"Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold." ~~Zelda Fitzgerald

Hi all,

Welcome to the latest installment of Valentine's Vignettes... a week late but sometimes that happens given these are biweekly!

I hope everyone is staying well and warm and that none of you were severely impacted by the recent polar vortex.  Take care!

God bless,

Three Toasts        The Invitation

Three Toasts

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Andrew was sanding down a cabinet when he felt pressure around his left leg.  He glanced down then immediately turned off the sander when he saw Avi's little body wrapped around his shin.

"Avi Boy... does Mama know you're out here?" Andrew asked.

Avi only smiled mischievously.

"I'll take that as a no..."  Andrew pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and sent JenniAnn a quick text then picked his son up and kissed his brow.  "Ya gotta be careful out here, champ.  Especially when Daddy doesn't know you're out here."

"I careful."

Andrew chuckled at the toddler's solemness.

"Okay.  Good.  So what brings you out here?"

"Missed you."

The angel's heart melted and tears formed in his eyes.  He'd seen the boy at breakfast only two hours before.

Andrew rested his cheek against the boy's hair.

"I missed you, too."

He stepped away from his workbench and settled into a chair with Avi curled up on his lap.

Sometimes the little boy still took Andrew's breath away.  All of his children were miracles.  His grandchildren, too.  But Avi...

Andrew could remember the tiny, starving infant.  He recalled JenniAnn willing life and strength into him, sustaining him with her own body.

"Why you cry?" Avi asked, resting a hand on his father's wet cheek.

Andrew smiled.

"Just thinking of when you were a baby.  Sometimes people cry over things that make them happy."

"God chosed me to be your baby," Avi declared, quoting something he was often told.

"That's exactly right," Andrew confirmed.  "And your Mama and I were so, so happy."

"Even though I look diff'rent?"

Andrew nuzzled his nose against the child's fuzzy one.

Avi giggled.

"To us, you looked perfect.  You always, always have."

Avi peered down at his hands.

"Sometimes wish I looked like you, Daddy."

Andrew smiled gently.

"You do in some ways."  He clasped a clump of his hair and held it against Avi's.  "Pretty much the same color... except I have some gray because I'm very old and you're a little whippersnapper."

Avi grinned.

"And I bet you'll be about as tall as Daddy," Andrew continued.  "Maybe even a little taller like Appa.  But you don't need to look like me.  You just need to look like yourself because that's how God made you, Avi."

"God made me," Avi echoed.

"Yup.  And I'm so glad he made you exactly as you are."  Andrew clasped Avi's hand.  He let out a little sigh as he remembered tinier fingers wrapping around his.  "Sometimes I can't believe how big you are, sweet boy.  You were so tiny..."

"Still little," Avi consoled.

Andrew smiled and nodded.  It was true.  But time flew and, all too soon, Avi would be grown.  Their baby.  Andrew knew he had to treasure the time he had with his little boy.

"Avi, how about you and I make a promise?" Andrew suggested.

"A promise?"  Avi's eyes lit up.

"How about every week you and I make a point to come out here and have some alone time, just the two of us?  What do you think?"

Avi grinned and nodded eagerly.

"All right!  Good!  Let's toast to it."

"I had toast this mornin'."

Andrew chuckled and tousled Avi's hair.

"Not toast like that.  Just a second."

Andrew rose and gently set the boy down then went to the small refrigerator he kept.  He and JenniAnn had never given Avi soda before... and maybe he should discuss it with her first but...  Andrew grabbed a bottle of ginger ale and poured some into two cups.

"This is my favorite drink.  Ginger ale.  See if you like it."  He held the cup out to Avi who eagerly took a sip.

"Mmm...  Yummy."

"Glad you like it!  So now we toast.  Like this."  Andrew tapped his cup against his son's.  "To Avi... my son who I love dearly."

Giggling, Avi mimicked his father.

"To Daddy.  Love you."

Andrew smiled and took a sip of his ginger ale then kissed Avi's hair.

A tradition had begun.



Avi grabbed a couple of bottles from the mini-fridge then handed one to his father before settling onto the couch with him.

"I didn't mean to upset her..." he murmured.  "I... we... hoped she'd be happy."

Andrew squeezed his son's shoulder.

"She will be.  It was just a shock.  Her baby's getting married.  Your Mama will come around.  By tomorrow evening, she'll probably be on your case about starting a gift registry."

