Thursday, December 29, 2011

Washed Away with Grace

Chapter 5 The Lord Gives.
Elizabeth murmured "Oh my God" then her utterings became increasingly louder… She wasn't cursing her Lord's name; rather she was pleading for help. Calling His name felt like the only thing she could do. She was helplessly in shock. She stared at this tiny dark child and realized the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. She could see the heart was beating and a miniscule mouth was gasping tiny gasps of air. Elizabeth's whole body shook as she gained control enough to unwrap the cord from around the tiny neck. It was at that point she realized that she had a daughter. "Oh God help me" Elizabeth uttered. God heard her cries and sent her an angel. Elizabeth's Angel was in the form of a woman who found herself in the same Rest-Stop Bathroom. A knock reverberated on the stall door. "Are You Okay Honey??" a persistent voice asked. "Help Me." Elizabeth replied as she managed to unlock the stall door with her free hand.
A medium height blond just past middle age, with dark sunglasses opened the door. She didn't say much at first, but Elizabeth could read the shock on her face. Elizabeth heard her say "I'm not trained in this, but I'm here for you as long as you need." Within a moment or two the blond angel had taken control and was able to pull out the fact that her husband was waiting outside in the rest stop somewhere, all the while holding Elizabeth's free hand. She got the attention of some others in the restroom, had them start ushering people out, found Elizabeth's husband who was brought into the restroom. One look at his wife and very premature child and he almost passed out and had to leave for fear of getting sick. He busied himself by calling for help and doing his best to compose himself so that he could be a support to his wife. The ambulance was called, the children were taken over to the Burger King inside the rest stop, given food and kid's meal toys and all of a sudden employees took on roll of childcare providers to keep the young boy and girl preoccupied.
Elizabeth couldn't take her eyes off of her daughter. She reminded her of a kitten, eyes not big enough to be open, small enough to fit in her hand, although little legs and arms fell over the sides of her hand. The tiniest fingers and toes you could imagine, no hair on the tiny head, but Elizabeth was struck at her delicate features. She was beautiful, even though she was so very small. Elizabeth was in shock but she couldn't stop watching her. Every shallow gasp of air that went in and out of her lungs didn't go unnoticed. Every time her little lips moved Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief because it meant her daughter was still fighting for life. Meanwhile, through it all, Elizabeth's angel stayed by her side, holding her hand.
After what felt like an eternity, Elizabeth's husband and the ambulance crew came into the bathroom. The ambulance crew was not prepared for what they saw. They were told that a woman had a miscarriage and her baby was dead. They stood dumbfounded, staring at this tiny living child who weighed just ounces. They didn't know what to do. Finally they came to their senses and realized that they were not capable of helping so tiny of a child and that if there was any chance whatsoever they needed to get this child to the NICU stat. Elizabeth's angel gave her hand another squeeze, and as Elizabeth stood up and fixed her skirt, she gave her blond angel a hug and with tears in her eyes she looked into the dark glasses and said the only two words she could manage "Thank You". Those words seemed so trivial even though she meant them fully from her heart. She knew she would never see the blond woman again, and she couldn't remember her name. She only knew that her presence and the strong pressure of the soft hand was the only thing that kept her lucid. She would never forget that shoulder length wavy blond hair that had been colored perfectly and those almost black sunglasses, because she knew God had sent her the angel she needed to give her strength when Elizabeth had none left.
They put Elizabeth on a gurney and wrapped the child up in a small towel that almost swallowed her up and rushed the baby into the ambulance. Elizabeth was rolled thru the rest stop with her husband and kids walking by her side. Bob kissed her forehead and said he would be following in the van right behind the ambulance and he & the kids would meet us at the hospital. Hundreds of people became silent, as they stared at her as she was escorted outside. Many with compassion, some with annoyance for the bathroom being unusable for so long, most with confusion on what was going on and the stares were just trying to figure out what had happened to this young woman being rushed out on a stretcher. No matter the reason for the eyes watching her, the hundreds of eyes felt as they bored into her soul. She couldn't hide, as much as she wanted to. She just stared down at the towels and blankets covering her and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, even though she knew it was pointless. Hers would be the story of many for days afterward. A story she herself would never forget, no matter how many years passed…


