1980 was a hard year for Janet and I. I think all three of us were on a high when I graduated from cooking school in May. All those years of hard work paid off and I had an honors diploma to prove it. At least that's how it felt at the time. I guess if I had known how cut throat the restaurant business really was I would have never ventured into it. Then what would I do? Have some kind of steady job, I guess. Selling insurance can't be that hard. Could it?
I look at Janet and think of how I would give it all up and do something as dull as that if it meant I could ease her mind. With me taking whatever odd job I can get and no third room mate to help out, Janet has been having to step up a lot more and cover most of the rent and bills by herself. It is a lot on her and I don't think she knows how many times I've caught her crying. I never went to her, though. She wouldn't want me to see her like that and I really don't want to see her like that. The worst time was when I heard her cry herself to sleep from my bedroom on Christmas Eve night. 'm not a spiritual or religious man, but I prayed hard for her that night and she didn't know it, but I cried with her.
It's New Year's Eve now and I'm praying again, this time for 1981 to be a happy one. Bring me a job and more importantly, make Janet come back to herself. We were invited to the Stevens' party, but Janet didn't want to go. I don't want to leave her alone so I'm staying home with her. I cooked us a roast lamb dinner with potato au gratin and asparagus. I spent the leftover money my mother gave me for Christmas on a bottle of champagne and we drank it with our dessert of tiramisu. Janet seemed to be in good spirits and that's all I've been wanting.
"Thank you for dinner," she said as she wiped her mouth with her cloth napkin.
"You're very welcome," I replied, still sipping my champagne.
"I feel like I should tell you I'm sorry."
"About?" I asked, almost gulping.
"Well, I know I haven't been myself lately."
"You're okay, Janet."
My words hit her like a ton of bricks. She tried to smile as if to say she's been waiting for me to say that to her. Her eyes filled up with tears while I filled up with anger towards myself for not trying to comfort her sooner.
"What's the matter, Janet?"
"I wanted to go home."
My heart sank.
"It's too hard, Jack."
"Honey, I know it's hard…"
"Listen to me, I won't go. I am not leaving you now."
"Janet, don't let me hold you back."
"Listen to me," she repeated. "I worked too damn hard to lose you. I put a lot on the line to help support you through school and I'll keep putting on the line until you get to where you're going. You're going to get there, Jack and I'm going to be there when you finally win. I'm not going to give up on you. If you never think of me as anything else, have it be as the one who never gave up on you."
I was speechless. It was my turn to cry. God, I love this woman. She chuckled back a cry as she rubbed my arm.
"Come here," she said as she got up and walked over to me. I got up and put my hands on her face as I kissed her hard on the mouth.
"There isn't another woman alive that I'd rather go through hell with."