Come thou wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go
From Jessica's Story...
“What’s her name?”
James misunderstood and said, “Gina,” while looking out the window to the next door neighbor’s house. Angelo half-smiled and his nose crinkled as he began to tear up once again.
“No…what’s her name…the girl…you….” Angelo tried to smile; he was being warm, but in that moment he felt another grief of a sort as he said farewell in a way to his son. He would struggle with that grief for many months, but at that moment in time he had gained a daughter he really knew all along; the name became the hardest part of the process after a while.
“Jessica, Dad…my name is Jessica” The girl, for that is what she truly was, shrugged her shoulders. Being a girl in her heart and mind was one thing as was the clothing and the accoutrements, but becoming who she’d always felt she was…being able finally to be accepted was too much for her.
Partly out of embarrassment as they both were still stuck somewhat in the past in their previous roles, Angelo and his daughter were left wondering just what does a father do for his daughter when she is happy and sad at the same time. In a few minutes they figured in out as the girl collapsed in her father’s arms and wept in relief.
The Padalino home, late December…
The homework lay completed on the dining room table. The almost sad but hopeful strains of Rebecca St.James singing about captive Israel played softly as almost a theme music for the girl’s life, as the two girls sat on the couch at opposite ends. In nearly two years, Jessica had gained a mother and a step-sister who was also her girlfriend. She had, however, lost most of her friends. And while she had gained encouragement and friendship from the group at church, acceptance was still a lifetime away in a matter of speaking since her social status was being held ‘captive’ by her gender issues. At least from her understandably befuddled teenage view. For a ‘special’ girl, she didn’t feel special at all.
“I know,” Gina said, trying to cheer her up. “Let’s cuddle.” As innocuous as cuddling actually can be, it still remained provocative enough to frighten the girl, since she still hadn’t changed entirely. Gina sidled down the couch and began to kiss Jessica’s hand. She moved up quickly and kissed her on the ear.
“Stop, please?” Jessica tried to push Gina away but to no avail. Kissing seemed to be almost a foregone conclusion even if the girls were barely past their respective seventeenth birthdays, which fell within two weeks of each other. The girl really enjoyed the attention, but much of her felt guilty…almost ashamed, in fact, since she barely had any real say in what her body did or didn’t do. Too little, too late? Hardly. But not enough and certainly not a moment too soon?
“It’s okay, hon.” Gina kissed her once again, her hand straying past the open jacket, under the tee shirt, and onto the bra below as she massaged her girlfriend’s breast.
“No…please.” Jessica was practically pleading by then but Gina failed to pick up her intent, believing that Jessica was playing along with playing along. She edged her hand southward and would have arrived at the intended destination but for the sudden, intense sobbing by the girl in her arms. Jessica jumped up and stood stock still, looking down at the zipper of her jeans before running down the hall to her room.
Since their parents had married, it was both oddly comforting and very awkward and difficult for the two, since they seemed to be as much in love as Jessica’s dad and Gina’s mom had become. But at the moment, it wasn’t at all about love; leastwise in a romantic manner. No amount of caution and well-intended promises could change things as they were at present, and the girls did not share a bedroom like some sisters enjoy and even require.
“I’m so sorry.” The girl sat on her bed with her head down. Her body was shaking; actually the shaking had escalated to tremors that caused her to fall sideways on the bed in a fetal position as she shook nearly uncontrollably. Her dilemma seemed to mock her daily, and today was another visit from a familiar if unwelcome ‘old friend,' since 'Little Jimmy' wasn't going down without a fight and 'Little Jessica' had yet to make an appearance. A voice came from behind Gina. Angelo and Carla stood in the hallway; concern etched their faces. Angelo went to enter the room but Carla put her hand up in caution.
“I think Jessie and I need to have a mother to daughter talk.”
She beckoned Gina to leave and shooed Angelo along with her until she was sitting alone beside Jessica on the bed. A mother to daughter talk this late in the ‘game’ would be awkward enough. As it was, the talk was between a step-mother, albeit a very kind step-mother, and her daughter; albeit her pre-operative transsexual step-son in a way. Neither saw each other in those lights and both loved each other as if they were both from the same biological family and same biological origins.
“Go away….” The girl rocked softly on her side but pulled away sharply when Carla placed her hand on the girl’s back.
“NO! GO AWAY!”