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Washed Away with Grace

Chapter 4 An Expected Child
Elizabeth got the kids situated for breakfast and glanced around the table. It was amazing how a few years ago she could have been found sobbing over her desperate desire for a baby of her own and the lack thereof. She would arrive in church and see all the round bellies of the expectant mothers and be so conflicted. She was joyous for them, but so sad for herself. Little would she know, after so much heartache that she would have little ones around her table as well as bigger ones in her life. Having Samantha and Wayne was wonderful. She enjoyed going to softball practice, cub scouts, hiking at parks, and concerts at school when they were smaller, but they were already so independent when Elizabeth and Bob got married they didn't need her like a tiny one would. There was nothing like having a little one completely rely on you for everything. It was a feeling Elizabeth longed for, but for the longest time was unable to feel.
Elizabeth had always had a deep desire for a large family and children. She was sure much of the reason was she had 3 siblings growing up. She enjoyed living amidst a busy family full of life and wanted the same type of family when she grew old enough. The four of them had been, for the most part stair steps with the exception of the small gap between her and her brother. There would have been another child that her mother had lost late term, the missing step that would have completed the stairs however God had other plans for that little one. Elizabeth believed that the babies that she had lost herself were probably wonderful friends with the baby her mother had lost so many years ago up in Heaven…
Elizabeth herself had lost 4. She and Bob had lost a baby in an earlier term miscarriage, her first biological child. It was heartbreaking, but nothing in comparison to what was to come next. Soon after her first miscarriage, she became pregnant again. She carried this child, each day a blessing, for her pregnancy was filled with complications. She had opted to use a midwife that was associated with a local hospital and who worked alongside a doctor if necessary. No doctor, no midwife, no exam could explain the chronic bleeding. It never ceased and became increasingly worse each day she became further along in her pregnancy. It got to the point where they were doing ultrasounds regularly to check on the "status" of her child. She prayed for the child inside her daily, multiple times a day.
When the opportunity came to get away on a girls trip for just a few days she thought that might be just the thing to get her mind off of her tumultuous pregnancy. She went away with her mother, sister, a few of her adopted siblings who were quite small at the time, and daughter Samantha for a girls' beach retreat. There was little rest for Elizabeth. The constant reminder of her baby in distress was so stressful. She was afraid she may even lose her baby while she was away from her husband… God held off a little longer and got Elizabeth and her daughter Samantha home safely and able to enjoy a few moments of getting away with the girls to enjoy the beauty of the beach, a little shopping, and even a short cruise to see dolphins, which was extra special because her daughter Samantha adored dolphins. When she was younger she said that she wanted to work with dolphins when she grew up. Going on a dolphin cruise with her daughter was one of those memories made to be sure.
A brief time later Bob, Elizabeth, Samantha and Wayne went to visit Elizabeth's brother and sister in law in Buffalo NY. They went to Niagara Falls together, and then to a local mall before arriving back to Jonathan and Jessamyn's home. That evening the bleeding was accompanied by pain, pain that reverberated in her back. She tried to ignore it, tried to soak in a tub while everyone else slumbered and snored. It wouldn't go away, and got worse. While she was awake at around 3am she heard a loud bang. She was so stressed and tense that a car backfiring really did sound just like a gunshot. She called 911 and reported her fears much to the humor of her family later on. What happened next was no joke however.
By 6am it was evident Elizabeth was having contractions and she was only 20 weeks along. She woke her husband and told him that she needed to get to a hospital. He said it was really important for them to get back to their own hospital and Dr. rather than going to a strange hospital, especially with her being only 20 weeks along. If their baby was going to be born, it would be much easier to spend months at a local hospital rather than one 3 hours away. She couldn't argue that point and breathed a prayer that they would get to their hospital in time between strong pains. They loaded the kids up and headed home. Elizabeth's contractions became very close and she had an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom. She saw a rest stop in the distance and told Bob to STOP. She rushed into the restroom and went to the furthest stall to go to relieve herself. As she sat down she felt her child sliding from her body and put her hand down just in time to catch her wee babe before she landed in the toilet. It was a girl and she was ALIVE….

