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Molding Sharon – written by Pamela Ann Taylor in honor of her son Matthew Bryant

Contact: Teach621@aol.com

It’s about coming out of your cocoon and taking flight.
Foreword to Molding Sharon

In 2013 I was still teaching and had been inspired to write a story based on my life. I had some tell me I should not do so as it was about a controversial topic. They said I would lose my job if I wrote it. Yet, in my heart I knew that I needed to write the story to assist with saving others the pain I had gone through. I thought that if only I could save one person the loss of a child or bring them the healing that I found it would be worth it all. The story that follows when originally published was done so under a pen name to protect my family. That did no good. Now, I place it out there for all to read free online in the aspirations that it may still help those led to read it.  I state that it is somewhat fictional. Many parts are created, but others are my life. If you by chance read the original the main plot is the same as are most words. I’m also going to add some new chapters at the end to explain where I have come since then. I write this for his glory alone and for his sheep here on Earth; especially those in most need.

Chapter 1

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

                                   Proverbs: 3:5-6 (KJV)

The fall of 1976 was especially beautiful. The crimson colors on the maples stood out amongst the green hues on the evergreens that wrapped the country home in Ohio where the girls sat. Colleen and Sharon leaned back on their lawn chairs, watching as a female cardinal fluttered down to the feeder in the backyard, hoping to find some sunflower seeds. The two friends had known each other for a couple of years now and had grown to love one another as sisters do. Looking at each other’s proofs for their senior pictures, they sat admiring the one that Sharon’s father had taken of her lying in a pile of raked leaves.

“You wanna go cruisin’ tonight? I think Dwayne can pick us up after work.” Colleen asked.

Colleen so loved to cruise up the main drag with her beau. They both loved chatting on  the CB radio in his car and visiting with friends. He was the only one of the trio with a car and so he helped them hang out on Park Avenue West on the weekends. Colleen was hoping for an answer in the affirmative as she and Dwayne had been making plans to matchmake Sharon with his younger brother. Tonight, a special match was going to be made that would hopefully result in Sharon being her sister-in-law one day.

“Yeah, I think I’d like to go again. I wonder if we’ll see that crazy guy with his CB radio with the external sound system. He was hilarious last week, blasting music out of that thing.” Sharon paused as she glanced over at her friend sitting there with a big grin on her face.  She continued, “Wonder if he’ll play something decent this time?”

Colleen had not responded to her question. She hadn’t even looked at her. Sharon stopped talking as she tried to interpret the look on her friend’s freckled face. She’d seen that look many times and knew that Weenie wasn’t even listening to her. She was in some far-off land, dreaming in her head about something. What in the world was she up to now?

Cruising that night went as Colleen had planned for, they found Edward sitting in the parking lot in front of the shopping mall in his turquoise 1966 Chevelle Malibu before they had even looped around at the end of the drag. Dwayne saw the car first and made sure Colleen noticed it as well by elbowing her in the ribs.

“Look, my brother, Edward, is over there in the lot. Let’s pull over next to his car and see what he’s up to.” He paused and glanced back at the unsuspecting victim of the matchmaking scheme in the back seat. “Sharon, have you met my brother Edward yet? He’s a senior at Hayes High, but he’s going to the vocational school studying auto body.” Dwayne smiled at Colleen. She giggled.

“What are you two up to? I know something is up by the way Weenie is acting. Come on you guys! Dwayne, are you two trying to hook me up with your brother?” Sharon stretched to see from her position in the back seat. She could see a blue car in the distance facing the main drag. She liked the car, but then what was she going to find inside? She’d never been attracted to Dwayne. Hopefully, his brother was better looking. As the cars drew closer, she saw the outline of a guy awaiting their little game. Poor guy, she thought. He has no idea what these two are up to. She held her breath as the car stopped and the two front seat passengers evacuated the car. What should she do? Should she get out and play along or just sit there? Trying to see him, she craned her neck and saw him get out of the car. His tall, lean appearance met her approval. Maybe she should check it out! Sharon knew this could go one of three ways: bad, good, or ugly. She took a deep breath and stepped out into her future. Little did she know how important this night would be.

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Their first date was one that Weenie and she devised. The Homecoming dance at Blair, their school, was to occur in two weeks.  A dance seemed to be a little too forward for a first date, but a football game could most likely be more feasible.  Sporting events had always been a blast for the two girls; they’d been members of the pep club and wore their outfits proudly. Having traveled with the football and basketball teams to all the away games they knew the cheers well and liked to scream them at the top of their lungs. Their plan was to ask the brothers to sit near them in the student section near where they had to cheer. Plans went accordingly, and the double date was set!

The game itself was nothing to write home about, but the action on the field, added to the presence of friends, aided in stirring up conversation. Edward was not near as loud as the women he was seated with but seemed to truly enjoy the game. He’d played some football himself and was therefore able to explain some of the intricacies to Sharon who really had no clue about the strategies of the game. She was more of a social butterfly than he was; that was obvious right from the start.  As the game ended, the couples made plans to head to Weenie’s house. Her dad owned a used car lot, and there was a vintage car on the lot that the brothers wanted to see. The four fans loaded into Dwayne’s 1969 Chevelle, the ladies with their rooter poms and the men with their sodas. As they arrived, the guys spotted the car in the lot and went off to talk about it. The girls jaunted next door to buy some gum at the small mom and pop shop. Sharon was hoping for a first kiss, and her mouth tasted like something not too accommodating for such an event.

“So, you like him?” Weenie needed to know if her matchmaking was working. “He’s really cute! Have you seen his blue eyes? They’re gorgeous!”

Sharon hated to admit to her dear friend that in fact she’d not yet looked into his eyes.  She’d truly never looked into any man’s eyes, although by now, most of her friends at school had done far more than that.  She hated that they had nicknamed her the Prude. Her religious beliefs had always led her to waiting to be with a man until her wedding night. She planned to hold true to that promise, even if she did get picked on by her friends.

“Prude! What’s going on in that head of yours? I asked you a question. Do you like him?” Weenie was getting impatient.

He’s kinda cute, but I just don’t know yet. I have to get to know him better.” She stated as she placed her change onto the counter near the register.

Prude was being her good old self, slow to love and even slower to let someone in. Her life until that point had been quite restricted by her mother who protected her too much. Most of her friends had been labeled by this maternal instinct in her life to be acceptable or unacceptable. Even those friends had been few and far between. Up until high school, she’d been close to only two friends, Patty and Sheri. This meant Sharon wasn’t as socially adept as others in her peer group. Colleen had been her first friend that she’d been able to truly have a good time with. The two silly girls had a lot of fun but never broke their vows made at church.

“Oh, come on.  You know you want to kiss him! Look at you all mushy eyed!’ Colleen reached over and tickled her friend in the ribs. Sharon flinched back and dropped their pack of gum. The silver wrapped sticks fell to the ground. Weenie picked one up and threw it at her. Sharon retaliated with the same action and began to laugh. How she loved this friend of hers. She hoped they could be sisters forever.

Walking back over to the lot, they found the young men had moved onto another car and were now discussing a fairly new Pontiac Trans Am. Sharon liked how that model had the picture of a big eagle across the hood of the car and knew that car was most likely quite expensive. It was one of the most popular vehicles at school.

“Well. It’s about time you guys got back! What’d you do? Buy out the whole store?” Dwayne taunted the girls as he usually did and tossed a smile at his girl, Weenie.

Weenie responded with a casual smile that let Sharon know they wanted to be alone. Edward caught the glance and interpreted it the same way she did. He seemed a bit uncomfortable. He had wanted to get home to watch Starsky and Hutch, his favorite show.  The conversation quickly changed to next week’s game and plans were made to go together once again. Sharon watched as Edward pulled out of the driveway and spun his tires, laying a patch on the front road. Dwayne laughed and nodded his head as if to say, yep, that’s my brother!

Sharon watched him drive away and then turned to see her friends then stated. “Look guys I’m going to head inside and spend some time with the sisters and give you time alone.”

“Okaaaay!” Weenie drew out her word again. “We’ll see you in a little bit Prudie!”

Sharon entered the house to find the sisters watching a Bob Newhart Show episode she’d already seen so she opted to go into the CB base station room and find a seat on the soft sofa. She fell back into it and sighed.  Their first kiss hadn’t happened tonight as she had previously hoped. Reclining back while propping her head with a pillow, she dreamt what it might have been like. Doodling on a piece of scratch paper she came up with ideas of how to approach her first kiss. Putting things onto paper had always helped her process things. As she drew, she also wondered if he had ever kissed anyone else. She thought back to some of the conversations at school she’d listened to. It always amazed her that some of the girls were so vocal about what she considered private matters. From listening to them, she knew she had never even known about some of their activities, let alone done them. Weenie was one of the listeners as well. Although she had necked a few times, that was the extent of her knowledge base. Weenie knew of all of Sharon’s deepest, darkest secrets, and Sharon knew all of hers. Sitting there, Sharon went back over the entire date in her head and processed each moment. He did seem open to going to another game the subsequent week. She would get another chance, and possibly by her upcoming seventeenth birthday, she would get a first kiss.

Tonight, she and her friend would talk for hours about kissing boys. The sleepover tonight had a definite topic to be explored. 

nature red forest leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chapter 2

Following the game Duane’s car was the mode of transportation.  The four friends loaded in as they had done the previous week. Sharon sat in the back with Edward and felt him move a tad closer and attempt to hold her hand.  Immediately, as trained she glanced down to find the door handle. What if he tried something right here and now? She could hear Weenie’s giggles coming from the front seat as she was tickling Dwayne. The door handle was intact, so she relaxed her now tense body just a bit. She seemed safe, and by now they were almost back to Weenie’s house down the road for a small party. Sharon could hear the music playing as they entered the house Carry on Wayward Son, by Kansas, was blasting out of the speaker from the area next to the kitchen. Sharon loved that song as did Weenie and soon both girls were belting out the words aloud. Hilljack and his girlfriend Rosie looked up and smiled at the silly girls that they had grown to love. Hilljack let out a huge roar of a laugh. Sharon love to hear Hilljack’s laugh.  It was one of those big, deep, belly laughs that shook the floor.  She noticed his glance and smiled back. He was such a good friend.

Feeling hungry, Sharon walked into the kitchen to find something to eat. Weenie’s mom, Judy, was one who loved to cook for the visiting youngsters, and she’d made enough for twice as many guests. Sharon had never seen so much junk food before! Her home never had pop except at the Holidays, and the other foods at home were always limited to small portions. She loaded up a plate and dove in forgetting about her earlier thoughts about having fresh breath. As she ate, she watched the other couples in the room. Rosie and Hilljack had been dating for some time, they kissed and held hands quite a bit. Weenie and Dwayne were busy dancing to a song by Heart. Edward seem interested in Weenies father’s CB radio set up and was talking to him about the intricacies of its workings. So, Sharon decided to take a walk outdoors and look around the used car lot. She hadn’t taken driver’s Ed. yet but longed to own her own car. A car of her own meant freedom to be away from her mother’s controlling ways. Walking around the lot she spotted a little Volkswagen much like the one her eldest brother drove. As she peered into the window someone touched her arm and she flinched.

“I’m sorry. Did I startle you?” Edward asked.

“I’m fine. I’m just dreaming about owning my own car one day. My brother has one similar to this, but we don’t like how the motor is in the back of it. In the winter the window freezes over a lot. I have to scrape the windshield while he drives. She smiled. He was listening to her every word. She had lived with males all her life and had spoken to them but somehow this was different. This conversation made her body tingle in the most simplistic way.

The remainder of the evening was spent wandering around the car lot. Sharon shared her dream of getting a driver’s license and how she had started first grade earlier after having taken a test. Her mother had been expecting a baby that year. She’d always wondered if she wanted time alone with the new baby. By the evening’s end they’d found a private spot in the corner near the fence of the adjacent store and were sharing things about their childhoods. No secrets were told that night, just common things about likes and dislikes, siblings and such. Sharon felt safe with him as they talked on and on. She could hear Hilljack’s belly laugh and Colleen’s giggling from within the house, but the party was not of interest to her at this moment.  She was right where she wanted to be.

Then, unannounced, the moment she had been waiting for came. Edward leaned in ever so gently and kissed her. The brush of his lips on hers she sent shivers up her back like she had never felt before. She wanted more but knew that it would be quite forward for a young lady to ask. She stood there looking into his hazel blue eyes and smiled. God willing, this would be the first of many to come. She silently lifted a prayer to ask God for the possibility of such an outcome.

Their next date was one where Edward picked her up at the house. Sharon’s mother had not yet met him, and this made Sharon quite nervous to say the least. She really liked the guy. What if her mother placed her stamp of disapproval on him as she had others in her past? She awaited her first real date with anticipation and a nervous stomach. They were going to go out to dinner, and she didn’t want to be ill even before he arrived. Soon, the sound of his revved up Chevelle could be heard pulling into the driveway. Sharon’s heart leapt for joy as she knew he had arrived. She looked up to see the reaction on her mother’s face. It wasn’t good. She had heard the thunderous motor and a concerned look had come onto her face. Her mother had never liked loud cars or the people who drove them, and now her Edward was one of them. Sharon’s body tensed as she prayed that her father would step in and allow her to go out to eat with him. Her 17th birthday was but a week away and she felt old enough, ready for what lay ahead. Would they hold to the rule that she had to be 17 over her head? The doorbell rang and Sharon gasped for air. She so wanted to go! Her mother answered the door to find Edward positioned there wearing jeans and a burgundy coat. He looked inside to see Sharon with a smile on her face. Sharon stepped closer as Luanne, her mother, then told Edward all the rules including curfews. Looking at Sharon, she gave her consent all the while reminding her to stay true to her teachings. Sharon smiled, this time she was able to walk out the front door into his car.

The young couple walk down the sidewalk in front of her brick house and Sharon glanced back to see her parents watching them through the front windows. Edward was a true gentleman and open the door for her as a gesture of respect. Sharon placed her seat belt around her waist and looked back to see him walking around the back of the car. His car was nice, a muscle car, some would say. She loved the sound of its motor and wondered how fast it could go. Her parents had always been very observant of the laws of the road. Neither one had ever gotten a speeding ticket. Sharon laughed inside as she recalled the story about her uncle Ed and how he had once gotten a ticket for driving too slowly. She wondered what he would do in this car!  A giggle escaped her lips as she envisioned her uncle Ed behind the wheel of the Chevelle. They began to pull out onto the road and the car was soon in motion. She was now on her official first date alone. As soon as the car was headed up the huge hill near the swampy area Sharon recalled the checklist. As her mother had trained her to do, first she looked to check the door handle situation. The door handle was broken, and she wouldn’t be able to open it from the inside. Nervous, yet ladylike, she settled in all the while saying a quick prayer that God would protect her in case of an accident or any aggressive tendencies on his part.

“Do you like Kiss?” he asked politely

His question caught her off guard. Sharon didn’t know who the band Kiss was. She glanced down at the door handle and took in a breath. There was no escape as the car was in motion and the door handle didn’t work! Her mother had never mentioned that part! She was so appalled that he would ask for a kiss so soon!  While processing what just occurred, Edward reached across the car and accidentally brushed her knees as he popped open the glovebox. He grabbed an 8-track tape and inserted it into his player.

He noticed her apprehension and quickly spoke again, “The rock band Kiss, you know?,” he clarified.

“Do you mean to tell me that there’s a band called Kiss?” Sharon laughed. “Oh my… I thought… Well I never knew… she couldn’t even finish her train of thought. How silly she had been! Her sheltered childhood hadn’t prepared her for this night in many ways! He wasn’t being forward at all! He was merely asking her the type of music she enjoyed. She’d never really been allowed to listen to this style of music and the name was totally unfamiliar. They looked at each other and busted out loud with laughter that filled the interior of his hot rod and beyond. This moment was one that would always be one of their favorites.

CHAPTER 3

Edward and Sharon dated most every weekend as they had become good friends almost instantly. They bonded over stories from their childhood and movies at the theater. Edward seemed to enjoy scary films and loved it when she would hold his hand tight when she was afraid.

Soon, spending time together became the norm, and issues arose at Sharon’s home as her mother’s concerns grew each day.

“Sharon, we need to talk. You’re away from home too much. You need to remember that you’re just barely 17, and I have plans for you to go to college to be a nurse.”

How many times did Sharon have to tell her that she did not want to be a nurse! She couldn’t stand the sight of blood, and when someone puked, she almost heaved herself!

“Mom, I know that you are concerned. We’re just good friends. I promise,” Sharon pleaded with her to no avail.

“I’m sorry, but I’m drawing the line. You’re not to go out with him anymore.”

Sharon was crushed. Here again, the stamp of disapproval was thrust upon someone’s head. She envisioned Edward with the mark on his forehead in red, not good enough for Sharon.

She was forbidden to see him. The boy with the souped up hot rod was nothing but trouble, according to Luanne. Sharon, had feared this was coming, she wept as the words came out of her mother’s mouth. Here again, her maternal stamp of disapproval was going to regulate who she could be with. She wasn’t a baby anymore. This time, her mother was not going to win. The battle commenced!

******************************************************************

Sharon thought and thought of how to sneak away and see him. They attended different schools thus, the daytime hours were not the answer. The evening was the only possibility. But then, she had no car or even a license for that matter. Babysitting for a local couple and mowing grandma’s yard had been the only way she had made any cash, and that was taken to be put in her savings account. The only way they could get together was when Weenie would call and tell her they’d plans to go to Park Ave. It was so hard for both; there needed to be a way that they could be together.

Finally, Sharon found a job working at that establishment owned by the people she had been babysitting for. One of the waitresses had quit; Sharon was glad for the opportunity. So, she had the job, but not a mode of transportation. Edward too was working now, at a garbage company just outside the city, using his newly acquired body repair skills to fix their containers. He had money and a car! Thoughts began to churn in Sharon’s head. It was as if she could not stop thinking about a way to be with him. She finally arrived at a plan that would be best for all concerned. She could ride the bus and get dropped off to walk to work. Then Edward could pick her up afterward. His place of employment was just down the road! This way, her mother, who had always hated to waste gas money on picking her up at events, wouldn’t have to drive her, and they could be together! It was a plan that just might work!

The daily routine after school now became her walking from a nearby corner to her job and then him coming in after work for dinner and to drive her home. Sharon love cooking his meal on the grill, at times, even cut the slice of cheese for his cheeseburger to resemble a heart. She loved to see the expression on his face when he saw the shape on the open-faced sandwich. His smiles made her feel so special!

Most nights, Sharon would attempt to get her homework done on break and during dinner while sitting in a back booth. Her school newspaper articles came first, then all else followed. In this way, she could have more time with Edward to talk and get to know each other better. The plan was working, and it was a win-win situation for all.

****************************************************************

After a while, the girls wanted to meet their beaus’ family. Sharon knew that Weenie hadn’t met Duane’s family yet, either. So, it was planned that they’d go meet them on the same night. Sharon and Edward pulled into the driveway to find the other couple had just arrived as well. The house was outside of town on the opposite end of the city, from where Sharon had been raised. Its two-story plan was unique from the one she was accustomed to living in, as this was an older style home with the big front porch and a swing. Her eyes were drawn to the full-size majestic trees that lined the border of the property to the left. Sharon loved the variety of trees that God had planted in Ohio and hoped that Edwards family did as well. Glancing to the right, she caught a glimpse of a lady coming out of the house. Her stature was smaller than the brothers and her hair was a much darker black. She smiled as the girls approached with her sons, and Sharon began to wonder if she knew their names. Introductions were made on the front porch, standing near two doors. One door led to the formal living room: and the other, a sitting area. His mother seemed a bit like him, – quieter and more reserved than Sharon’s own mother would have been. Edward seemed to get his personality traits from her. Entering the house, Sharon beheld a huge bay window area to her left. It was part of the living room where the view overlooked the bank beyond. Past this lay a huge open old fashion kitchen with long counters were dishes were stacked, waiting to be washed.

“I didn’t know until just a bit ago that you girls were coming. I wish I’d had more time to make the house decent.”

His mother’s voice was apologetic for no reason. I knew that she had a lot on her hands where she was the main breadwinner of the family. Edward’s father had nearly died a few years back from spinal meningitis. And she had to step in and take over most all of the responsibilities for the family of six. Edward’s other brothers came out to greet them. Jason looked to be about ten to twelve. They had nicknamed him Rerun because he reminded them of a character on a television show, What’s Happening? He looked up at the girls and then began showing them the pet rock he had made. He had probably never seen his brothers with dates before. The guy always had to go pick up his date, but for the young man’s family, getting to meet the girl was different. Soon a rambunctious kid with red hair and freckles entered the room. He was carrying a Racko game looking for someone to play with. Boo, as he was called, was more impressed with the girls than Jason had been and let them know it.

“Hey, Edward, she’s got some nice legs!” His laugh caused him to release a small snort, which sent all of them into a laughing spell.

“You’re a real cutie Boo! Would you like someone to play your game with?’ Sharon loved children, so much. She aspired to be a children’s librarian, one day and hoped she could be befriend him.

“Nope!” Boo ran off into the room, followed by a short legged, long haired, black Wiener dog. “Come on Sparky! Let’s go find some rabbits.” Tossing the game onto the floor, he burst out the front screen door to the porch area. Dwayne trotted after them both, laughing as he went.

“Sorry about that,” apologized Edward’s mother, Elizabeth. “Boo loves to tease girls.”

