A Mother’s Love

“A mother’s love is something

that no one can explain,

It is made of deep devotion

and of sacrifice and pain,

It is endless and unselfish

and enduring come what may

For nothing can destroy it

or take that love away." — Helen Steiner Rice

My heart feels like bursting as I watch Adam tenderly wipe away Angelique’s tears and then kiss her mouth before leading her away.  It’s hard to believe that only months ago I’d despaired, thinking that Rory’s and my hopes for our precious child had been destroyed.  

 

We were over the moon when I fell pregnant, and no baby could have been more wanted than Angelique. The day of her birth was one of the happiest of my life; only our wedding day could compare. Angelique was the most beautiful baby, and she grew into the sweetest little girl imaginable. Rory and I marveled at our good fortune. To us, it seemed as if God had taken the very best of each of us and formed the parts into this perfect little being.

 

Angelique developed a quiet strength and determination, which constantly surprised us.  Even as a child, she was selfless and possessed the most generous heart of anyone I know. She was our pride and joy, and we loved her beyond measure. I still do. Angelique and I have always been close, but she and Rory shared a special bond. He worshiped her, and she adored him in return. 

 

He was her hero. Rory was mine too and the love of my life; my handsome and brave firefighter. Angelique had been confused when her seemingly invincible dad became ill, but she’d tried, even at her young age, to make him feel better. She accepted our changed circumstances without complaining, even when I had to move her into the old pantry so I could use her bedroom for my sewing services. It broke my heart when my child offered me food off her plate because she realized I was skimping on meals so she and Rory could have their fill. Her actions were typical of Angelique's caring and giving nature.

Rory’s death devastated us both, and I'd hoped that would be the last heartbreak she’d suffer for decades. I wanted only good things for our child, and it seemed my wish had been granted when Angelique received the Quandt scholarship. She’d finally have the kind of education and opportunities Rory and I dreamed of providing, I thought. She fell in love with ballet, and, despite the hard work and discipline it demanded, her passion never wavered. I'd been so proud and excited at her debut. I couldn’t believe the graceful, other-worldly dancer on stage was my daughter.

 

Angelique’s future seemed bright and limitless then, but fate showed, again, how cruel it could be when, only days after returning from Leipzig, we learned about her accident. I can’t begin to describe my feeling when seeing my child lying broken in that hospital bed. And I was shocked and then consumed by guilt when learning the truth about Dieter Quandt—the part he’d played in her accident and his sick feelings for my little girl from the start. Phil and I were incredibly angry and disappointed in Ingrid for not warning us, but, in the end, we reasoned that we should concentrate on Angelique’s recovery. As her mother, my heart cracked, and I felt helpless as I watched her struggle with the loss of her career and undergo months and months of painful physiotherapy just to walk normally again.

 

Ill fate, one would have thought would be done with us, but it struck again when Phil and I were caught in the path of a drunk driver. I lost my second husband and became a quadriplegic. I depended heavily on Angelique, and she selflessly managed our affairs. It was only later that I realized just how big a burden I’d placed on her young shoulders.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for Angelique’s confession about working as an escort.  

My daughter had sold her body, and when I learned her reasons, it felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my chest. I was, and will always, feel guilt and shame about my failure as a mother, no matter how much Angelique or anyone else tells me it wasn’t my fault. Of course, it was. I should never have become Angelique’s responsibility. Her admission forced me to face up to the fact that I’d let life beat me down. I’d let grief and, yes, self-pity overtake me. I wallowed in it, handing the reins to my child rather than take charge of my life.

 

I felt useless, again, during the trial when I couldn’t be at her side, but I was thankful for Mandi and Samuel’s steadfast support. I read about the trial, and I watched some of it on TV.  I hated the press for hounding Angel, and I absolutely loathed the way she’d been humiliated in court. Photographs of my child in tears tore me apart. I would readily have died in that accident rather than have her go through that. I hated the man who'd increased her humiliation. The prosecutor, in my mind, had been no better than Justin Wade, Joseph Cordi, or Dieter Quandt. He may not have played a part in Angelique selling herself, but I couldn’t forget her court ordeal and his starring role in it.

When Angel told me of his interested in her, I wondered about his motives, and, when learning about the job offer, I grew even more suspicious. She insisted that she'd be working for his mother but, still, I worried. I worried even more after discovering they’d entered into a relationship. I was shocked when he accompanied Angel to New York, and I wasn't happy when learning that she’d be staying with him at a hotel. What, I asked myself, would a man with his looks, position, and money want from my daughter, the woman he’d publicly humiliated?  

 

I was even more rattled when first seeing them together. It wasn’t their joined hands that set my senses on high alert. It was the way he stooped protectively over her that struck me. I realized, then, that he may, indeed, have feelings for Angelique. She was nervous, and he, as one would expect from a man who destroyed witnesses in court, appeared confident.  He returned my gaze steadily, and I could read nothing but sincerity in his eyes when Angelique introduced us. 

 

That glimpse into his feelings for Angelique didn’t stop me from interrogating him. I sent Angelique on some useless errand. She was hesitant and very clearly worried, but he stopped her nervous habit of biting her bottom lip and caressed it with his thumb.

