Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Child Is Born

After teaching high school French for ten years while my husband pursued his career in law, I was both thrilled and frightened to death to learn I was pregnant.  It was God=s greatest gift to me, a woman=s ultimate glory, yet the timing couldn=t have been worseB or better.  My marriage was in grave jeopardyB was this God=s way of saving it?  It didn=t seem so through most of the pregnancy, yet now I know it was His way of saving me, at least.
Through nine months of sickness, my salvation was in the planning for the blessed arrival.  Through the caring of various female friends and family, and the assurance  that this child was a gift from God, I received solace from the pain of a marriage in shambles.  As soon as the baby began to grow in me, I dedicated him to God, knowing this was His child more than anyone=s. Christian became my life, my opus magnus.
When he was born, complications separated us somewhatB perhaps God=s way of bonding him to his father, because in order to grow into the man he is, he needed us both.  Due to a rare and unforeseen condition, I suffered a great loss of blood after delivery and had to undergo surgery to stop the bleeding.  I remember vividly waking up in the recovery room, when someone laid him on my breast briefly, one smile for a photo, and then I blacked out.  Once I was in Intensive Care, my baby had to visit me in a clear plastic Abubble@ to protect him from picking up harmful germs in the ICU.  I could touch him with my fingers through a small opening in the side of his capsule, but others (nurses, his father, his grandparents) were privileged to give him the caresses I longed to bestow.  It is no wonder, then, the closeness he feels to this day to his grandparents.  As I slowly recuperated at home over months and months, I also gradually took over his nurturing from the nurses, family and friends who cared for us both.
It is an oft-retold part of our family history, this strange time in our lives.  The day Christian was born his Dad's mother flew to California to care for another grandchild who had been critically injured in an automobile accident. I clearly remember her visiting us in the hospital, having a first look at her new grandson, dressed up to catch her flight to Los Angeles. Ten days later, the day Christian and I came home from the hospital, my father underwent open-heart surgery (scheduled months before) in a hospital across town.  My mother moved into my mother-in-law=s cottage in our backyard, and from there she drove across town to visit my father during the day, then back to help with Christian and me at night!  Once Daddy was out of the hospital, he took up residence in the cottage with my mother, where his new grandson spent hours balanced on a pillow on his grandfather=s knees.  It is safe to say that of all the people in his family, both physically and spiritually Christian resembles my father more than any.  NO ONE can convince me that God=s hand was not guiding every step of this bittersweet ballet taking place across 3000 miles and many months!
For the next six years Christian became my life=s work.  I cared for him day and night, experiencing a love I could never have imagined, a love which only another mother can understand.  He was the light in my life, the one common bond between his father and me.  Though the marriage continued on shaky ground, holidays and family gatherings became more special with the focus of a child.  My world shifted to shopping for baby food and diapers and communing with other mothers about the joys and trials of motherhood.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

READ: 1 Samuel 1:1- 2:2
PONDER THIS: What has been the greatest blessing of your life thus far? Did it come at a price?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chapter 6 - The Hole

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: It's been far too long since I revisited "A Hole in My Heart." I seem to go through periods of avoidance, I fear, because it's not easy to expose the dark recesses of my soul, especially when I'm so glad they are in the past. Fortunately (I hope) I have one friend in particular who won't let me forget my story totally, because she firmly believes someone else could benefit from hearing it. I pray that is so, because for myself and most of my loved ones, the story is either known or does not need to be known, best left in the past. So here I go, dear Annabeal, for you and for perhaps one other who may stumble upon this blog and learn something about herself, perhaps avoiding or else correcting a misstep like any of mine.]

I remember the whole scenario as if it happened last week.  Frank and I were wandering around the mall on a Saturday afternoon.  Of course I had to stop and look at the puppies in the pet storeB I always did.  My mistake was taking this one out of its cage for a closer look.  And holding herB that was what did it.  She fit in my two palms and was all trembly in that spindly-legged, fat-bellied puppy way.  I rubbed my face in her downy chocolate hair growing every-which-way, inhaled her sweet-sour puppy smell, kissed her damp black nose no bigger than my fingertip.  It was the shiny onyx eyes to which I lost my heart, though.  I couldn=t put her down.
He was generous then, and so we took her home.  I already had a name, recalled from some novel or French reading I had done.  She was ANe Touche@B ADon=t touch@B the perfect complement to our beloved ATouche,@ the French poodle I would never have dreamed of owning.  But he had been a wedding present, and I loved him like a childB still the best, smartest, sweetest dog God ever created.  And my husband thought he was so wonderful that we should try to breed him, and so the practical reason for the purchase.
We had a glorious weekend with our new baby.  Monday morning it was hard to leave her and go back to work, but I did, then hurried home to play with her before taking her to our vet to be checked out and started on her shots.  I can still see smiling, bespectacled Dr. RobertsonB we trusted him so, and he was happy to see us adding to our brood.  His hands reached out to Ne Touche where she shivered on the examining table.  He scratched behind her ears, as all good vets do, then with both hands grasped her small body.  As quickly as his smile had appeared, it vanished, and my heart sank as I asked, AWhat=s the matter@  He said nothing for a momentB just donned his stethoscope to listen to her little chest.  It seemed an eternity, yet all too quickly, until removing the stethoscope he looked into my eyes and spoke softly, AShe has a hole in her heart.@  tears flooded my eyes, as they threatened to fill his.  He continued, saying that she could live a long life or die tomorrow, but that she was definitely not a good candidate for breeding, as my husband had intended. That was not the first time I found my heart up against Frank’s head with no chance to win. I was inconsolable, but of course he was “right.” And so we took her back, and I mourned, but tried my best to hide my tears (which he said were “unreasonable.”)
It would not happen the same way today, I know, but then I was only a child of twenty-something. Then he was my god and king. Then I didn’t know I had the same affliction as that little brown dog. The difference was, mine would be healed.
            “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1)

READ: 2 Kings 20:5, Isaiah 19:22
PONDER THIS: Do you have a painful memory that could be a metaphor for a significant part of your life? What lesson can you learn from it?