Stepping into the kitchen, she poured some iced tea into some tall glasses. The ladies sat down at the rectangular table and began to get to know one another. Through the window to the back, Sharon could see the garage that Edward had told her so much about. It was here that Edward spent most of his time at home. His father was there, always tinkering with cars for those in need of help. Edward loved to learn from his dad and took most every opportunity he could to do so. Knowing that Sharon and Colleen wanted to have some girl time with his mom, Edward excused himself from the room. His dad was asking for help with the car that was not running correctly. It was one that the widow Hester from down the road needed back by evening. His father needed him to help wrench something in a tight spot. Sharon smiled as he exited through the rear kitchen door. His kind demeanor was one of the things she loved the most about him. She was falling in love, and so was he.

Upon arriving back at her house that afternoon, the couple hoped to sneak a quick kiss, but her mother had been waiting on them to pull into the driveway for hours. She had been told that Sharon would be gone most all day, but she had forgotten. Where her daughter was at was all her mind could dwell upon. Sharon had chores to do. Her half of the lawn needed mowing, and her room was a mess. If these things were not done by five o’clock, she would not be allowed to join them at the dinner table. Sharon watched her mother run out of the house, then listen as her mom questioned and then lectured her beau.

“Where have you two been? She has chores to do!”

“We’ve been at my house. The girls wanted to meet my family.”

“You’re not taking my daughter to that house of yours again! Do you understand me? I know you picked her up after her breakfast shift, but she needed to be home to get her work done.” Luanne’s voice was angry, and she meant what she said.

“I’m sorry if we’re late. It won’t happen again. We’ll be sure to call if we’re late.” Edwards apology seemed to calm Luanne down a bit.

She walked toward her daughter and took hold of her arm. “You get inside and get busy. Do you hear me, young lady?” She turned to look at Edward as if to say you can leave now. Edward saw the look and knew what it meant. He did not want to press his luck, so he began getting into his car.

“See you later.” Sharon called out to him. She wanted her mother to know that she was going to see him again no matter what she said.

“Yeah, see you soon.” He responded in like and then climbed into his car and left.

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In the days that followed, Edward kept his promise to Luanne. He made sure that they stopped at a pull up payphone at a gas station if they were going to be late. He even reminded Sharon that she needed to call and obey her mother’s wishes. She listened to him but didn’t always want to adhere to his request. She was growing tired of her mother trying to run her life. She just wanted to be allowed to find herself and not be told everything and how to do it. She was 17 and wanted to be able to grow up into adulthood without all of the tangled up strings that connected her and her mother. It was time.

Sharon began spending more time at his house. The young couple enjoyed simple things like watching the television or playing cards. They didn’t need fancy dates or high dollar movie theaters to be happy, they just enjoyed one another’s company.

One night on the way home both had been discussing plans for the next night and how they had wanted to see the new Bruce Lee film.

“You wanna get a burger? I know a place on the way back to your house that has the best burgers around. It’s called Naomi’s.  I think we have time to stop if you don’t mind.” Edward was hoping to get a bite to eat and still honor her mother’s wishes by getting her home on time if not early.

“Sure, sounds good!” He and Sharon had shared a banana split before, maybe tonight, she could get a bite of a sandwich somehow sharing things like that made her feel like they were a true couple.

They pulled up into the lot. It wasn’t what she expected to see. It looked more like a giant shed than a place to dine. The exterior was made of a silver colored aluminum siding with a rounded roof and it looked like something she had seen in the past on a military base. Inside there was a jukebox and two billiards tables, as well as a long counter that stretched the length of the place.

“Hey! Long time no see. How ya’ been?”  Naomi greeted Edward like a dear friend.

“Been great! Hey, I want you to meet my girlfriend Sharon.”

“Hi there, honey. Any gal of his is sure a friend of mine. Have a seat here at the bar. Now what can I get you guys?” Naomi was a dear soul. Sharon could tell by her demeanor and by the way she treated her customers. Looking around the joint, Sharon could tell the kids their age was most of the clientele. Some were attempting to shoot trick shots on the pool table, while others were dancing to the tunes from the jukebox. It was a perfect place to hang out and Sharon was glad that Edward frequented such an establishment. Naomi turned around and slapped more burgers onto the massive grill and then lifted some fries out of the fryer.

“It might take a while dearies. I’m behind with a big order that came in for a party that’s picking it up soon. Here, have a pop while you wait. It’s on me.”

Sharon looked at Edward and he knew what was in her heart. If they stayed, she would be late getting home. She needed to call home and let her mother know the situation.

“Naomi is she please borrow your phone to make a quick call? It’s not long distance.” He asked.

“Immediately Naomi stepped toward where the phone set and responded, “Anything for you babe. Let me grab it. Honey, you may have to step around the corner as my cord won’t quite reach that far.” She motioned to Sharon to come to the end of the counter.

Sharon knew she should call as she did not want any more trouble. She immediately dialed the seven digits on the Rotary dial.

“Hello mom. Edward and I stopped for a bite to eat and I’m going to be a bit late.” She barely got in the sentence when her mother butted in.

“Where are you, young lady? I hear pool tables in the background. You’re in a bar, aren’t you?”

“No, ma’am, we’re not in a bar. We’re in a little sandwich–”

“You get yourself home now!” Her mother was screaming at the other end of the line. “You hear me. You tell him to get you in that car and that he needs to bring you home right now!”

Sharon had begun to shake. She had heard this voice before. “Mom we’ll come soon as we can. You had asked us to call if we’re going to be late, and so I’m calling you as asked. Please, Mom, I’m not in a bar. We stopped for a burger–”

She was unable to finish her train of thought. The call was over. Her mother had hung up on the other end.

“Edward, we need to go right now. It’s not good. Sharon trembled as she spoke. Fear of yet another whipping entered her body. The image in her mind was one of her mother, at home, finding the belt– The one with the holes in it.

“All right. Calm down. Naomi, we need that order to go ASAP!” Edward looked at hisloved one and did not understand. They done as her mother had asked them to. Why was it not a good thing? What was going on? “You go ahead and get into the car. I’ll be right out.” He stepped over to the Register and took out his cash to pay. He knew he had to get her home immediately.

Sharon did as he asked and went out to the Chevelle in the lot. She no longer cared if she got a bite of his burger as she was feeling a bit queasy. As soon as he got into the car, he tossed his to go order aside and looked at her.

“What’s going on? I don’t understand. We did as she asked and you called her. Please help me to understand.” Edward turned so that his blue eyes looked into hers, begging for anything to help him know why she was upset.

“Well. She heard the music and the pool tables over the phone and she thinks we’re in a bar.”

Edwards eyes turned darker. And he repeated almost verbatim what she had just said.” OK, so let me get this straight. Your mom is upset because we called and she heard the music and thinks we’re in a bar.”

“Yes, can we please get on the road or I am really going to get a whooping.” Sharon pleaded.

Edward started up the car and pulled out of the lot, all the while doing a burnout. He wasn’t happy. He couldn’t figure out how to please her mother. He was getting tired of her games. They were trying to do what she wanted, and it did no good.

As he drove, Sharon asked him a question,” Edward, can I ask you a favor? When we get to my house, will you please go in with me? I’m afraid she’ll be waiting with a leather belt.” Sharon meant what she said. She’d never told Edward about how she’d been severely disciplined before.

He looked at her in disbelief.” Sharon, she will not beat you. You called her.”

Sharon didn’t agree. “Look, walk in with me until you see it’s safe and then you can go. If she has the belt, I ask that you stay until I leave the room and get to my bedroom where I can be safe.”

The couple agreed to the plan, Sharon leaned onto his right side trying to avoid the gear shift. She wished the car didn’t have the bucket seats and decided to place a pillow from the back seat on the hump that fitted over the drive shaft. She needed to feel safe and wanted to get as close to him as possible.

Edward didn’t eat his sandwich as he had lost his appetite as well. What was he about to walk into? Pulling into the driveway, they could see the back-porch light was on. Sharon looked at her young Knight in shining armor with pleading eyes.

“Don’t let me go in there alone. Please you need to do as we discussed.”

“I’m not leaving you until I know you’re safe. Come on, let’s get you inside.”

The couple walked arm in arm toward the light. The door swung open. Edward was in for an earful. But he stood by her until she could safely go to her room and lock the door. Sharon never really asked him how long he had stayed there with her mother in that dismal doorway. It didn’t matter. All she knew is that he had protected her and it made her love him all the more.

CHAPTER 4

Time passed, and soon, it was their first Valentine’s Day as a couple. Sharon hoped that he would give her his class ring, and he did. She wore the yarn- wrapped amethyst -stoned ring on her finger proudly. She had a beau that loved her. 

At home, things worsened as her mother was accusing her of all sorts of things that she hadn’t done. She taken so much she just didn’t know how much more she could handle. Her father, a military man, wasn’t always there to talk to. He’d always been the one with the tender heart. Sharon loved him so and wished he were there to discuss things with her. Her mom had never really talked to any of them about relationships or love other than the list of rules she had imposed. Sharon wanted to know about love; more than that, she wanted to feel loved. She watched couples at the airport kiss when the men returned from active duty, her parents never kissed in front of them. Her mother was not into public display of affection of any kind. She never even hugged or kissed her own children goodnight. Sharon longed, for the feeling that she had with Edward more and more. He was the only one ever who touched her and told her she was special. Not even God himself had ever done that. Sharon had heard, in catechism or Bible study at church, how God touched each person he loved in his own way. Yet she did not know what they were talking about. Some of the kids at school had been talking to her about their baptism in actual pools of water and how they’d given their lives to Christ. But there again, she didn’t understand. And when she asked her mom, she was told to hush up or that children were to be seen and not heard. Sharon searched her soul attempting to understand the world about her. She couldn’t ask her mother as that door was shut and her father was always at work or away on duty. Sharon long to understand about the ways of God and how he conversed with others. But that understanding was not meant to be for quite some time. 

************************************************************************ 

In the latter part of February that same year, Sharon found herself at the bedside of her father. He had been hospitalized for ulcers in the past, but this was different. They were thinking that this time something was wrong with his heart. Sharon sat with him and simply held his hand or sang to him his request. As she sang out, Amazing Grace, tears fell down her cheek. A nurse walked in and smiled at the pair, she could feel the love between them. Mom had stepped out of the room to get a bite to eat. The one on one time was just what Sharon had needed. 

“Daddy, are you doing okay? I mean, are you scared?” Sharon was hoping to learn more of God than what she had learned thus far. 

“I’ll be alright. Don’t fret. If God wills, I’ll stay, then I will walk you down the aisle on your wedding day. If not, then I’ll be going home to be with him forever.” His weak voice was like a hushed whisper. It was almost like those words were for just the two of them. 

“Daddy, I’m in love with Edward. How did you know when you were in love with Mommy and that she was the one for you?” Sharon needed so many answers and perhaps today God had given her the opportunity to find a few of them. 

“You’ll know. Listen with your heart and not with the will of your mind. Your mind can play tricks on you, but your heart will know the true love you seek when you find it.” His words touched her soul and she fought back the warm tears forming at the edge of her eyes. 

“Don’t cry, sweetie, everything will be okay either way. God will be with us.” 

Sharon looked up to see her mother return to the room. She asked Sharon to step outside and give her and her father some time alone. Sharon glanced back to see her mother sit in the chair near her father. She hoped she would hold his hand or embrace him, but she didn’t. Sharon did as she was asked to and walked to the end of the hallway to find a cushioned seat next to a window. She glanced outdoors to watch the gentle dance of freshly falling snowflakes in the light of the parking lot. It was truly amazing how each one was unique in design. She lay back and drifted off to sleep until her mother was ready to go home. 

**************************************************************** 

The phone rang during the night. Her father had taken a turn for the worse. Sharon’s mother quickly dressed and got into the family car to go see him. She asked the older siblings to keep an eye on their younger brother. They agreed to do so. Sitting in her bed, staring out the window, Sharon could not sleep. She wondered what was going on at the hospital and wished that she had asked to go along. The boys would’ve been fine there alone at the house. But she hadn’t been asked and thus was left there staring out the window at the full moon, lighting up the trees around their home. Sharon scribbled some notes into her Journal as she wondered if the deer were out. Oft times they came out at night to feed during a full moon. She looked down at the tree line and spotted a Buck in his full regalia. She watched as he stood there in the moonlight and looked up at her. Sharon shuddered as they made eye contact. It was as if for that moment their souls had connected. And then almost as quickly as he had appeared, the Buck was gone. Sharon watched as he ran into the trees of the forest and disappeared. He was gone forever. Picking up her pencil, she began to make notes of what experience she had just had. She somehow knew it was an important moment in her life. She dozed off pencil in hand. 

************************************************************** 

Funeral preparations were not easy for Luanne. She did know she wanted full military honors at her husband’s graveside. That was a given. She also picked out a plot in the veterans’ section so he would always receive full honors on Holidays. Sharon was trying to deal with her father’s death in her own way, wondering where he was, and why she’d seen that Buck in the woods on the night he died. Her mother seemed to be going through the motions of closing one part of their lives and trying to begin another. 

Edward had found out about Sharon’s father’s death from his mother, Liz, who worked at the hospital. She had asked friends on staff to let her know the man’s well-being as she had seen Sharon there one day. She didn’t bother the child as she had not yet met the family and didn’t want to eavesdrop at such a critical time. This wasn’t the time to get to know the family. She had experienced many months of sitting in a hospital room with her husband Freeman. She felt that the time they had been given wasn’t enough to introduce herself to them. Edward came to the house as soon as he heard. He rapped on the back door and was let in. Luanne quickly called for Sharon who was upstairs in her room, staying out of the way. She was glad to hear her mother call her in the hopes that somehow, she could assist with the plans. Coming down the steps, she caught a glance of a familiar face; it was Edward! 

She ran into his arms and he held her as she nuzzled closer, wanting to feel his love. Then sitting down on the couch and holding Sharon’s hand Edward asked Luanne how he could be of assistance. He was there for her and her family. Sharon hoped her mother could see his kind heart as she did. 

******************************************************************* 

The funeral showing was just a few days off and there was a lot to accomplish. Edward offered to pick up Sharon’s great uncle at the airport in Cleveland just prior to the event. After that, Sharon was put in charge of picking up some last-minute items for the reception at the house. They needed more paper products and plastic silverware. Those things could be kept in the car until they needed them. 

Heading back with Sharon’s great uncle in the car from the Cleveland Airport, the weather began to shift. On the radio came news of an impending ice storm with high winds. The area most affected would be near Sharon’s house. The roads became slicker as they arrived near the home where her relative was to be dropped off. They unloaded his bags and helped him inside. The family he was staying with had heard that some parts of town were without power as lines were being taken down by falling trees and limbs. Sharon and Edward left so that they could complete their final errand for the day. Walking into the store, they could see people hurrying to buy staples such as milk and bread. Sharon went to the paper products aisle, got what her mother had asked them to, and hurried to pay. Then they headed out to the Funeral Home. They were running late as it was. As they pulled into the parking lot of the Funeral Home, there were no cars to be seen. In fact, the lot hadn’t even been salted. Hiking up the maxi length skirt that her father had gotten her, she stepped out of the car onto pure ice. Edward came to her side and assisted her as she walked to the door of the establishment. Upon opening the door, the two entered to find the place dark and only one person in sight. 

“Good evening, are you here for Mr. Gardner?” The man spoke softly as he glanced at the young couple. 

Sharon looked around and saw the sign with her father’s name on it. “Yes, we are.” 

She could feel Edward squeezing her hand ever so slightly to remind her that he was there for her. He knew she was becoming aware that the Funeral Home was without power. The place was pitch black. 

“Well,” the man began. “As you can tell, the storm has taken out our power and thus the showing tonight has been cancelled.” 

Sharon felt her knees begin to buckle as Edward and the man grabbed ahold of her and sat her down in an adjacent room.  

“He’s my father and I would like to see him. May I please see him?” The plea was one of a daughter wanting to be with her daddy. 

““I’m sorry. There’s no light and he hasn’t been prepared for viewing. The hair and makeup person couldn’t get in to work on him.” His words tore at her heart. Her daddy didn’t need his hair done and makeup on his face. In fact, he didn’t like makeup and had forbidden her to even use the stuff. She just wanted to see him. 

“I don’t care if his hair is not done and his face isn’t made up. I would like to see him.” She repeated her plea only to find more resistance. 

“Young man, please talk some sense into your lady friend. Her father is in no condition for her to see him. Why his body is cold from being in the cooler and as for the fact that we have no heat well, he is ice cold.” 

Edwards reply was what Sharon needed’ “Is her father dressed?” 

‘Yes, but..” 

Edward interrupted, “Then we’re going in. She needs to be with him. Surely you must understand that.” 

Apprehensive about what was to occur, the gentleman allowed them to enter the room only after having explained a few more things. “Listen, sweetheart. Your father’s body will be cold to the touch. He will not look at all like what you have seen at other funerals. Also, there are no flowers in the room. The deliveries could not get here with the storm. What did come are not out here as the showing had been cancelled. The room will be dark and cold. We have no heat and no lights. I’ll get some candles to light our way. The sun is beginning to set and it will be hard to see in there. 

The man left the couple alone as they embraced. How could this be happening? Were they going to be able to have a funeral tomorrow? Were they going to be able to bury him?  

Returning with the candles, the man aided them in lighting them as promised. As they entered the room, Sharon saw the casket that her mother had picked out. Her father lay with his hands neatly folded across his chest inside. Handing her candle to Edward she ran to kiss her father on the forehead trying to ignore the dismal dark room that he lay in. 

“Daddy, I miss you already!” She glanced around the room and then looked back into his cold, ashen face. “You deserve so much more than this. I wish things could be different. I wish that everyone who loved you could be here to honor you. There aren’t even any flowers on your casket.” 

            Edward approached her side cautiously, sat down the candles nearby and wrapped his arms around her. Glancing down, he noticed her father’s face was bare at almost the same moment as his love did. 

“Sir,’ Sharon began, “Do you know where my father’s glasses are?” 

“No miss. I don’t and in the dark. I won’t be able to find them. They could be almost anywhere.” 

Sharon began to weep for all that she was grieving. Not only had her father died. But now, she would possibly be the only one he knew and loved to say goodbye to him. 

“Do we know the plans for tomorrow yet? Will it be possible for people to come then?” 

The man replied as tenderly as he could, “No miss. The funeral has been canceled as well. Your mother called to say that your home is buried in fallen trees and she cannot get out of the driveway. She needs to cancel it all.” 

“You mean he will be buried alone?” Sharon needed to know more. 

“Well, Pastor Garrett will be officiating at the graveside as he lives the closest and thinks he can get in here. He’ll travel with the hearse to the graveside.” 

“Then I’ll be here also. He’s not going to be buried alone by someone that he has never met in his life.” Her emotions were starting to get the best of her. “We’ll be back in the morning.” 

Sharon spent some time alone with her father and promised him that she would be back. She talked to him about things she wanted to say and then turned and walked away. She knew that she may never see his face again. This was quite possibly her final goodbye. 

************************************************************** 

A call was made from a nearby payphone that was accessible. While standing in the booth, Sharon listened as her mother explained to her that the large maples to the side of the house had fallen on the driveway and taken down a few of the lines. She was glad that they had phone service and hoped to get outside with the boys to clear some of the debris while there was still a tad of light. She told Sharon to stay the night with a friend as she was unsure if any of the lines on the driveway were live. There was no way to get in except through the woods in the back, and even that would be risky due to the icy conditions. Sharon hung up the phone and looked at Edward. She’d never wanted to go home before, and now that she couldn’t, she was just as upset. Things were not making sense at all. 

“Edward, I need to find a place to sleep. Mom says it’s unsafe to go home right now. Perhaps I can stay at your house on the couch?” 

“We can see. I’m sure that my mom won’t mind one more person for the night. As far as I know, we have power at our house. A hot bath might be just what you need to relax a bit.” 

Sharon loved that he was thinking of ways to take care of her. His kind heart was dealing with the situation better than hers, inside she felt so many emotions that she didn’t know which one to even begin with. She was angry with most everyone that had anything to do with the funeral. How dare Father Ben not come tomorrow. Who was this guy who was going to be there anyways? She never met him before! Then it was her mother’s turn. How dare she cancel the funeral? There may have been a few local people that could make it. He deserved better than that. This wasn’t a time for her selfish controlling ways. 

Upon arriving at the house, Edward let Sharon out of the car as near the front door as possible and then parked. Jason and Boo were outside salting a path for them to get on to the porch. Edward escorted Sharon into the house and then the living room. His parents were seated watching the cabinet style color television in the bay window area. His mother looked up with his surprised look on her face. She had not expected to see Sharon tonight, but was glad she had come. 

“How was the showing, dear?” she asked. ”I hope everything was alright with the weather conditions. It’s just terrible outside.” 

Edward interrupted his mother. This was a first for that. “The showing was cancelled. We’re unsure about the funeral. Her mother is unable to get out of the house as trees have fallen on the driveway.” 

“How terrible! Did you get to see your father at all?” Liz asked. 

“Yes, I did. But it was not good, not good at all.” With that, Sharon broke into tears. She had held it in long enough. 

Liz stood up and crossed the room to embrace her. “Would you like a nice cup of hot tea? How do you drink it?” 

Sharon followed her into the kitchen, the hot tea and conversation with a woman that would listen was just what she needed at that moment in time. Liz provided a shoulder to lean on and Sharon truly appreciated it. 

****************************************************************** 

After a while the younger boys had gone off to bed and things settled down. Edward made ready a hot bath in the clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom. They didn’t have any bubble bath since the house was filled with males, but he did the best he could to lay out a towel and all he thought she might need. Sharon was pleased to be able to sit back and relax as the hot water enveloped her. Her concerns seemed to drift away, as her tense body calmed. Tomorrow she thought I will be there for my daddy, even if nobody else can make it. He needs someone there to be with him. Perhaps the Pastor that will come would allow her to sing Amazing Grace. Her father would like that. There in the tub she sat and planned what she would do to make the best of things. Laying back, she dreamed of the day when she and Edward might make this house their very own. Then she would be able to take a hot bath in this wonderful tub whenever she wanted to. 

