A lonely, reclusive woman installs a video camera to discover who is leaving baby clothes and toys on her doorstep every day and it changes her life forever.
Marianne Reynolds answered the knock on her door, never realizing she was letting in heartbreak and despair. The two men waiting on her doorstep were wearing US Airforce dress uniforms and a sorrowful expression.
Even before they spoke, Marianne knew what they were going to say and she felt her knees fold under her and the baby in her belly kick in protest. Her husband was dead. He wouldn't be coming home, after all, and he would never hold their child.
Marianne was stunned when the toys and baby clothes started showing up on her doorstep. | Source: Shutterstock.com
The following days were a blur to Marianne. The funeral, the servicemen presenting arms, and Jack's coffin covered with the flag. She couldn't pray or speak, all she could do was watch it all with burning eyes.
They gave her the flag folded into a tiny triangle and she wondered what she was supposed to do with it. Was it supposed to substitute her husband or was it some kind of a consolation prize?
That night, Marianne threw the flag into a corner, curled up on her bed, and wept. She dreamed that Jack was beside her holding her, kissing her tears away, telling her it was all a bad dream. And for a brief moment after she woke up, she believed the dream.
But her bed was empty, and the flag was crumpled on the floor. This was ner new reality. The baby slumbering inside her was forgotten, all she could think about was her pain at the loss of the only man she had ever loved.
Marianne and Jack had been best friends in primary school, and somehow when they were sixteen, that friendship had become something else, a love for life. He was her soulmate, her best friend, her best self -- and she was his. Or had been.
Marianne was pregnant when her husband Jack died. | Source: Unsplash
Somehow it seemed to Marianne that her best self was dead and buried with Jack, and all that was left was a bitter woman who resented each sunrise. Once her compassionate leave was over, she went back to work and it was a disaster.
She had always been a dedicated therapist, but now she was indifferent to the pain of others, and her patients sensed it. After a month, Marianne recommended a colleague to her patients and quit her job at the mental health clinic.
After that, she stayed in the house with the curtains drawn. The only times she ventured out was to buy food at the local supermarket, a block from the house she'd shared with Jack in their old neighborhood.
When we are in pain it's hard to remember all the positive things in our lives.
Everything reminded her of Jack, in and outside the house. Even the people she saw on the street were old residents, some of them friends, others were people who had seen them grow up and settle down.
She hated everything, and most of all she hated the friends who greeted her. How dare they be alive when Jack was dead? Then one day, when she walked out to take out the trash, she found something unexpected on her doorstep.
After the funeral, Marianne fell into a deep depression. | Source: Pexels
It was a stork, a soft toy with a big beak split in a silly grin and holding a little bundle. Next to the stork was a tiny little hand-knitted sweater in pale yellow. Marianne snatched up the toy and the sweater and glanced around. Someone had trespassed onto her property!
She looked down at the toy and the sweater. It was obviously for the baby... She didn't WANT to think about the baby. Thinking about the baby meant thinking about a life without Jack.
Marianne wanted to throw the soft toy and the sweater away, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it, so she left it on an armchair in the sitting room where hopefully it would be buried under a layer of dust and forgotten.
But someone seemed to be determined to make Marianne remember! The next day, she found on her doorstep a little set of booties and a knitted cap in the palest candy pink, decorated with fluffy white embroidered bunnies.
Marianne marched into the house and threw the pink cap and booties on top of the stork and the yellow sweater. She was angry. Someone was pushing into her life, making her think about things, and thinking was the last thing she wanted to do!
Someone had left a silly-looking stuffed stork on her doorstep. | Source: Pixabay
The mysterious gifts continued arriving at all times of the day. Marianne would stand behind the curtains in the upstairs bedroom that was supposed to be the nursery and peek out for hours at an end, but she never saw the culprit.
She decided that there had to be a better way, so she took a trip downtown to a security company and asked to have surveillance cameras installed on her property. She was determined to catch the trespasser and make him or her pay for their unwanted generosity.
The first day, Marianne reviewed the tapes and saw nothing. That day there was no gift, and she had to admit she felt disappointed. She'd grown used to the sweet little presents for the baby, her baby.
Three days went by, and no gifts! Had the culprit seen the cameras? Was that why the presents had stopped? Marianne's heart sank and she realized she wanted to know who the person was, but she didn't REALLY want the presents to stop.
Then, just when she'd given up, she came home from her monthly doctor's appointment to find a lovely teddy bear on the doorstep holding yet another pair of dainty booties. "Now I've got you!" she cried excitedly, smiling for the first time in months.
