Read an Excerpt
Ivy Jones-Miller sat on the side of her bed. In one hand she held a
picture of her husband of eleven years; in the other, a copy of the documents
filing for a divorce from him.
She had to admit the reality: she still loved Raymond Terrell Miller. He had been part of her life since she was ten years old. For sixteen years, their families lived next door to each other. Both families had been members of the Cathedral Of Faith Christian Center in Camden, New Jersey, where Ivy's grandfather was founder and pastor. They had grown up together. And she honestly couldn't imagine what her life was going to be like without him in it.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, she released the documents and watched as they slipped down to land near her feet on the plush carpeted floor. Hugging the photograph to her breast, she willed herself to accept that this was the end of her life with Ray.
The feeling had to be worse than death itself.
What she was realizing was that all the material possessions she and Ray had accumulated meant nothing if he was not here to share them with her. She had been willing to give up this tremendous house with its breathtaking view of the lake, a view she had enjoyed for many years from the bay window in the morning kitchen. The Bentley, the Mercedes, and every piece of jewelry she owned - she would have relinquished it all, gladly, just to have him with her again.
Yes, just to have Ray in her arms and back in her life the way it used to be, she would be willing to live like a vagabond.
And here was the ultimate irony, even though she was willing to give up everything, he still didn't want her anymore. He had told her, his voice flat and distant, to file for a divorce; and since that day he hadn't slept in their home.
Ivy looked over at numerous pictures of Ray and herself that were sitting on her dresser. She walked over to them and stared at each, one by one. "I hate that I ever met you," she said out loud as she looked intently at his image. She picked up the heavy gold-framed photograph and after staring at it a few moments more, she pitched it against the wall on the opposite side of the room. She watched as the glass shattered against the wall, falling onto the carpet.
She turned her attention back to the other photos. "I hate you," she repeated. The three words came from her lips; but in her heart, that was far from the truth. "Oh, God, what am I going to do?" She crumpled to the floor. The truth was she wanted to hate him. She needed to hate him. It was too hard to accept, otherwise.
After a few minutes of self-pity, the anger surged back. She stood up and grabbed a crystal-framed photograph of Ray in his Redskins uniform. She dropped it to the floor and began to stomp on it, over and over again. Each time her foot smashed onto the picture she said a word. "I," stomp, "hate," stomp, "you," chanting it over and over again, trying her best to make a lie the truth so the pain in her heart would go away. "Damn you, Ray. I gave you the best of me. I gave you all of me. I'm the mother of your children. How could you be so cruel?"
She cried until she was spent. Then as the tears began to subside, Ivy stood and swung her arm over the dresser, flinging everything on it to the floor.
"What am I going to do?" She murmured the words out loud. "How am I going to live without him?"
She hadn't told a soul that Ray had left her. Perhaps telling someone would make her face the fact that it was truly over. Her guess was that everyone would be shocked, especially when they found out that she and Ray were divorcing. She came from a Christian family that did not divorce.
How was she going to explain this to her family? She was a minister's daughter. Her family believed in until death do you part - and so did she: it would have been that way, too, if she had her way.
But the choice was out of her hands. It's in God's hands now, she thought. She would have to stop all this crying and be strong and face the fact that she had done all she could to save this marriage. The final papers were signed and had been delivered to the attorney; it was time to inform the people closest to her. Maybe after she opened up and shared her grief with the people who really cared about her, she could begin the healing process, begin to become whole again.
First she needed to tell their children. Ray Jr. the oldest, was nine, Solomon, was five, and the twin girls, Tamara and Terra, were three. Ivy wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, took a deep breath and commanded herself to get it together.
It was time that she accepted that Ray had left her and his entire family a long time ago, long before he voiced his desire for a divorce. Filing the paperwork only made it official.
Ivy knew that she didn't need to blame herself, at least not entirely: there was enough blame to go around. Other women. Drugs. It has been nearly two years since Ray's last attempt to rid his life of the drugs. After failing to complete three different programs at three different facilities, her father, the Reverend James Jones, had recommended the Faith and Hope Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. Reverend Jones was now the pastor of Cathedral Of Faith Christian Center and he knew people who had attended the Center; he had suggested this facility because of the highly successful completion rate of their clients. Through his work with the inner-city youth at the Ray Miller Youth Center, he had sent many others through the drug program offered at Faith and Hope.
Nevertheless, Ray had yet again failed to finish the program.
How could all this have happened right under Ivy's nose? How could she not have recognized the warnings? All the signs had been there, right in front of her. Had she been in denial? Or had she simply been deaf to anything that threatened her marriage, her happiness? When they had first started out, she would never have thought in a million years that Ray would be stupid enough to get himself hooked on any drug, especially one as addictive and harmful as heroin. .......