When Zondervan Called

It isn’t often that a publishing company gives this “author” a phone call.  For some reason or other I must have sent them an inquiry a few years ago, as they had my email address.  The charming customer service man asked how many manuscripts I had done or were in progress.

“Two are done, one in progress.”

“And are you looking to publish them….?”

“No, no, not really.  I am a most unmotivated writer.  My joy is in the writing, so…I’m already happy.”

“But your work…it could be shared more broadly, more people could read it, etc…Wouldn’t you like to see your work read by more people?”

“See…here’s the thing; it’s hard to entice someone with things that may make them happy when…they’re already happy.”

“Wouldn’t God want you to use your gifts for others?”

(to myself:  oh, I do believe He also delights in faithful obscurity)

Then the conversation got around to the real point; that I could get a discount on the membership for their Author Learning Center site.  That I could get tips there from pros and learn marketing strategy and how to promote my writing.  In only “fifteen minutes a day” I could be learning so much.  Perhaps.

“But, I’m learning Norwegian right now; that takes up my extra time.  My five kids need all the rest.”

He didn’t have a ready-made rejoinder for that.

I don’t believe that I’m a bad writer (likely wouldn’t do a blog if I thought I had nothing to offer), but I do grasp that I lack the ambition that my author friends have.  I have a knee-jerk reaction to promoting myself, marketing myself, and networking in general.  Writing is pleasant to me, so I write.

To hold my own published work in my hands…I don’t know.  I don’t know if that would make me more happy, fulfilled in a new way; I just don’t know.  Maybe it would bring a new joy into my heart; maybe it would tempt me to be insufferably proud and/or insecure.

I really loved rowing.  I really hated the regattas.  But, to be part of the club, I needed to participate in them and do my best.  Two times my double and I took second; once in the Chilean Nationals, and once in a regatta honoring the Chilean police force.  Then, in one of my last races, we won gold.  We pulled across the finish and realized all the boats were behind us.  There was a lift in my spirit; I was happy to have done well for my club.  I liked the joy of my team and friends.  But for me?  It really was better to set out for a good long row with no medals and no fanfare, quietly gliding over the waters next to pelicans and sea lions; working hard, but in obscurity, and loving it completely.

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I know that the regattas taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise have learned…I am sure attempting to publish my works would do the same, but I cannot bring myself to strive for that, at least, not now.  There is nothing that compels me; no inner drive, no dangling carrot, no sense of obligation.

And so, I write here, obscurely and delightedly.

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What I Can, While I Can

The afternoon was warming and the elderberries were darkening crimson and I’d gone out to collect some ahead of the birds.  If you wait too long, the ripe berries, just the size of peppercorns, cascade to the ground with a stiff breeze.  Near half of them feed the birds and I can’t begrudge that.  So you have to go out, see, when half the cyme is still green and harvest what you can, when you can.

Sirens were in the distance and the sun beat down and the mulch was damp under my feet from the morning rain.  The sirens neared.  Police cars came up our street, lights flashing, officers huffing up the street counting down house numbers, looking for a particular place, across the way, a few houses down.  A man opened his door and waved them in.  More sirens pierced the air from far off.

The man paced in the front yard as the officers brought bags in from their cars, a yard brimming with flowers and bushes.  Arms waving hopelessly I heard him tell another neighbor what was going on.  I heard snatches of his words.  My sister.  Unresponsive.  Heart attack.  Gave her mouth-to-mouth.  Just nothing.

I had laid the bowl of elderberries aside and joined a knot of neighbors on the hot sidewalk.  I watched a man’s heart being broken on a sunny afternoon.

The fire truck came and after an eternity of minutes, the ambulance.  Grim-faced paramedics sped in with more bags and a plastic gurney.  When they didn’t rush her out with speed, when the pace of it all slowed way down, when the fire truck pulled away, and the officer escorted the brother to a side yard to write down details, I knew.

I didn’t know the woman; all I know is that she was in her sixties and that they didn’t know how long she’d been in the state her brother found her in.  We all walked back to our homes; death is too sacred to be a spectator event.

The grapes are ripening next to the elderberries.  They’re a small variety, sweet with an edge of bitter.  Tougher skins than grocery store grapes that are bred to uniform perfection.  I slip some into my hands and chew them in the hot sun on a day that that man won’t forget.

