THE MORAL INDIVIDUAL

Nothing Lasts Forever, Everything Changes

One evening a few weeks after Brittany and Philip's rescue, Connor and Briana were sitting in the little reading room talking. At least Connor was sitting, Briana was lying back with her head in his lap, and he was playing with her hair.

"Mom told me about your heart condition, Connor."

"You didn't know about that?" he said.

"No, you never mentioned it. How else would I know?"

"Well I'm glad she told you. Dad has it too.

"Yes, she told me. Speaking of Dad, he once asked me what you're going to do. You said yourself working for Uncle Peter was only temporary."

"I can't believe Dad asked you that. I thought he knew. He always talked like he knew. He's always saying, 'when you take over the business you might want to change this, that, or the other thing.'"

"He doesn't know, Connor. It may have been obvious to you, but it isn't to anyone else."

"Well I'll tell him tomorrow, but I'm staying with Uncle Peter for now, to prove I can handle the job and until I'm ready with my own ideas."

"Oh, he'll be so pleased, Darling. By the way, what are your ideas?"

"Electronics'" he said. "I like chemistry, but what I'll do when I can is electronics. I even have some ideas that could apply to some chemical processes.

"But before all that I'm going to build us a house. Uncle Eddy is going to sell us an acre of land. And guess who our neighbors are going to be."

"Our neighbors? Are other people already living there?"

"Nobody's living there yet. But they will be. Eddy is selling another acre to my sister and Philip and another acre to your sister and Freddy.

"Are they getting married too?" Briana asked.

"I don't think there are any definite plans yet, but Eddy says Yuwon is certain they will get married, and that she's never wrong. Yuwon told Eddy we would marry before I ever held your hand."

"Briana suppressed a giggle."

"What?" Connor said.

"I was just a little girl and I had just met you at their farm, and was talking to Aunt Yuwon. I told her, 'I'm going to marry him.' She asked, 'marry whom?' and I said, "That Connor boy.'"

"You think you really knew that?" Connor asked.

"I knew I was in love with you," she said. "No one can tell the future, but it sure was what I wanted the future to be."

"I'm sure glad your future turned out the way you wanted," Connor said.

"So am I!" Briana said turning for a kiss.



Philip and Megan were married just a few weeks after that. It seemed very quick to those who were unaware that they had been in love for years and just never expressed their love because they wrongly believed they were first cousins. It was almost a year before Freddy and Brittany married. If it had been up to Freddy they would have married the day Brittany was well enough to stand on her own, but Brittany needed to be certain she was going to be worthy of Freddy. She knew herself, what she had been and what she could be tempted by, and even though she was certain she would have no more of those temptations, she needed to prove it.

All three couples bought the land Uncle Eddy had offered them, but only the Crosses and Blakes built homes on the land.

Connor and Briana planned to build their home there, and Lester spent many evenings with them planning their home and had most of the plans drawn up.



One afternoon Lester and Jasmine went riding on their motorcycles. Connor was working at one of Uncle Peter's plants, Megan was with Philip inspecting their new home and Briana was home alone.

Briana heard a car pull into the yard, and was on the way to the door when Jasmine came in. She was disheveled, but very calm. "Lester is dead," she said.

"Oh, Jasmine, how? What? An Accident?" Briana asked.

"Yes," she said, "but it isn't what killed him. He died while riding and then the bike crashed. He had just turned to me and said, 'I love you,' like he always did when we were riding."

"I'll call Connor," Briana said.

"No don't," Jasmine said. "There's nothing he can do."

"Oh no. I'm not calling him for you, Mom, but because he'll be very unhappy with me if I don't."

Jasmine looked at her and smiled. "Of course. I'm sorry, Darling."



Jasmine's reaction bewildered Briana. Jasmine never shed a tear. She never really seemed upset, only occasionally thoughtful and distracted.

"Mom, may I ask you a personal question?" Briana asked Jasmine one day.

"I told you a long time ago you could ask me anything. Nothing's changed."

"I've just wondered why you've shown no signs of grieving. I hope you aren't just holding it in. You can also tell me anything, Mom."

Jasmine smiled. "Briana I've been in love with three men. You know about Eddy and Lester. The name of the other was Marten Grandon. He once remarked the one thing that impressed him about me was that I never cried, but I cried twice because of that man. I promised him I would never cry again. I haven't and I won't, because there is nothing to cry about.