The words were loud and very emphatic, but they were driven by embarrassment and shame rather than anger and selfishness. Carla remained undaunted and continued to sit on the bed; redoubling her effort to engage the girl by stroking her hair. No loud rebuke, but instead the girl began to sob softly at the touch of the woman who had filled her mother’s place and filled her father’s heart in a way.
“Go away,” she sobbed, continuing to rock; a product as much from her meds as from her sadness. Carla leaned closer.
“Sorry, babe, but you’re stuck with me.” She kissed the girl on the cheek; an entirely unexpected moment. Carla was very affectionate with Jessica’s father, of course, but for some reason had almost withheld any show from Jessica. Having been together for only a year or so, the family was still trying to knit together.
“I…Leave me alone.” The girl gasped between sobs. Plaints that were all-too familiar since Gina had cried in exactly the same manner when her own father left Carla and her several years before. The cries that protest any blessings or demonstrations of love since she didn’t deserve love at all.
“It’s okay, Jessie. I understand.” Carla continued to stroke the girl’s hair. She relented only a bit and allowed Carla to continue, but she continued to cry.
“I read…” She paused. Jessica would likely feel betrayed and entirely ashamed over the next few words, but she had to know that Carla was in her corner. Carla leaned closer. A mother to daughter talk about boys and things; this being so odd since the boys and things she was talking about had to do with the part of her step-daughter that hadn’t changed yet.
“I hear you and Gina talking last night after choir practice. Don’t worry….” She anticipated the embarrassment rightly as the girl’s face grew a very bright crimson. She was about to cry out and Carla whispered quickly enough to quiet the girl.
“Shhhh…..I looked around, and no one…nobody else heard, Jessie. Your secret is safe with me.” What had meant to be an encouragement did the exact opposite as the girl buried her face in the down comforter beneath her and began to sob.
“Shhh…..shhhh. We’ve got an appointment with Dr. Sharma, honey.” The girl continued to cry, but her sobs began to ebb.
“I think you need a little more help….maybe things need to be…. Accelerated?” She shrugged her shoulders and smiled a sweet if subdued half-smile. Jessica bit her lip and looked down briefly before sitting up. She pulled Carla into a hug, meaning to express sincere if subdued thanks. But whatever wasn’t enough for one part of her was entirely too much for the other parts of her and she burst into tears all over again. At least she was crying for all the nice reasons, as they say. Carla patted her on the back slowly, hoping that the girl would be alright.
Shall come to thee O Israel
Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
Christmas Eve …
“I hope you like the medal, Dad.” Gina said with a smile. He smiled back at her with a kind look in his eyes; a St. Michael Protect Us/Patron Saint of Police Medal. While a man of faith, he wasn't religious and he wasn’t superstitious, but as a cop and parent both, the emotion and sentiment behind the gift made Angelo feel more secure as his step-daughter’s father.
“It’s great, baby girl.” He had taken to the pet name for Gina; more than anything from a deep appreciation and gratefulness for her.
“Open mine, Jessie,” Carla said.
The girl obliged, carefully removing ribbon and wrap in an almost dainty fashion. Gina glared at her as if to say, “Come on…rip it open.” Jessica pulled the box apart and eyed the bright object beneath the folds of pink paper. She saw that it was a locket about the size of a quarter; the triplet to the gold ones that Gina and Carla wore.
“Go ahead, honey. Open it up.” Carla nodded and smiled. Jessica used her fingernail to pry open the locket, revealing a picture of Carla and her and Gina together. The inscription on the inside opposite face read ‘Daughters are forever.”
“Merry Christmas, my dear sweet girl.” Carla said. Gina reached over and grabbed Carla’s and squeezed. It was a moment that almost begged for a ‘God bless everyone.” Instead, Gina laughed and said finally even as the doorbell rang,
“Great…Pizza’s here. Let’s eat.”
“Well,” Angelo said as he stood up, helping Carla to her feet. “Nothing says Merry Christmas like Chicken and Broccoli, si?”
“Merry Christmas, Gina…Dad…Mom.” She barely got out the word,’ Mom,’ when she began to cry
“Merry Christmas, Gina. Merry Christmas, Angelo,” Carla said as she nodded to them before giving special knowing smile to Jessica.
“Merry Christmas, Jessie.”
Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel!
Next: Theresa's Gift
O Come Emmanuel
By Latin: C. 9th Century.
Translated by John M. Neale
and Henry S. Coffin.
Arranged by Ted T.
and Rebecca St. James
sung by Rebecca St. James
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