At that moment she heard the pitter patter of footsteps coming down the hall. She glanced at the doorknob to see that she had secured it. She hoped that Boo did not need to get in. He was the youngest and might need to use the restroom. Quickly, she stood up and wrapped herself in a towel so that she could get the door. Suddenly, the door popped open and in stepped Boo smiling from ear to ear. 

“Hey! What are you doing in here? I gotta pee.” His childlike demeanor, caused Sharon to laugh out loud as she quickly double checked she had covered herself. He was definitely all boy. 

Watching the young man step to the commode, she turned her head and laughed inside. 

Thank you, God, for this joy in my life. I needed to laugh. 

************************************************************* 

That night she and Edward sat up and talked for hours. He wanted to know more about how she felt about all that was happening. He told her about when his father had been ill in the Ohio State Hospital in Columbus. Sharon had never heard the story in such depth before and listened as she sat cradled in his arms on the couch in the sitting room. It was hard losing a father. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before. Almost dozing off in the warmth of his arms, they decided they could both use some sleep. Edward found the blankets and a pillow and kissed Sharon goodnight, right before heading up to his room at the top of the stairs. 

Sharon lay there for hours on end with things rotating in and out of her head. She was still quite angry that her mother had cancelled the whole thing, but she was trying to understand. Perhaps another hot bath would calm her down and allow her to drift off to sleep. She walked up the stairs, tiptoeing all the while trying not to awaken anyone and then stopped. The door to Edward’s room was opened and she could see him sound asleep in his warm bed. Her mind made a quick decision to go in and rest in his arms instead of taking a bath. She had almost fallen asleep in his arms earlier. perhaps it would work now. Walking in, she slipped into his bed ever so quietly and rolled over next to him. Edward woke and embraced her. She did not leave his arms until dawn. 

************************************************************ 

Sharon and Edward loaded up in his father’s four-wheel truck the next morning. His brothers and he had loaded the back-end with bags of salt and some snow for extra weight for traction. The studded snow tires were an added insurance for safety. It was their best chance at getting to town. Icy spots in the roads at the bends and near fields slowed them up quite a bit, but at last they showed up at the Funeral Home to find an empty lot. They went to the door, and the same man for the night previous ask if they could follow the hearse. It would be pulling out of the garage in a moment. They did as they were asked and followed along behind the long black vehicle. Sharon wept and scooted over to be as close to Edward as she could. She needed to be held so badly. She felt alone but was thankful that Edward had been there so she could get to the funeral. As they pulled around the military section of the Cemetery, Sharon to look to see where her father would be laid to rest. There was a large Oak tree over her head and this spawned her memory to wonder how her mother and brothers were doing at home with the tree situation they were in. 

Pastor Garrett started the message with the Lord’s prayer and a few verses from the Bible and then ask Sharon to sing. She stepped toward the casket and lay her hand on top of its flowerless wooden surface. The wood was cold as ice. The bare place where the flowers would have been caused her to sob fleetingly. Her heart wanted to see him just once more but knew that would not be allowed. The lid had been sealed. Tears began streaming down her face as she began to sing the song that they had shared not so long ago in the hospital room, Amazing Grace. The words came out of her mouth in honor of her father’s love for the song, but she didn’t really understand what the words meant, at least not yet. Someday, she would understand them better than most. His Amazing Grace was yet to come. 

CHAPTER 5

Spring blossoms bloomed and graduation day was drawing near. Sharon’s mother was trying to withstand all that was going on. Her younger child had four more years to go before completing high school and the other two had college to complete. How was she going to manage raising the kids? She had been a child in a single parent home herself, and to be in that position was something that she was unprepared for. She’d never worked and finding a job would be a hard task.

Sharon and Edward continued to date. Weenie and Dwayne were beginning to get serious and were talking of marriage one day. Sharon was happy for them and secretly hoped that perhaps the Christmas after graduation she would get an engagement ring herself.

Sharon had met Edward’s grandparents from his father’s side. His grandfather was a stoic man who liked to watch game shows and solve crossword puzzles. Alice was a soft edged woman, full of love for all. She loved to hug Sharon as soon as she entered the door. Sharon soon learned that Alice was a woman of God and attended a Methodist Church on a regular basis. She had heard of people who exuded in the light of Jesus. But she had never met one in real life. Alice was the real thing. Each meal that the couple ate at that home was made with such love and care. Grace was said prior to dining, just like at her house, and that made her feel more comfortable. At times when she and Edward went to visit, she was able to meet other family members as well. Each one of them was kind to her. She could not believe it. Her family was alright, but they had their issues. It was nice to be in a home where everyone treated each other with respect.

School went on as usual. Classes such as physics and Spanish III were beginning to get harder, but Sharon could handle it. She and Weenie had worked out a way to study the vocabulary words for their college prep classes. Those classes were hard. Sharon was glad to have a friend to help. Working as a team, the girls were going to master their senior year and move on to college. They’d both already begun to investigate schools in the state. The option they really liked was the regional campus in their area. It would be the best way to attend school while being close to home and the men they loved.

One night while studying, Sharon looked at Weenie and ask her a personal question. Her monthly cycle was late, and she wondered if hers had ever been. Sharon was hoping that it was the stress of her father’s death, but also had a secret that she shared with only one other person.

“Girl. Why are you asking me this? Did you?… Did you and Edward? Oh my gosh. I cannot believe what I’m hearing. We took an oath to God and to each other. You’ve got to be kidding me. “Colleen was angry and was showing it.

Sharon started to cry. She really needed a listening ear.

Does he know this? Does he know you’re late? Weenie’s questions were understandable.

“Yes, we’ve talked about it.” Sharon’s face turned downward and looked at the ground. “Help me Weenie. I don’t know what to do.”

“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We will call Planned Parenthood and schedule you a pregnancy test. There is no sense in you getting all upset about something that is probably just stress.”

Sharon had mixed emotions about doing this. She would prefer to pretend it was her nerves and not something else. Weenie picked up the phone and dialed the number. The rabbit test had to be done right away.

*****************************************************************

The follow up call was made on the payphone in the entrance way of the school. Weenie and she planned to ask to go to the restroom at the same time and meet there at 11:00 o’clock. That way the lunch rush would not be using the phone. Sharon took the quarter she had reserved in her pocket and dropped it in. Dialing the number she began to shake, as Colleen held her hand. The time to hear the results was nigh. What had she done? In an hour of need, she hadn’t only violated her promise to God, but now she could be pregnant out of wedlock. The phone rang at the other end and a lady picked it up.

“Hello.”

“Yes, hello. My name is Sharon Gardner. I need to know the results of my test please.” Sharon held her breath and thought that the lady would tell her pregnant or not pregnant. But instead her response was positive.” What does that mean please? I don’t know what positive means. Am I pregnant or not?”

Sharon glanced at her friend, who had a look on her face that she recognized. Weenie knew what positive meant even before the voice on the phone explained it.

“Yes, positive means that you’re pregnant. Congratulations.”

The word resounded in her ears, pregnant. Weenie didn’t make her say the words aloud. They stood in the foyer to the school holding one another. What was she going to do? Her mother was going to kill her! She walked into the bathroom and threw up.

**************************************************************

Telling Edward was the easy part. He too loved children and wanted a whole houseful of them one day. He greeted the news with enthusiasm, as did his family. His grandma Alice, was so excited that she, even jumped up from her rocking chair. Her love of God did not allow any emotions, but gladness. Later that same day, at Sharon’s house, it did not go so well. Her mother had a lot on her plate, and now this. She responded to the news with a completely opposite approach. She didn’t want her daughter to be a single mom, ever. She knew they were young and hadn’t landed good jobs. Nor did they have insurance. She told them what she considered was the right thing, to abort the child. They had made their bed and they would need to lie in it. Her plan was to take Sharon to the bank and have her withdraw her babysitting money. That was what was to be done. That or her daughter would find herself picking up things on the front lawn and moving out. She wouldn’t welcome her in the house if the procedure wasn’t done. That was her final word.

Edward and Sharon went round and round in conversation about what to do. They were only 17 and had not graduated from high school. Neither one wanted to stand up to her mother. She was so controlling, and they knew that she meant what she said. His income at his job was not much at all, and they wouldn’t even be able to afford an apartment let alone food. Looking back the young couple realized they had made a mistake that night. Sharon should have never entered his room for comfort. They were in a real mess. Now what?

Afraid to look to the church, Sharon prayed for someone to step in and come to their rescue. Perhaps she could find a home for unwed mothers and move there while Edward saved some money. Time, was of the essence. She knew her mother wasn’t happy with her living under her roof with child. What was she going to do?

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“May I help you?” ask the lady behind the counter.

Sharon knew in her heart that this woman wasn’t the one that would come to her rescue. This young woman was an employee who saw women coming into their establishment daily. She wouldn’t be the type to be a heroine and stop her. If she did, her job could be on the line. Sharon stood and watched as the receptionist wrote her name in the appointment book. Sharon breathed in the stale air and seemed to sense death all about her. Looking about the room, she wondered if anyone there knew her. She hoped not. It was bad enough to have been sent to this place, but she didn’t want others to know. As she took the seat in the waiting room, she glanced around to see other women reading magazines, awaiting their turn to walk through the door into the back. What was exactly going to happen in there? Fear entered her heart, but she knew she had no choice. She had been told to come here. If she did not go through it, her mother would toss her into the streets. She was still in high school and unable to provide for herself, let alone a new baby. Sharon looked up at the other women in the small waiting area. She wondered what their stories were. She wondered if anyone else, there had been forced into coming by someone they loved like she had. The looks on their faces didn’t reveal their secrets or their reasons to the where, when, or whys in their lives. Sharon thought back to the countless times, she’d heard someone from the pulpits talk about how abortion was murder. She wondered how her mother could even think to ask her to believe one thing and do another. She had sinned against God by having premarital sex, but this was too much. Her thoughts turned to Edward, her true love. Where was he now? Did he feel the same way? She thought about her loved one who had brought her to the clinic and wondered if he would come back to rescue her. She envisioned him as a Knight on a white steed, riding in to save her, the damsel in distress. She let out a sigh. Time passed. Nobody was coming. There was no white horse or a Knight. There wasn’t even a friend who cared enough to help her. She was on her own. Head down, she felt more lost than ever. Nobody cared. She had messed up and had to pay the price. She was a sinner, and she knew it. She didn’t even think to pray. She simply wept inside and wrapped her arms around herself as to attempt to comfort her body from the emotional pain. The door to the back creeped open, and interrupted her train of thought. Sharon lift her head and looked to see the receptionist holding someone’s paperwork. Another name was about to be called.

“Sharon come on back. We’re ready for you now.”

The sound of her own name being called out made her shudder. As she rose to the call her knees began to buckle under the weight of her shame. She stood up and walked through the opened door.

Entering such a sterile environment was not familiar to Sharon. She’d never had an exam, let alone ever been in a room for a procedure such as this. As she glanced around the room, she saw machines and instruments that she had never witnessed. She had no idea what they were but knew what they were going to be used for.

“OK dear, get undressed. Put on this gown and the doctor will be in soon.” The receptionist voice was sweet, almost too sweet. It was one of those drawn out voices; a covered in warm, gooey, honey kind of voice. How could she do this day in and day out? Was she the sheep in wolfs clothing that Sharon had learned about in classes at church?

“Yes, ma’am.” Her well taught manners kicked in. She didn’t know the lady’s last name, so ma’am seemed most appropriate. The unbuttoning her blouse triggered memories of Edward’s gentle touch, maneuvering the buttons that night. The Pearl tone finish had felt the warmth of his hands. That was not the case this time. Her mind became caught up in the act of reflection as she continued to undress and put on the gown. The light floral print made with cotton fabric made her skin react with a rash of small goosebumps.  Finding her seat on the table was the next thing to do. She sat down and looked at the stirrups at the end of the table. A brief smile glanced over her face as she thought what they looked like; horse stirrups, her friend Sherry had put on to the horses at her home. How she wished she was there at this moment. She would watch the horses run with the wind, causing their coarse manes to soar in the air behind them. The resounding sound of their majestic hooves, hitting the ground would help her mind escape from the situation she was in. Any place would be better than this. She wanted to run like the wind and escape the room. She wanted to get out of there quick. But where was she to go?

The physician entered the room. “I need you to lie back. Place your feet in these stirrups here at the end of the table.”

Sharon did as she was told. Her mother had trained her well on how to follow directions.

“Now slide down to where your bottom is at the end of the table. Keep sliding. OK, good. Stop.”

The crinkle of the paper, coupled with the sounds of her feet hitting the icy cold hard metal of the stirrups made Sharon cringe. These things were nothing like the warm soft leather stirrups she was accustomed to at her friends. Her mind attempted to wander back to her friend’s house. The image was not there.

“You’ll feel a cold instrument as I place it into your vagina. It’s opening and you may feel a bit uncomfortable,” The doctor began.

His touch was not of one of love she had grown accustomed to with Edward. Sharon lay still as she felt the cold metal within her.

“God be with me, I need you,” She prayed in a hushed voice.

Her body trembled as she lay with her feet up, allowing this stranger to touch her in a way that nobody ever had. It was so impersonal. The nurse nearby glanced at her and seemed to sneer. Her judgment of one so young being here was apparent.

“It’s opening and you’ll feel pressure.” he continued.

Small cramps began to occur in her abdomen. This ushered in a fear that rose up inside Sharon’s body and took her breath away. It was as if she was back at school, in gym class and had been hit in the gut by a dodgeball during the game. It was a kind of hit that took you down and made you clutch your stomach as you tried to inhale.

God, I cannot breathe. Are you here with me? I need you.

The pleading of the young woman was internal and thus inaudible to the medical staff in the room. She looked up and saw a scissor shape tool about to enter her body.

God is he going to cut my baby up inside of me?He is going to cut it into little pieces! God help me! Her internal thoughts grasped trying to figure out how to talk to God as her friends had.

Tears rolled down her face as she recalled her mother’s words,” Take care of it now or you’ll find your things on the front lawn. You’ll not be welcome here anymore.”

Daddy, I need you. Why did you have to die and leave me to deal with her?You would have helped me. Thoughts raced in her mind as she fought back the idea of what was occurring to her. No, not just her. It was happening to them.

A sudden feeling of something being placed in her body that seemed to grab and pinch her  insides was next. What was going on? Was the baby still alive? Could she still save it?

God, it’s me again. I’m alone here. I need you to be with me. What are they doing, Lord? Please help me to understand. Her plea was sincere and out of love for the wee being that had been designed by God’s hand in her womb.

It was then in that moment of silence that Sharon heard God’s wee voice whisper in her head.” Ask them to stop.”

Sharon hesitated. Was that God? Had he spoken to her? She had never heard him before.

More instruments entered her personal space. She was afraid of what her earthly mother would do if she returned home, still carrying a child in her womb. Another tool was followed by more tools. The cramping worsened. Sounds began to fill the air. A machine that had set idle come to life. A suction sound filled the air.

She hesitated again and then aloud she asked, “Please stop. I want to keep my baby.” She wanted to scream the words, but it came out in a mere whisper. The physician had not even heard her over the machine.

Again, she said, “Please stop!”

The doctor looked up from where he was performing the procedure and frowned. “I’m sorry. It’s too late. I need to finish the procedure.”

Those awful words resounded in her head over and over again. It was too late.

The procedure continued as again and again her body was invaded by a tool that was sucking the life of her child out. It was sucking her own life out of her as well. It was near unbearable. Her soul cried out to him in despair as she did not understand.

Their baby was dead. Edward’s baby, her baby was dead. She had killed it. If only she had been stronger and said to stop sooner. If only she had stood up to her mother and said no. Now it was too late for those things. The pain within her rose up and her stomach was in knots. The emotional pain coupled with the physical procedure that she’d had to endure was too much to bear. Something trickled between her legs and she hoped it was her own blood. She wanted to roll over in a ball and die. She lay there trying to understand why her mother had told her that she had to abort the child. She loved their child, the child they’d made on that night. They hadn’t meant to fall into one another’s arms, but it happened, and now this. God had given him that child as a gift. Could her mom not see that? Her thoughts drifted off to again to him. Where was Edward? Was he out driving around the city? Was he in the outer office trying to get to her? Could he feel her pain? Did he know that it was too late? Oh God, I killed this child. The child that we wanted. She didn’t know where he was. She prayed he was OK, and that God was with him. She lay back hoping it would soon be over then for a moment it all stopped.

“Doctor, we need you to come immediately. There’s a young woman in need.” an entering nurse stated.

Talk of another girl who was hemorrhaging in an adjacent room began to spill over into the room where Sharon lay. The hushed voices in the hallway announced the details.

“I’ll be right there.” the doctor responded. The doctor left and Sharon was alone for a short time. It began to sink in that she could have the same fate as the girl next door.

“Please God. Let me hemorrhage like the girl next door. Save her Lord and let me die. I’ve killed our child. Let me go home to be with him.”

Her prayer was one filled with love and honesty. She reflected upon the time when she’d been told by her mother that she had made her bed, and now she must lie in it.

“Lord, let this be my deathbed. I’m not needed here now as much as there. He needs me Lord, my child needs his mother.”

Her prayer was interrupted by the return of the Doctor who busied himself with the completion of what had begun. Sharon lay and listen to her heart beating, knowing that the heartbeat of her child was no more. She could overhear talk in the other rooms about the young lady.  She quickly said a prayer for her. “Please God, let her live, let me die in her place.” Her prayer to join her child in Heaven was not answered. As far as her prayers for the other lady, she never heard of the outcome. She may have died. She may have survived. Sharon never found out.

Throughout the car ride home, she lay in the back seat in a fetal position. This position seemed to be the only one she was comfortable in. Perhaps it was because in that tight little ball she felt as if someone were holding her. Perhaps it was just the natural thing to do.

“Where do you wanna go? Do you want me to take you to your house? he asked.

“No, not my house. I can’t stand to look my mother in the eye. I’d like to go to your house. Your mother and Colleen will be there.”

His mother, Liz, was the woman who was excited about the upcoming child. She wanted to be a Grandma.  Her reaction had been the one Sharon had hoped for from her mother, but that wasn’t meant to be. Sharon needed to be comforted and her mother wasn’t the one to do it. Her mother had never been very good at that. Why would she be good at it now? If she went there, she would be asked a barrage of questions. That she couldn’t handle. Her mind switched gears as it was a coping mechanism, she had used a lot. She hoped that Edward’s brother was off work by now. That would mean that he was able to pick Colleen up and bring her to Edward’s house. Colleen knew what was transpiring today. She had been with her through it all.

Sharon lay back and listened to the sounds of the road. Cars and trucks rushed to and fro heading to places unannounced to Sharon. She thought about her brothers and the games they had played in the car on family trips. She smiled as she recalled playing the game where she and her siblings imitated the drivers they passed. Laughter would fill the car as they made faces and moved their hands. She wondered if those days were gone forever. She wasn’t a little girl anymore.

“We can listen to the radio if you like.” asked Edward.

“The radio would be nice. Thank you.”

Singing along to the songs on the radio took her mind off things. Sharon smiled as she recalled their first trip in his car; the one where she hadn’t known about the band Kiss. That seemed as if it were a moment ago, but now things were so different. She was a murderer.

Edward sat in the front seat pondering what to do next. He loved Sharon so and knew that in his heart he wanted the baby so much. But they were young.  He didn’t make much money. Could they find a way to make it work? He would never know. He loved hearing Sharon singing, as he had at her father’s grave side, but he hoped one day to listen to her voice, rejoicing for the Lord rather than the sad tearful voice he had heard thus far. She was becoming the love of his life. He wanted to be there for her and felt as if he had failed her.

The trip was long, and the music seemed to lull Sharon into a more welcome state of mind, at least for a while.

On the radio, a new tune rang out. The lyrics spoke of an expectant mother and how having a baby revealed the love of her man. Having my baby. What a wonderful way to tell me how much you love me.https://www.youtube.com/embed/umrzGr_etQw?feature=oembed

Sharon’s sobs turned into wales of anguish. Her true love turned the radio off. Neither one of them could tolerate listening to that song. The silence was deafening.

CHAPTER 6

The final few months of her senior year were filled with joy and laughter, as well as tears. Not solely because of friendship lost, but for other reasons as well. Rumors had begun to circulate.

“Did you hear that Sharon had an abortion?”

“Yes, I can’t believe it. She doesn’t seem the type.”

“Well, she must be. They said she did it.”

Sharon wanted to hide. Her love for Edward and their need to draw close and comfort one another had turned their lives into a living hell. Not only was she living with the pain in the losses. Now she had to deal with all of this. How had the rumors begun?

Sharon soon learned that one of her friends mothers worked for the local health Department and was in charge of files. While filing the paperwork from the abortion clinic, she had come upon a familiar name and read the file. She then went home to ask her daughter about what she had read. Needless to say, the word was out. It was not only out it was spreading like fire. Even though nobody at the clinic on the day of her procedure had known her, it was no longer a secret. Her friend had deceived her in gossip, telling all. A trust that was once strong was now broken. A new ache filled her body.

“Lord, I know that I’ve done wrong. When will this all end? What is the purpose for all of this? Even my friends treat me differently now. I just want to be loved. Do you love me, Lord? Does anyone?

Sharon rode home on the school bus that day in silence. Her head was down and she pretended to be ill. The hour long ride seemed like four. Disembarking from the bus, she saw more trouble ahead. Her mother was standing in the driveway with the leather belt behind her back. Trouble was on its way and she knew it.

