“Oh no! Today is court day!” Troy exclaimed. He jumped out of bed and hurried to the bathroom. He showered then stared into the mirror. “What happened to me?” he whispered. He examined his reflection, not recognizing the image he was seeing. His eyes looked dull. The sparkle had faded from his deep blue eyes. They seemed sunken and tired. His once dark brown hair now showed signs of greying. How could he let this happen? When did this go so wrong? Troy shook it off and finished preparing for the day.
Troy hurried downtown and parked. His stomach felt tight and even a bit nauseous. He reluctantly opened the court house doors and made his way to the second floor. As soon as the elevator doors opened, he saw her sitting there. His heart skipped a beat, just like the first time he laid eyes on her. Even here, under these circumstances, she still took his breath away.
Katie was so young and full of life when they first met. She was waiting tables at Lil’ Joe’s and Troy always made sure he sat at her table. He loved seeing her golden blonde hair bouncing as she hurried from table to table. She always had a great smile and a sparkle in her eyes. He loved to hear her sweet voice and her little giggle.
Troy remembered how nervous he was when he asked her out for the first time. She was pouring his coffee when he nervously said, “Would you like to go out with me tomorrow night?” Katie stared at him in disbelief then realized coffee was running over the edge of the cup unto the table. Troy jumped up as the hot liquid flowed from the table to his lap. Katie blushed and quickly started wiping up the mess. “I am so very sorry! I didn’t mean to!” she stammered.
Troy laughed as he was wiping off his pants. “It’s okay, but you haven’t answered me.”
“Yes, sure, if you still want to,” she softly answered. Troy laughed as he remembered.
Katie looked and nodded as their eyes met. He walked up and greeted her briefly and shook hands with her lawyer, then found his courtroom where he was scheduled to appear. He sat down and his mind wondered. How could I have let this happen? Is this really the end of my marriage? God, please help me.
He remembered how happy they were when they first were married. Things weren’t always easy, but they always made it through together. Troy thought about their first apartment and how small it was. That never seemed to bother Katie though.
“Troy”, Pastor Fleming said. “How are you doing?”
Troy stood and greeted his pastor and friend. He thanked him for being there for him. They had become close during the last few months. Troy had confided in Pastor Fleming and shared things about his past that not even Katie knew.
“Have you spoken to Katie?” Pastor Fleming asked. “Not really, Pastor” Troy answered, hanging his head. “I can’t imagine her ever forgiving me. I never meant to hurt her. I should have never pushed her away.”
“You will never know what she is thinking or feeling if you don’t speak to her. Give her a chance to see what I have seen the last few months. Once she knows how you feel and the changes you are making she may surprise you.” Pastor Fleming explained. “You’ve been sober for 6 months now. That is proof that you want to change,” he continued.
“I have been praying for a chance to make this right, but I just can’t see how. How could she forgive me? I can’t even forgive myself yet.” Troy turned away from Pastor and gazed out the window. What if she knew how sorry I am? Could she really forgive me? Could she ever trust me again?
“Troy Harwell.” Troy stood and nervously straightened his clothes. He took a deep breath and proceeded toward the judge. His legs felt like lead weights and each step seemed to be in slow motion.
“You are charged with driving under the influence and domestic abuse. How do you plead?” the judge said without ever looking up at Troy.
“I plead guilty, sir.” Troy squeaked. He could feel his heart pounding so hard it almost drown out everything else.
“I see here you have been regularly attending AA for the past 90 days. You have also voluntarily started anger management classes and counseling at Catholic Family Services,” the judge read.
“Yes, sir.” Troy nervously answered.
“I will take all of this into account. Is there anything else you would like to add on your behalf?” the judge asked, finally looking up at Troy.
“Yes, sir. I deeply regret what I have done. I have stopped drinking and intend never to drink again. I not only have started counseling and AA, but also have returned to attending church. My pastor is here with me today.” Troy explained as he motioned to Pastor Fleming.
The judge wrote something in Troy’s file, then handed it to the bailiff. Troy’s mind was racing and his heart was about to burst from his chest. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Then he slowly opened his eyes.
“We will set your sentencing for four weeks from today on May 6th at 10 o’clock.”
Troy nodded then quickly left the courtroom. He looked around for Katie. Pastor Fleming’s words were still flowing through his mind. Could he be right? Do I still have a chance with Katie? Could she truly forgive me?
“Lord, give me the words to touch Katie’s heart”, he whispered as he approached her. “Katie, could I speak to you for a minute?” he asked.
Katie looked up at Troy, then leaned over and whispered to her lawyer. After what seemed like forever, she looked up and nodded. They walked down the hallway where they could have some privacy.
“Katie, you know that I have loved you since we first met at Lil’ Joe’s. I know I hurt you and that is the last thing I ever wanted to do. I am so very sorry for all that I put you through and I promise you it will never happen again.” Troy sobbed as he reached out and took Katie’s hand in his. He looked at her and couldn’t imagine his life without her. He studied everything about her, taking it all in as if for the last time. “I would love a chance to make up for all the hurt I have caused you, but if that’s not what you want, I will understand. I do ask for your forgiveness, though. Could you please forgive me?” he cried.
Katie had tears running down her cheeks. She looked down and sat there in silence. Troy reached over and gently lifted her face. He wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled at her. He slowly stood and turned to walk away. He thought that she couldn’t forgive him and he was wrong for even thinking she could.
“I forgive you,” Katie softly sobbed.
“Thank you so much, Katie” Troy replied then walked away with tears flowing down his cheeks.
Troy regained his composure then rejoined Pastor Fleming. “Did your talk go well?” he asked. Troy nodded with tears in his eyes, “She said she forgives me.” Pastor gave him a hug of reassurance, “That’s a start.”
“Mr. Harwell,” Katie’s lawyer said as he approached them. “Katie has agreed to a postponement of the divorce pending your agreement to attend joint counseling. Mrs. Harwell has agreed and we need your decision. She also suggested that the counseling could be with Pastor Fleming, if you both agree.”
Troy couldn’t believe his ears. Did he really say that the divorce was postponed? Am I dreaming? “Yes! Yes, I agree” he replied and quickly signed his name on the paper. “Do you agree, Pastor Fleming?” he asked.
“Why yes, Troy, of course I do!” Pastor joyfully replied.
“I know there is a price to pay for what I did, but I am willing to pay it.” Troy replied as he handed the paper back to her lawyer.