Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Mentor

I know that I promised the conclusion to the short story and you are all waiting so patiently but I have to interrupt today to share part of my story, actually a very special person in my story. About a year ago, a friend of mine came over for supper one night. I had been thinking about her a lot and had really felt like I had to ask her something. For a long time, I had been watching her. I watched how she spoke about others, how she treated people, how she made time for people, how she was not afraid to take on challenges, how her life reflected her faith, how she raised her children, how she taught, and how she handled the struggles of life. In all this watching, I realized that she was someone that I would like to have mentor me. That night that she came over for supper, I was going to ask her if she would become a mentor to me. I felt like I needed guidance and the strength of another woman to help me with my faith and to keep me accountable to how I wanted to live out my life. Her example inspired me. Here was someone who I knew would be honest with me, ask me hard questions, and love me no matter what.

Well, needless to say, I never asked her. She came that night in pain. She had just been at the physiotherapist because she had very intense pain in her lower back and wanted some relief from it. As we ate supper that night, I watched her some more. As we talked and laughed, I could tell she was uncomfortable but she was enjoying the moment and wanted to be with us despite her aching back. She shifted restlessly throughout supper and dessert, trying to find a comfortable position. I knew that I couldn't ask her my question at that time and silently prayed that she would get better. Hoping that a time would come when I could.

A week or two later she was diagnosed with cancer. The pain in her back was a tumor. My heart broke. My question remained unasked. Over the next months I spent time with her, watching, listening, and noticing. She smiled, she wept, she listened, she shared her journey, she remained steadfast in her faith, she created memories with the special people in her life, she studied the scriptures, she showed all those around her that hope is only found in loving Jesus, even in the darkest of days.

A couple months ago, I thought about my question. I realized that I didn't really need to ask it anymore. She had been showing me everything that I needed to know. Her life, her story, her faith were a living example to me. She had been mentoring me all along. Her life was impacting my own. Through her struggles and her battle with cancer, she modeled to me that life is about living. Life is about the moments that you spend with the ones you love. It's about impacting others in small but life changing ways. It's about being who God made you to be and knowing that He loves you immensely. It's about laughing and crying and feeling. It's about speaking words of love in truth and honesty. It's about letting the people that you love, know that they are special to you.

Yesterday, I watched as my mentor, my friend, was lowered into the ground. The ache in my heart will be there for a long time. It is hard to say good bye to people that you love. I look forward to the day when we can sit and talk and laugh again and share together our stories of lives lived loving God and loving others.

Thank you, my mentor. You will forever be in my heart, Joanne Grace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In a Yellow Cab - Part Three

Breaking the silence she started to speak, “Sam, I have....I have something that I need to tell you.” The invisible string pulled his head down again and he began tracing the crease of his pants with his index finger. “I didn’t know where you were these past eight months. I couldn’t find your phone number anywhere, I called your work and they said you had quit. They said that and were working somewhere else. Your email address didn’t work. None of your friends, not even your parents, knew where you were. I had no link to you. Except....except the child that is growing inside me. It’s our baby, Sam...our baby.”

As she spoke in her gentle, non-accusing way, something broke inside of him, it was the invisible string snapping. The emotion, the grief, his desire to hide what he was really feeling had robbed him not only of his daughter, but his wife, and would continue to rob him if he didn’t grab a hold of the hope that was before him. His eyes, flooded with tears, could no longer focus on his hands. He lifted his head to meet her eyes. He still wasn’t sure what to say, but he knew that he had to try.

“I....I’m sorry,” he faltered briefly. Trying to dab uselessly at the wetness on his cheeks with his coat sleeve he continued, “I have so many regrets. I wish I had known how to deal with losing Claire. I wish that I had known how to share that with you. I know you needed me, but I just couldn’t find the words. I just couldn’t.” Her slight nod across the back seat says that she understands what he is saying. It encourages him to go on. “I left because every time I looked at you, I knew that I hadn’t just lost Claire...I had lost you too. That killed me inside. I didn’t feel like I could fix any of it, so I left. I thought you would be better off if I was gone.”

“It’s been hell, Allie. I have not spoken to anyone about more than details of my job, in months. I’ve never been so alone. Even after Claire died, it wasn’t like this. This is worse. It’s like the air just doesn’t have enough oxygen in it. It can’t sustain me. I feel like I’m constantly gasping to inhale. I’m like a balloon that is slowly being deflated. The worst part is knowing that I did it to myself.” His face crumples and looks like the deflated balloon he had just described as he places it in his hands and sighs. The tears still flow, he can’t seem to stop them.

Allie reaches for him, and awkwardly pulls him closer to her across the seat. She grabs his left hand and places it on her rounded belly. She places her own left hand on top of his and is silent. He looks into her eyes, searching. A moment later the little one stretches under the pressure of their hands. It’s as if he or she can sense that this moment holds a tangible uncertainty and is offering a gift of things to come, things that are certain. There is life. There is a future. There is hope.

(Stay tuned for the conclusion of the this story.....)

Friday, December 3, 2010

In a Yellow Cab - Part Two

(Be sure to read Part One of this story if you missed it!!)

He saw pain in her eyes, that was familiar. But he could see something else. Something that had not been there for a long time. Could it be...hope? His eyes traveled to her left hand, to the place where he had put a ring on her finger seven years earlier. It was still there. He stared at the swelling bump that could only be a child growing inside of her and asked himself the question that he could not yet voice, “Could it be mine?”. He didn’t know the answer to that question. Would knowing bring him more pain?

It had been eight months since they had parted ways. After their sweet little Claire had died in her sleep at five months, their world had broken into a million pieces. Although she had not been in their lives but a brief moment, their daughter had been the light and the joy of their lives. The day that she left, she took light and joy with her. He could still feel her warm little body nestled on his chest, her soft, tiny hand wrapped around his little finger. He could still see her dimpled smiles and hear her happy shrieks in his mind. He savored the hours he had spent walking with her in the night, singing sweet lullabies in her ear. He longed for those quiet moments again, when he could love and be loved so simply. He would always grieve for all the things that they would never be able to do together, for all the moments of life that they could have shared as a family, gone forever.

Putting words together to share their loss had not been something either of them had strength to do. They drifted apart over the next year and a half, both locked inside their own grief and not knowing how to find solace in one another. They rarely held each other. When their eyes met across the dinner table, they quickly looked away to avoid seeing the ache mirrored in the other’s face. He would hear her sometimes in the night, crying softly into her pillow. He never knew what to do to comfort her. He could never say the words, “It will be alright.” Because they were words that he did not believe himself. He knew that he loved her, but he no longer knew how to show it. Part of his heart was numb to love. It was too painful to love, because love could be lost.

One morning he woke knowing that there was nothing left to say. All he packed were his clothes and a tiny pair of Claire’s shoes that he had bought her for her very first Christmas. He looked at his sleeping wife one last time and had left their apartment, closing the door softly behind him. He had not seen or heard from her in the past eight months, because he had disappeared. He thought of her when he thought of Claire, which was every moment. He had missed her. Looking at her now, he longed for her touch, something that used to be as natural as the air that he breathed. He wanted to reach out his hand and run his fingers through her silky hair but he had ruined all that. He had thought about calling her many times but could not bring himself to phone her and endure the screaming silence of their broken hearts. Yet, now, she sat across from him in the back seat of a cab, pregnant, and eyes searching his face for some sign of the man she used to know and love.

.....stay tuned for the next part of this story coming soon.....