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chapter 3 Grapevines
As Elizabeth was heading back into the living room from rescuing Dillon from the little Princess she heard trudging up the stairs. She knew those feet without even looking. It's funny how as a mom you recognize the footsteps of your family without seeing their faces. Sure enough, there he was, giving her a quick glance and heading over to put his book bag on the dining room table. "Hi Mama" came the low greeting from her 15 year old Wayne. "Good morning Wayne" Elizabeth responded.
Wayne made his way to the kitchen to start his morning routine. He opened up all the cupboards to see what had changed in the last 24 hours when it came to food. His hope is that he would stumble across a new sugar cereal or maybe even a real treasure, a honeybun. Alas, no such luck. The cupboards still held the usual cereals; cheerios, kix, life, and some oatmeal both regular and flavored. He closed the cupboards disappointed, opened the fridge and poured himself a monster cup of juice and resigned himself to that. It always amazed Elizabeth that he chose just juice every morning. There was bread and bagels on the counter, eggs in the fridge, bananas and apples almost always in abundance, as well as the aforementioned breakfast foods but he would rather forego eating than eating any of that.
After he swigged his juice he grabbed his book bag. "All right, bye Mama" Wayne said as he headed for the glass sliding doors to go out and wait for the bus which would be there in about 5 minutes or so. "Wayne, it's getting cold out there… Don't you think you should throw a coat on? Seeing as it was December now, winter was upon them and it was really chilly in the mornings, especially standing outside waiting for the bus. "I've told you mama, I'm fine." He responded dully as he walked out the doors in his jeans, sneakers, t shirt, and hoodie. Elizabeth sighed to herself. Not only was Wayne at that age that it wasn't cool to wear a coat, but Wayne was her tough nut. He never really bonded with her and most days acted as though he could care less about whether she was in his life or not. It wasn't all Wayne's fault though.
She had a tough time with both Wayne and her oldest daughter Samantha who was now 18 years old. It was almost as though they tag teamed her at times. Things would be wonderful with one, and the pits with the other. Then they would switch, and things would be rough with the other and great with the opposite one. When Bob and Elizabeth got married years ago, Elizabeth dismissed the fact that they would have any family issue whatsoever… Samantha was 8, Wayne was 5 and Bob had full custody of them for years. They were young enough that she thought it would be a piece of cake to get married and be one big happy family. She had been na├»ve.
When separate lives and families intertwine there always some tangling and mangling. But the fruit in the long run would be beautiful, sweet, and make the most wonderfully flavored wine. Her family was like the grapevines, woven together tightly, almost stifling at times and definitely out of control most days, but the grapes were so large and luscious it was absolutely worth the years of pruning. There may be a year where the fruit is scarce, but then all of a sudden the vines are filled with clusters of beautiful fruit. Those two had been through so much in their brief years. It wears on the heart when your biological mother comes in and out of your life as she chooses. Elizabeth tried to show them that she was there for them no matter what and that she loved them no matter how hard they tried to push her away but sometimes the only thing that heals wounds is time. She knew that someday God would work in their lives and show them how much she cared about them, even when life felt strangling to them.
One of the things Elizabeth had to work on was showing them physical affection. She internally loved them very much, but didn't show them as much as she ought. She came from the upbringing that when you got to be a certain age, it wasn't appropriate to be overly affectionate with your parents. A brief peck on the cheek was enough. Her parents loved her deeply, she knew this, but when you are used to this kind of relationship it's difficult to change. Her daughter Samantha especially craved a physical affection. She always said it's because she didn't get a lot of hugs and kisses when she was tiny. It was a real challenge for Elizabeth to step out from the way she had been raised to hug and kiss her teenage daughter and son. She realized this was one thing that needed pruning in her life and she struggled with it, but she was working on it and hopefully in time it would become easier, before it was too late.
Elizabeth prayed for all of her children regularly. She knew that God was the one in control of each and every one of their lives ultimately. The love she had for each of her children was different but equal. She didn't love one more than the other, but she had very different relationships with each of them. She knew that someday those little grapevines would become big beautiful vineyards and was ever thankful that God allowed her and her husband the opportunity to prune and be vineyard keepers for a time.
Children begging for breakfast brought her back to reality. Time to feed the troops, maybe she would check to see if she had any grapes in the fridge to serve with their breakfast…