A phone call from a friend of a friend to Sharon’s mother had been made. They told her that rumors were all over the area. Her mother was furious and living with her became all but something to bear. Her mother would not listen to her as she tried to explain that Edward was her first and only. She had never even kissed another man, let alone been with them in that way. She had been raised to believe to save herself for her wedding night. She had saved herself for that special man. She needed to feel loved and her mother wouldn’t listen. Accusations of having slept with other men were slung at her. The sting of her mother’s words lingered more than the pain from the belt. She came to preferring stings of the belt over the lashing from her mother’s tongue. Sharon’s eldest brother was at College. And her little brother was too young to comprehend what was even going on. Mother was in charge and everyone knew it.

Sharon couldn’t wait until graduation. She was going to get out of there. She and Edward would get a place and she would never go back. She hated her mother almost as much as she hated herself. The looks and glances at school were enough. But then to come home to glares and name calling was even worse. She pressed on. That was all she could do.

The final weeks of her senior year crept by. She and Edward were talking of marriage. They hoped to be married in the winter. It would be in February to be exact. The date of Valentine’s Day sounded good. It was to be picture perfect. They would have it at the church where Sharon had always attended. Edward’s family had not had a home church. Thus, the choice of the location was simple. She pictured herself in a white gown as she walked down the aisle, toward the hand carved wooden Jesus. It was the most beautiful part of the church. Yes, the handmade stations of the cross were beautiful, but Jesus with his arms open wide, was her favorite. He would welcome her as she walked down the aisle to be with Edward.

It was soon early June and graduation day was upon them. Due to circumstances out of their hands, Edwards and Sharon’s graduations were on the same day, at the same time. Neither could attend the others ceremonies. Their schooling was over, the new phase of their lives was about to begin. A party was planned at both homes. Sharon’s family was to be coming to her house after the ceremony at the school. Her plan was to attend the ceremony, fill her obligations at the party and then head out to Edward’s house. She wanted to be with him all day but knew it couldn’t happen. Not today. She put on her white gown and high heels and went downstairs. During the quiet ride to the school, she thought about the process of the ceremony and how she would need to return her gown afterward. They would need to get all the pictures before then. If they didn’t, she wouldn’t have a photo in her graduation regalia. Upon arriving at the school she found friends to get photos with. Poses and smiles were everywhere. Her closest friend Colleen came running to her. The smile on her face revealed a love for Sharon that would make any friend proud.

“Come on prude. Let’s get inside. We need to get in the lineup,” her dear friend reminded her.

Sharon smiled back and chuckled. Weenie could always make her smile.

“OK.” she stated.” Let’s go.”

Goodbyes were said to family members as they exited the front of the building. Walking inside the school, Sharon glanced to the left. The payphone on the wall had been where she had made the call to Planned Parenthood when she and Colleen had gotten out of that class one day, months back. She had been there when the rabbit test had come back positive. Her friend saw the look on her face.

“Honey, I know you’re hurting but we need to move on. Soon we’ll be out of school and things will change. It’s going to be OK.” She smiled as she spoke.

Sharon smiled back. She walked on to the back of the building and got into line.

The ceremony was the norm. There was the prayer, speakers, and then the procession that went on and on. Her class was the largest ever at Blair High School, where there were over 500 names to be read. Sharon watched as the procession of graduates approached the podium, her mind began to wander. She dreamed of what her life would be like in 10 years. She envisioned a white house with a picket fence, three kids, and of course, a dog. She loved dogs. The American Dream would suffice. She smiled as she envisioned their wedding. It would be simple yet elegant. She was in love and wanted nothing more than to marry Edward and give him a child to bear his name. After today she would be one step closer. Today she officially became a member of the adult world. She was about to become a graduate.

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Having graduated, Sharon was ready for adult life and all that came with it. She found a new job working at one of the local hospitals in the kitchen. She also bought a 1967 Firebird off an older gentleman. He had bought it for his grandson who then didn’t want it. Sharon was thrilled to be out of school and working. She began to buy items that she and Edward would need for their lives. She added things to her ever-growing collection as often as she could. Keeping records in her diary she wrote down what she had as well as what they would need. Looking through the Sears catalog became a favorite pastime. It was like being a kid at Christmas all over again. She jotted down ideas for her list as well as ideas for their wedding.

Sharon wanted to be a mother and a wife more than anything.  Plans to go to college had been put to the side for now. Wedding plans had begun. Weenie would be her maid of honor. Sherie would be her bridesmaid. Edward’s oldest brother would be their best man and her brother an usher. Sharon had wanted her little brother to be the ring bearer. But her mother had stepped in and said no. She said that he was too old for the job. Thus, Edward’s cousin would walk down the aisle alone. Her flower girl dress was a pale blue, made by Grandma Alice. Sharon loved how this elderly woman was becoming a part of her life. She was always so tender and caring. Sharon needed that. She soaked that in, attempting to fill the void left from her childhood without hugs and attention.

The selection for the church did not come as easily as the couple had hoped. Edward would have to convert to her faith in order to marry at her church. Plus, the rumors of the dirty deed had pretty much shut those doors. They needed to look elsewhere and at first that was a tough pill to swallow.

She felt like she was being shunned from her own church. Between that, the name calling by her mother, and the rumor mill Sharon’s self-esteem took a plummet. In her heart she believed that all of this was happening to them because she had murdered their child. She thought she didn’t deserve a wedding in a church, let alone happiness.  Hatred toward her childhood role models began to grow and fester in her soul. The Devil had found a place to plant his seeds and he was working to get her. He was getting into her life little by little. Her thoughts and her actions were turning into ones for his glory and not of God’s.

Next, he planted the fear of being able to conceive.  Sharon had read that some women who had abortions could no longer become pregnant. This became a topic of which she could not let loose; she was obsessed with the fact that she had aborted and may never be able to have children. She read everything she could get her hands on. The brochures and pamphlets revealed more horrors which added to her fears. She began to cling more and more to Edward. She needed to fill the void and relinquish the pain. She needed love.

Dreaming of a baby, Sharon talked to his mother, Liz, about their family heritage. On her side, her mother had died early in life during childbirth. Liz had to help raise the children in her place. In her family she had one sister and the rest were boys. On the paternal side of the family there were a lot of boys. Girls were quite uncommon. Praying for a boy Sharon began to make embroidered quilts and crochet blankets with a boy in mind. She even got special things to place in her hope chest which she fashioned out of her father’s old military trunk. Being obsessed with being able to conceive she worked on something most every night. Her embroidered quilt had eight blocks. Each block had a baby animal on it. The fabric was a pale yellow just in case. Each stitch was done with love. She was going to have a child one day and swaddle it in this blanket! She couldn’t wait!

Soon, the news came that Sharon was expecting again. Her mind was at ease, and for a brief time the Devil was losing his foothold on her being damaged goods. The news brought joy to Edward, and as for the others in her life the reaction was pretty much the same. Sharon’s mother was not happy. But this time the couple stood their ground and told her Sharon would carry this child to term.  The wedding was in a couple of months, and Sharon would be out of the house before she even began to show. Luanne was not going to win this time. There would be no repeat trip to Cleveland.

Life was looking up! Weenie was getting married as well! She had recently become engaged to Edward’s brother and her plans for a big wedding at a local cathedral were coming along. Sharon was going to be in her wedding as well. She would be her matron of honor. It was even more perfect than Sharon had ever imagined it would be! She and Weenie would be sisters for life! Maybe her dear friend could be the Godmother for her child!

Edward and Sharon had begun taking prewedding classes at the Methodist Church where they would say their vows.  The pastor showed true concern at the classes, but the plans moved forward. They talked about many things including that each member of a couple needs to give one hundred percent all the time. Fifty-fifty wasn’t enough.  If they did that then their whole soul, heart, and mind wouldn’t be in the marriage.  Valentine’s Day was not available, but he did have January 28 open. That date was better given the situation. The date was set.

Filling the hope chest Sharon kept busy and time passed. Soon, it was time for Christmas. By now, she was a couple of months into her pregnancy. Morning sickness hadn’t grabbed hold of her and thus she was quite happy making things and shopping at secondhand stores for items they would need. A stuffed animal was her mock baby for now. God had blessed them once again. This would surely be her last Christmas at home. 1978 would be the year she would become his bride. She rehearsed writing the name Mrs. Sharon Ann Gibbs as she talked the child in her womb.

“Your name with be Matthew if a boy and Angela Marie if a girl.” She smiled as she spoke their names aloud. Matthew Bryant Gibbs, Angela Marie Gibbs, over and over again. This child would grow to be an adult. He or she would be surrounded with love of a family. Her mother would not win this time. The seed in her womb would grow and come into the world after they were married. She just knew it.

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Christmas Day began like all others, except for the fact that her father was not there. Sharon awoke to search for her stocking. They were always hidden in the house someplace. This was a tradition at her childhood home. Stockings came first. All three had to be found before anything else could happen. This was the only time, in addition to birthdays, that clothes and toys were received.  Sharon looked forward to getting some winter wear as her birthday clothes were out of season. Once the stockings were found, the opening of the gifts began. Mother had always taken a great deal of time making sure they got all kinds of things. Gifts were distributed to each person and the tearing of paper commenced. It was like no other day all year long at her house. Christmas was a special day. The celebration of Jesus’ birth was a day filled with wonderful memories.

“Here, Minnie Moose. This one’s for you.” her younger brother stated.

Anxiously Sharon opened it to find a striped waterproof beach bag.

“Well, that was supposed to be for you to go on picnics at the beach. But I guess now it will be a diaper bag.” The hurtful words flowed from her mother’s mouth, even on this one day that was sacred.

“Thank you, I like the colorful design.” Sharon retorted.

It was just like all the other Christmas’ in the past, except that her mother seemed to define most of her gifts.

Well, that was supposed to be for you to wear this winter. But now that’s out of the picture,” she remarked about a dress. “It won’t fit you. You’re going to be big and fat like that family you’re marrying into.”

Sharon tried to smile and hold onto Christmas for her family. Yet, inside her mother’s words were crushing her soul. She was glad when it was time to go to Grandma’s house. Maybe there, it would be better.

The car was loaded with packages and food. She was off to eat lunch and dinner at her grandparent’s house in Ashland. Upon arrival, she could see the lights on the tree in the living room. Entering the house, Sharon could smell the familiar smell of Christmas at grandmas. She soaked in it as she moved on. As she walked into the living room her cousins greeted her as she glanced at the vintage lights and decorations on the tree. Sharon admired the special balls that she had always favored. Their vintage appearance was something she had always loved. Grandma’s tree was special. There was no other tree like it in the world. To the left, the long dining room table was set, as usual, with the special antique dishes her grandma had collected over the years. Her grandparents loved to collect antiques and set quite a fancy table every year. Then they filled it with food enough for a mass gathering. A ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, and more filled two tables set end to end. They were so long that they stretched into the living room. Above the table, hanging in the arch between the living room and dining room was the mistletoe. If Edward had been there, she surely would have tried out its magic.  But he wasn’t. He was with his family and later would be at their new rental setting things up.

It was soon time for lunch. Sharon looked and noted the empty chair where her father had always been seated. An empty plate drew tears to her eyes, but she brushed them aside and went on. Sharon sat at the children’s table at the end. She loved that little table. Grandma had always placed chocolate milk there for the kids. She loved that tradition. Chocolate milk was such a special treat! Prayers were said and soon the food was being passed around the tables. Uncle Bill stood and carried the relish tray around to serve it. It was always huge! There was no way it could be passed person to person. The children wouldn’t have been able to lift it. As the tray approached her, Sharon eyed the olives. The black ones were her favorite. She always made sure to take some of each item. She wanted to be sure to have things to dip in the salt in her own private crystal salt dipper. Even though the salt was a bit much on the damp carrots she dipped them anyway. She loved that tradition. As she ate, she thought of the wee one growing inside of her. She was eating to nourish the baby as well. She smiled. She and Edward would be married soon.  January was not far away, and the invitations were ordered and ready to go.

Conversation at the little table centered around her uncle’s farm. They would get to visit it today! She loved going there! Maybe she could see the horses! Dinner was complete and then they had pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. Afterward, it was time for the men to retire into the living room to rest while the ladies washed up the dishes. Sharon picked up dishes to carry into the kitchen. That was her job. Grandma had always worried about her getting cut with a knife and forbid her to wash. While balancing a pile of dishes ever so carefully, she walked into the doorway to overhear their conversation.

“Did you hear she’s pregnant?” the older pompous aunt stated.

“Yes, and she is so young! I heard they’re to be married soon. The poor thing! She lost her father and now this!” replied her younger sibling. Sharon was surprised to hear this from her. She was the one who had lost two babies to stillbirth! How could she judge?

“They’ll probably end up on welfare and live in government housing.” The eldest aunt chuckled. She continued to dry the dishes as she spoke. “How in the world will they even pay for the baby’s food and doctor bills? Does he even have a job?”

Listening to them reminded her of her talk with her mother months earlier. You’re what! Pregnant! Well then Missy you need to take care of that. Those venomous words took their sting once again. She hoped to find Grandpa there, he was always a lot of fun. She smiled as she remembered the Christmas where he came down the tall staircase in his new red flannel pajamas with the rear flap dangling open.  Grandpa looked up to see her reading their cards. He didn’t walk over and ask her to go for a walk as he usually did. Today was different. She wasn’t Grandpa’s little girl anymore.  She was pregnant and unwed, a sinner. She felt the scorn. Christmas Day was filled with hatred and hushed words for what she had done. She wasn’t the good girl that everybody wanted. She couldn’t wait to get out of there. She just wanted to be with Edward.

The car ride home that night was quieter than usual. The family didn’t talk much at all. Her mother and eldest brother were in the front seat, and Sharon rode in the back with her little brother. She liked him, although at times he had picked on her growing up. She knew that he was sad that she was expecting a baby. This saddened her. Nobody seemed to understand. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the seat to rest.

Soon, the familiar road of home appeared, and Sharon’s thoughts turned to wanting to call Edward. Could he come and get her? What was his Christmas like? Did he get her anything? She’d not gotten her gift from him yet!

As the family car pulled into the driveway Sharon’s heart leapt for joy! Edward’s car was there. He got out of the car and asked her to come set up their future home. He’d been moving his things into the small rental on the other side of town. Sharon quickly assisted with the unpacking of the items and placed some into his car. The time spent with negative people with negative attitudes was almost over! Her new life was about to begin!

With not much left of the day the young lovers sped off to have some alone time. Their new home was coming together quite nicely. His parents had given them his double bed and dresser. His grandparents had given them a small black and white television on a wire stand. Sharon’s hope chest was there, with its sundry of things she’d collected. Inside were not only the baby’s things but things for their home as well. There were a couple of pans she had gotten free from opening savings accounts, items she’d gotten for graduation, and a few linens. Sharon watched as Edward carried in the mirror for above their dresser. She helped him set it in place. Their dresser! She wondered which drawers would be for her things. He would have to share the space as she wasn’t allowed to have any furniture from her house. Mom wanted all of it to stay there. As the evening spent on they had a small bite of food and opened their gifts. She got a medallion with St. Francis of Assisi. He was her favorite saint. It was on a long silver chain. He placed it around her neck.

“You’re the most spiritual person I know. I admire your faith.” His words were tender. They embraced. It was Christmas!

Once home sleep didn’t come easily. Sharon tossed and turned in her bed for over an hour. Thoughts were racing through her head as she processed the day. Around eleven, the pain began. She was cramping and losing blood. She got down the stairs to tell her mother. She needed help and she knew it.  Her mother’s onslaught of yelling began the moment she awoke her. “You shouldn’t have done this! You’re hemorrhaging, get in the car!”

“Please call Edward. I need him!” Sharon pleaded.

“I’m not calling him. He’s the reason you’re in this mess!”

“Then can I call his mother? She works at the hospital and will let him know.”

“No! You’re not calling his family at all! Do you understand? Now, get in that car!”

Once again, Sharon lay in the backseat of a car bleeding. Her emotional state this time was not much better than before. She knew she was losing the baby. The baby she had privately named Matthew. She wanted to cry, but her pain was too deep. She endured the name-calling and verbal torture and tried to lay still hoping to get to the hospital in time.  They pulled into the entrance for emergencies.

“We need a gurney! We have a young woman who is hemorrhaging. Get moving people!” This voice was a welcome sound. Help was there!

“You get her out of my sight! I want this to end now!” Her mother yelled as the medical staff looked on.

“Move the patient in here. Lady, you need to stay out here for a bit. We’ll update you soon.”

Thank you thought Sharon. Sharon lay on the gurney going in and out of consciousness. She was glad to know that the verbal assault would not be the last words she would hear.  She asked the man in the room if they could call Edward, but her request was unheard. Droves of people began running into the room.  An intravenous drip was started, and meds were being injected into it. Sharon wondered if the baby was okay but figured she’s lost it. Blood was exiting from her body; she could feel it gushing as it were warm and thick. Was his wee body exiting her womb? The bright lights in the ER blinded her, and she closed her eyes as she listened to all of the commotion. Then she passed out.

It was the day after Christmas. She awoke to a friendly face, her doctor.  He was a good Christian man. She’d been going to him for a short while. He knew of her history with the abortion.

“Good morning. I want you to know that your baby is okay. You’ve lost a lot of blood. But you might still carry the baby to full term.”
Sharon smiled and prayed that could be true. “I’ve lost so much blood. I’m afraid it may have hurt him. It might keep him from forming correctly.”

“We’ll keep am eye on things and see what happens. God has a plan He is in control.”

Sharon watched as he exited the room and knew he was right. God was in control. He would save her baby, and he would live. Her thoughts turned to Edward. She wanted to call him. She didn’t know how. Their new home didn’t have a phone yet. They hadn’t even had time to call the installers. She hoped she would see someone who knew her future mother-in-law. They could help her. They would tell her, and she would get ahold of him. But the sandman came again, and she fell asleep dreaming of their baby.

Sharon woke and knew she needed to get ahold of Edward. He didn’t even know where she was. She asked one of the ladies cleaning rooms if she had seen Liz. They promised to get a message to her. Sharon was glad. Before long, Liz appeared in her room.

“Are you okay? Is the baby…”

“I’m okay. The doctor says I’ve lost a lot of blood. The baby is all right and I might be able to carry to term.”

“I got ahold of Edward. He’s on his way.”

“Thank you so much! I wanted to call but my mother wouldn’t let me.”

“I know Honey. It’ll be okay. You rest, and I’ll be back later to check on you.” Liz left after hugging Sharon. She worked in surgery and needed to get back to her cleaning. Sharon smiled as she exited the room. Edward was on his way. All would be fine.

Before long. Edward arrived, and they held one another knowing that another child might not make it to see the light of day. They talked for hours. He reassured her that one day they would have a family. She so wanted to believe him. She didn’t think she would ever be able to give him the number of children he wanted. She ached inside and turned on the television to get her mind on something else.

Soon, it was time to go home and her mother came to pick her up. Once again, she was the girl laying in the back seat headed home. Yet, this time she still had the baby in her womb.  She was weak from blood loss and needed to get more rest.  Edward was at their future home getting things settled in. She knew she had no business helping him now.  Her job was to rest so she and the baby could pull out if this. She spent most of the day in her room. It was quiet and private there.  By evening, she fell asleep early and went into a dream state. She wished she could dream she was flying like when she was younger. Instead, tonight her dreams were interrupted with severe cramping.  She woke to find blood in her bed. This time was worse than before. She went next door to awaken her brother. He ran downstairs to get their mother.

“What!” screamed her mother.

Sharon could hear the screaming begin. It was like a horrid DeJa’Vu happening all over again.

“Oh my! You’re bleeding all over the carpet. Get into that car!”

Sharon looked up and prayed she could make it to the car. Her vision began to swell and then she was out.

This ER trip had the outcome she’d feared on the first one. The baby didn’t make it. Sharon wept as the news was broken to her. She watched as the hospital staff told her family. She listened as her mother began screaming about the bill she was accumulating. Her daughter was costing her a fortune. She knew she’d be staying overnight again. She’d have to have a procedure called a D&C. This would ensure the womb was cleaned out completely. She wouldn’t get an infection that way. She rolled over and sighed. Her mother was right. She was a harlot. How could she have thought that God would give a woman like her a baby to love? Tears ran down her face as she sobbed aloud. She just needed to be loved and love somebody. Why was this happening?

Then she remembered the abortion. Fear entered her heart. The devil had planted yet another seed. She would never have a child. God had taken her baby so near Christmas that it had to mean something! She would be barren. Every baby she would have would die. Had something been messed up in her body when she had the abortion?

Oh, God. I did it again. I’ve sinned and I’m paying the price. I may never have a baby again. Can you forgive me?

CHAPTER 7

The wedding was going to be a simple one. The couple borrowed five hundred dollars from a bank to afford the ceremony. Sharon’s mother wanted nothing to do with it, and his family couldn’t afford to help. They were on their own. They made plans to be married in the little country church around the corner from his house; the one where they had been taking the prewedding classes. She loved the location. The white steepled church overlooked a valley with its stained-glass windows sparkling in the light of day.  The men would dress in the upstairs. The women in the basement. There were rooms set off for classes that they would use. The church was small, but it had history, and it would work. God was in all churches, not just the one she’d grown up in.

Sharon’s mom had found a dress on a clearance rack on her bus route in a nearby small town. It was a white gown with a lace bodice. It didn’t have a long train or anything extravagant but was within their budget. Sharon was glad to see she had taken some interest in the event. The dress was purchased, and arrangements were made for the owner of the shop to come dress her that day. The one hundred fifty dollars was a big chunk of their budget, but they could do it!

Flowers were going to be minimal. Her flowers were going to be made in a special way. Inside the bouquet would be a corsage to wear on their honeymoon. That way, she could toss the bouquet and keep the middle. The girls would have small bouquets that would then be used as decoration on the cake table.  Their mothers would receive a rose at the end of the ceremony. Light blue and white were chosen as their colors.

