thought I was helping. If he gets seriously injured or dies, it'll be my fault. Not only will I have failed him, but also I'll have failed you."

Still weeding, she allowed her mind to drift.

San Francisco, 1969

"Hey, Naomi! There's a chick here looking for you. Real establishment type, you know."

"Thanks, Moonrunner. Did she give a name or anything?"

Receiving a negative reply, Naomi hurried to her room at the commune. Upon opening the door, she was shocked to see the forlorn figure sitting on the bed, looking as if the weight of the universe were sitting on her slender shoulders.

Rushing to the crying woman and pulling her into a loving hug, Naomi asked, "Emmy! What are you doing here? What's wrong?"

"Oh, God, Naomi. I'm in so much trouble. I didn't know where else to go. I figured since we were so distantly related, no one would find me if I were with you. I know it's been a long time cuz, but I need help."

"What is it, baby? You know I'll help anyway I can"

As the woman on the bed started sobbing harder, the story came out.

"Naomi, I've been so stupid"

Rocking her cousin gently, Naomi whispered, "It's ok. You know you can tell me anything. It won't matter, Emmy. I love you."

Calming down a little, Emmy went on. "You know Mark and I should never have married. We thought we were in love, but we weren't. We couldn't agree on anything. We argued about the budget, bills, our in- laws, everything! Nothing I did or suggested seemed right. He got so cold and hateful to me, Naomi. I thought after the kids were born things would be better, but they weren't. We started arguing over discipline, dress and religion. We couldn't talk without fighting."

Gently rubbing her cousin's back, Naomi silently encouraged her to keep talking.

"Two years ago we stopped sleeping in the same room. We hardly spoke to each other and never spent any time together. I felt so lonely and unloved. Naomi, I was miserable. About 8 months ago, I met someone. He seemed so sweet and kind. He talked to me and was so gentle. We had an affair. I got pregnant. I was so excited. I thought I'd found the love of my life. He'd take the kids and me and we'd live happily ever after. I was so happy when I told him."

After a moment of quiet, Naomi asked her to go on.

Still sobbing to the point her shoulders were shaking, Emily spoke.

"I told him, Naomi. He didn't care. He said he'd had his fun, but wouldn't be responsible for the baby and me. He told me it was my problem and just walked off. I was shocked. I couldn't tell Mark. He'd know it wasn't his. He'd throw me out and I'd lose the kids. I got scared and ran away. I didn't know where else to go. We'd always been close as kids and I thought I could depend on you to help me. I got the last address your parents had and started following you. That was almost two months ago. Naomi, I'm so tired. What am I going to do?"

Allowing her mind to drift back to the present, Naomi continued cleaning up the grave. Once again she began speaking softly.

"Ah, Emmy, the answer to that was so easy. You were my cousin. I had to help you. We were such good friends when we were little. You taught me how to braid my hair, remember? We used to tell each other everything. I was going to be a dancer and you were going to win a Grammy for singing the most popular song ever sung. Do you remember when we used to sneak out to play after our parents were asleep? Then, when we got older, those disastrous double dates? Man, did we meet some frogs! Funny, it looks like neither of us ever met our princes. I miss those long conversations we used to have about anything and everything. I really regret we drifted apart when we became adults, but I was so happy you felt you could come to me for help."

"Do you remember when Blair was born, sweetie? You only got to hold him once, but I could tell how much you loved him. You had such a look of love in your eyes. You seemed so at peace at that moment. I knew you wanted to live for him, but you were so weak and wouldn't stop hemorrhaging. When you died the day after he was born, I was determined to keep my promise to you. I've tried, Emmy. I really have. I couldn't love Blair anymore if I had given birth to him."

"I brought you to Maine. I thought that would be far enough that no one could find you. I had you buried under your initials M.M. and maiden name. It's what you wanted. It's what you made me promise. I've kept my other promise to you also. I've never told Blair I'm not his natural mother. He doesn't know about his father or brothers. I'm not sure under the circumstances if that's the right thing anymore, Emmy. I think he, no all three of them need to know. Their lives are now so intertwined I think not telling them would be the bigger mistake."

"I just don't want to betray your trust, but I have a bigger obligation to our son. Yes, Emmy, I do consider him ours."

"I'm going to a retreat in Africa. While I'm there, I have a lot of thinking to do before I come to a decision. Once again, I will be doing something that will change his life forever. It's not just him this time, Emmy. This time, other lives are involved. Do I have the right to do this? Will everyone be able to deal with the consequences? Do I even have the right to make this decision? Before I do anything though, I promise to tell you first. I owe you and Blair that."

"I'm going now, sweetie. I promise I'll try to do the right thing. I just have to figure out what it is."

"I love you, Emmy. I wish you could be here. I wish you could have seen your son grow up. He is a wonderful man. You'd be so proud of him. He's courageous, intelligent, loyal and a joy to all who know him. I for one would love to see you walk up to William Ellison and say `see what you missed out on by denying your son?' It's been his loss."

"Take care and never forget you are loved."

Learning forward, Naomi gently traced the letters written on the grave marker as she softly read them off. "Here lies M. M. Smithson 1942-1969. Rest in peace, Emmy."

Blowing a kiss, Naomi arose, walked to the gates and entered the waiting cab. As it pulled away, her last words were whispered "Goodbye, Emmy. Till next time."

The End