Let it Be Your Glory To See Her Tears


December 18, 1998


Helen Belden replaced the phone in its cradle and held her weary head in her hands.  Mart’s phone call made her suddenly long for the days when Trixie’s mysteries were her constant headache.  For as much trouble as Trixie had been, her heart had always been in the right place, and she had always ended up helping someone.  Not to mention that the adventures were always interesting.  What I wouldn’t give for a phone call about a kidnapping right now, Helen mused.

Instead, she was constantly plagued by phone calls regarding petty people with petty problems, making trouble for each other.  Bobby was constantly in trouble at school, but nothing major.  Most of the time, he was fighting with the same kid over the same rivalry they’d had since 2nd grade.  Mart was always having money problems or girlfriend problems.  Today, it had happened to be both.

And then there was Brian.  A second year medical student at Duke University, Brian had been dating the same girl for three years.  At Thanksgiving, Brian and Renee had announced their engagement.  Now Renee’s mother was insisting on having Brian’s family for Christmas – in Texas.  Helen grimaced at the thought of traveling south for a holiday that, in her mind, required snow and hot chocolate.

On top of that, Renee’s estranged father was trying to find ways to stop the wedding.  No one knew what his motivation was, but so far, he’d bribed an ex-boyfriend to try to get her back and he had threatened to disinherit her.  His tactics weren’t working, but they were certainly causing everyone a fair amount of stress.

Helen sighed and began a mental review of the packing she had left to do for their trip to Corpus Christi, Texas.  In two days, she, Peter, and Bobby would fly south.  Brian had traveled straight to Texas last week when he got off school in North Carolina.  Mart would show up when, and if, she told Peter to send him more money.  And Trixie wouldn’t bother to show up at all.

She wondered idly if she wouldn’t be happier spending Christmas with Trixie.  Chiding herself, she knew it was impossible for anyone to be happy around Trixie.  Her daughter was like a black hole that sucked all the light, life, and energy out of the room.  Helen remembered the days when Trixie had been the light, life, and energy in any room and sighed again.  Things had changed so much when Maddie Wheeler died.

Trixie lived in New York City, still sharing the Wheeler penthouse with Matt.  She attended New York University, besides working full-time at Wheeler International.  She spent what few hours remained in the day on studying or keeping house for Matt.  She had absolutely no social life, and that included not having time for her family.  It had been months since Helen had managed to have more than a two-minute phone conversation with her.

Helen spoke frequently with Matt’s secretary, Margaret.  In the last few months, Matt had emerged from his valley of grief.  He traveled frequently to visit his children, and he was working very hard at repairing his relationships with Honey and Jim.  The Beldens and Lynches rejoiced at this news; it was well-past time for their friend to start living again.  Helen had even thought that Matt’s turn-around would be helpful for Trixie.

She had thought wrong.  When Matt was in New York, Trixie made an attempt to be functional so that she could take care of him.  She kept his schedule, tended to his needs, and allowed him to function through his haze.  When he began leaving town, she didn’t have to be there for him, so she retreated even further into her shell.  Margaret told Helen she had never seen Trixie smile.  Ever.  She spoke only when it was required.  She kept to herself as much as humanly possible.

Tired of beating her head against a brick wall, Helen was about ready to give up trying to reach her daughter.  She hadn’t even made an attempt to convince her to come to Corpus Christi.  She had passed along Renee’s invitation, but that was all.  In fact, Helen was sure that Trixie had never sent any congratulations to her brother and his fiancée.  Brian was hurt just enough by that slight that he didn’t even care when Trixie didn’t acknowledge the Christmas invitation.

So, the Beldens would be spending Christmas in Texas with their soon-to-be-in-laws.  The Lynches were making the trip to Arizona to see Monty Wilson.  Dan Mangan would be visiting Regan and the Delanoys in Sleepyside.  Matt Wheeler, assuming Trixie would be with her family, had arranged to spend Christmas at Mead’s Mountain with both Honey and Jim – a time of togetherness that the family desperately needed.

And Trixie would sit, alone, in New York.

Helen trekked up the stairs to return to her packing.  The best she could do, at this point, would be to have a few words with Matt when he returned home from Vermont.  She had run out of other ideas and the energy for trying them.




Christmas Evening, Corpus Christi, Texas

The gathering around the dinner table that Christmas night was happy, lively, and jovial.  The Beldens had gotten along well with Renee’s family, and the holiday was turning out to be lovely, despite Helen’s initial misgivings. 