Life; we don’t all get a hundred years of it and it can end swift and on a sunny day no less.  We don’t get uniform lives, predictable ones.  They’re full of sweet bits and bitter ones and the whole deal looks nothing like what’s advertised, does it?  But it’s good.

So, I can’t farm, I can’t have chickens, I can’t breathe life into our dwindling accounts, and I can’t just run back to South America where life had so much life and color and purpose.  But I can make soap.  Stay with me now.

What can I do while I can do something?

I have a hundred dreams, so I pulled one out of storage.  Making soap.  I love good soap, but unless I find a screaming deal on some goat milk or triple-milled french stuff, we can’t buy it.  I knew it would cost some money to get some equipment, but not much.  So I sold a hutch I’d refinished (that I’d picked up from a curb for free) and an antique ice crusher on craigslist.  I had ninety-five dollars to make a dream come true.

Thirty-five went for a good quality digital scale, the only precision instrument needed.  I weaseled my husband into agreeing to build me some soap molds out of scrap wood.  I plundered my cooking supplies for extra pots and measuring containers that could be dedicated to soap-making.  I watched YouTube videos and checked books out of the library.  Long gloves from the dollar store.  Safety glasses left over from fireworks.  And fifty-nine dollars left over to buy fats and lye and essential oils.

It truly is something to be able to do something.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding what kind to do first…lemon-lime-coconut shampoo bar?  Honey-oatmeal body bar?  Tea Tree-Sweet Almond?  Peppermint-Goat Milk for Christmas gifts?  Should I open an Etsy shop?  Try to sell locally?  Just make for ourselves and friends?  Or maybe slow down and see how my first batch turns out, crazy self??

But, I CAN DO SOMETHING!  That’s the joy and the hope of it.  I’m not trapped by our fences, but free to create within them.

And I realize that in the past year’s time I’ve seen many dreams come true…I am now an amateur beekeeper and supplied our household with a year’s worth of honey with extra to give away.  I got to take a pottery class and feel all that slippery clay yield to my shaping hands.  I taught myself candle dipping and have now both white and deep yellow beeswax tapers aplenty to light our way through winter.  I wrote a short story that I love; the first story I’ve ever exposed to public view without cringing.  I started this small corner for writing, for spilling words and exercising my writing muscles.

All of this happened as many of my dreams came crashing down about my ears.  Oh the irony.  Oh the grace.

So I will do what I am able, as long as I am able, and I’ll count it as joy.  Because it really doesn’t matter how wide our fences are, but how we live within them.

 

Master Gardener

This isn’t how it’s done.  You brush before the dentist appointment and clean before the maid comes and certainly you pull the weeds before the Master Gardener arrives to look things over in your garden.

But the weeds, see, they grow as deep as they grow tall; they’ve sunk right down into the earth and are anchored tight.  If I’d caught them sooner…if…

But now the stems are thick and thorned and cut my hands to ribbons when I try to pull them out.  I thought I was smart, back before I called the Master Gardener in desperation on the tan phone in the kitchen, I thought I could just saw off the visible tops of the weeds-grown-feral.  At least give the impression that jungle wasn’t taking over.

But no.

The weeds took it as a pruning, not a severance.  With renewed vigor they thrust up more stems, stalks, and canes; startling hellish exuberance bursting out of the ground and choking out the flowers.  It was worse than before.  I called the Master Gardener, resignation and pleading and wouldn’t He just come and set it to rights again?

And there He is, looking through the garden gate.  He turns and looks at me, me looking at him through the kitchen window and so ashamed.  His intensity is hard to read.  I put down the dishrag and hear the screen door slam behind me and I twist my hands together while all sorts of excuses climb my throat and fill my mouth.  I clamp my lips over the words, He and I both know what happened here.

I gesture to the weeds and my shoulders sag.  My tongue pushes the other words aside and lets out “Help”.

He smiles.  He smiles and leaps over the garden gate and comically opens the gate for me from within.  I walk in and He shows me some baby weeds that I can pull.  He rolls up his sleeves and begins to work.

I hear Him in the weeds, grunting and pulling and felling those giants.  A dull ache begins in my chest and I struggle to get full breaths.  I see his torn hands and sweat and how the weeds come out one-by-one.  I see the tall one with the black flowers, Pride-of-Life.  Pain lances through me.  It is felled beside Vainglory with it’s profuse orange blooms.  Down comes Ambition and Envy and Discontent.  They lie in a pungent heap, their wild long roots twice the length and width of the weeds themselves.  I have the oddest impression that the roots look like fingers and they even seem to reach back towards the soil in animated longing.