The cake was to have three tiers. Under those would be a fountain with blue water in it. A friend’s mother had agreed to bake it. This was a true blessing. The mints were handmade by herself and her friend, Sheri. They’d be frozen until they needed them. Decorations would be put up after the rehearsal. Pictures would be taken by Weenies father; he loved photography. Sharon hugged him and thanked him over and over. She was so grateful for his help. A group of ladies at the church would serve the coffee and punch.  It wasn’t much, but it would be enough.

Things were coming together quite nicely. It was going to be a wonderful day!

The great blizzard of 1978 hit with a vengeance on Thursday, January 26th. Sharon had been at work when news broke of its coming. They were expecting up to 30 inches of snow and high-speed winds. Her low riding Firebird got her home, but she was not sure how she would get back out. The wedding rehearsal was to be Friday night. The wedding was on Saturday. What would they do now? Hopefully, it would all blow over.

truck driver was in this truck not far from wedding site

Friday morning revealed the outcome of the night previous. Snow was piled so high that people could barely get out of their houses, let alone drive on the roads. Sharon ran downstairs and jumped into her car anyway. She was going to get ready for the rehearsal. Forgetting that the Firebird rode low she attempted to back into the section of the driveway that had blown free and clear. It was there that the tires began to spin. She was not going anyplace. In frustration she clenched her right fist and threw a jab at the dashboard. It split! This made her even angrier. Now, she had all this to deal with! When was it going to STOP!

“I’m so mad at you God! This is the weekend of our wedding! Why God? Why now?” She sat in the quiet solace of that cold car for a while. Her mother was in the house and she did not want to go back in there. Feeling beaten, she walked back inside and called Edward. “What do we do now?” she asked him.

“Well, we’re going to have to get ahold of the Pastor. He can tell us how things are at the church. If we can’t get in the ceremony may have to be rescheduled.” He spoke the simple truth. He was always the levelheaded one. She was glad he could calm her down. She had been quite emotional, and she knew it. He kept her balanced. She hung up the phone as he had asked and dialed the Pastor’s number.

“Hello, Pastor. This is Sharon. Our wedding is to be this weekend. Can you tell me what it is like there?” Trying to remain calm she held back tears.

“I’m sorry to tell you the church is snowed in. I had to get here on my snowmobile. The roads out here are all blocked.” His voice was caring and sympathetic.

Sharon continued, “What should we do now? Can Edward and I get in on snowmobiles?  We don’t really need the wedding we planned. We just want to say our vows.  We truly only need you, us, and God.”

Pastor did not speak for a moment. Sharon thought the phone connection had been lost.

Then he spoke again, “I’m sorry. There’s no way to get in here. I’m looking at my appointment book. Can we reschedule for next week at the same time? Would that work for you?”

Another week! Sharon held her temper and silenced the scream wanting to burst out from within. She counted to ten and then used her trained polite voice to respond. “That would be fine. I understand. Can you please call Esther and the ladies’ group to let them know?” She wanted to be sure the organist and servers didn’t go out in the bad elements.

“Yes, I’ll call them. I daresay you have calls to make yourself. I’d best let you get to it.”

With that, the conversation was ended. After calling Edward to update him with the new circumstances she hung up and went to get the invitation list. She needed to get busy! Not only did she have to call every person on the list, she also needed to call to reschedule everything else. She closed her eyes and saw the greatness of the task ahead of her.

“Please, phone don’t die on me too.”

The remainder of the day was spent recreating the wedding she had already designed.  All elements had to be updated and postponed for one week. Alice, Edward’s grandmother took over the job of calling their side of the family. As for the rest, it was on Sharon’s list to do. It seemed as if she had one hundred calls to make. Everything but the flowers seemed to shift forward all right. Flowers created a problem of their own; the trucks couldn’t get through.  The highways were closed, and they were unable to get in the region at all. Transportation was at a deadlock. She would have to accept what they could do. That would be the best outcome. It was that or no flowers at all. Anger began to fester in her soul. She wanted to yell at the florist but held back knowing this was not their fault. There was a blizzard. The compromise ended up being the same price. That was a good thing! She put the wedding into God’s hands. Flowers were the least of her worries. Her father had been buried without them. She could handle having a wedding without them if she had to. They would not be the most important aspect of the day.

The only other snafu would be getting the day off work. She worked at the hospital and was scheduled for every other weekend. She had to call to get the time off. Luckily, she and Edward hadn’t planned an extensive honeymoon. That would have made it even harder to get the time off. Calling to ask for the day off was not as easy a task as she thought it might be. Her boss was not happy at all. At first, her boss remained strong and reminded her that she was a recent hire. She was expected to be there every other weekend to work. Sharon agreed that she had signed on for that, but this was different. It was her wedding! In the end the lady gave in and gave her the approximate weekend off.  She would do this only once as an exception to the rule and she would need to work the full week following. Sharon agreed and let out a sigh. She had accomplished redoing the entire wedding and get the day off to attend it herself all in one day. Thank goodness they had planned something small.

January 28, 1978, found Sharon seated on her bed, looking out the window at the sun rising over the snow. The glistening sparkles on the snow didn’t feel as they usually did.  Today, she was angry with the world. The glistening seemed to make it only worse. God had unleashed this storm as to punish her. She felt it in her heart. Even her mother for the last twenty-four hours had been telling her that God was sending her a sign. He was telling her to stop the wedding and go to study to be a nurse as she had always wanted for her. Sharon didn’t want to believe this, but maybe her mother was right. Perhaps in his own way God was letting her know that he didn’t love her anymore. He was angry with her just as her mother was. Sharon picked up a pillow from her bed and held it close to her heart. She ached to be with Edward. She wondered where he was and what he was doing. Hoping that he was up she snuck downstairs to use the phone in the kitchen. Perhaps there, she would not awaken the sleeping giant in the other room. She needed to be alone with her thoughts to talk to her husband to be. Interference on this day – her supposed to be wedding day – was not acceptable.

“Morning, sleepyhead. Did I wake you?” Sharon could hear Edward slurping a cup of coffee on the other end of the line.

“No, I’ve been up for a while and am bored to death. I don’t have anything to do here. Our house is empty and I’m thinking about walking to my grandparent’s to be with them. I want to be sure they are all right. I can shovel the driveway and the sidewalk while there.”

Sharon was proud to have fallen in love with such a caring man. “I think that’s a great idea!”

He continued, “Well, I best get walking over there. I called Grandma and she’s expecting me soon. I’ll call you when I get there. That way you’ll know I arrived safely.”

“All right. Be safe and remember to call me. I love you.”

“I love you too. We’ll talk soon.”

As she hung up the phone, Sharon thought about his walking in the snow to check on his family. An idea came into her mind. Perhaps she could walk there also and surprise him. The home he was walking to was about halfway between she and their rental. A thrill of joy entered her heart. Perhaps there was a way to be together on what would have been their wedding day. She quickly picked up the phone and dialed Edward’s grandparents’ number.

“Please answer! Please let her phone line be working!” Then all at once she heard a hushed whisper on the other end of the line.  Then a familiar voice spoke.

“Hello.” It was Alice!

“Grandma, Edward is starting out right now to shovel your driveway, and I wondered if it is okay for me to come there and surprise him? Would you mind that? I would love to have lunch with him,” she began.

“Well, how are you going to get here? It’s bad out!” Her voice revealed concern for her safety and well-being.

I’ll walk! I used to walk that far all of the time to visit my girlfriend, Sheri. I can do it!”

“On one condition. You need to ask your mother if it is okay. I don’t want you walking here without her knowing.”

One condition, oh my. That was one big condition.

“Let me go ask. I’ll be right back.” Sharon lay down the receiver and walked down the hallway to her mother’s bedroom. She was awake and so she spoke to her.

“Mom. Edward is walking to his grandparent’s house to shovel the driveway. I want to walk there to see him. May I go there for lunch and come back before nightfall?” Her phrasing was done carefully as to get a response in the appositive.

Luanne’s voice was still raspy as she had just awoken. “You’ll need to wear your father’s old military snow boots and heavy clothing. Dress in layers. I’ll give you my permission for lunch, no more. Then hightail it right back here. I don’t want you out in the dark in this stuff.”

Sharon was shocked that her mother would let her go. Perhaps she knew how badly she felt about the cancelled wedding plans. She needed to see her fiancé. Sharon was not going to wait and give her a chance to change her mind. After speaking with Alice, she quickly ran to the garage to find her father’s boots and then upstairs to dress. Soon enough, she was headed out the door and to the road. She was on her way!

As she walked, she realized how bad things truly were. The piles of snow were like small hills at the intersections of the main road on which she trod.  Having to climb some of them she prayed that she wouldn’t sink in and be buried alive. She had taken on quite a task. This was not like it had been walking to her friend’s house. She considered turning around and going back. But her thoughts of what would have been their special day prodded her forward. She wanted to be with him.

“Hey! What are you doing out in this stuff!” Sharon looked up to see a pair of men in a truck with a plow headed down Middle Bellville Road. “You crazy or something?”

“I’m walking to town to be with my fiancé. We were to be married today.”

“Wow! Now that’s one we hadn’t heard yet! Enough said. You can hop in with us and we can take you part of the way. Where are you headed?”

Sharon sized up the men and thought that they seemed to be okay. “Are you sure? I need to go out past the cemetery and up the hill to get there.” Sharon replied.

“I’m sure’” said the man on the driver’s side. You’re not going to make it there on your own. We have a plow if we need to use it. Now get in. There’s no way I’m going to let you walk in this stuff. Larry, move over and let the little lady in.”

Sharon walked to the passenger side of the truck and said a little prayer. She so wanted to see Edward and knew she was wearing out walking in the deep snow. It was even harder to walk through than the sand at the beach where she had gone on family vacations.

“God, help me get to grandma’s house safely.”

She heaved her weary body into the truck and sat next to Larry as they readied themselves to move on. Mick, the driver, was a tall man with red hair. His friend Larry had a smile that could light up any room. Sharon sat back and got to know them better. It was nice to be in the warmth of the truck. Her fingers began to thaw out a bit. The conversation in the truck revealed that the men had been quite busy that day. Mostly, they’d been cleaning out parking lots and driveways. People needed them cleared to get out for medical emergencies. Some just needed medicines or to get somewhere with electricity for their needs. They told her of one lady who lived on a big hill near her uncle’s house. She had to be taken out of her home by snowmobile to reach the ambulance on the road. She was in critical condition. The men seemed worried about her making it. Sharon glanced at the wristwatch on Larry’s arm. It was past noon. She was late for lunch with Edward. She felt bad that grandma was probably worried but rode as far as she could with the men who had stopped to help her. Sitting there, she thought back to all the conversations she’d had about not hitchhiking. She thought about keeping this part of the trip from her mother, and maybe even Edward. Sharon looked out the window to see piles of snow along them; some so high it made a manmade tunnel of sorts. The ability to see the homes was obstructed.

“Well, this is about as far as we can take you. You have just less than a mile to get there now. You should be fine. Best of luck with your wedding plans!” Mick’s words were kind and thoughtful.

“Thank you so much! I’m excited to see Edward! I’ll never forget your kindness.” Sharon replied as she slid out of the truck. “You guys be careful out there! I hope we don’t get any more snow!”

“Me too. I think we have plenty of that stuff for a while!” Mick laughed as he responded.

The men smiled as Sharon shut the door. She stepped back and allowed enough room for them to pull off safely.

Watching the truck pull off into the distance she began to walk again. She was sweating from being in the truck. The heat had been turned up on high to keep the front window clear. Thankful to be warm again, she marched on. Soon the sign for Dale Avenue was in sight! She was almost there! Nearing the end of her trip, she saw an outline of a figure in the driveway. It was Edward! Wanting to run into his arms she picked up her feet as quickly as she could. Her father’s military boots were heavy, but her toes were warm inside. By now they seemed to weigh a ton!

“Edward! Edward!” She yelled as she walked as fast as she could. Her mind filled with the vision of him running to her like in some romantic film.

Edward glanced up to see her walking toward him. His look revealed a look of surprise and concern.

“What are you doing here? Did you walk the entire way?” His face showed worry and not what she had envisioned while getting there.

This was not at all what she had expected. Her smile turned to a flat line.

“Well, I walked most of it, then some kind gentlemen gave me a ride for a while. They brought me up to the ice cream stand around the corner.” Sharon wanted to be truthful with him. “I wanted to be with you today.”

Edward walked toward her and took her in his arms. “I’m glad you’re safe. Thank God you’re all right. Let’s get you inside where it’s warm and dry. Grandma will be pleased to see you.”

Sharon walked toward the white house and saw Alice looking out the window. A big smile was on her face as she watched the young couple walk hand in hand up the driveway. She opened the door and welcomed both with a warm hug.

“Come on into the kitchen and get those boots off your feet. “I’ll get you some slippers to wear while you’re here. You must be frozen to the core.”

“I’m okay grandma. Though a cup of hot tea would be nice.” Sharon sat at the table and watched as Alice brought her teapot to the table. She then grabbed some milk from the refrigerator. Sharon poured a cup and placed her hands onto the warm mug. Then she added some milk like always. Taking a sip, she asked the Lord to one day let her be like this woman she loved with all her heart.

“How are you doing?  I’m so sorry all of this has happened. I was so looking forward to seeing you in your wedding gown today.” Alice’s voice was soft and comforting.

“I’m okay. Thank you for letting me come here today to be with Edward.  Sharon glanced at the clock and realized that if the storm had not come, she would be walking down the aisle to become Mrs. Edward Gibbs. Her mind wandered to seeing herself surrounded by family and friends as she let out a sigh. One more week. Just one more week.

CHAPTER 8

All members of the bridal party were able to make it to the rehearsal a week later. The roads to the church remained lined with majestic tunnels on either side. Sharon stood near the pulpit and watched as her mother sashayed down the aisle with a scornful look on her face. Could she not even pretend to be happy for her? She looked away. As she reflected on her recent past she sighed. Her father wouldn’t be there to escort her down the aisle. Her mother was still suffering in her own way. Sharon watched as her younger brother sat next to their mother awaiting what was to come.

Liz, Edward’s mother entered next. She’d planned the rehearsal dinner and had been working at her home to prepare it. She looked tired yet ready for the day to come. She’d always wanted a daughter and now she would be getting one.

“All right, we need to take our places so we can get started.” The Pastor spoke as to begin the evening’s events. “Ladies, you need to go downstairs to wait for your call to come up. Gentlemen, go next door into my office area and I will call you when we are ready.”

Sharon gave Edward a quick kiss and headed down the stairs with her friends. Tomorrow would be their wedding day! Their special day was finally here! Tomorrow at this time she would be his wife.

Going over the lines made the day seem more real than ever. Edward and his groomsmen laughed as he stumbled over a few of the lines and grew a tad nervous. They seemed to tease him about it the remainder of the night.

The rehearsal dinner was nice, simplistic yet enough. Crockpots filled with various sandwich fillings lined the counter as did chips and other munchies. Homemade pie with ice cream was there for those who desired it. Edward and Sharon visited with all who came. All of the family members were from his side of the family as Luanne had decided to go home and not come. Not even her brothers were able to come. But the happy couple made the best of it and enjoyed the evening. Something like that was not going to ruin things.

That night they had their final kiss as an engaged couple.  Sharon thought about how their next kiss would be following their vows. Their first kiss as a married couple!

That night, driving home, Sharon rehearsed her vows in her head again and again. She wanted the day to be perfect and she didn’t want to mess it up. Pulling into the driveway, she placed her car over to the side and got out. Taking a brief moment she looked up into the stars above.  Never again would she drive home to this house. The one her parents had built.  Sharon smiled and gathered her things from the car. She entered the house and prayed that all would go well on their wedding day. Little did she know that her special day would be filled with more challenges and disappointments.

Morning came quickly, and following a bowl of cereal, Sharon was off to get her hair done. Carefully placing her veil next to her on the seat she began to drive to the salon. The roads seemed a little bit clearer than they had the last few days. She was glad to see the parking lot had been cleared. After parking the car, she got ahold of her veil and walked in. Millie was there to greet her.

“Congratulations!” Millie greeted her as she entered. “Well, it’s your big day! Let me get a look at that veil so we can figure out what to do with that long, thick head of hair.”

Sharon trusted her completely and let her design as she wished to. Their conversation focused on the blizzard and the week previous in preparation for the wedding. Soon, her hair was styled and they tried on the veil. Looking into the mirror both women smiled. She looked like a princess!

“Now, what about your nails? Do you know what you want to do with them?”

Sharon looked at her hands and spoke the truth. “I really don’t have money for a manicure.”

“Honey, you know they will take pictures of your hands with the new rings, right?  You want your hands to look beautiful in the pictures, don’t ya?” Millie’s face softened as she looked into Sharon’s eyes.

“I would… Maybe my friend Weenie can do them for me.”

“Nonsense, I have an idea! I can give you a manicure as a wedding gift. You have time?”

Sharon’s heart leapt for joy! She had the time. Now to choose the color she wanted!

The ceremony was not until two. She had lots of things to do. Millie saw the look on her face.

“Give me fifteen minutes honey. That’s all I need!”

Sharon watched as Millie completed every step of the manicure. She’d never had one before. Relaxing as Millie massaged her hands she lay back and relaxed. It was the perfect gift! She appreciated it so! When done the two embraced and Sharon wondered if she would be able to come here again after she was married. Millie had always been so good to her.

With her hair and nails done, she needed to get started on her list. She wanted to pick up a couple of things for their honeymoon. As of yet, they weren’t sure how much money they would have to go someplace. She hoped they would get some with their gifts. She had packed a bag just in case. She wanted to wear her corsage somewhere special.

Pulling into the driveway at her house she was greeted by Weenie and Sheri. She grabbed her shopping bag from the car and hugged them. The three giggled and ran into the house to get her things. She needed to finish packing and get moving. She didn’t want to be late. The three ladies were going to drive to the church together. Sharon was going to be leaving in Edward’s car. She didn’t need hers.

The girls stopped along the way to hang up signs to help people find the church. They all chuckled as they climbed mountains of snow to get to the phone poles. Weenie and Sheri lobbed snowballs at Sharon while she dodged them to save her hairdo.  Climbing in and out of the car to hang signs, they made sure Sharon was laying down in the back seat as they passed Edward’s house.  They didn’t want them seeing each other on their wedding day! That would mean bad luck, they’d already had enough of that.

Pulling into the church they went straight to the basement through a side door.  They would change there. The lady who was to dress Sharon had already arrived with the gown. Weenie and Sharon helped take care of the bride first. They did her makeup and helped her got into her underskirt to help her prepare for her walk down the aisle. Then they did their own makeup and got dressed.

People were beginning to arrive for the ceremony upstairs.  Sharon could hear the men above her in the Pastor’s area shuffling about. She wondered what Edward was up to but stayed away from the stairs as to not catch a glimpse of him. Edward’s mother and grandmother stopped in to wish her all the best and chatted a bit. Hugs and kisses were exchanged.  Soon, the flower girl arrived in her dress. She looked so cute in her updo. She was just like a little lady.  Sharon’s mom was the next to arrive in the room. Sharon was shocked to see her mother’s dress was almost exactly like the ones her bridesmaids were wearing.  She smiled and greeted her mother all the while answering questions as to who this young lady was. Was she her sister?  Introducing her as her mother Sharon stepped out of the room to catch her breath.  Turning around, she saw her mother watching her.

“Can we talk?” Her mother looked at her and motioned to a private room nearby.

“Yeah, let me tell the girls where we are, and I’ll be in.” Sharon hoped she was in for hugs and kisses like a moment ago.

Entering the room, she found her mother standing there with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face. There was no joy to be found in her expression.

“Sharon, I want you to know that if you complete your vows today, you’re on your own. I will not help you pay for college. I will not give you money for anything. If you have kids, I will not watch them or care for them. I raised you and your brothers; I will not raise your kids. I suspect you and Edward will end up living in government housing. You’ve made your bed and you will lie in it. I’m here today as your mother. But after this you are on your own. Do you understand?”

Sharon’s mascara was running down her face as she looked into her mother’s eyes. “I understand completely. Don’t worry. I will never ask you for one thing.”

“Good. Then we understand one another. I’ll be upstairs waiting on you to decide.”

With that, her mother walked off and up the stairs. Sharon watched her as she went. She was going to marry Edward. Even if it meant her mother no longer being in her life. Her mother’s threats were not going to work. She loved him more than life itself. She was not going to back down.

“Sharon, where are you?” A concerned voice startled Sharon from her thoughts.

Walking out of the room Sharon saw her friend. “What.. What happened?” Sharon wiped her tears and looked up to see Sheri’s face. She could see there was something else she needed to tell her.

“It’s your great grandma. She fell on the step coming into the church. They think she has broken her hip!” Sheri’s voice was filled with concern. “Your uncle is with her. They are loading her into his car as we speak. She is asking for you.”

“Where is the car at?” Sharon needed to know how to get to her.

“They are pulling around to the basement door. Here, let me help you with your gown.”

Sharon and her bridesmaids walked to the side door of the basement and went out. Sharon could see her great grandmother in the back seat through the rolled down window.

Her grandma spoke, “I’m so sorry. I wanted to stay but I just can’t”

Sharon could hear the pain in her voice and asked her uncle to rush her to the hospital. She watched the car pull out and turn to go down the hill and fell into Sheri’s arms. Weenie rushed inside to get a box of tissues.  She came back and wiped her face. Her makeup was ruined.