Renee’s mother, Julie Weston, was a sweet, caring woman.  After spending a couple of days with her, it had become apparent to Helen why she had insisted on hosting this gathering.  She had multiple sclerosis, but refused to be an invalid.  She made very few concessions to her illness, but she did avoid unnecessary travel.  As long as Julie could bring everyone to her, she could manage to be the ultimate hostess.

Renee had only one sibling, but she had four cousins who had been raised by her mother.  The extended Weston family was close, warm, and loving.  They reminded Helen of the Beldens… the way they used to be.

A shadow of sadness crossed Helen’s face, then disappeared as quickly as it had come.  Julie was seated across the table from Helen and noticed the momentary clouding of her guest’s features.  Having known Brian for quite a while and having observed the interactions of the Beldens during their visit, Julie had no trouble pinpointing the source of Helen’s sorrow.

Julie considered commenting.  The family had been tiptoeing around the issue all week.  To force the discussion could cause a lot of bad feelings, and to do so during this holiday celebration would definitely cast a pall on the evening.  On the other hand, people might be less likely to get up and walk away from the table, simply because it was Christmas dinner.

Having made her decision, Julie began an apparently casual conversation.  “This has been such a wonderful visit!  It’s such a shame your daughter couldn’t join us, Helen.”

Every Belden froze.  The sudden tension in the room caused the Westons to pause in their conversations.  Helen looked like a deer caught in the headlights, until she looked into Julie’s gentle eyes.  The understanding and desire to help that shone there surprised Helen and gave her the confidence to answer her hostess.

“Yes, it is a shame, but Trixie is… not a social creature.  She really never goes anywhere.”

Julie noticed Brian’s jaw clench, but decided to ignore him for the moment.  She gave Helen a sympathetic look.  “From the stories I’ve heard about Brian’s youth, I gather she wasn’t always like that.”

Renee was shooting daggers at her mother, but Julie continued to ignore the warning looks.  “It must be difficult to accept such a drastic change in a loved one.”

Helen nodded, closing her eyes and trying to swallow past the large lump in her throat.  Peter Belden never moved a muscle in his face, but he reached for his wife’s hand and squeezed it tightly.

Farther down the table, Mart folded his napkin with intense concentration.  He was suddenly and uncomfortably aware of the pain on his parents’ faces.  Up to this point, he had nursed his own hurt over the way his sister had shut him out of her life.  He had been indignant for the pain she had caused Jim and Honey.  He had been furious over the way she had slighted Brian and Renee.  But he had never considered how his parents felt.

He struggled, once again, to understand his sister.  How could she do this?  How could she hurt everyone she knew, everyone she had ever loved, everyone who had ever loved her?

Who loves her now?  The sudden, unbidden thought gave Mart a start.  He thought about where Trixie was this Christmas day.  What was she doing?  Who was she with?  From what Moms had said, and what she had refused to say, Mart realized she must be in New York… alone.

No one should be alone on Christmas, he thought.  He couldn’t imagine anything more painful.  Only then did it occur to him that his sister might not be happy with her situation.  Is she in as much pain as she’s causing everyone else? he wondered.

Mart thought about Trixie and the way she used to be.  He thought about her personality, her generous nature, and her giving heart.  With dawning realization, Mart finally understood the piece of the puzzle that had eluded him for nearly two years.  Trixie was trying not to cause others pain.  Her pain was so intense that this was the only way she knew to protect her friends and family from it.

His hand trembled, and he looked up with an expression of raw agony.  He found himself staring into the eyes of his youngest brother, Bobby.  The 13-year-old seemed very old, and the look on his face sent Mart a clear message.  So you finally figured it out, huh?  Now what are you going to do about it?  ‘Cause we’ve tried…

While Mart had his epiphany, Brian merely allowed his hurt and anger to burn hotter.  He had spent so much of his life rescuing Trixie from her own rash stupidity.  He was done.  She had done this to herself, as far as he was concerned, and he was not about to fix it for her.  She had lost her best friends, and she was losing her family.  If she wanted out of this disaster she had created, she would have to make it happen on her own.

During the few seconds that had passed, Julie had been studying Mart and Brian.  Suppressing a sigh over Brian, she allowed herself a flicker of satisfaction in Mart’s transformation.  Pleased that a small amount of progress had been made, Julie commented, “I’ve always been amazed at the way pain and grief can change a person.”

