Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Mother's Day Gift

This post, written by our friend Jennifer Hallmark, is for all the moms grieving little ones today.

Ten Candy Bars: A Mother’s Day Gift

By Staurt Miles found on freedigitalphotos.net
The alarm on her phone echoed in the dark room. Emma grunted as she slid her hand from under the covers and stretched it along the nightstand.

Her hand touched the hard case. Straining to see the screen without her glasses, she pushed the alarm off. “I shouldn’t have even set an alarm.” She looked down at Blizzard, her fluffy white cat. “I’m not 
going to church, you know.”

The cat stood and stretched, then jumped off the bed. He headed for the bedroom door, ignoring Emma completely.

“Fine. You leave too. Aaron’s not here either.” She sat up in the bed, scrubbing the sleep from her eyes. “I don’t care.”

But she did. Her husband, Aaron, had accepted overtime, today of all days. She puffed out a breath.

How could he?

Her mother’s words came back to her. He’s suffering too. Let him work it out in his own way.

She frowned. He always dealt with problems through physical labor; so the factory was a perfect choice for today. Couldn’t he think of her once?

She pushed herself from the bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. Blizzard sat in front of the bathroom door, bombarding her with loud mews. “Yeah, I know. You want breakfast. I’ll get it in a minute. Then I’ve got to leave and go somewhere. Anywhere.”

One look in the mirror caused her to groan. She wiped more sleep from her eyes, pulling the skin toward her hairline. As if that would stretch away the small wrinkles that had formed so early in her life. Another mew sounded at her feet. “Okay, okay. One cat breakfast coming up.”

****

Emma pulled the visor on the car down to knock the sun from her eyes. She willed her shoulders to relax. It was a beautiful day, all things considered. As she turned onto Mendel Street, the sign at the First Baptist church garnered her attention: Happy Mother’s Day from all of us.

A tear slid down her face, followed by another. She swiped at it, but it was too late. A steady stream of tears erupted and she could do nothing to stop it.

Why?

She slammed her hand on the steering wheel. She should be at church now, Aaron at her side, with a two-month-old bundle of joy. Instead, he was at work and Emma just drove, aiming towards the flea market on the other side of town. Church had too many reminders. The sermon would be about mothers and gifts would be handed out for the youngest and oldest mother. She clenched the steering wheel tighter. If only Mother lived closer. She could spend the day in the safety of her family home, sitting by Mother on the porch swing.

Mother understood. She’d had a miscarriage, actually two, before Emma was born.
The sign to her right pointed toward several large buildings ahead. Flattville Flea Market. A little bit of everything.

Emma parked at the end of the lot, then unscrewed the top from the bottle of water she’d stuck in her purse, draining half of it. She pulled out a mirror and wiped her eyes with a tissue. A touch of powder on her face and she almost looked normal; as normal as she could on a day like this one.

Emma strolled toward the first building to her left. This was always her favorite place to start, the one
By Ikuni from freedigitalphotos.net
with antique furniture and outdoor decorations. She would end up in the building with produce. She needed some fresh fruit and potatoes. The rest of the time would be mindless wandering, so she wouldn’t have to think.

As she pushed through the door, the smell of old leather and wood competed with a whiff of freshly made popcorn. Her stomach rumbled. Blizzard was the only one who’d enjoyed breakfast.

A display of furniture from years past sprawled up the whole right side of the tin building. The first piece to catch her eye was a hand carved cradle. A lump grew in her throat as she walked to the object, running her hand over the smooth wood. This was the kind of furniture she’d wanted in the baby’s room. Her miscarriage had come early in the pregnancy, so she had not purchased anything.

Nothing to take back.

She’d dreamed though, and those dreams stayed with her. She flipped up the price tag. It was affordable.

Shaking her head, she strode through the rest of the building without looking and pushed through the exit at the end. A half dozen picnic tables were spread under two large oak trees. Emma headed for the first one and plopped down. A brisk breeze dried the tears on her face as they trickled down. This 
was not working.

God, where are you?

Emma pulled the water bottle from her purse and finished it. She had her back to the building. Someone tapped her shoulder, making her jump.. As she turned, a child took a step back.

“Scuse me. Would you like to buy a candy bar?”

The girl thrust a box of chocolates under Emma’s nose. “They’re only one dollar.”

Behind the girl stood a young woman with red hair twisted up in a bun, baby hoisted on her hip. “Katie. Say please.”

“Please.” Katie rubbed her nose. “We’re raising money to go to church camp. You can swim there.”

A smile broke through the tears. “You can? I’ll bet that will be fun.” Emma fished into her purse, retrieving a ten dollar bill. “I’ll take ten.”

“Really?” A huge grin filled Katie’s face.

Katie’s mother stepped closer. “We really appreciate this.” She peered at Emma, as she switched the baby to her other hip. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.” She wiped her eyes.

The baby must have liked Emma’s glasses. He reached out toward them, emitting a loud baby giggle. That’s all it took to restart the tears. “No. I’m not okay.”

“I’m Sarah.” She sat beside her. “How can I help?”

Emma poured out her story to the stranger, while Katie stuffed ten candy bars into a sack. She started with the excitement of the pregnancy, and moved on to the spotting, the cramps, and the loss. Her struggle to deal with the grief she felt over someone she’d never met, and would never get to meet. Having to deal with Mother’s day with Aaron at work.

She accepted the baby wipes Sarah had dug from a small diaper bag and also the hug she offered.
“I’m sorry to dump on you like this.” Emma wiped her nose.

“No problem.” Sarah smiled. “I wish I could offer a wonderful word of advice, some magic formula to make you better. But I can’t.”

By phanlop88 from freedigitalphotos.net
The baby cooed and reached again for Emma. Her heart pounded against her chest as she caught a whiff of baby powder. “Could I hold him?”

“Of course.” Sarah handed the wiggling bundle to Emma. “His name is Justin.”

“What a beautiful baby you are.” Emma tilted her head back to keep her glasses out of reach. “No,
you can’t have my glasses.” Justin grabbed Emma’s hand and she marveled at the plump fingers as they clutched to hers.

Somehow, as she held Justin, a small piece of her heart mended with his touch. The doctor had said he saw no reason that would prevent her from becoming pregnant and carrying the baby full term. Maybe it was time to try again. To step out and let go, to trust God.

She handed Justin back to Sarah. “Thank you for listening. I’ll be okay.”

Sarah hugged her again and then she and her children headed back to the other building. Emma stood, stuffing the bag of candy in her oversized purse. She moved back toward the furniture building. It was time to move forward into all the goodness God still had for her.


And she had a purchase to make.


Jennifer Hallmark is a writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the Internet, short stories in several magazines, and has contributed to four book compilation: A Dozen Apologies, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Unlikely Merger (releasing this summer) and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage (releasing in late summer). She is currently shopping her contemporary fiction, When Wedding and Weather Collide.

Sweet Freedom:
For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of
freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away.

How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities. 

Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand? 

Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom. 

We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.

2 comments:

  1. I agree! Jennifer H., thanks so much for sharing your heart with us!

    ReplyDelete