Someone kept leaving baby stuff on her doorstep. | Source: Unsplash
Marianne scrolled through the surveillance footage feverishly until she saw a figure approaching her front door. The man was wearing a baseball cap so his features were obscured, and he was carrying the teddy bear.
Then as he turned to go, the camera caught his profile. It was Lawrence Farmer! Lawrence (Larry) had been a friend of Marianne and Jack's from way back when, and he was now the owner/ manager of the supermarket where she shopped.
It was Larry? Of course, it made sense! Larry had been away for a week to visit his mother... But why on earth would he do this? He was an old friend, he could have just rung the doorbell! And then Marianne remembered how she had been treating the old friends who'd shown up to offer comfort and support.
OK... She probably would have been very unpleasant to Larry too, no matter what gifts he might have been bringing for the baby. Marianne decided to go down to the supermarket and have a chat with Larry, get a few things straight.
When she arrived, Larry was outside talking to a customer, and he looked very surprised when Marianne walked over to him instead of walking past with her face turned away as she usually did.
Marianne set up surveillance cameras to catch the culprit. | Source: Unsplash
"Marianne!" Larry said. "Hello! How are you?"
"I'd be better if you didn't trespass on my property!" Marianne found herself snapping nastily.
Larry blushed and looked very nervous. "I'm sorry, but we couldn't talk to you..." he explained.
"We?" asked Marianne. "Who are we?"
"All of us, your friends and Jack's," Larry explained. "We all got together and decided that the best way to bring you out of your funk..."
"WHAT?" cried Marianne. "How dare you! I'm GRIEVING for the love of my life, I'm not some teenager wallowing in self-pity!"
Marianne recognized a childhood friend in the footage. | Source: Unsplash
Then Larry really surprised Marianne. "Actually, you are a bit. Yes, Jack is gone, but you are still alive, and best of all you have your baby on the way -- Jack's baby."
"A baby that Jack is never going to see, or hold," Marianne cried. "A baby that will never know her father!"
"Listen to me Marianne, because I love you, just as I loved Jack," Larry said. "I know your heart is broken, but you have a miracle happening inside you. That baby is your love and Jack's love -- it's Jack's gift to the world.
"That's why I started dropping off the gifts. I could see you'd forgotten about that, and I wanted you to remember exactly what that baby is: your love for Jack and Jack's love for you."
When she heard that, Marianne started crying, sweet healing tears, and Larry put his arms around her and gave her a hug.
Marianne started making a scrapbook so the baby would know all about Jack. | Source: Unsplash
From that day on, Marianne stopped turning away all the friends who dropped by. Little by little she started picking up the threads of her life.
She also started putting together a scrapbook in which she wrote down stories about Jack and pasted them in photos. When her friends found out, they started bringing photos too and writing stories. Her baby was going to know the funny, loving mischievous Jack through her eyes and the eyes of the people who'd loved him.
Larry helped Marianne paint the nursery and put together the crib for the baby. Lovingly, Marianne put away all the pretty little gifts in the chest of drawers in the nursery and sat the goofy-looking stork in the crib. She was ready to welcome her daughter into a home where Jack was remembered with joy and not pain.
Two weeks after the nursery was finally done, Marianne called Larry and asked him to take her to the hospital. Her labor was long, but Larry was with her, by her side during it all. When the doctors placed her baby in her arms, Marianne forgot all about the pain. Her little girl had a shock of pitch-black hair and misty blue eyes just like Jack's!
"Look, Larry," Marianne gasped. "She's just like Jack! I'm calling her Jackie!"
Marianne named her daughter Jackie. | Source: Unsplash
Larry was grinning and taking photos of Marianne and the baby and practically dancing. "She's so pretty!" he said. "Jack was never that pretty!"
Marianne found herself laughing. "Yes, he was!" she cried, and her daughter frowned and started crying.
"Oh look!" Larry said. "She's got your voice and your temper..."
It wasn't easy, of course, there were difficult days when Marianne was sure she would never cope, but she did, and Larry was always there to lend a helping hand. When Jackie was two, Marianne found a bouquet of red roses on her doorstep. She didn't need to look at the surveillance footage to know who had left it.
That evening, Larry came over to see Jackie and he had a confession to make: "Marianne, I love you, I've always loved you. I know I'm not Jack, but could you love me a little? I promise I'll be a good husband to you and a father to Jackie.."
Marianne married Larry and started a new life. | Source: Unsplash
Marianne cried a little because she knew that she would finally have to say goodbye to Jack and start a new life, but she said 'Yes,' and six months later, she married Larry and started working on their 'happily ever after.'
What can we learn from this story?
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a florist who becomes curious when she notices an 89-year-old man buying red roses every day, so she follows him.
This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org