 

“Your mom and I will be fine,” he said in his smooth voice and kissed her forehead. I couldn’t help noticing, again, just how naturally he'd comforted her. More importantly, I saw how much Angel already felt for him. She relaxed under his touch, and her eyes, when she looked at him, were filled with trust. I panicked. “Dear God,” I silently prayed, “please take care of my child’s heart. This man could break her  more than she’s already been.” 

 

I steeled myself for a confrontation, but he'd planned to speak to me, he admitted and confessed to being nervous. His willingness to talk and his honesty earned my grudging respect. He knelt to be at my level, another action that increased my regard for him. He sat on the chair I offered and listened patiently as I voiced my concerns. "Angelique's been hurt enough," I told him.  He assured me that he'd never hurt her.

“I intend to marry your daughter,” he announced with a certainty and determination, I’d only witnessed in one other man. I realized, then, that Adam Thorne may be nothing like my Rory in appearance and circumstance, but he had the same strength of character. I knew, then, that Angelique would be safe with him.

 

My respect for Adam grew as I came to understand just how deeply he loves Angel, and by the time he asked for my permission to marry her, I’d already grown fond of him. My feelings deepened when he arrived in New York to enlist my help in choosing her engagement ring and then escort me to Boston to participate in the celebrations—should she accept, he said. I knew, of course, that Angel would say yes. My daughter is as besotted with Adam Thorne as he is with her.

 

I met his family in Boston. His mother, Emma, proved to be everything Angel said she is and made me feel instantly welcome. Her husband, Callum, is just as charming. Emma gushed at the prospect of Angel as a daughter-in-law, and he smiled indulgently; not only at his wife’s enthusiasm but also mine. Without them saying it, I felt reassured that they didn't and wouldn’t condemn Angel for her past. 

 

Later that day, when Adam phoned to let us know that Angel had accepted his proposal, Emma and I squealed like schoolgirls. "You should propose a toast over dinner," she told Callum and invited me to say something too. I asked Callum if he’d include some of my thoughts in his speech. He asked about Angel and her relationship with Rory and me. When he and Emma listened intently to every detail about my daughter’s life, I felt even more comforted that they liked Angelique for herself and not just because of Adam.

 

Emma barely contained herself when Angel and Adam entered the restaurant. Nor could I.  Adam looked as if he’d been handed the world on a platter, and Angel, as if she’d found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Her face, when she saw me, nearly made me cry. I remained emotional for the rest of that night as I basked in her happiness. Callum’s speech touched me, but it was Adam’s response that finally made me cry when he thanked Rory and me for bringing Angelique into the world, his adoptive family for taking him in and loving him, and again as he publicly declared his love and adoration for my daughter.

 

Flying me to Boston had been only the tip of Adam’s generosity. His gift of the property, combined with Callum and Emma’s one of building my new home, overwhelmed both Angel and me. We accepted gratefully once we realized that having me close would make Adam as happy as it would us. By the end of my week in Boston, I could honestly say that my affection for Adam had turned to love. I love him for many reasons— for his love for Angelique, his character that's much like Rory's; for his devotion and love for his family, and for the respect and affection he shows me. 

 

My happiness for Angel spilled over in the weeks before their wedding as I continued to witness the depth of their love and the rightness of them being together. My understanding of Adam blossomed at the opening of Eleanor’s Place. I knew some of Adam’s past, but I hadn’t known everything. On that morning of the community event, when Emma told me about Eleanor’s sad life, I understood just how significant his decision to open the center had been and how fitting it had been to offer Angel a job there. Both Emma and I cried as we listened to Adam’s impassioned speech. She, when he acknowledged his birth mother—the first time, ever, he'd done that publicly Emma told me—and I, when he mentioned his love for Angelique and informed the gathering that he'd found another mother-figure in me.

 

But today, their wedding day, despite being touched by the sadness of Rory’s absence, has been my happiest in years. My heart caught in my throat when seeing Angelique falter on her walk down the aisle.  She was on the verge of tears, I could tell.  Samuel said something that had made her look up, and even though I didn’t see, I knew from Angel's expression that she was looking at Adam, just as I knew, for sure, what he would be communicating.  She smiled, and mouthed, “I love you too," and then, oblivious to their guests' delight, she unhesitatingly moved toward him. 

My joy surged when placing her hand in Adam’s strong, competent one, confident that he’d love and protect her. And I shed a tear, just as I’m sure every woman present did while listening to their personal and heartfelt vows.

 

I was enthralled for the entirety of their fairytale reception as I watched my child bask in the love of the man, who’d barely left her side since the moment they were pronounced husband and wife.

 

“They’re perfect together,” I say as, together, Emma and I watch their limousine leave.

 

“They are," she responds, her voice cracking as she places a comforting hand on my shoulder.

 

I grasp hers in a gesture of solidarity. Mothers, especially those like Emma and I, who’ve seen our precious children hurt and despaired of them ever finding happiness, would understand just how sweet the joy of seeing them find it is.  For us, there is no doubt that Adam and Angelique are meant to be, and I’ve only just understood that their suffering may have been necessary so they could find each other and the love they deserve.