******************************************************************

From above, the sound of Hester at the organ wafted down into the space below.  Sharon so wanted to speak with Edward about her day thus far. Keeping her promise not to see the groom prior to the wedding she sent her maid of honor upstairs to see how things were going. People were seated and the commotion surrounding her grandmother’s fall had subsided.  The lady who had dressed her came to her aid in helping redo her makeup.

“I’ve never seen anyone so committed to take her vows. You really love him, don’t you?”
Sharon responded that she did. She was going forward with her day. She’d dealt with many things before and she had this handled. As the music proceeded it was near time for the bridal march. They needed to get in position.  Without her father at her side she walked to the bottom of the steps and prepared her thoughts.  She needed to put the past in its place and move on.

The lady who had dressed her spoke once more. “I want to wish you and Edward the best in your lives together.” Stepping back she took one last look at the bride. Touching her face to fix her makeup one last time she smiled. “There, you’re ready. You really are a gorgeous bride.”

Sharon thanked her one last time and turned to climb the stairs to her future. She was sure of herself. She was about to be married. They would live happily ever after and she just knew it.

Walking into the church Sharon looked up to see Edward smiling at her.  He looked at her and winked as if to say I love you. The wedding march began to swell as those in attendance arose from their seats.  Sharon hoped she had remembered to call everyone and scanned the gathered to see who had made it.  Glancing to the right she could see Liz already weeping with tissue in hand. Beside her was Edward’s grandma Alice beaming from ear to ear. On the left sat her mother alongside her little brother. Her face was stern to Sharon, yet those gathered would have seen her as not being that way at all. How she looked in public mattered to her greatly and thus she didn’t let anyone suspect her conversation or her feelings. Her daughter was headed down the aisle. She was not going to get her way. Sharon focused on Edward and moved forward to his side. He was the one she was there for.

The ceremony lasted only a brief time, but the couple knew God was there with them. Facing forward the couple heard the reading and the message. The reading was from Corinthians 1:13 and addressed letting love be the guide for their marriage.

The Pastor spoke to the gathered to remind them that faith, hope, and love were all of a part of a means to an end. Marriage without those would not stand the test of time. Looking at Edward Sharon knew she would always love this man no matter what the future held for them. She was about to take an oath before God, and that oath would be taken seriously. Stating their vows, the young couple meant every word. Staring into each other’s eyes the words were said and the rings were placed onto their fingers. The long-awaited first kiss as a married couple was tender and sweet as Edward brushed his lips against hers.

“I love you’” he said to his new bride.

“I love you, too,” Sharon replied. ‘I always will.”

As the couple turned to face the people in attendance a round of applause went up in the church. Facing them as man and wife, Sharon felt a warm glow come over her. She was now Mrs. Edward Gibbs. Their moment had come and gone, but the vows would last them a lifetime. The couple proceeded to the front pews and picked up a single rose for each mother.  Turning to her mother, Sharon held hands with Edward as she handed a rose to her mother first. Luanne smiled as to look good in front of her family and accepted it. Sharon lingered for a moment hoping to get a hug. Edward squeezed her hand to let her know to move on. Then, turning to the other side the couple crossed the aisle. Edward shared his flower with Liz that was attempting to hold back tears. Embracing her son, she whispered something private and then hugged Sharon as well.

“Welcome to the family, dear. I’m so glad that God has blessed me with such a wonderful daughter.”

Following hugs from Edward’s father and grandparents, the processional continued ending with a reception line in the basement. Congratulations were everywhere and Sharon smiled as she enjoyed hug after hug. It was her wedding day; she was enjoying every moment.

Cutting the cake, the young couple crossed arms and fed one another.  The cake and mints, along with punch and coffee served to be nice refreshments for all gathered. It was not elaborate, it was simple, yet good enough. Sharon watched as Sheri and Weenie served the cake to their guests. The young ladies spoke to and laughed with each one. Memories were being created.

A table filled with gifts awaited the happy couple. They stood together opening each one.  Everything they got, they needed. They didn’t have much and there had been no bridal shower.  Some people gathered and talked. Others watched them open each gift. Sharon ripped open each package and then neatly folded some of the prettiest papers to line their dresser drawers. She wanted to keep as many pieces of the day as she could.

She headed to the backroom to change into her outfit for their honeymoon. Weenie assisted her by removing the corsage built into her flowers and pinned it on her.

“You’re absolutely glowing! I’ve never seen you so happy in all the time I’ve known you.” Weenie and Sharon embraced.

“I’m so happy! I feel like I’m dancing on cloud nine.” Sharon’s eyebrows raised up a bit to reveal the twinkle in her eyes.”

“You guys have fun! Have you decided where you are going yet?”

“We got enough money to go out for dinner and then spend one night in Columbus.”

“That sounds nice. Don’t you do anything I wouldn’t do!” Weenie squealed and smiled at her friend. She was always so silly.

Sharon looked out from behind the curtain around the room to see people gathering to toss rice at them. Smiling at Edward she said, “Well Mr. Gibbs. Are you ready for what lies ahead?”

Holding hands, the couple ran out into a steady stream of rice toward their destiny. Tossing the bouquet Sharon looked back long enough to see her younger cousin holding it. Getting into the car she took one last glance at the building they had just come from. This church would always be a special place for them. Hearing the car engine start up Sharon placed her seatbelt across her lap. It seemed like only yesterday they had been on their first date. Now, they were man and wife. Sharon waved good-byes and then then turned to look at her husband.

“You wanna listen to some music? How about KISS?” Edward teased his new bride and leaned in to kiss her lips. Sharon giggled inside and then kissed him back. Kisses were going to be extra special from now on.

Pulling out of the parking area, the car moved forward into the snowy surroundings and their future. Their future as man and wife.

CHAPTER 9

Their honeymoon consisted of one night in Columbus, where they went out to dinner and shopping for some jeans for Edward. The couple had been so glad to find some money while opening gifts. Alice had given them a lasagna pan with fifty dollars in it. Without that they would have had their first night at home in their rental.

Upon arriving home, the next day, they went to visit her great grandma in the hospital and took her the flowers from the wedding to decorate her room. She was glad to see them and greeted them the best she could. The couple listened as she explained what happened during her trip to the ER. Sharon apologized to her grandma and hugged her tight. She so wished she hadn’t been hurt. Her grandma would have to endure a lot of pain and major surgery. She was the one who had wanted to be there. The newlywed bride was beginning to think her life was cursed. She hadn’t had such bad luck before the abortion. Was God punishing her?

While sharing leftover cake and mints with the patient, Sharon’s thoughts began to fester in her mind. Why was God letting these things happen to people in her life and was she the cause of their misery? She believed that she truly was. Their new life together had just begun, and Sharon really believed she was cursed or hexed. Walking down the hall to the chapel the young bride knelt down, “God, please help my great grandma heal. She fell because of me. She wouldn’t have been there if not for my wedding. I ask you to help her, Lord. She needs you. She had nothing to do with my sins. God, don’t blame her. If need be, take it out on me; not her.”

Great grandma’s health went downhill after the fall. She was released from the hospital to a nursing home where she resided for therapy. Then eventually she moved in with her daughter so that she could help with her daily needs. Sharon and Edward continued to live in the rental for a while and then bought a mobile home in a trailer park near her old school.

By their first Christmas Sharon was expecting again. Sharon made handmade ornaments for the tree and wrapped gifts for underneath. Christmas Eve came with a special gift. Knowing how much Sharon loved Christmas Edward had a rocking chair delivered to the house while at his families. Sharon was thrilled to find it when they returned home that night. On it was a note saying it was from Santa. But Sharon knew better.

Sheri and her mother had a baby shower for Sharon at Luanne’s house. The mother daughter’s relationship was quite strained and they hadn’t talked much at all. Sharon being there was nice, but complicated.  Weenie and Dwayne had married by now and their marriage was not doing well at all. Sharon’s hopes of her being the child’s Godmother were all but a wash. Weenie had been so in love and yet their being married seemed to fail so fast.

Life went on. By spring, Sharon was in the delivery room ready to give birth.  She had made it this time! Edward suited up and came into the delivery room. He was not so sure about needles but stayed with her and saw their son come into the world. Joy was theirs! They had a child as Sharon had dreamed of. Calling her great grandmother, she described the child down to his ten fingers and toes. They were going to name him Michael. Her grandmother seemed pleased and Sharon wanted to show her the baby. She would after they had gone home.  Liz and Alice came as well as others. They all wanted to see the baby. Sharon was learning to nurse him and take care of him in classes they offered at the hospital. She stayed a couple of days and then it was time to go home. While riding home, the couple spoke of what they needed for their son. He would need so many things. Edward then told her that her mother was coming over with a pizza for dinner. She wanted to see the baby. She hadn’t seen him yet. Luanne came and shared dinner with them and then announced to them some bad news. Her great grandmother had passed away.  She had been in the hospital while Sharon was. Sharon told her mother that she had just spoken to her about the baby. Why hadn’t anyone told her? She was just down the hall on the same floor! She could have showed her the baby! It was too late now. Upset, Sharon checked on the baby. He was asleep. Soon after, Sharon fed him. She had eaten the pizza and didn’t know it would upset his stomach. In no time, he was crying. Being a new mother Sharon didn’t know what she was doing wrong. She was upset as was the baby and this was their first night at home. It was not a restful one. The next morning Sharon called Edward’s grandma to ask if she could watch the baby while she went to the showing.  The Devil’s grip drove in deeper as she now thought she was not a good mother and that she had something to do with her grandmother’s death. She had been well until the fall at the church. His hold went in deeper and deeper and she felt more jinxed than ever.

Their second child came almost five years later. This time Sharon’s health was not good. She had toxemia and was hospitalized on complete bed rest for the sake of herself and her child. Laying in the hospital bed Sharon was tormented by severe headaches. She couldn’t even stand the light that came in the window and lay there holding her head praying to be able to sleep. Following induced labor that lasted two days, their son was born on Easter Sunday. He was healthy and Sharon took this as a sign from God that things were going to change. She had lost a child on Christmas and now had a child on Easter. The day of the resurrection. It had to mean something!

She went back to church. She sat there with her children and found people staring at her when they cried. She was trying! She grabbed a bottle as soon as she could but it took a while to calm him down. Week after week this would happen. So, she got up and walked out. Her mind kept on telling her she was not worthy to be there. It was as if they knew what she had done. Seeds of doubt flourished. She wasn’t good enough anymore. She had murdered and was doomed to Hell. Why even try? Her life was proof of it. Everyone she loved died or had bad things happen. Weenie was gone. She left after they divorced and moved out of state. Sheri came around from time to time but their lives had changed. She was alone most days while Edward was working to support them. She was without God as well. Going to church was not going to do her any good. She had made her bed and she was lying in it. She was done trying.

Time passed. Sharon and her mother lost touch as she raised the kids with little help from anyone. By now, they had bought an old farm house on a main road and she and Michael sat and counted cars as they passed by.  Baby Joe grew to school age in that house. The boys loved riding their Big Wheels in the back yard and Sharon loved to watch them enjoying life. She and Edward had two sons. She loved them with all her heart but didn’t have the passion she once did. Deciding to go back to school she and Edward worked to pay her tuition bills as she got her degree. She wanted to be out with adults and hopefully find a way to make a difference in their lives. Perhaps, if she worked as well he could be home more. She felt bad that he had to work so many hours. His dreams had been put to the side, he had become the breadwinner.  Working became his way of life. Even on the weekends he would go in to do extra work to feed his family. His commitment shone for all to see. Sharon’s studies at school became a means to help her psychological needs. She soaked in the academic world and the philosophical conversations there. Earning her bachelor’s degree she then went out into the world to find employment. Teaching was her goal as it always had been. She began as a member of a research team and then substitute taught for a while. Moving into the country the family had more land for the boys to play and more opportunities for Sharon to share her love of children. Becoming a member of the baseball board she met a man who would hire her for her first teaching job. He was in another district than where they lived at the time but soon moved to the one where the boys attended. Having seen her work running the concession stand he knew of her dedication to the district. Then, while she was tutoring a child in a room adjacent to his office he learned of her ability to reach this special needs child. He asked her to join the staff in the upcoming year to be a special needs teacher. She agreed. She then went back to school to get her master’s degree. Working, studying, helping with ball, and being a mom kept her quite busy and she really didn’t have time to think of much else. That was what she had needed. She kept busy and moved on.

Pets were a major part of the family. Not only dogs but gerbils, birds and more filled their home. At one point her mother had told her she had a zoo. But Sharon laughed it off and got more. She wanted the boys to learn how to care and love for animals. She hoped it would help them become better parents one day. They helped to raise baby rabbits, an orphaned squirrel and even a baby raccoon. These were responsibilities and not jobs like when she was a child. There was a difference. She didn’t force them to work. She didn’t enforce rules like when to be at the table or not eat. She didn’t make them mow the lawn. She wanted them to be kids while they could. She wanted them to feel loved.

Learning to take stats at their ball games she kept books for their teams and later for them. She placed those among their belongings for them to look back over. Ball was a major theme with the family. Mike played basketball for a while. Joe took to football and even played a short stint in college until being hurt and coming home.

Edward taught the boys the manly things of life. He worked with them on fixing things around the house and repairing cars. He wanted them to know how to take care of things when they were adults. They built a deck on their home. They built a shed down back. They even helped from time to time paint cars and the mower. Both parents did as they could to help them grow into fine men.

When Michael began to prepare to go off to college Sharon began to realize that he would soon be moving on into his own life. He moved to a university three hours away. She wept on the day he moved out. Her whole life had been focused on loving their boys. Now, the first one was leaving the nest. The upcoming years would be different. Edward too was struggling. He’d spent so much time working to support them that he hadn’t taken the time to truly be with them and now it was over. He asked Sharon if they could adopt but she was not ready for that. Working with special needs kids all day at school and with what they’d been through in the past she just couldn’t do it.  For both, being a parent had taken precedence and now that was coming to a close. There life as about to change.  They had to be ready.

CHAPTER 10

Having a new sister in law she began getting to know her. The two would sit and discuss all kinds of things. Kay had a different way of looking at the world of Spiritualism and God. She told Sharon of a place where you could go to church and have readings done for free. The people who attended there would speak to the dead and tell their family members about what they said. It was one way to talk to them and hear what was going on. You could also get warnings about things in life as well. Sharon’s thoughts turned to her children in heaven. She’d always wondered about what happened to the ones she hadn’t carried to term. Especially the one that she had aborted.  She’d always wanted to know if they were all right. She had harbored their grief for so long. Maybe now was the time to know the answers.

“I think we should go there one night. It could be a lady’s night out. I could ask some friends to go along. Their church has a dinner and then the service is after that. We could all meet here and go together. How does next week sound?”

It sounded good to Sharon. Perhaps she could get some answers.

“Okay, so I’ll call some friends and we can meet up here around four to go down. We’ll go for the dinner and then for a reading.” stated Kay.

Sharon noted the exact time and date in her pocket calendar. She wanted to hear from Matthew as well as the baby she had miscarried. She had hidden that ache for years but it was time to heal.

Walking into the church that night, Sharon looked about, wondering what might happen. She had been thinking a lot about hearing from her children on the other side of the veil since their talk. She asked the group to sit closer to the front hoping it would help her cause. As the service began the choir sang some old hymns and read a passage from a book written by an elder of their church. The church was named after her. Sharon looked around the room and noticed a large framed picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. She smiled. Perhaps this was a church she could attend. She didn’t feel so judged here.

Soon the members of the church who would give the readings stepped to the front in robes. They explained that they would come to each person in the room and ask permission to give them a reading. The recipient then could accept or decline the message. Sharon looked around the room and felt an uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. What if her babies weren’t okay? What if they told her some bad news? Maybe she didn’t want a reading after all. Listening to readings other people got in the room Sharon decided not to take a reading. She would say no when they came to her. She had lived with their deaths but having to bear anything new would be horrible.

“I am coming next to the lady in the rose colored top here in the front row.”  The lady was speaking to Sharon.

“Yes?” Sharon double checked the color of her top and looked up.

“Would you like a message?”

“Yes.” Sharon gave the response that she hadn’t wanted to. She had talked herself out of that.

You’re sure that you want to open this door?” The person in front of her seemed to know she was tense and afraid. Could she read her mind?

“Yes. I would like a message please.” Sharon’s voice was stronger this time. She needed to know where the babies were and if they were okay. She was going to take the risk.

The lady continued, “Your spirit guide is showing me that something in your past literally reached in and yanked your heart out of your body. Do you know of what I am speaking?”

“Yes, I do.” Sharon’s body was quaking now as she recalled the room from so long ago where her heart was ripped out of her chest. The day she had wanted to go to be with God and her child in Heaven. She looked at the members of her group and hoped this lady would not reveal her secret.

“There is a Mathew Bryant here tonight. He wants you to know he is well. You’ll be with him one day if you make the right choices. That’s all I have for you tonight.”

Sharon’s thoughts raced almost as quickly as she did to get outside to process what just happened away from everyone there. That is all! What does that mean? If I make the right choices? What was she talking about? How could she know the name of the child that I lost? How did she know that my heart was ripped out of my chest that day in Cleveland? Her thoughts continued to ramble in her head as she paced the outer edge of the church trying not to throw up in their flower bed. She sat down on a bench and began to weep into the palms of her hands. Matthew was okay. She knew that much. But what about the other one? Why does she think I can join him one day? I’m going to burn in hell for what I did! She needed to know more.

The Devil had planted yet another seed. Sharon fell into his trap of attending the church as often as she could. She needed to know more about the message she had been given.  Week after week, she went back to hear simple things about her life but nothing about the children she had lost.

After months she decided to join classes there that focused on healings and psychic phenomena. Psychic trumpets were placed onto the ground and pencil and paper were placed out for the spirits to write with. That would prove they could move things on the Earthly realm.  Sitting in a dark, dank, musty room she watched others have Civil War soldiers and other dead come into their bodies and speak forth messages to the living. She never cared for the smell of the room. But the enticement of meeting her children lured her back for four years. In that time, Sharon learned how to listen to her spirit guides and do as they asked her.  She lay hands on people and could feel their ailments in her body. She then would pray for them asking for healing through their spirit guides. She stated things to many that even their closest friends may not have known.  Her dreams became surreal. They were intense and foretelling of things in the future. Some were coming true! Airplane crashes and loved ones deaths were being seen in those dreams. She even saw the death of her grandmother ahead of when it happened. In the dream she was in a car accident and died there. In real life she was given a medicine she was allergic to that killed her. Sharon thought God was talking to her in parables. She didn’t think otherwise. Her dreams and visions continued. She tried to warn people what she had dreamt of. But they laughed at her and told her she was being taken in by the Devil.  She could not see that side of the issue. The people at this church treated her kindly. They welcomed her and did not judge her. Besides, there was a picture of Jesus in the church. They sang gospel songs. They seemed more Christian to her than others.

Learning more, Sharon discussed her dreams and visions in the classes she attended. She was told that when she saw things like death to not share that. She was to only share things that were positive.  Sharon was confused by this, she was being given things to warn the, to possibly save them. She wanted to tell people if they were headed into danger. But then they did just ridicule her. Or, like with her grandma, her mom was angry she didn’t tell her. Either way seemed wrong.

As time continued Sharon would awaken in a kind of stupor as she witnessed dark beings in their home and about her. She tried to talk to them but had no response given. Lights in the house and other phenomena was occurring often. Friends and family members begged her to stop but the addiction enveloped her soul. She thought she was doing good for people and wanted to serve God in this capacity. She was able to tell people things they needed to hear from their spirit guides as well as heal them by laying of hands. They had approached her and told her so. She was working for her Lord, or at least she thought she was.

Then one night, at a meeting at the church, Sharon heard a wee voice speak to her.  It was the same voice that had spoken to her years previous in Cleveland. “Ask them if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

What?  Sharon thought. Of course they do, they have his picture hanging on the wall.

The voice repeated in her head, “Ask them if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

Sharon continued to listen to the back and forths of the meeting but didn’t ask the question as she was to do. That was a silly question to ask her peers. Who was that in her head anyway?

A man, who had been recording the meeting onto a tape, shifted his weight in his chair and looked at Sharon. Sharon was wondering who he was as she had never seen him there before.  Standing from his seated position the man spoke. “I have a question for you folks. Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”

Sharon felt her body arch in response to the question being asked.

One of her teachers, one of the members of the church, responded. “No sir. We do not believe that one man could wash away the sins of the World. We believe he was a prophet sent to lead us but not our Savior.”

Sharon gasped for air and about fell off of her chair. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. All those years she’d thought she had been serving him and his people to only find out she wasn’t.  They did not believe in Jesus as their redeemer. She gained her composure and began to walk out of the room. As she did, she glanced over to the man who had asked the question. He smiled at her and nodded his head as an affirmation of his response to what had just occurred. Gathering her thoughts she walked out of the Spiritualist Church never to return.

The drive home was one wherein she processed how dim witted she had been. Over and over again she revisited all who had been a part of the deceit. Sharon prayed aloud and asked God to aid those people the same way he had helped her. She also asked him to forgive her for being so naïve. Had she unknowingly led people to believe as she had?

She never went back nor contacted anyone who had befriended her there. How could she have been so stupid?

CHAPTER 11

Depression began to sink into Sharon’s body. Most days she didn’t want to get out of bed let alone go to work. Her children were grown, and she had no reason to live anymore. Edward was busy taking care of his parents as his father was now unable to walk and bedridden. Liz had her hands full working and taking care of him. Sharon felt alone and without hope for her future.  She had been having aches in her stomach and at times would double over in pain but didn’t say anything. They had enough on their plates as it was. They would make her see a doctor. She really didn’t care if she did or not.

Months passed and her health worsened. One night, she awoke in so much pain that she could barely breathe. Her stomach appeared to have doubled in size, and the pain was ever increasing.  Waking Edward up, she asked him to take her to the hospital. He did so immediately.