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Washed Away with Grace Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Early Morning Tendencies

Heavy Footsteps announced the arrival of the cutest little towhead you ever did see. The glass sliding door opened and a man carrying a bundle of coat, hat, and boy came into the house. It was still the wee hours of the morning, so hushed voices exchanged. The boy, a two & a half year old named Dillon snuggled into his father's shoulder, his bright blue eyes peeking out from underneath the knit monkey hat he wore on his head to keep the cold away. Those blue eyes sparkling like the sun shining on the ocean with a little smile playing on lips for he was playing his little game. Lately, when he arrived for daycare in the morning, he would either pretend he was sleeping or shy to evoke a reaction from Elizabeth and today was no exception.
"Are you a sleepyhead today buddy?" Elizabeth asked him as he pretended to sleep against his daddy's shoulder. Dustyn, his dad, and Elizabeth exchanged smirks and glances as Dillon snuggled even deeper into his dad's shoulder. "Would you like to watch a movie and snuggie with your blankie?" Libby asked him (Libby was her daycare name, it was easier for the littles to pronounce Libby than Elizabeth) "Mmh Hhm, where IS my blankie?" questioned Dillon as Elizabeth took the boy from his daddy. "We will find it in a moment, give your daddy high five, he has to get going to work." Dillon gave his dad high five, Dustyn headed to work and Elizabeth undid Dillon's coat and hat and laid him down on the couch. She pulled his soft sage green velour blanket from the hutch and covered him up with it. "What would you like to watch this morning?" Libby asked Dillon to which he responded his almost daily response "The Polar Express!" "Are you sure you don't want to watch something else thing morning?" not that Elizabeth minded, she never tired of Polar Express; it had become one of her favorite children's Christmas movies. "No, I want Polar Express." Dillon vehemently pronounced. "All right, Polar Express it is."

Elizabeth stuck in the movie and made sure the volume was down loud enough to hear, but low enough not to wake the others sleeping just down the hall. Dillon always arrived early usually not later than 6am, so often Elizabeth's children were still asleep when he came so a movie in the wee hours of the morning was a good choice to getting out toys and waking everyone up too early. Too Early meant Too GRUMPY! She sat down on the couch next to him and watched the introduction to the movie when she heard a door creak and tiny muffled footsteps. "Ah, I had a feeling a certain someone would wake up." Elizabeth said quietly. Around the corner came her sleepy eyed, tousle headed 3 yr old. "Is Dillon here? I got up to play with him. OH, there he is, Hi Dillon!" Exclaimed the little girl named Christiana. "Hi Ana" said Dillon as he quickly climbed off the couch. They tiptoed as quietly as elephants down to Christiana's room to play together.
As Elizabeth switched off the movie she couldn't help the smile that came to her lips. There were days that it would have been a scowl to be sure, but today was different. It wouldn't be long before the others were awake and ready to start their days, but Elizabeth took a few moments to think on how much of a blessing that Dillon was even able to come and play. The flood had taken and changed so much so being able to continue watching him was really something to be thankful for. She knew it was longer for Dillon's parents to bring him, yet they still did. Her children loved their "part-time brother" and Dillon really enjoyed playing with them as well. Not to mention a little income brought into the household was a huge deal when she went from having a full daycare to only one child every other week. Every little bit really did help!
The giggles from the other room brought her to her feet. Elizabeth went to shush them to try and keep the other children asleep a little longer but when she looked into the room she couldn't stifle her laughter. They had decided to play dress up, Christiana already had a princess dress on from the dress up trunk on and was in the process of helping Dillon change as well. Dillon was partially wearing a princess dress with one of the arm holes stuck on his head. As Elizabeth took the dress off of Dillon and got him a more suitable outfit she said chuckled "Sorry girlie, I think Dillon's mom and dad would prefer him wearing the armor." "Today is going to be an interesting day" Elizabeth thought to herself as she turned to see her other two watching the goings on through the doorway. She wondered to herself, what was behind door number two this morning. She was sure whatever happened next would be revealed soon enough J