He sees my look.  “Yes, we’ll have to burn them.  Left there they’d replant themselves by morning.”  I turn back to my little pile of baby weeds and examine the roots of one.  Tiny fingers, faintly moving back towards the dirt.  I scream and fling the weed down.  He laughs at me.

“Yes, sin is that way, even when so young.”

We work and work, hauling wheelbarrows full of weeds to the fire pit.  His hands-I can hardly bear to look at them, cut and bloody.  Whenever I think we’re done, He shows me a weed masquerading as a flower; these He is ruthless with, yanking them out with furor.  I hold my hand over my heart where the pains throb and throb.  “We must at all costs prevent these from going to seed.  The weeds that deceive and trick are the deadliest.”

I winced as he pulled a beautiful red one down; it had looked like a kind of rose.  He saw my saddened face and came near.  He held the roots before my eyes so I could see the eerie reaching tentacles and spoke forcefully, “False-Humility.  Give it no quarter.  None.”  I nodded.  Seeing the roots breaks the spell.

We stood beside the fire pit and watched the wretched weeds crackle in the flames.  The roots curled inwards and blackened into coiled claws.  He stood beside me, so vigilant.  It was as if he suspected one would leap out of the fire and make a run for the garden.

My garden…it looked like a war zone.  Craters and holes and just a smattering of flowers that survived the weeds’ onslaught.  He followed my gaze.  “Yes, it looks empty now, but we’ll do some planting to fill it in.  The more beneficial plants that we can cover it in, the more difficult it is for weeds to find a home.”  He poked the last reaching roots into the coals, his bloody hands gleaming in the firelight.  Oh how costly has been my negligence.

“Tomorrow we’ll plant.”

——————————–

Day broke and we stood together before flats of strange and wonderful plants.  One looked so cushy and dense that I was surprised to find it hard as rock and unyielding.  “What is this called?”

“That is True-Humility.  It is a ground cover that forms a thick and armor-like covering.  It’ll protect the other plants from invading weeds and keep the soil’s moisture in.”

“And this?” I asked, fingering a spectacular flowered bush with the most outlandish purple blooms.

“That is Kindness, and it blooms continuously.”

We planted Joy, Peace-in-all-Circumstances, Love-Bearing-All, Perseverance-in-Trial, and Sorrow-for-Sin which smelled sweetly in spite of it’s sad drooping leaves.  The garden was empty no longer, feral no longer, and the Master Gardener smiled widely, as did I.

“How can I thank You?  I love it.  I’ll keep after it better now, I promise.”

His smile left his face.  He dropped his eyes to the soil and stooped down.  There, right there at our bare feet, was a new weed pushing up through the soil.  It grew before our eyes, sending out leaves and flowers and fragrance all in fast-forward.

“Behold, Arrogance.”

He bent over and yanked it out and my heart felt a twist within of pain.

“Dear one, do not promise such.  Promise only that every morning you will call Me for help.  Every morning we must come in here and search for that which destroys and get it before it takes deep root.  This is a daily job, not one that should wait, no, not even a day past trouble begins.  As strong as the Virtues are, they are not immune to being destroyed by weeds.  You must call me every morning, you must or death will reign in this garden rather than life.”

I felt the pains leave my chest and warmth spreading from my heart, outward to my limbs. He embraced me and I leaned in to Him.

“Call Me in the morning, dear one, every morning.”

“Yes, Master, yes.”

 

Are You My Mother?

It was a day like any other.  I felt the uneven lip of the curb through my threadbare shorts and my feet were gritty in my mismatched flip flops.  My hands were perpetually open and raised to the passersby, I droned on a monotone of petition.  It takes too much effort to put emotion into words that run on, unbroken, unchanged.  “Money please.  I need to eat. I’m so hungry.   Money please.”  I was six years old.

It was a day like any other, but a woman unlike any other.  She stooped down and looked at me.  I was looking at the air, waiting for a cold coin to be pressed into my hand.  I didn’t see people anymore, not unless they got close.  She was close.  I dragged my eyes from the air and looked into eyes that startled me.  Had anyone ever looked at me full in the eyes before?  She was old, her kind eyes framed by wrinkles that cascaded one over another, kind of like the piped waves of frosting on the wedding cakes in the bakery window that I’d look at to torture myself.  She had gray hair and it was long and braided.