Avi chuckled.

"You think so?"

"I do," Andrew affirmed.  He sighed and dragged a hand through his hair.

"Are... are you okay with it, Daddy?" Avi asked, his voice little more than a whisper.

Andrew's eyes filled.  He was usually "Dad" these days.

"I am, Avi.  I really am.  I mean... you're a little younger than I imagined you'd be when you and Evie got married.  Not even twenty..."

"I will be by the wedding date," Avi pointed out.

Andrew smiled and nodded.

"I just...  I don't want to waste time.  Everything we've learned from Grandpa... I mean it seems like I have a better than average shot of living a long, healthy life.  But... one accident and...  Hospitals just aren't equipped to deal with me.  And... and if the worst happened... maybe... maybe Evie and I could at least have a kid or two who could keep her company.  I don't want to ever leave her alone," Avi stressed.

"Avi..."  Andrew hugged his son tightly.  "I pray every day that nothing like that ever happens.  But kids or no kids, we'd never let Evie be alone."

"Thank you," Avi choked out.  He let out and sucked in a deep breath then smiled.  "Kind of wish you and Mama had had another kid after me.  Maybe then this would be easier for her."

Chuckling, Andrew shook his head.

"I suspect not, Avi."

"I did... I always wondered... was I the last because of..."  Avi waved a hand over his face.  "I know there were challenges..."

Andrew adamantly shook his head.

"No.  No, Avi.  Not at all.  It was hard when you wanted to do something... go somewhere... and we were scared to let you.  Not sure how people would react...  But other than that, you were always such an easy-going kid.  And we did talk about it... adopting again.  But...  Laja felt pretty strongly that her stamina had gone down quite a bit between when Belle was a baby and when you were.  I think she was mostly self-conscious.  But there was also some truth to it.  When she was shot..."  Andrew peered down at his ring.  "It could have been so much worse.  I thank God it wasn't.  But... it did leave her with lasting damage.  But also..."  Andrew's expression brightened.  "Five kids!  That's more than either of us ever, ever thought we'd have.  We were happy.  Truly.  And we're still happy."

Avi smiled.

"I do like being the baby..."

Andrew grinned.

"And you really were a good baby."  He sipped his ginger ale.  "It was very seldom that you fussed.  And you were always looking out for Evie.  Even when you were so tiny."

Avi gave his dad a thoughtful smile.

"Learned from the best."  He raised his bottle towards Andrew.  "You were always looking out for Mama.  And I know that was mutual.  But... you taught me, just by being around for me to watch, how to be a good partner, a good father.  And I... I want to be like you, Dad.  Thank you."

Andrew's eyes misted as Avi tapped his bottle against his.

"It's an honor, Avi.  Truly.  You were all such good kids... and now you're wonderful young adults.  And your Mama...  She's easy to love.  All of you are."  With a sigh, Andrew raised his bottle.  "To our baby, to you, beautiful boy.  I love you so much."

Avi once again clinked his bottle against his father's then set it down and rested his head on Andrew's shoulder.

Andrew embraced his son tightly and kissed his hair. 

As they sat quietly and contentedly in each other's presence, the door to Andrew's workshop opened.  The two men looked up to find JenniAnn, tears still trickling from her puffy eyes.  

"Mama..." Avi murmured.

JenniAnn hurried forward and sat to Avi's other side and gently cupped his chin.

"Baby...  I'm so sorry.  I... I am happy for you.  And for Evie... darling girl.  I just... I... I'm not ready to admit that you've grown up.  But... that's hypocritical.  I was younger than you when I moved out from my parents' place so..."  She kissed his forehead.  "Of course you have my blessing.  I... I just can't promise there won't be more tears."

With happy tears in his own eyes, Avi chuckled and hugged his mother.

"That's okay, Mama.  Thank you.  That... it means a lot.  And... if it helps at all, we hoped to give you a grandchild as soon as possible."

JenniAnn laughed.

"It does help," she conceded.  "A lil baby to snuggle..."

Andrew beamed and stroked her back. 

"Shoulda led with that, Avi-Boy," he commented.

"Guess so!"  Avi smiled again at JenniAnn then squeezed her hand.  "Let me get you some ginger ale.  Dad and I were toasting."

"Aww, thank you, Avi."