The diagnosis was not good. Sharon had pancreatitis. A gallstone had broken loose and gotten stuck in her bile duct. The doctors talked to the couple about what would happen next. She would be given medicines through an IV for a few days. Then they would revisit the condition and see if she got better or not. Hopefully, they would see an improvement.

Days passed as Sharon’s condition worsened. She could overhear the doctors talking to her family in the hallway. “I’m sorry to say that she is not getting better. By now her numbers should be down, but they’re not. Some do not pull out of this and others do. We need to continue to monitor her situation and see what happens. The next few days will be critical.”

Sharon attempted to sit up to hear what was going on in the hallway but someone pulled the door shut. When it opened her mother came into view and came to stand beside her.

“You know I love you. I want you to know that.” Her mother’s voice was soft and tender.

Sharon had never heard her utter those words before. Most days, those words would have been welcome. But today, they were a bit scary. Was she going to die? Was it time for her to go to Hell? She hugged her when she leaned in and pressed against her body. Then she watched as she left the room.

Edward came in next. He looked as if he had been crying. His eyes were bloodshot and he tried to conceal it. “We need to talk. The doctor says you should be improving by now, but you aren’t. “His voice was quiet and at times he took a breath to avoid crying.

“I know. I could hear you guys in the hallway. I am feeling weaker each day and I’ve been weighing myself with the scale on the bed. I’ve been losing a lot of weight. I hardly have the strength to get to the bathroom anymore.” Sharon was honest with her husband of twenty-five years. She knew anything less would be wrong.

“What are we going to do? You have some choices you know. You can stay here or go to the Cleveland Clinic. You can be taken by ambulance if you like.” That suggestion was one that Sharon had hoped to hear.

She thought back to when she had pinched the skin on top of her hand, and it stayed there. That meant, she was dehydrated. Here, at this local hospital they would unhook her IV from time to time to give her meds. That was not helping. She wondered if in Cleveland they would have better tools of the trade to help her. “I agree, I want to be transferred there. I think it would be for the best.”

“I’ll tell the nurses at the desk so they can get you a bed there. I’m sure they will try. It may take a few days, but I agree with that decision.” Walking off Sharon knew he was struggling with it all. His kind heart was showing.

The next morning Sharon lay her head back onto her pillow to rest and attempt to sleep. She had asked for no visitors as she had been up all-night having problems with her bowels and was barely able to get there in time. She knew that if she had visitors it could be an accident waiting to happen. She needed to rest and heal. Her hands were becoming more and more thin. She was dehydrating and the IV was not keeping up. At times it was unhooked for hours. Not allowed to have anything by mouth since entering she felt weaker and weaker. She was dying and knew it. As she fell into a deep sleep she had something happen that she had never experienced before, not even while going to the Spiritualist Church. She could feel her body rising from her bed. She was now levitating going up toward the ceiling. She could see her physical body there below her. She felt no pain, no grief, and the immense love that wrapped about her reminded her of the way she had felt when she held her sons for the first time. This feeling was of a pure love, like none other. Greater in intensity and as pure a love as ever was. As she drifted there, she began to see a movie in her head. One that revealed her life thus far. In the film she could see herself and her eldest brother watching cartoons on TV. She could not only hear the sounds but could also smell the food cooking in the kitchen of her early childhood home. She watched this movie for a time and then moved into another area. Here she saw family members standing in a sort of receiving line in a valley near a lake. She saw her grandmas and her father reaching out to her and then it was gone!

Next, there was a voice asking her if she was ready to come home. Sharon responded that she had hoped to stay a while longer. She wanted to meet who would marry her sons and her future grandchildren. In a flash, she was back in the room hovering over her body. She floated there for a while and saw her mother entering the room with her younger brother, now an adult. As her body hovered there for a moment Sharon could see her mother attempting to awaken her.

“Hey! You gonna wake up and talk to us? Your brother came to see you! Wake up!”

Her soul suddenly dropped back to join the body on the bed. Pain and suffering returned and the immense love she had felt was gone. She lay there trying to get that feeling back but could not. She opened her eyes.

“There she is. It is about time! Sit up and talk to your brother.”

Sharon sat up and attempted to figure out what happened and listen to her brother at the same time. But, her mind couldn’t wrap itself around both. Lord. What was that? Was that you? Who was I talking to? At that moment Sharon reconnected with God.

Lord, I need your help. I am dying. I want to stay here long enough to meet my son’s wives and my future grandchildren.  I need to go where a specialist can help me. Can you help me get transferred to Cleveland Clinic? Lord, can you help me?

Her prayer was not so much for her but for her family. She wanted to be there for them. Listening to her mother ramble on about some social event she had been to she drifted back to sleep.

Later, that same day, Sharon awoke to the sound of her things being packed up to go. The worker had the television on watching a show about Michael Jackson’s home Neverland. She watched and relaxed back a bit in the bed.

“Hey, sleepyhead. About time you woke up. We went downstairs to get a bite to eat while you slept. We need you to get ready to take a little ride in an ambulance. Dad’s on his way from work.  He should be here any minute.” Her eldest son spoke. The look in his hazel blue eyes conveyed one of hope. “Julie wants to meet you, but we’ll wait until you feel better to do so. We’ve been dating a few months and I know you are anxious to get to know her.”

“That will be fine honey. God will allow time for us to do so. I know that in my heart now.” Leaning forward to give them both a hug she let out a sigh of relief. Time could heal all wounds, and hopefully that was all she needed this time.

About that time Edward entered the room with his cousin. His face showed concern, but his voice uttered nothing but words of love. “Happy twenty- fifth anniversary! I can’t believe that we were on our honeymoon that long ago.” He held a bouquet of flowers in a vase in his hands.

Sharon looked up and smiled. “I know. It seems like it was only yesterday.  The flowers are lovely. Did you know I’m being moved to Cleveland?”

Edward stated he had. A smile came over his face as he handed the bouquet to his cousin. “Thank you Jesus!”

“Okay you Jesus Freak!  You about dropped that high dollar vase of yours. Watch it!” his cousin teased him as he knew they always used their money wisely.

Edward leaned in and hugged Sharon knowing that the Clinic was their best option.

Sharon smiled and watched the staff member load things onto the cart to go to the truck.

“We’ll follow you and stay until you get settled in.” stated Edward.

The sons said their words of love and walked with their mother alongside her gurney on the way to the ambulance. She was on the way to a place where God was going to help her. Holding their hands, one on each side of the gurney, Sharon smiled. Bear hugs were given and then she was near to being on her way. The men were to follow, and Sharon knew that they would do just that.

“Mom, we have to stay to work tomorrow but dad has strict instructions that he is to keep us informed.”

“I understand. I’ll see you soon. I’ll be just fine.” She reassured them.

She had never ridden in an ambulance and hoped that it would not be too bumpy. Her bowels were still in an uproar and there was no bathroom to use. She feared that a mess might be made. Being lifted into the chariot that awaited her she waved her goodbyes and closed her eyes.

The ride to Cleveland Clinic took just over an hour. Sharon was tightly strapped to the gurney and uncomfortable. She tried to rest but was unable. Vitals being taken, and calls being made to the clinic Sharon’s mind remained busy. The roads were slick, and she hoped that Edward and his cousin were safely following them. Perhaps they would take it slow and not worry about her. Upon arrival she was taken to a room on an upper floor and placed into bed. Nurses and staff ran into the room to take her stats. Two IVs were placed piggyback style into her arm in the attempt to rehydrate her.  Sharon looked up to see the two nurses working on her and thought she was in a dream. The male nurse had a shaved head and scars and stitches across his forehead. He looked like Frankenstein. The female nurse had retro style glasses encrusted with jewels of some sort. Her hair was up in a beehive hairdo and reminded Sharon of Betty Boop. Sharon blinked her eyes. Was she seeing things? Was her mind playing tricks on her?

“Man, oh man! That was one wild ride!” Sharon looked up to see a familiar face enter the room.  His cousin had arrived. “Edward wants me to tell you he’s parking the car and will be up soon. The roads were bad and that ambulance you were in was flying!  You guys were going 70 miles an hour on those slick roads. We could barely keep up with the thing.”

Sharon was watching the image his story created in her mind. She saw the men hurrying along as her husband raced to keep up. He hated to drive over the speed limit. He was probably not happy. She was glad they were okay.

“Do you mind if I ask you a stupid question. Can you describe my nurses that were just in here to me?” I think I’m losing my mind. They look a little out of the norm to me.” She was hoping he would describe what she just witnessed.

“Well, they don’t seem like typical nurses to me. I overheard a conversation at the nurse’s desk that the guy is just back from being in a bad accident. That’s why his head is shaved, and he has scars.” he answered.

Sharon was glad to hear that he had seen the same things she had. Her mind was intact after all. At that moment, a team of doctors entered her room and began to ask a multitude of questions. Their immediate response to her situation was to send her for some tests to be sure what was going on inside of her. Sharon said good-bye to her visitor and told him to be sure to let Edward know that she would be right back. Being wheeled down the hallway, she saw the elevator door open as Edward stepped out. In his hands he was carrying her flowers from earlier in the day.

“I’m headed for some tests and will be right back,” she explained quickly.

Edward stepped over and kissed her softly on the lips. Her body tingled just like when they’d first kissed on their wedding day. She smiled as she was wheeled off.

“I’ll see you in a little bit!” Edward stated.

By the time she returned to the room, the two men were deep in conversation about who could take turns sitting with Sharon. Most family members had to work, and with the distance to the hospital from their home, coupled with weather conditions, it would be difficult. Sharon would most likely not get a lot of company. Sharon knew she was there for healing and desired the time to rest. She suggested that her being alone to do so was fine. She didn’t want anybody getting into an accident or worse just to visit. She had a roommate and the television to watch. She could keep in touch on the hospital phone and keep the family abreast of her condition. The men agreed that might be for the best and decided they needed to get back on the road to get home. Driving conditions were still not good. Edward needed to get up early for work. Sharon watched as the pair walked off, talking to one another. She knew Edward would not be back for days. His company did not have sick days. His vacation time was limited, and she may need him home with her later on. They would also need to be able to pay the bills that would be coming. Turning on the television she watched the evening news and fell asleep.

Waking in the morning light she saw the male nurse return. He was on watch for the day. He needed to take her vitals and ask how she was feeling. The IVs had surely helped.  She was feeling a bit better already. She looked at the IV drip and saw she still had two bags flowing but the rate was slower. The nurse stayed busy taking care of her and took her weight. She had dropped ten pounds since this all began. She watched as he showed her how to use the scale on the bed. It would be something to do to entertain herself.

Soon, the doctor who had been assigned to do her gallbladder surgery entered the room to discuss her case with her.  He stated that the gallbladder would need to be removed or she may one day go through all of this again. But, first, she would need to regain her strength.  This would take time. She could expect to be in the hospital another week or so to heal from the pancreatitis.  She would then return a few weeks later for the surgery.  As she and the doctor wrapped up their conversation the nurse busied himself with her new orders. The potassium placed into her IV burned like fire as it traveled up her arm.  She didn’t complain. She was getting real help here. She watched as the doctor left the room.

“How did you get Dr. Steele? The nurse asked.

“Dr. Steele? I had never met him until today. Why do you ask?” Sharon replied.

“Don’t you know who he is? He is the top gastroenterologist in the state. In fact, he’s in the top ten in the United States. I work here and I can’t even get him if I request him. You must have done something special for him to be on your case.”

Sharon was baffled. She wasn’t sure how she had been blessed with this man as her doctor. Then she remembered having prayed for God to send her who could help her. “I did pray and ask God to send me who I needed. I guess he answered my prayer.”

She then watched as the nurse exited the room shaking his head. She could tell he didn’t believe her. But, she knew it was the truth and offered up a prayer of Thanksgiving.

A week passed, and Sharon was cleared to go home for a while prior to her surgery. She had been on a clear liquid diet for two days now and kept it down with no pain. Her first meal had been a popsicle. It tasted odd, they explained that was due to the meds she was on. Everything she tried tasted that way and was hoping things would taste normal again one day. Sharon played with the scales on her bed one last time and found she had lost fifteen pounds. She joked with the staff that she had invented a new diet plan. She would call it the IV diet. The staff laughed and told her that some people had tried that. Sharon thought the mannerism would be quite risky and extreme to say the least.  But, she needed some levity in her life and continued to make the jokes, The IV diet was a possible book and talk show topic!

Edward walked into the room to find her talking of her plans for the book and talk show circuit. It was nice to hear her laughing again. He helped pack her things and drove her back to their hometown. He hoped she would heal in time for her surgery. He would help take care of things around the house as much as he could. She had been gone quite a while as it was. Her healing from the entire ordeal would take much longer.

Sharon spent her time at home reflecting on what had happened in the hospitals. She was mostly focused on the day she seemed to die and the state she had entered into. When she and Edward discussed it he thought it was to do with the medicines she was on. But, then in addition to that how had she gotten the best doctor in the state to help her? Could God still love her after all that she had done? Why didn’t he just let her die that fiery death she was doomed to? Sharon prayed to thank him for all he had done. Without God by her side, she surely would have perished.

CHAPTER 12

Years passed and Sharon settled back into her routines of work and studies. While reading a book, Edward crossed the room to answer the phone. Sharon watched as the look on his face turned into emotional pain. She listened and knew someone had died, but who? As he hung up the phone he dropped into a nearby chair and began to weep incessantly. Sharon got up her emotional strength to cross the room to hold him.

“What happened? Talk to me.” Sharon pleaded.

“My cousin is dead. He has been for a while. They think he must have had a heart attack in his chair last night. They found him there this morning.” His words were slurred and intermittent with tears.

“I’m so sorry. The last time I saw him was when he was at the clinic with you.” Sharon thought back to when he had taunted them with the words Jesus Freaks. Her mind shifted to where he was for all eternity. Had he gone through what she had? Did he see his family in the meadow? She hoped he had. Life was not a given, nor eternal life either. She had learned that each day could be your last.  Now, she was witnessing it with Edward’s cousin and best friend. She watched as her loved one reeled over the loss. They’d grown up together and were close as brothers. Then he moved out of state and the distance made things harder to spend time together. Edward was mad at himself for not going to see him. Now, it was too late. Experiencing this triggered in Sharon the desire to return to the Lord. She wanted to find answers to what she had experienced and why God still loved her. In her mind it was time to reopen that door she had closed so long ago. It could not wait. Her soul was on the line. This was a reminder for her.

Sharon began to look for a Bible Study group in the area and found one for post abortive people. Men or women could come. She called the local office and signed up immediately. She needed to get things right with God and hoped this was the right place to do so.

Her weekly Bible study would be with two other ladies. One lived with the regret of three abortions and now lived with a special needs child. The other lady knew her Bible well. She was the leader of the group. She’d never lost a child in any form but her kind demeanor made her a great source of knowledge and hope. Each week, the class discussed how God would forgive your sins if only you asked. Sharon could not accept this. For so long she had believed she was doomed to Hell for what she had done. Time after time the ladies in the group asked her to give herself to the Lord. But she refused.  She did not feel worthy and would not budge. Anger began to rear its ugly head again and Sharon thought about leaving the class. The thing that kept her there was knowing that she would have a funeral service for her child at the end. The thought of having that service with flowers and prayers fueled her hope for the future. Perhaps, then she could put it into the past forever. She needed to heal. Sharon looked through the materials on how to plan the service. She had never even known him but wanted to do this right. Emotions stirred within her and she attempted to sweep them to the side. She focused on simple things like baby blue carnations in his honor. Edward and Sharon opened up and talked about the topic more than they had for years. He had suffered as well. He had been holding it in and being strong for her. He told her he had always wished that he had come in and took her out of that place so long ago. He felt as if he had failed her and failed as a father. Nearly thirty years had passed since they had taken that drive to the abortion clinic in Cleveland, yet neither had healed. Would they ever? Sharon could see the pain in his face and asked if he would like to be a part of the ceremony. It was time to put it behind them. The ceremony was brief and the poem Sharon selected was read by the class instructor. Sharon glanced down at the bulletin and read his name over and over. Matthew Bryant Gibbs, their son was being memorialized.  Tears rolled down her face as Edward took her hand in his.

“He’s in Heaven you know. He’s just fine. My Grandma Alice is probably with him every day hugging him and loving on him.” Edward spoke the truth and she knew it.

“I know he is. But, will I ever get to meet him? I killed our son.”

The leader of the group walked over and placed her hand on the grieving mother’s shoulder. “You can if you give your life to the Lord. Would you like me to lead you in the prayer of salvation?”

Edward looked into Sharon’s eyes as if to ask her to pray with him.

“Yes, we would like to do that. What do we say?”

https://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/  This organization helps many. Seek their assistance on this website.

https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/   This  organization helps those post abortive to heal.  Men and women can call for help and classes.


CHAPTER 13

Following their prayer of salvation, the couple began going to church with one of the Bible Study members. Sitting in the new place fear entered Sharon’s heart that she wouldn’t be welcome here.  The voices in her head kept telling her to sit quietly and face forward as not to draw attention to herself. Sharon watched as the people in the sanctuary raised their hands in praise and sang along with the praise team. People even shouted AMEN at times and stood when doing so. This was all new to Sharon as she was accustomed to a more passive style of worship. She looked at Edward and took his hand. She was going to have to get used to all of this. The service ended, and the people began coming around asking them if they had a home church. Edward greeted them and told them they were seeking a church while Sharon backed up in fear, they possibly all knew why they were there at the church with the lady they sat with. They may know she helped at that place. She didn’t want to be treated with disrespect or that they would know of her past.

As time passed Sharon was able to utter an occasional Amen in response to the sermon. She was getting more accustomed to the ways of this church. She asked about joining the praise team and was anxious to begin after a year of attendance. She and Edward were in a church and her feelings of being doomed to Hell were beginning to subside. She had lived with that fear for so many years it was going to take time.

Nearly one year into their attending the Pastor asked for male volunteers for a mission’s trip to Mexico to build a church plant. Edward’s eyes lit up as he heard them ask. He had wanted to get to know some of the men on a more personal level and hoped this would be a chance to do so. He truly missed his cousin and wanted to meet a new person to befriend. He wrote his name on the sign-up sheet and took the information packet. He and Sharon discussed it on the way home and decided it would be a good way for him to use his God given talents to help others in a new way.

Edward prepared for the trip by getting his passport and some shots. He also looked at his tools to figure out what to take along. In a couple of months he was off on his trip. This would be the first of his many mission trips in his life. He would travel out of the country as well as in the United States.  Sharon longed to go with him but wasn’t always able. Many were planned for construction and men. She also had problems getting off work. She and Edward began to pray for her to get a chance to go serve as he was. She continued to blame herself for problems in their lives. She knew God had forgiven her, but forgiving herself was a whole other thing.

In December of 2010 Edward got a phone call asking him to join a missions trip to Haiti. Dwayne’s new wife had called to ask. She explained that part of the group would be medical and the other part construction. She knew he had experience with such things and hoped he could go. Edward listened and then spoke it over with Sharon. He would be gone for about a week. The couple discussed the financial and personal ramifications of said trip. He knew that she would not be able to go once again. Her lost wages for time off would prevent it.  The couple did agree that he should go anyway. It was what was best for all. He was to go. Sharon would stay home and take care of things there. Teams were made. Meetings were attended. Sharon reflected back to watching the news of the earthquake in that country and praying for the people. She had asked God then if she would be able to go to assist one day.  Then she realized she could do her own small part. She went to the meetings and listened as they spoke about their needs. Then she went shopping to get things to send along. She also helped them pack just prior to the trip. She prayed as the team left to go.

Edward was gone for almost seven days as had been planned. While there, she was unable to hear from him. The only call was from a volunteer at the church who had been in contact with them and let the families know. This was not unusual. International calls were not often made when he was there. Sharon had heard that some had shared pictures through social media but she wasn’t a part of one of those sites yet. Edward knew his wife’s heart. He took lots of pictures and videos for her to see when he got home. He attempted to capture the culture and the people the best he could. He came home with hand made gifts and other items he had purchased to help the people make an income. He also told her stories of what he had experienced including the tent cities. Sharon sat and soaked it all in. She loved the stories of how the people used old steel drums to make art. She also looked at the pictures of the school he had taken for her. Being able to experience Haiti secondhand was a wonderful gift.

He also told her of how the people lined up for dental and medical help. The group was saddened when they knew the one baby was not going to make it. This saddened Sharon as it reminded her of their losses in the past. He told of the many children at the orphanage and how sponsorships from people helped to clothe and feed them. Sharon admired his work there. She especially loved the pictures of the children. So many needs, yet they seemed so happy! In some of the photos the children were doing karate kicks. He laughed as he told her that they loved to do that. She wished in her heart that she could have seen it for herself. She was jealous and knew that was wrong. She wanted to hug those children and love on them in person. For now, it was not meant to be.

Time passed and Edward signed up for emails from those needing help in Haiti. One group was asking for help to set up an internet-based university in the mountains above Port Au Prince. Sharon read the email and all that it entailed. They needed a cook and a seamstress. In her heart she wanted to believe that this trip was made for her but doubt once again trickled into her mind and made her think she would be unable to go. Would this one work? She prayed so. That night she spoke to Edward about the posting. They decided she should write to them and ask about it. So, she did. The lady, Kris, who spoke to her was very excited that both of them could come help build the school.  The conversation as to how Edward could lead up the team was one topic of matter. Sharon could not believe that she could go. Edward had been telling her that she would serve the Lord one day in that capacity of which thus far she had only dreamed. Now, it was becoming a reality. They would be in Haiti about six days. Joy filled her heart as she knew she could go and fulfill her desire to help the people. She and Edward would be traveling there as a team. How wonderful!