While the crowds pushed past we sat and looked at one another.  Without words she offered me her aged hand, opening it like a beggar and waiting.  I gave her mine and we stood.  She spoke simply, “I need a daughter and you need a mother.  Will it suit you?”  It was all too surreal to protest, so I just nodded.  We climbed the stairs to her apartment and I was surprised to find her rooms overflowing with people.  I knew some of them, other beggar kids, a local drug dealer, some teenagers I’d seen living fast.  They turned at our entrance.  They smiled.

I was given a blanket and a toothbrush and the woman went to a large closet and rummaged through bins until she found me clothing.  She seemed radiant as she brought an armload of clothes to me.  Why was she so happy?  Look how many people she was already caring for!  “Go and enjoy a long bath and then you can put on these and see what fits.  The girl’s bathroom is down the hall to the right.  I’ll make supper early; I’m sure you’re hungry!”  She turned then to go to the kitchen, but stopped suddenly, coming back to me quickly.  In a low whisper she asked, “Have you bathed before?”

“No.”

She didn’t seem surprised.  “I’ll show you what to do and then leave you to it.  When you’re done washing, I’ll comb your hair out and trim your nails.  Just call for me, my name is Mama.”

An hour later I felt five pounds lighter and my fingertips tingled where the long jagged nails used to be.  My hair felt soft and it smelled good.  My clothes were soft too.  Was this Heaven?  Mama was kind and loving and imperfect too.  Sometimes she lost her temper with her many responsibilities, sometimes she doubted that she’d be able to put food on the table for all of us sons and daughters.  Sometimes she’d see another beggar near our home and she’d turn away, overwhelmed.  I didn’t judge her; the rest of the people never even considered bringing ones like me home at all.  She was just one woman, after all, and she did her best.

She made sure we were educated, she clothed us, she tenderly drew our stories out of us, celebrated our victories, and got mad at our lies and meanness.  She prayed for us; oh man did she ever pray.  What our home lacked in beauty, it made up for in joy and rich memories.

A courier came to our door when I was sixteen years old.  I remember that was my age because Mama had just celebrated my ten year anniversary of being adopted into the family.  Celebrated with a big fluffy cake and everything.  He gave her a letter addressed to me, and we all sat down as I read it out loud:

“Dear Lenora Winter (Winter was Mama’s last name, I’d never known my own),

Your real mother lives just across town.  She is ready to receive you at any time of your choosing.  Her address is below.

Cordially,

Anders Simm, Secretary of Marie Knox”

My real mother?  She lived?  Why hadn’t she ever come looking for me back when I was living in cardboard boxes and begging for bread.  Real mother?  Ready to receive me, but won’t actually come and introduce herself?

Mama’s eyes narrowed.  “Lenora, you’ll have to do as you see fit with that bit of news.  Just know that your family here loves you and you’ll always have a home here with us.”

I stared at the paper.  Something moved within me; what would it be like to find my real mother?  To feel connected to a large extended family that went back through the ages?  To be no adopted orphan, but a real flesh and blood relation?  A day later I stood outside the gates to a splendid mansion and I rang the doorbell.

I was ushered into a grand hall and portraits, gigantic beautiful portraits decorated every wall.  I walked past the watchful eyes of my ancestors.  I wasn’t sure how I felt when I looked at them.  Some strange mixture of comfort and unease.  Large doors opened before me and there stood a magnificent lady.  Very regal and very ancient, she threw her arms wide and bid me come.

I awkwardly hugged her.  She really did seem to love and welcome me, but hurt kept crawling up my throat when my eyes would meet hers.  Why had she not looked for me?  Why was she glad to receive me, but not to seek me out when I needed her most?

She smiled at me and said, “Welcome home”.

I spent a few hours with her.  She read me the family history from big leather-bound books that lined an impressive library.  She explained who all the portraits depicted.  She introduced me to the warm and loving brothers and sisters I had.  They were beautiful and ordinary and joyful.  She showed me my room and asked me to change for dinner.  A lovely gown was all laid-out across my bed.  Such finery, such beauty.  She’d almost left the room, but paused and came back to my side, something weighing on her mind.

