When Nate and Gina snuck out of the house to visit their beloved mom’s grave one day, they didn’t expect to meet Lucy, the woman who they feared would replace their mother, crying there.
Lucy had never expected to finally find someone at the age of 35, much less someone as sweet and sincere as Harry.
It had been a year since Harry and his two children moved into the house on the other side of the street. In the first few days of them moving in, it became clear to Lucy that there was no woman in the house. After two back-to-back nights of the smoke alarm ringing and the smell of burnt food coming from their house, Lucy finally decided to offer a small gesture of help: a big bowl of chicken pot pie, a loaf of homemade bread, and cupcakes.
“Please accept this. Just a friendly ‘hello’ from a concerned neighbor,” Lucy said.
“The smell is that bad, huh?” Harry joked. That’s when they shared a laugh for the very first time. And that marked the beginning of their friendship, and later a love that felt worthy of a lifetime.
Six months later, Lucy tied the knot with Harry and moved in with him, his 9-year-old son Nate and his 13-year-old daughter Gina.
And though Nate adored Lucy to bits and even called her “mom” sometimes, Gina couldn’t stand the idea of her.
She would throw tantrums around Lucy, trying to make her feel out of place and uninvited in her life. But one day, when Harry decided to take a bold step, Gina completely lost control of her anger.
“Kids, Mom has made breakfast!”
This was the first time Harry had used the word “Mom” for Lucy. Nate skipped towards the breakfast table like nothing new had happened. But Gina walked in screaming.
“Dad! How dare you call her our mom? We had a mom. We loved her. You loved HER, remember? And then, yes, she died. It may have been two years ago, but she will always be the only mom in all our lives. You cannot just take that away from us. From me. And you…”
Gina pointed a finger scornfully at Lucy and spat out, “You think you are so great, you think Dad loves you. Well, let me make it clear to you: it doesn’t matter how many breakfasts you make, how many times you do my hair, or help Nate with school. You will NEVER be our mom! Ever!”
Saying this, Gina burst into tears and stormed out of the house to school, and Nate ran behind her.
Lucy stood at the kitchen counter, shaking from the intensity of the anger she had just felt. “I’m sorry, Lucy, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have sprung the word on her. And I should’ve stopped her. I’ll talk to–”
“No, Harry. I know you mean well. But no, do not talk her into anything. Gina is allowed to feel the way she feels about me,” Lucy told Harry. “The girl loved her mother, and this is just a sign of how much. Leave her be, honey. It’ll get better.”
Be kind to grieving hearts – let them heal slowly.
Over the next several weeks, Lucy continued to be there for the kids, as always. There was no sign of bitterness or anger on her part, even after everything Gina had said to her.
If anything, Lucy was more caring and dutiful towards the kids than before. She woke up half an hour earlier than usual so that she could get breakfast ready. She made sure that the children’s things were neatly labeled and arranged so that they wouldn’t fight amongst themselves. Lucy also stood up to a neighboring kid who was teasing Gina for her new haircut.
Despite all this, Gina was still rude to Lucy. In fact, there were many instances when Gina would convince her little brother and give Lucy the slip and sneak out to visit their late mother’s grave. Lucy would be worried sick about the kids, but Gina would simply shrug it off.
What the kids didn’t know was that their stepmother had her own secret.
It was past lunchtime on a Sunday afternoon, and Lucy’s heart rate quickened as she made a decision on impulse.
She checked on Harry and the kids, who were napping in their bedrooms. “Here’s my chance,” Lucy thought, as she changed her clothes, picked up her purse, and slowly snuck out of the house.
What she didn’t know was while Harry was snoring, Gina and Nate had only been pretending to sleep. And while Lucy snuck out, the kids had their own secret plan, too.
It was a muddy road to the cemetery, but Nate and Gina braved the pebbles and slippery ground to get there.
All along, Gina couldn’t shake the questions ringing in her mind. “Where was Lucy sneaking off to? Was she meeting someone? I have to tell Dad after we get home,” she decided.
Gina and Nate took the last few steps on the empty road before Nate said, “Look! Isn’t that Lucy? And she’s talking to…Mom!”
Gina froze in shock. Nate was right. Lucy was kneeling and crying in front of their beloved mom’s gravestone.
The curious siblings wanted to eavesdrop on what their stepmom was saying. Avoiding twigs that would make noise as they snapped under their shoes, Gina and Nate walked up to a tree right behind Lucy.
“Maria, they are incredible kids. I mean, Nate is such a heartthrob. His face and his sweet voice make me smile. He’s doing much better at school now, too. So quit worrying about it. But Gina…”
Gina was startled to hear her name and leaned in to listen closer.
“Gina is in so much pain, Maria. I hope you know how much she loves you. She’s angry, and Harry gets a bit concerned about it. But I recognize that anger. It’s the only way she can express her love and sorrow right now. I know you would worry about her, too, if you were here. You would think: what is this Lucy woman going to do for my kids when she’s known them barely for a year?”
“I want you to know that I don’t have all the answers right now. But I can’t stop until I know your kids feel loved. I won’t rest until they feel safe, comfortable, and capable of being happy without the guilt. I know it’s your Harry who I fell in love with, but it’s your kids who have stolen my heart! And I’ll be there for them, always. I will love them with all my heart, just like you would. I don’t know why I felt like telling you this today – but there, I said it. If it’s not too much to ask, send me a sign…and I’ll know that things will be all right.”
At that moment, Gina and Nate ran to Lucy and hugged her tight. “I’m so sorry!” Nate cried. “I’m sorry, too. I’ve troubled you a lot without realizing how kind and loving you were really being. I’m sorry…Mom!” Gina was surprised that the word came naturally to her.
Back home, Harry was astonished to see them return for two reasons: one, he didn’t realize when they had all left, and two, that they were getting along so well.
“Hello?! I’m a part of this family, too, remember?” Harry said, interrupting a funny conversation between Lucy and the kids, and getting sandwiched in their first-ever group hug.
What can we learn from this story?
- Be kind to grieving hearts – let them heal slowly. Just like Lucy didn’t want Gina to feel rushed in getting over the grief of losing her mother, it’s important to allow people to grieve in their own way, for as long as they need.
- Meet anger with kindness whenever you can. Lucy had every reason to be angry with Gina or to reprimand her for being disrespectful. Instead, she chose to show kindness and care, which helped bring about Gina’s change of heart.