"Oh, I've had tears of joy from time to time, but I've never shed a tear for what other's consider pain or tragedy. I'll never shed a tear for Lester because it would be a betrayal of the happiness we had. Nothing lasts for ever, Briana, except one's love and memories, and in both of those there is only happiness.

"How could I cry when thinking about Lester and all the wonderful times we had together and every happy moment we shared?"

"I don't know, Mom. Doesn't it bother you at all you'll never have those wonderful times and happy moments again?

Again Jasmine smiled. "You can't have any time or moment, 'again.' Every time and moment is unique, and once you have it you can never have it again. You can only have memories of those moments and times past.

"Perhaps you mean similar moments and times. But you can't have those either. No hug is like the first hug, no kiss is like the first kiss, no night of pleasure is like the first. All the things we did and experienced our first year together could never be duplicated, but they can never be taken away either. All the things we did and enjoyed in all our years together, the birth of our children and raising them, the work, the achievements and the small defeats we overcame, could not be experienced again.

"I do not grieve, Briana, because I had all the happiness that was possible to have with Lester for as long as it was possible. If it had only been a week, it would have been enough for a lifetime, but instead it was the better part of a lifetime." She smiled again and hugged Briana, "I only wish the same for you and Connor."



Connor and Briana did not build the house they had designed with Lester. Megan and Philip were moving into their new home when Megan's father died. The Moore home was enormous and rather than leave Jasmine alone in it, and because all of Connor's father's business records and projects were in the cellar, and because Briana loved the house, Connor and Briana chose to live there.

Where they lived in the house was totally private but they chose to have most of their meals with Jasmine and spent many evenings with her except when some of her many friends were calling on her.



Connor and Briana's first baby was a boy.

"I want to name him Marten," Briana said.

"Oh, for Marten Grandon, my mother's other love," Connor said.

"He set the course of both your mother and father's lives, and your mother so admired him, it just seems right," she said.

"I'm not sure whether Mom would like it or not. Of course we can name our son whatever we like, but that name just might pull a little too hard on Mom's emotional strings."

"No it won't," Briana said. "I've talked with Mom a lot. She'll love it."

Jasmine did love it, but couldn't help teasing. "Now you'll have to have two more boys to name them Lester and Eddy. Then two girls to name them Jasmine and Yuwon."

Briana said, "that's fine with me."

Connor just looked at them not knowing whether they were kidding or not, but Jasmine couldn't keep a straight face and she started laughing, then they all laughed.

"I knew you had to be kidding, Mom. You've never been sentimental."

"When you have emotions as strong as mine, you cannot afford to be sentimental," she said.



Lester's death and the advent of Marten Moore were just the beginning of changes that seem to come in torrents after that.

Jasmine adored Marten and spent more time with him than his parents. Connor was alway busy keeping up the business and in developments of his own. He was discovering new ways to use radio to communicate and control things remotely, and had contracts with Uncle Peter for managing his warehouses. He was also working on, "switching circuits," which are called "digital electronics," on earth.

Briana was not only busy with the household and Marten but getting ready to have another which would not be Eddy or Lester, but Yuwon.

In short order, Philip and Megan had their first, a girl, then Freddy and Brittany had their twins which oddly enough were born before Briana's Daughter giving them the largest family first.

Philip was happy being a farmer like his father, and he and Megan soon acquired more land adjacent to their own and Eddy's, and Philip and his father often worked together. Megan loved being, 'a farmer's wife,' and loved being able to spend more time with Yuwon.

Connor offered Freddy a job and soon discovered his discernment was again correct. Freddy was a genius and immediately understood the concepts of, "switching circuits," and began designing what he called, "written circuits," which are called, "code," or, "software," on earth.



While everything changes the fundamentals are eternal. Briana and Connor were sitting in their favorite little reading room.

"Connor, when I talked you into walking me to chem lab that day so long ago, I never dreamed we would one day be like this, looking back on all we've done and had together. I thought when you took my hand it was the most wonderful thing that could ever happen to me.

"Then when you handed me that little blue bag and I opened it and saw the bracelets, I knew that was the most wonderful that could happen to me. But every time I was wrong.

"This, just being beside you after a busy day is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me Connor, and it's like that every day. I love you Darling," Briana said.

"There is nothing in this world I need or want more than that, Briana, my love. You and your love are my reason for living," he said and kissed her.

***