“I must tell you, my daughter,” she said seriously, “that if this day you sit at my table and share my bread and wine, you may never eat with your former family again.  This will be your only place of nourishment, your new and true family.  Though your former family meant well, they do not know how far wrong they are in their beliefs and table practices.  Do you agree to my terms?”

“What?” I exclaimed, “Never share their table again?  Why?  They are the ones who adopted me, who picked me up from the street corner and loved me, filthy and lost as I was….abandon them?  They may be wrong in some ways, but they are right in others.  I cannot do as you have asked.”

She sighed.  “But I am your true mother and this is your true home.  I hope you can see that someday.”  With that she turned and left.

I left the gown where it lay and walked back out the long hall, the eyes of my ancestors watching me from painted faces.  I went home to Mama and she embraced me.  I went to my bed and curled up into a ball.  I wept.  I had no idea whose claim on me was valid, but I knew whose hands had reached out to me.

……

A reflection in short story about my recent research into the Holy Orthodox Church, which has a strong claim about most accurately reflecting the practices and beliefs of the early church.  Growing up in the cradle of Protestantism, however, it is hard to swallow the things which the Orthodox Church asks of me.

There’s Not Enough of Me

notenough

There’s Not Enough of Me

There’s not enough of me,

To be all you need and want,

And that phone call goes unanswered today.

Child,

I can’t read a book to you just now, see,

The soup won’t make itself and your belly needs filled

Almost as much as your heart does.

Friend,

You wanted to Skype for an hour or two,

But just that day my heart was grief-sick and

I didn’t have any water for thirsty you.

I needed to lay right out on the floor

and cry it out,

“Lord, have mercy”.

Dear School,

I didn’t volunteer for that teacher’s baby shower, nor that Easter craft,

I gave when I could but sometimes,

It really was too much and I had to fail you to keep me sane.

For every good gift I give to someone, there are a hundred

Precious souls who received nothing from me that day, that week, that month.

There’s not enough of me, see,

And the expectations bend me right over,

Near to breaking.

There’s enough Jesus though.

Even if you need to cut a hole through someone’s roof to get to Him.

Even if you need to seek Him out, secret-like, in the dark of night so you don’t lose face.

Even if you’re a someone who is a nobody to everyone.

Even if I fail you and fail you, He won’t.

There’s no good in me that didn’t come from Him.

Trace this mucky stream back to the spring, where the water runs pure and

Refreshes your soul.

There’s not enough of me,

You’ll have to forgive that and love past the imperfections and past the limitations and past the expectations.

Sometimes I can help, sometimes I just cannot.

Go higher up and deeper in,

Go to the Spring, the Fount, the Source, the Way, the Truth, the Life

And thirst no more.

Shooting From The Hip

shootingfromthehip2

It was a rambling two week-long drive zig-zagging across the Chilean and Argentinian borders, down, down and over the Strait of Magellan, into Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire”), down to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.  I swear that from there you can smell Antarctica.  We saw penguins, flamingoes, guanacos (like alpacas), flocks of rheas, icebergs, black and white-striped dolphins, and took a boat ride out to see southern right whale mamas with their calves.  We camped in Torres del Paine, one of the most gorgeous national parks in the world.  We took a boat out to a glacier and were awed by all that deep blue.  We did a lot on that trip, and guess what?  We didn’t plan it.

Now, we had sat down with a map and someone who had navigated the southern end of S. America.  He highlighted nice places to visit.  That was it.  No hotel reservations, no itinerary, just, go!

shootingfromthehip1It was the best trip of our lives.  We could stop and linger where we were intrigued, we could push right through the endless Argentine pampa which was a whole lot of brown with a bit of wildlife.  We lived pure spontaneity.  What an adventure.

Some of you read my short story I published last week, “Magda’s Gift”.  Someone asked me how I know what to write next; how does one go about crafting a story?  I smiled.  “Well, I watch what the characters say and do, and then I write what I saw.”  Incredulity.  It’s true.  I have no idea what the end of the story will be when I begin to write.  I have no idea what the point will be (or if there will be one), how the characters will develop, or how it will all fit together.  I write like I live, shooting from the hip.

Contrast this with my beloved parents-in-law.  They have a gift for planning and derive great pleasure from having time nicely chunked-out and labeled.  They love the predictability and they relax into their schedule like it’s an old pair of slippers.  Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve been stuffed into a whale-bone corset.  Can’t.  Breathe.