Avi left his parents and headed to the refrigerator.  He looked over his shoulder and smiled when he saw his mother perched on his father's knee, their heads resting together as they talked.  His heart swelled as he thought back on all the times he had seen them thus... and looked ahead to all the time he and his Evie had to enjoy such intimacy.

When Avi returned with another bottle of ginger ale for his mother, she moved so he could again sit between his parents.

"We'll have to have Evie over for dinner tomorrow.  Or for brunch or whatever works best," JenniAnn offered.  "We need to figure out what all you need to properly setup a house.  Get going on a registry!"

Andrew tried to mask a chuckle while Avi did so freely.

"What?" JenniAnn questioned. 

Avi hugged her. 

"It's nothing, Mama.  It's just... Dad knows you very, very well."

JenniAnn smiled at Andrew then reached across Avi to brush some hair behind his ears.

"He does, doesn't he?"  She pried her gaze away from him and back to her son.  "And I just know that you will be equally attentive, compassionate, and loving to your Evie, sweet boy."  JenniAnn raised her bottle.  "To Evie and Avi who we love so very much."

"To our beloved Avi and Evie," Andrew echoed.

Beaming, Avi clinked his bottle against those of his parents and looked forward to a life filled with even more love.

The End

The Invitation

Sunday, February 14, 2021

As she stepped into her apartment, Janice Freeman was exhausted... not just physically.  Emotionally, spiritually, mentally...

She had been a nurse for thirty seven years and seen things that most people only experienced in their nightmares or vicariously via the assorted medical dramas that networks cranked out.

But the past year...  It had been a waking nightmare.

She'd spent days and nights watching patients struggle to breathe... communicating with family members... holding iPhones and tablets up so they could say their final good byes.  Treasured co-workers had died or been left permanently scarred.

Then it would get better... not good but better... only for them to be plummeted back into hell.

The rollercoaster was exhausting and Janice desperately wanted off.

There was hope, of course.  The vaccines were being rolled out... too slowly.  But they existed.  Progress.

She just hoped her body and mind wouldn't give out before they reached the other side of this.

Janice also hoped and prayed that she'd never, ever experience another pandemic.

As she showered, Janice wept and screamed, letting out the emotions she kept such a tight control on at work.

Once she was done, Janice pulled on her comfiest pajamas and made herself a cup of tea.  She knew she should eat.  She was hungry but nothing sounded good.

So she sat and sipped her tea and thought about the day.

As happened increasingly often in her quiet moments, Janice's thoughts drifted to Davidson.

He was an enigma, that one...

He never seemed to tire.  And his mind never seemed to grow sluggish with fatigue.

He certainly wasn't unfeeling.  Janice had seen him weep.  But the tide of sorrow and anger and exhaustion never seemed to pull him down.

Once, Janice had found herself fancying that he was an angel.  She believed in angels.  Everyone in her family did.  There was an old family legend about a fellow named Jack who had helped her great-great-great grandfather escape slavery.  One minute he'd been there and then, once Grandfather Micah had safely crossed into the North, he'd turned around to thank Jack and... no one was there.  Jack had been an angel.  Clearly.

But Davidson was no angel.  He was an actor.  He'd told Janice as much.  And she didn't figure that angels took side jobs as theatre actors.

But it had been nice to think an angel was there with her on the ward.  She still believed they were there.  But to have one she could see and talk to...

Janice took another sip of her tea then set it down and curled up on her couch.

She loved praying, loved talking to God.  But, as happened so often, she was too tired to string together words so said the one that had become her mantra: "God be with me."

With that, the nurse drifted into a much needed sleep.


Janice awoke two hours later to a mystery.

Why did her apartment smell like the grits and shrimp that her mother used to make?

She smiled... but soon that smile began to falter when the scent lingered.

It wasn't the remnants of a dream.  Someone was in her kitchen...

She could hear them humming.

Someone was humming "Amazing Grace" and cooking in her kitchen!

Frantic, Janice leaped to her feet and grabbed a nearby letter opener.  She cursed the fact that it was the only weapon she had.

She tip-toed towards the kitchen and...

The letter opener clattered to the ground as the shock hit her.

Davidson was in her kitchen, cooking, humming, and looking, she had to admit, rather adorable in her apron.

Janice couldn't help but return his smile.