Brian snorted.  “The people with the pain and grief were not the ones who changed.”  He angrily threw his napkin down and pushed back his chair.  “Excuse me while I use the bathroom.”

Watching Brian’s retreating back with sorrowful eyes, Julie turned to Mart.  “From what I’ve heard, Trixie has always been one to feel deeply and intensely.”

Mart nodded.

Julie continued prodding Mart’s thoughts.  “How has she reacted in the past, when dealing with the death of a friend or family member?”

Mart looked down, unable to meet Julie’s piercing gaze any longer.  “She never has.  She’s just never dealt with death before.”

With a soft smile, Julie asked, “Is she as stubborn as you, Bobby, and Brian are?”

Mart and Bobby laughed out loud.  Mart flashed a genuine smile at his hostess.  “I’m sorry, Mrs. Weston.  It’s just that we don’t even come close to stubborn when compared to Trixie.”

Julie gave Mart an understanding look.  “Well, now that we all have something to think about, how about if we change the subject before Brian comes back to the table?  I don’t think he’s being very open-minded this evening, and we don’t want to completely ruin Christmas.”

The Westons exchanged looks around the table, sometimes smothering smirks.  Julie Weston was famous for butting in where she wasn’t wanted, without ever seeming to intrude, and politely and tactfully managing to make people see tough situations from another point of view.  They weren’t surprised that she had managed to take five minutes out of her holiday to turn Mart’s worldview upside-down.  Just because she was backing off from Brian right now, that didn’t mean she was done with him either.  Sooner or later, his turn would come.

Helen looked at Julie with tears in her eyes and undying gratitude on her face.  Julie grinned and merely said, “We’re family now.”





Christmas Evening, Mead's Mountain, Vermont

The three stood together near the picture window, staring at the crystal sparkles where the moonlight kissed the new-fallen snow.  It had been a good day and a good week.  They had cried together, they had hugged each other, and they had even managed to laugh.

As Matt stood beside Jim, with his arm around Honey on his other side, he felt at peace.  He knew Maddie was smiling at them and cheering that they were together tonight.  He could feel her presence and her love.  Jim could feel it too.  Honey… she was more difficult to read.  It was almost as if she didn’t want to feel her mother’s love, because that would make her absence more real.

Honey seemed to be missing a part of her heart.  It wasn’t just about losing her mother; her friendship with Trixie had been a vital part of her soul.  When she had lost that, she had lost her identity.  And, in trying to find herself again, determinedly without her once-best friend, she was venturing into strange waters.  She wasn’t sweet and caring.  She was insecure and lost, but she was hiding behind a wall of sophisticated arrogance.  She was acting the part of the rich snob she had never wanted to become.

Matt had been pleased to see a little of the old Honey these past few days.  She had been able to let down her guard with him and Jim for a moment.  But, he knew that as soon as she returned to school, her school friends, her wealthy boyfriend, and her socialite life, she would become the rich snob again.  He wondered if there was any way to truly reach her without Trixie, and he acknowledged that this was probably impossible.

Jim was actually doing better than Honey was.  His girlfriend was a clinical psychologist and had convinced him he needed to seek counseling.  Between his therapy sessions and her loving support, he had made a lot of progress in dealing with his past.  The past few months of phone calls and visits with his father were helping him to deal with his present.  He was finally looking forward to his future again.  But Jim would never be able to reach Honey either, without help. 

Overcome by a wave of exhaustion, Matt was contemplating calling it a night when Honey spoke.

“Daddy,” she started, a bit hesitantly.  “This has been a wonderful week… I’m glad we got to spend this time together.  But, well… I think I’ll be taking off in the morning.  I wanted to go spend some time with David and his family.”

A part of Matt’s heart ached that Honey would rather go spend time with her boyfriend.  But another part of him was… relieved?  Could he be relieved that she wanted to cut their reunion short?

Jim put a strong hand on his father’s shoulder and gave a light squeeze.  “This has been great, but it’s also been very emotional and, therefore, exhausting.  We won’t hold it against you for wanting to get away, Honey.”

Honey and Matt both flashed looks of gratitude at Jim before turning to each other.  Matt hugged his daughter and kissed her cheek.  “It’s quite all right, my sweet.  You go visit David and recharge.  We’ll see each other again soon.”