For the sake of family unity and peace, Dustin and I let them direct the family vacations, which they do a great job at.  A few years back we all went to Colonial Williamsburg.  The days were marked out and we happily donned our corsets (figuratively, you know) and toured Williamsburg and went to a fun theme park and such and such.  Even the meal schedule was marked-out and all went swimmingly according to plan.  There was one day left temporarily flexible according to which site we wished to revisit.  Dustin and I decided that enjoying the pool at the condo sounded perfect, just relax in the sun and let the kids unwind.  The family did not understand; why would we “waste” a day not “doing something”?  We didn’t want to come home from our vacation needing a vacation.  Within the structure of those days, we needed a bit of meandering rest and unhurried relaxing.

To be clear, I’m not holding up “shooting from the hip” as a virtue; our culture needs the type-A planners, indeed, very much!  But I do submit that we also need to recognize that not everyone fits into that category.  Both are gifts; you may not be able to count on me to plan a classroom party, but you can sure bet that I’ll be the one able to bring you some freshly-made chicken soup if you fall ill, and will be free to keep your children should your sitter not show.  My schedule isn’t full on paper, but my life is full of responsive work (living the day, responding to seen/felt needs, letting the Spirit guide my to-do list).  shootingfromthehipSome authors write out a detailed story line.  They know where their characters are headed ahead of time.  Some people plan out their lives. Some just don’t, happily.  Whatever group you fall in, or anywhere in between, may each of us encourage one another to either plan or respond in a way that honors Christ as Lord of our lives, as the most important focus of how our days on this spinning Earth are spent.

Magda’s Gift, Part 13

shortstory13I quit my job.  I’d been earning over six figures for over ten years without a lick of joy, so I decided to try something else.  It’s funny how quick you get used to not wearing pantyhose and high heels.  I think my tendons have forgiven me.

Carl may have had something to do with it, that week we spent tracking down all of Magda’s guestbook entries.  Magda’s simple words to them had profound effect, as did the news of her death.  Often the voice on the other end would just go silent and then the storm of grief would erupt.  Magda had that effect on people.  In the midst of country-wide and even international calls, I made a dreaded one to my office.  They seemed at least glad that I hadn’t died and covered for me while I worked at Magda’s last request.  But two months later I was packing up my office while my colleagues just shook their heads in amazement.  I was truly giving up a lot; a successful career, built up by a whole lot of grit, manipulation, and raw ambition.  They were all still climbing the ladder that I was jumping off of.  There was, I’m sure, a whole lot more speculation about who would move into my corner office suite than there was about what on earth could entice me away from it.

As part of my midlife crisis, I adopted a dog from the Humane Society.  A black lab with way more energy than I’d planned for.  City living wasn’t a good fit for him, nor for me anymore.  I sold my apartment and parted with my expensive furnishings as easy as shedding a coat on a warm day.  I moved into Magda’s cabin, my cabin.  Buster, as I named him, found Heaven-on-Earth the day we moved in.  He made it his solemn duty to round up every fetchable stick in our twenty-nine acres so as to stockpile against leaner times.

There were two men in my life; Jesus and Carl, and unlike for Magda, God smiled on me having both.  If anyone would have told me a year ago that I’d be barefoot, pregnant, and in an earthy cabin in the mountains, married to a cowboy, and letting my degree grow mold, I would have told them to stop smoking crack and wasting my time.  How life turns.

God kept up His whispering and the divine hospitality He orchestrated began within weeks of moving in.  Though I’m nowhere near as wise and sanctified as Magda was, I have my story to offer; a story of a riches to rags, success to joy, lost to found story.  It’s enough.  It’s more than enough.

Today I find myself at Magda’s grave.  Wildflowers have covered it, all but the cross that Carl made so lovingly in her honor.  I kiss my hand and lay it upon the graying wood, “Magda, thank you. Thank you for giving me my life back.  You didn’t just save my life, you pointed me the way out of a living death.  I’m having a daughter, Magda.  Can you guess what I’m naming her?”

I let the tears roll on down; I was getting a whole lot better at letting emotions run their needed course.  The tears hit my protruding belly and I laughed.  “I love you, Magda.  Thank you.”  I turned, Carl just down the slope from me, waiting to usher my clumsy self down.  He smiled wide.  Glory.

 

The End.

Thank you for reading, dear ones.