Friday, December 2, 2011

A New Blog..

I've decided to write a short novella. I will be posting chapter by chapter on a regular basis... It's going to be a fiction story based on truth, although that seems rather besides the point! :) I hope you decide to join me on this new journey. I don't know how good it will be, but I am looking forward to this exciting new venture :)

Washed Away With Grace

Chapter 1: Silent Reflection

Elizabeth walked into the kitchen, set up the coffee pot and made sure that the orange light was switched on before walking over and plopping down onto the loveseat to wait those long 5 minutes until the smell of fresh brewed coffee would waft thru the air bringing her back to her feet. It was quiet in the house and she enjoyed the few moments of solitude. This was the only time she ever had to herself as of late. Having five children plus doing daycare cut the "her" time down to practically nothing, especially considering two of her kids were teenagers. Used to be, even with a full house, the kids would go to bed at a reasonable time but now that they were older, bedtimes were pretty much non-existent.
Being able to enjoy even just a few minutes of peace and quiet to sip her coffee and reflect on the past, while pondering the future. What a past to reflect on and a future to ponder…To even delve into any of it this morning would be pointless. There was little time today. Her little daycare boy would be dropped off in 10 minutes or less and so much had happened in her life that ten minutes wasn't nearly enough to even start any type of thought processes. This morning she would utter a prayer asking for God to direct her day and keep her family safe and that would be enough.
She pulled herself up off of the blue and white checked plaid loveseat back into the kitchen. She pulled her special mug out of the cupboard and set it on the counter. She always used that mug. Her husband, although always portraying himself as a hard-nosed, unemotional man on very rare occasion would allow himself to slip-up and show the tiny sliver of the sensitive side he had. This mug was one of those slip-ups, a Mother's Day gift given to her after the death of their premature daughter Grace That tan oversized mug with flowers scattered randomly around it, the little angel girl flying in the corner and the words "There's an angel watching over you" meant more to her than many of her "pretties". . Even when she had little time for reflection, holding that mug to her lips each morning when her day began was like giving her daughter a kiss on the cheek and accepting a kiss from her angel girl in return. Every day she used that mug was a daily reminder of the baby girl that her husband lovingly referred to as Gracie. The mug was 8 years old; her daughter Grace would have been Eight and a half years old had she survived. Her mug was so very important to her that her hubby went back for it after the other most devastating thing of her life had occurred… The flood…
From the other room she heard the sound of her littlest blessing stirring. It was going to be a long day if she woke up already. Elizabeth breathed a silent wish that her little daughter would continue to slumber. She saw the headlights of her daycare dad's truck pulling into the drive, yellow beams of bright light breaking thru the dark. "Hmm… It will be a miracle if she stays asleep now, guess we will see soon enough!" Elizabeth murmured to herself.
Elizabeth went from sipping to gulping her cup of coffee down. She didn't want to share this moment of reflection, especially considering she didn't believe she would have time for anything but an uttered prayer this morning and God had provided much more after all. Didn't he always?? There were times that she would forget, but mornings like this would bring her mind around how wonderful her Heavenly Father truly was. Even in the midst of a hurried morning, He provided ample time for her to reflect and ponder after all!