Honey’s smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.  “Thanks, Daddy.  I’ll be leaving early, so I won’t see you tomorrow.  Goodnight.”

After a quick hug and kiss goodbye to Jim, she was gone.

Matt turned to Jim, fatigue lining his face.  “When did you tell Peri you’d get to her house?”

Jim smiled indulgently.  If he were oversensitive, he might think Matt wanted to be done with this get together.  But he knew his dad was as emotionally drained as his sister, so he didn’t take offense.  “I told her I would play it by ear here and see how things went.  I’ll get there when I get there.”

Massaging the back of his neck wearily, Matt sighed.  “I wonder how tense things are in Corpus Christi.”  For the umpteen thousandth time that day, his thoughts had inadvertently wandered to his faithful assistant.

Jim cocked an eyebrow in surprise.  “Why should things be tense in Corpus Christi?  The Westons are great, and the Beldens love them.  The only potential ingredient for trouble is Trixie, and she didn’t show up.”

“What?!” Matt cried in agitation.  He started pacing the floor by the window.  “Son of a bitch!”

Jim studied his father’s reaction.  Once upon a time, Trixie Belden had been his closest friend.  Their reactions to his mother’s illness had torn them apart, and they were now virtual strangers.  As far as he could tell, the only person who knew her at all anymore was Matt Wheeler – and he was definitely upset to hear she wasn’t in Texas.

Jim had made mistakes with Trixie, he knew… but so had she.  He was still trying to lick his wounds from his adopted mother’s death.  He had no idea how to repair his relationship with Trixie, nor was he quite ready to make the first move.  But he still cared about her; he always would.


Matt stopped his pacing, as if just now remembering his son was still in the room.  “What?”

“If she’s not in Texas, where is she?”

Matt’s jaw clenched tightly; a look of pain flashed across his face, so deep and raw that Jim felt like an intruder to have even witnessed it.  In a hoarse whisper, Matt answered, “Unless I miss my guess, she’s huddled in some dark corner of the penthouse, completely alone, and wishing she could trade places with your mother.”

The impact of these words upon Jim was much like a molten lance through his heart.  He had no idea… but he should have.  He should have known.  He should have realized.  He was horrified by the knowledge that he had ignored her pain and hadn’t even been aware of its existence.  He was frightened by the darkness that threatened to overwhelm him… he couldn’t help her.  He wasn’t strong enough.  What could he do?

“Dad.  Go.”

The older man searched his son’s face.  One glance told him all he needed to know:  Jim really wanted him to help Trixie.  He wouldn’t feel abandoned if Matt bolted out the door right now.

“Thanks.  Can you take care of checking out in the morning?”

Jim nodded.  He reached out and hugged his father.  Matt returned the fierce embrace, and whispered, “I love you, Son.”

“I love you, too, Dad.  Take care of her.”

In a flash, Matt was gone.  Jim leaned his forehead on the cool glass of the windowpane.  He would never be able to go back to the two most perfect years of his life, when every day had been about the Bob-Whites, love, and laughter.  Would the love and laughter ever find them in the here and now?  Jim hoped so, because the loneliness and the pain were slowly killing them all.




Christmas Night (nearly morning), New York, New York 

Despite the slick, winding mountain roads, the snow, and his own exhaustion, Matthew managed to make the drive from Mead’s Mountain to his New York apartment in just over six hours.  Quietly letting himself in at four a.m., he expected to find darkness.  What he didn’t expect to find was Trixie still awake, hunched in a corner of the large sofa, staring vacantly into space in the darkness.

He set down his bags and hung up his coat, watching her all the while.  She never moved a muscle, nor acknowledged his presence.  Only when Matt sat down beside her did she appear to notice him.

Without looking at him, Trixie asked, “Why are you back so soon?”

She sounded annoyed, as if he were intruding on her solitude.  In the light that trickled in through the picture window that overlooked Central Park, he could see that there were tears in her eyes, but they refused to fully form or to fall.

“Honey and Jim had had their fill of togetherness,” he answered in carefully neutral tones.  “Why aren’t you in Texas?”

Her voice shook with sorrow when she whispered, “I just couldn’t.”

“Why?” he asked gently, watching her and wishing he could just wash away the ache in her heart.

With ragged breath, as if even the attempt to speak were causing excruciating physical pain, she rasped, “It… hurts.”

