Angel Falling Softly

Chapter 5

A good example is the best sermon

Rachel opened her eyes. The book she’d brought with her lay open but unread in her lap. The clock on the wall said one o’clock. She always tried to be home when Laura returned from school, so she’d better get going. There was no telling what might come up between here and there.

She bade the nursing staff good-bye with a smile and a nod to Veralee, Jennifer’s critical-care nurse, who returned her pleasantries. “See you tomorrow, Sister Forsythe.”

Yes, tomorrow, Rachel thought darkly. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. When Jennifer started on the chemo, Rachel had stayed overnight at the hospital for a week. She was better acquainted with the night shift at Deseret Children’s Hospital than with most of her neighbors.

She walked down the open staircase from the third floor. Freed from the calm cocoon surrounding her daughter’s bedside, she found that the vague feelings of anger, the glimmering sense of upset, returned. It was something more than the cosmic injustice of it all. It was David. He’d powered Jennifer through the chemo with prayer and raw emotional muscle. But then came the GVHD and the coma, and he was out to sea. He did things with the kids or did things for them. Faced with a child who did nothing, he had nothing to give. It was easier to work and tend to his flock. Easier to deal with other people’s problems.

But hadn’t she wanted to be a bishop’s wife? Come to believe she’d earned it? Deserved it? No, not growing up. Not when they were first married. And not even when David was briefly elevated to the stake high council. Nevertheless, there was little subtlety in the politics of picking a Mormon bishop. When David was called as first counselor four years into Bishop Ackerlind’s term, everybody knew David was going to be the ward’s next bishop.

She found herself looking forward to that which she’d once scoffed at. It would be like being first lady, enjoying no de jure authority but having all she said taken with extra seriousness.

Though by now it was beginning to wear. All things being equal, it was the hours of David not being home that truly gnawed at her. Not being out in the garage, or at the computer, or mowing the lawn. Just not being around.

Worse was the pedestal. How did her brother Carl put it? “Sooner or later they stop admiring you and start looking up your skirt.” She dreaded the day that Laura hit puberty full on. David would be done as bishop in two years, and then the pressure would be off. With luck they could escape all those idiotic arguments between parents and their teenagers that David was always being called on to mediate.

Such as another piercing, two in each ear like Kathy Reid. Laura had brought up the subject twice already. But she couldn’t. Not while David was bishop. Not while any other kid in the ward could turn to the bishop’s child, her child, and make her the example.

Once he was released as bishop, Laura could turn her lobes into sieves—that’d be fine with Rachel.

She pulled out of the parking garage and drove down from the University of Utah campus. The mountains rose up behind the hills in the east. To the west, the bright city slowly hid itself behind a green curtain of trees.

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