But it was a gross violation!  What was he thinking showing up in her apartment uninvited?!  And how did he even get in!?

"Davidson!" Janice shouted.  "What do you think you're doing?"

"Cooking.  You need to eat," Joshua answered simply.

"B-but how... how did you get in?  You can't just come into people's apartments uninvited!"

"I didn't.  You invited me."

"I most certainly did not!" Janice protested.

Joshua smiled gently.

"You did.  What was the last thing you thought before you drifted to sleep?"

Janice's eyes went wide.  She'd prayed...  "God be with me."

"But... but..." she stammered.

Janice became keenly aware that there was a madman in her kitchen.  And, oh God, maybe he had a knife...  She tore her gaze away from his face and looked to his hands and...


There were holes in his wrists.

The room began to spin.

Joshua hurried to the woman and gently steered her to a chair.

"My God..." Janice murmured.

Joshua patted her back soothingly.

"Yup.  Sorry if I scared you.  But I kept telling you that you need to take care of yourself... and you weren't.  So... drastic measures were needed."

Tears rolled down Janice's face.

Davidson...  Son of David.  Joshua... Jesus.

Joshua pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and gently dabbed the nurse's tears away.  He pressed the handkerchief into her hand then returned to the stove just long enough to stir a few times.  He turned down the burner then took a seat across from the woman.

"I... I didn't know," Janice choked out.  "I see... so many hints now."

Joshua smiled.

"I didn't want to be a distraction.  I was there to help."

"But... I... I spoke harshly to you!" Janice recalled, cringing.

Chuckling, Joshua shook his head.

"You're my supervisor.  You need to be tough.  You were never rude."

"You... you never screwed up.  Not even a little bit..."

"Omnipotency has its perks," Joshua replied with a grin.

Janice laughed.

"I would suppose it does.  But... why?"

Joshua took Janice's hands in his.  The nurse noticed that the holes were gone which came as a relief.

"Because I'm Immanuel... 'God with us.'  I'm in every hospital, in every home.  But sometimes...  sometimes I need to be physically present.  This is one of those times," he answered.  "You needed a PPE extender.  I feel like I know something about protecting people so... I came."

Janice squeezed Joshua's hands. 

"David..." she paused.  "What should I call you?"

Joshua grinned.

"Davidson is fine.  I like it.  You're the only one who routinely calls me that."

Smiling, Janice nodded before continuing.

"Davidson...  I'm so honored... so... touched..."  The woman broke down.

Joshua shifted closer and wrapped his arms around her.

"I know this is more than you ever, ever imagined taking on, Janice.  I do.  But you're doing such a wonderful job.  Your steadiness, your determination that all your patients receive the best care... it's an inspiration to all of us.  However, you need to take care of yourself, too.  And I know... trust me I know... how difficult that is to do right now.  But when you get the chance... take it.  Woman does not live by tea alone."

Janice laughed as Joshua pressed a handkerchief into her hand.

"Thank you... and point taken."

Joshua glanced over at the stove. 

"Dinner should be ready.  Shall we?"

"You're staying?" Janice asked hopefully.

Joshua nodded with a smile.

"You cooked, I'll ser..."

"Uh uh."  Joshua shook his head.  "You just sit there and relax.  I got this."

With another laugh, Janice nodded and complied.  She watched on in amusement as Joshua readily found the dishes and silverware he needed... because of course he knew where everything was.

Once the food was served and Joshua was sat back down, Janice looked at him with amusement.

"Do I say grace like normal or..."

"Whatever feels most comfortable to you," he assured.

"Well then..."  The nurse reached across the table and patted Joshua's hands.  "Thank you, Davidson, for this meal and... and just for being here.  I... I love you."

Joshua beamed.

"You're very welcome.  I love you, too.  Now... eat up!"

And so Janice did, savoring every bite and every moment with her Lord, letting the good food and His presence nourish and re-energize her until they would both return to the hospital and resume giving their all to the patients there.

The End

Works Cited:
"Amazing Grace" composed by John Newton
Isaiah 7:14/Matthew 1:23- Immanuel
Deuteronomy 8:3/Matthew 4:4- "man does not live by bread alone"

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for inspiring this newsletter which compels me to spend a few quite moments making a background, picking photos, etc.  It's been a hectic week and that's nice.

JABB Portal
JABB 592

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)