She looked up at him then, but hurriedly looked away, as if it hurt her to see the tender caring in his eyes.  Still, the tears in those big blue eyes refused to fall.  Matt focused on those tears and tried to remember when he had last seen her cry.  After much memory searching, he was shocked to realize it was the day she had been told of Maddie’s diagnosis.  She was holding so much in that it was killing her.

He remembered his own thoughts the day of Maddie’s funeral:  When I break through this wall, Little One, I will take care of you like you have taken care of me.

It was well nigh time for him to keep that promise.

“Trixie,” he whispered, “Let go of the pain.”

She closed her eyes, grimacing.  The agony in her soul was etched into every line of her face.  “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Her lips trembled, and soon her whole body was shaking.  “It’s so high… if I let go, I’ll fall…”

Matt grabbed her hand and sandwiched it between both of his.  “Let go, Trix.  I’ll catch you, I promise.”

“Why?” she cried out, unable to comprehend that he was sincerely trying to help.

Frowning, Matt answered, “Because you’re one of the three most important people in my life.”

Trixie looked at him, tempted to listen.  It was so cold and lonely in this distant place in which her spirit resided.  What would it be like to be warm again?  But if she let go, if she released her tight control, what would happen?  She was certain the tempest would overwhelm her, swarm and surround her, and the reigning chaos would drown her forever.

Seeing her waver, Matt tried to pry her fingers from the cliff top upon which she saw herself.  “You’ve carried me through my pain.  Let me carry you through yours, Trixie.  Let me help you.”

Like a whisper in the wind, Maddie’s last words to her drifted through Trixie’s mind: Don’t remain in this terrible place.  Open your heart again, and let joy return to your life. 

A strangled sob broke through the wall she’d held up for so long.  Once the wall cracked, the dam broke, and the reservoir flooded the valley.  Matt pulled her into his arms and cradled her, whispering soothing platitudes while she cried her heart out on his shoulder.  After what seemed like, and may even have been, hours, the racking sobs subsided to mere hiccups.

Settling Trixie more comfortably in his embrace, he leaned his cheek on top of her head and spoke in hushed tones.  “Do you know how I’ve always seen you?  You’re a magnifying glass.”

She snorted, and Matt smiled as he continued.  “Not like a detective, looking for clues.  You magnify things.  You take all the love around you, enlarge it, and focus it where it needs to be.  That’s how you’ve always helped so many people.  That’s why so many people think of you as sunshine and light.

“You’re not giving off any light right now, sweetheart, but that’s because you’re not letting any in.  You can’t give any love, because you won’t accept any of the love around you.  You’ve spent so long taking care of everyone else, that you don’t know how to let anyone take care of you.  You have nothing left to give.  If you’re ever going to be able to give again, you have to take a little now.

“Let me take care of you, Trixie.  Trust me.”

She hesitated.  For so long, she’d avoided people.  Even the physical contact of accidentally brushing up against someone would cause her pain, of both body and soul.  Right now, for the first time in recent memory, it didn’t hurt to be near someone.  Matt’s arms around her felt comforting, soothing, and warm.  She began to believe she might be able to escape from this icy chasm, if she took the hand he was offering her.  Could she take it?

Finally, Trixie nodded.  She squeezed tight where she was hugging him, clinging desperately to the lifeline he offered her.  Matt’s heart nearly burst with tenderness for this little angel who had saved his life when he thought he would die.  Now he would do the same for her, and he would find a way to restore her light to the world.

As they sat together facing the large plate glass window, the first rays of the new dawn broke across the sky, dashing away the darkness of the night.  They watched the sunrise before drifting off to sleep nestled together on the sofa.  For the first time in a very long while, a spirit of peace descended upon their home.





Author's Notes:

This is more of my submission for the Jixemitri 5th Anniversary Celebration.  Thanks must go out to Cathy P for creating the happiest place on the 'net.  There's no place like home, and I'm so happy I moved in.

Special hugs and smoochies go out to Kathy W. (KayRenee), April W., and Wendy (Scarlett).  These lovely ladies did a smashing job of editing for me, but more importantly, they encouraged me to go ahead and submit this story no matter how abnormal it was.  Their love and support mean the world to me.

I know, I know.  You're all wondering what the heck is up with all the Bob-Whites.  I'm getting there, honest.  They will each get a turn.  But this is a very complicated story, you know.

Oh, and no, your eyes aren't going funny.  The page is actually gray, not black like the others.  It's all part of the master plan.

The title is from Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene III, line 139-140



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