CHAPTER 14

One of Sharon’s roles was to make curtains for the new school.  She was also to make what was called Haitian screens or door curtains for in the doorways. Not knowing the sizes she looked online for the school site. Someone there had posted videos of the rooms that were to be made into classrooms.  From these, she attempted to guess the size of the windows to make some bright and colorful curtains. She wanted this school to look happier than the ones Edward had taken pictures of.  Preparation was underway for the upcoming trip. She sewed, shopped for fabrics, and found curtain rods that would fit into her luggage. She made the door curtains and hemmed those to match a standard door in her home. The window curtains she would hem while there. She wanted to be sure those would fit properly. The width was an easy thing. They could be wider and then scrunched up. But the length, needed to be right. A shower curtain was purchased but the rod would not fit into luggage. The school would have a shower for those staying there on future mission trips. They were going to make a small kitchen and bedroom as well for that purpose. She shopped at garage sales for small pans, sheets, and more. She was in heaven! She was going to Haiti!

As time drew nearer to go, she packed their bags. She learned that they could each take two bags weighing up to 50 pounds each. They could also take one carry on.  The tools were heavy, and they were distributed among them to balance the weight. Kris had sent a list of things to take, water bottles, flashlights, own bedding, and personal items. Breakfast items would not be provided, and snacks needed to be taken as well. Sharon also found two small battery-operated fans to pack in case of extreme heat. The bags were heavy and what they had would have to suffice. Their back packs helped with personal items and some clothing.

While on the plane the couple had to fill out paperwork to enter Haiti. Sharon kept busy completing the forms and listening to the Creole language being spoken by a few near them.  She loved the sound of it. Edward was busy making lists and sketching out ideas for their projects at hand. While he worked one man spoke to Sharon about how he had come from Haiti to America to live. He was now going home to visit his family.  Sharon wondered if he had been in Haiti and if he had lost any loved ones during the horrific event. As they prepared to land Sharon could see the large island from the plane. She wondered if she was seeing the Dominican Republic side or the Haitian side. It really didn’t matter. She was there.

Their first day in Haiti was a full one.  After disembarking the plane, they rushed to a bus that would take them to where they would pick up their luggage.  They would also need to complete paperwork there prior to entering the country. The heat in the building was intense. People were stuffed in there like sardines in a can awaiting their turn to do the paperwork. The line was slow moving.  Kris, who had been on the plane from Miami, stepped out of the line long enough to find other team members who had arrived earlier on another flight.  Sharon could see her hugging people in the distance as she spoke to each one. The drivers and workers grabbed their luggage from the primitive turnstyle. They had placed large yellow ribbons onto each one to make them easy to spot. That and they would know if someone else attempted to walk off with them. Sharon watched as they loaded their bags onto carts to take to the van. Edward looked at Sharon and noticed her pale skin was turning red and she was perspiring greatly. The heat was extreme and both prayed as they exited the building it would be cooler where they were to be working. As they exited the building the heat continued to envelop them as men attempted to get their carry ons and take them to the van. They wanted to make some money. Kris, yelled out to hold onto all bags and keep moving. They might take the bags and we didn’t have time to deal with that.

Sharon watched as Edward pressed back the crowd repeating, “No merci. No thank you.”

She began stating the same and pressed her way toward the parking lot.  She watched as the anxious group reached out to them asking them to hire them. They just wanted to earn a tip. Sharon remembered back to when Edward had told her about the Haitian men helping on his last project. They made one dollar an hour. Very little. Yet there that was good money.  She understood that even a two dollar tip would be good money. Her mind was lost in this thought.

Then, suddenly her mind was jolted back into reality. One of the men had gotten ahold of a team bag. He walked alongside the drivers while heated words were exchanged. Yet the stranger held tight to the bag and continued to walk with them. Kris tried to talk to the man and tell him they had help. Her grasp of the Creole language seemed fluent.

The van in the parking lot was not too far from the luggage area. The hired Haitian men loaded the bags into the van. The man who had joined them helped but was not asked to do so. Kris remained by him keeping an eye on their things. The back of the van full the men strapped the rest on top. Sharon began to get worried about her camera and fished in the bottom of her carry on to find it. When she did, she relaxed and began to take photos.  Being told having it out was unsafe she placed it back into her bag and sat quietly. Deciding to sit next to a student they were building the school for Sharon rode along looking out the window at her first glimpses of Haiti. Tent cities near the airport were large and packed with people. She had never seen that many at any campground before. Ramshackle tin homes and tents were everywhere. Portable potties were intermingled here and there but there was nowhere she could see to wash their hands or bathe. Water seemed to not be available even to drink. People walked in the streets or got onto tap-taps, highly ornate trucks, that transport people like the buses in America. Along the roads she could see ladies balancing huge baskets on their heads as they walked, vending their wares. Edward looked at her and smiled. She was finally witnessing what he had told her about. At one of the stop signs Sharon saw a young man press his face against the window of the van near her. He peered in seeming to know blancs were inside. He was inquisitive.

“Is he in need of money?” Sharon asked the young man seated next to her.

“Yes, ma’am but don’t give him any. That not good idea.” His grasp of the English language was quite good. “If you give money many people come round the van. We need to go.”

Sharon watched as the young man went back into the crowd. He needed money but she wasn’t going to be the one to help him. Her soft heart ached and she looked up at Edward. He had heard their conversation and knew what she was thinking. After nearly thirty years of marriage he was good at that.

The city of Port Au Prince was unlike the big cities in the states. The buildings were small, no larger than two stories high. Damage from the quake was apparent as many buildings were nothing but ruins. Others were being used but appeared to be unstable. Small flea-market-type vendors lined the streets and sold various wares. They reminded Sharon of mini garage sales as some sold old shoes and clothes. Motorcycles seemed to be more commonplace than cars. Taxi motos hauled people and Sharon thought some might fall off of them.

As they headed up into the mountains, they traveled on sinuous pot-hole ridden roads surrounded by concrete walls and gates. The diversity of the homes was amazing. At one point they drove past the president’s home with its large gates and white walls. In the next, small homes with tin roofs and no doors. Both had major damage and the people seemed to live in them as they had no choice.

Ken, a member of the team shared how things looked differently when he lived there in the seventies. He had come as a doctor to serve the people. It was quite interesting to listen to him speak about the way of life there then. Kris also explained things to the team as they drove on up toward their destination. The downtown area had hotels where she had stayed but they were nothing like back home. Here and there, armed guards stood at the gates to buildings, reminding her to never walk alone.  The drive was quite long, and Sharon lifted up a quick prayer that she would not get car sick.  She was glad when the student in the van mentioned they were almost there.

Upon arriving at the location, the team could see students in the streets waving to them. The van passed that area and went on up the hill to where they would be staying. The student in the van told them that the local people were excited for their arrival.  The team waved at the people and watched as they were greeted by the return of the same.

The guesthouse sat atop a hill overlooking the valley below. It seemed rather large from the outside. As everyone disembarked from the van, the men began unloading the luggage and tools. They took it into a locked hallway type garage attached to the house. Sharon watched and noticed old luggage along the sides of the room. Edward explained to her that people often came with two bags and returned with one. They left their clothing and other things behind for the people. Thus, they didn’t need the bags. The team would sort things out here to take to the job just below their location.

The first room entered in this building was that garage of sorts. There was no car and no moto.  The next room was the dining room. Two wooden tables were there with chairs set up along them. Beverages were there awaiting the team. Sharon was glad as her mouth was parched. A cool glass of something was most welcome.

The next room to enter was the kitchen. The food cooking on the stove smelled good. A young Haitian man smiled as they entered the space. Sharon wondered if he was their cook and returned the smile. The aroma of the food made her stomach growl. The young man looked at her and giggled.

“Hello. My name is Sharon.” Sharon walked toward him and shook his hand. His warm smile coupled with a firm handshake reassured her he was a kind soul. “I am going to be helping you with the cooking.”

A look of concern came over his face as he clambered into the house to find someone. Sharon angled her body to the side and prepared to leave the room.

“Hello. My name is Lander.” Sharon saw a tall, lean man enter the room. “My friend Makeson does not speak English but I can help you.”

“I wanted to let him know I’ll be helping in the kitchen. Please tell him my name is Sharon.”

Lander did as ask. The man in the kitchen turned to her and nodded as if to let her know he understood. Looking around the kitchen she was glad to see they had some modern-day conveniences. There was a sink with running water, a stove, and a refrigerator. Next to the sink were some eggs and produce. She assumed those were from the local markets.

She smiled to them both and walked into the living room space beyond. It had a chair, a couch, a lamp, and an entertainment center without the tv. She went to find the ladies room. It was down the hallway. There was one for the men as well. Next, she found where she would sleep. She would be sleeping in a room with the ladies at the front of the house. Edward and the men would be in a room at the back. Unpacking needed to be done. She placed her things into a single drawer in a dresser and hung a few things into the small closet. She also placed her toothbrush in the bathroom making sure to have a bottle of water to use when rinsing it off. Her trip to Haiti was a reality, and she was loving it!

Dinner that night was wonderful! Local produce had been prepared and the juices were amazing! Nobody seemed to know what the one juice was, but all drank it with gusto! Rice and beans with chicken legs was their first meal. Fresh mangoes were their dessert. It was all so fresh and delicious!

Leaving the table, Sharon walked to the terrace and saw Edward speaking with the men about materials needed for construction. They were going to buy things in the morning and get started right away. Not wanting to interrupt she walked to the corner and leaned against the wall that enveloped the terrace. From here, the view was tremendous. From one side she could see the mountains in the distance and a wee bit of the ocean. Homes were scattered here and there as if God had cast them out from his own hands. Sharon could see no roads to those homes, just walkways. She wondered if the people who lived there had to walk everywhere, they went.

To the side she could see the school building, their work site. The maroon pink walls seemed to welcome her to Haiti. She stood and snapped photos of the village below. People were always active. Women were putting out or gathering laundry on the rooftops of the larger homes. The one lone basketball hoop with one ball was keeping the children in the neighborhood occupied.

Lander and I in front of the school

People were walking everywhere. Dogs, goats, and chickens ran about the road below. A wee kid bleated and jumped at his momma doe. Sharon saw such destruction from the perch of hers.  Buildings were in shambles, being held up by sticks or less.  Metal roofs with holes made her wonder if their belongings inside got wet when it rained.

“God, how can this be? People at home would be up in arms with these conditions.” She knew in the US they would be begging the government to save them. Garbage along the roads and their broken down homes didn’t seem to affect the Haitians at all. She stood in awe of the beauty of the people she had come to serve. She was amazed by their temperament in the midst of it all.

Preparation for bed included being sure they had water in the bathroom for toothbrushing. They could not use the water from the sink. It was not safe. Towels were laid out in the room. One towel per person for the week. Items the team members had brought for breakfast were laid out on the dining room table. As she entered the kitchen Sharon noticed the leftovers from dinner had been placed into two bowls. The contents seemed to have been scraped off in no order. She wondered why this had been done. Was the cook going to throw it out when there were hungry people in the streets? She hoped not.

The first night’s rest did not come easily for Sharon. The camping cot was not comfortable, and the local people sat just outside her window in the light talking and having fun into the wee hours of the morning. Light from a security lamp lit up the room as well. She was used to the darkness of their country home. About four in the morning the roosters began to crow and awoke her.  She gave up and got out of bed.

Feeling her way in the dark, she was able to find the kitchen light switch and turned it on. There, in the kitchen she saw the bowls of scraps were gone. She looked and could not find anyplace they had been thrown out. She was glad. The cook must have taken it home for his dinner or for someone else.

Knowing she was to cook lunch that day, she wanted to get to know the layout of the kitchen and began looking about for what she would need. The refrigerator was small, apartment sized, but did have a freezer above it. Inside, in the lower drawers she found produce and fruits. In the freezer there was a large bowl filled with frozen water. She hoped the water had come from the large water bottle next to the fridge. The large water bottle was seated in a metal holder that the Haitians called a tipper. You literally had to tip it over to get water from it. It was quite an ingenious design! Sharon played with it and figured out how to use it. All water for cooking and eating had to come from these bottles. Water to wash the dishes could come from the faucet but bleach had to be added for safety purposes.

The stove was fueled with propane and matches set on the ledge of a screenless window nearby. She wanted to heat some water to rewash some dishes as where they had been stacked overnight was now covered with ants. She dug in the cupboard below and found a pot. Attempting to light the stove she found them to be quite fragile and broke a few before getting the stove to light.  She was preparing water to wash dishes and wash down the kitchen counters.

To her left on the countertop there was a coffee maker. Above the coffeepot were three small cupboards. She opened the first one. Inside she found four plastic plates, a few china cups, and some plastic things she thought were baskets.  In the next two she found nothing. The cupboard above the stove had a few old tea bags and half used cookie mix packet.  She wiped the area down with soapy water with some bleach she found under the sink and tossed out some broken eggs covered with ants on the counter. As she did, she wondered if the Haitian cook would be upset. She hated tossing them out but knew if they were used people could get sick. At home, there would have been no question. But here, it was another matter. Here, she felt guilty wasting anything at all. The remembrance of being a child and her mother telling her to eat what she had taken popped into her head. She was always told of the starving children in Africa. She shook it off. She’d done what was right to keep the team safe.

Sharon now began looking for things to cook and something to serve them on. On top of the refrigerator she found some dry milk mix, coffee, sugar, and some condiments. She wondered if they had put them there to keep the ants out. She then looked under the counter and found some onions, potatoes, carrots, and other produce tossed into a heap. She decided not to use those as she wasn’t sure if they would be needed for a meal during the week. Soon, she was preparing a hot breakfast to ready for their first day of work.  Scrambled eggs as well as pan toast were prepared. Having no electric toaster, she had opted to brown the bread in a pan on the stove butter side down like for a grilled cheese sandwich. Coffee was also ready for when the team awoke. Edward loved his coffee. Mixing some powered milk, she prepared a small container of creamer and placed some sugar next to the pot.

As the first team member awoke Sharon looked out the window to see two cows looking back at her. She watched as the farmer came to each one feeding them some dried corn by hand. She chuckled quietly as she watched him dine on some of the corn as well. She wondered how his teeth had tolerated this over the years and saw him look up at her and smile. She smiled back. She had her answer. Chicken’s scampered near the man’s feet hoping to glean any of the residuals dropped. The rooster got underfoot and was kicked aside. Looking to her right she saw a large brightly painted building. It was painted with all of the primary colors and had some murals on it with children in them. She watched this place, quiet and still in the morning hours and wondered what it was for. Sipping her beverage she looked up at the sky and said a quick prayer for their day ahead. Day was upon them. They had much to do and much to learn.

CHAPTER 15

The first day was like most, according to the returning volunteers. The men spent the morning getting supplies, figuring things out and getting their momentum started. The women cut out screens for the windows and cleaned up old dried paint from the pretty tile floors and walls in the bathrooms.

Around noon, lunch was prepared by a trio of ladies, and Sharon was glad for the help. Megs had brought along some pudding mix and using the dry milk quickly whipped up a dessert.  Jewels prepared the pasta noodles Kris had brought along with the packaged seasonings. Sharon cleaned fresh mangoes, vegetables, and avocados for side dishes. It was going to be a feast! As they were cooking Sharon saw Jewels looking next door. By now, sounds of laughter and children playing had filled the air in the space next door. Sharon watched them play as she prepped the food.

“Jewels, you’ve been here before. Can you tell me about the place next door?” Sharon asked.

Jewels looked up from stirring the pot on the stove and replied, “I have never been inside the gate, but I know it’s an orphanage. They take in boys and girls it seems.”

Sharon continued to prep the food and watched what seemed to be near one hundred children in the courtyard of the building. She wondered about their circumstances and if they ever left the confinements of the walls. How in the world did the owners manage to feed all those kids? The bills must be enormous!

“Hello,” a voice came from behind her. She turned to see the tall, thin Lander behind her.

“Hello, Lander. Would you like something to eat?” Her question was natural to her. She had asked so many friends of her sons that same question over the years. Not hearing an answer, she looked at him standing there pondering what to say.

“Let me rephrase that. Are you hungry?” She thought he had possibly not understood.

“I am asked to tell you that the team will be here to eat soon.” His voice was firm yet questioning at the same time.

“Thank you. Are you hungry? We have plenty to eat.”

“Yes, Miss Sharon. But my job is to bring you the message. I am hungry but now I no eat. I wait until later.” Lander stated.

“Here, I am going to make you a plate. Would you like to eat it on the veranda?” Sharon was not going to take no for an answer. Lander was thin. In her mind he needed food. Lander watched as the lady from the United States piled a little of each food onto a plate. She poured him a Coca-Cola and handed it to him.

“Come on. I can carry some of this to the table for you. You sit and eat lunch. The others will be here soon to eat with you.”

The two walked a short distance to the veranda and sat the food onto a table there. Sharon looked toward the school to see Edward and the team walking up the hill. She waved to them and saw Edward return with a wave as well. They were there together. She was quite happy.

The remaining days in Haiti were spent working and getting to know the locals. The team wanted to finish their tasks so they could go to the Baptist Haiti Mission nearby for lunch on Saturday. They had ice cream and hamburgers there. Building beds in the guestroom and desks in the classrooms they all kept busy. Students who were going to go to school there began coming to assist.

Dressed in their Sunday best the students worked alongside the US volunteers into the night.

Joy filled the air as they built and then painted the furniture for their school. Sharon tried her best to make sure they all had water and snacks while they worked. Each one made sure to wash their hands in the sink in the restroom before they ate. For them, it wasn’t just a routine. It was a way of life to keep bacteria out of their bodies to stay healthy. More so than in the US they made sure to let Sharon know that they could not just eat foods with hands unwashed. Haiti had so many issues not present in the states. Many were hungry as they had traveled over an hour to the site. Riding on tap taps or walking they would do the same journey each time they came to school. Working alongside them she learned of the hope the school brought to them. They had been given an opportunity to earn a degree and pull their families out of poverty. The education would provide for their futures.  Their dreams would also help to provide for their nation. Sharon watched as they worked beside the men and women. They had never seen power tools and had to be shown how to use them. They had never even seen the small battery operated fans that Sharon had brought along. Each one took turns feeling the cool breeze created by the fans and watched as they turned round and round. Sharon told them not to stick their fingers inside. It might hurt. They listened and did as she asked. Sharon had also brought along a toy. A simple magnet game where you could drag the pieces of metal to make hair and a mustache on a drawn figure. They were amazed with it and played with it one by one. The look in their eyes was amazing to her. They were students who had earned a scholarship to attend the school. They all spoke English and yet such simple things amazed them so. She knew in her heart that their lives had been quite limited with material things and thus experiences of the world. The students took time to talk to her and tell her of their dreams. One even wanted to one day be the president of the nation.

Sharon and Lander spent more time together than the others. He had been hired by Kris as a security person for the school. He had the responsibility of watching the gate and walking people up to where they stayed on the hill. His English was good enough to help with that job. He could explain things and help all of whom needed it. Edward was glad to see this young man escorting his wife up to cook each meal from the site. He could see she was making a friend.

One day, while walking up the hill a young woman with a toddler approached the duo.  The young boy approached Sharon and asked a question. He gestured with his hands, but Sharon still did not understand. She looked to Lander to assist.

“He wants to know if you have a ball.”

Sharon now understood what the motioning hands had meant. He had been making a ball with his gestures. “Tell him I only brought things for the school. I’m sorry but I don’t have any balls with me.”

Lander translated to the toddler in Creole.  His eyes began to darken and look sad. The mother of the child nodded her head as if to thank her for her kindness.

“Lander, please tell this mother that her child has the most beautiful eyes! He is absolutely gorgeous.” Sharon requested.

Watching the face of the mother she smiled and hoped the mother would do the same in return. Yet, instead of a smile the young mother spoke to Lander. Sharon wished she could understand.

“What did she say, Lander?”

“She say she want to know if you want to have him.”

“What? I do not understand what you are trying to tell me.” Sharon thought she had heard correctly but wasn’t sure.

Lander repeated the phrase using different words to get the meaning across. “She want to know if you want to take him home with you.”

Sharon looked into the eyes of the young mother and wanted to weep. This woman was not being mean like those in the states who would jokingly ask someone to take their child off their hands. She was asking to let her child live a good life.

Standing there attempting to process what had just happened Sharon asked Lander to tell her that she did not have the paperwork. She could not take him home as even to get the paperwork she was too old. He was lovely but she just couldn’t. Sharon’s heart was melting inside. How could she have killed her child in a land with so much? Here now, she was with a lady with so little and yet loved her child enough to give him up.

Sharon walked on up the hill a short stretch by herself. She needed to walk and fight back the tears forming. They wanted to pour forth. Wanting to go inside she realized that she needed to wait on Lander to unlock the large gate. He had the keys to the building. Glancing back down the mountain road she saw the mother take her child’s hand and walk on. She could not save him and it pained her.

Turning to her side she saw Lander approach her with keys in hand. “You okay, Sharon?” He seemed to know his new friend was hurting. He touched her arm gently as she looked into his brown eyes. “You are not like others.”

“What do you mean? Sharon words were harsher than usual. Her thoughts were lost on what had just transpired. Lander unlocked the gate and pulled it back for them to enter.

While walking into the kitchen Lander spoke once again. “It is your heart. You have a big heart.”

Growing angry Sharon answered him, “Everyone here serving your country has a huge heart. You don’t know who I am. I have done some horrible things in my life.” Sharon’s low self esteem had become vocal. In some ways, she hoped he would not understand her English.

“No, you are special! Nobody ever come here ask me if I hungry! Nobody ever make me food to eat. You are special!” Lander’s voice was rising in the expectation that she would listen and understand.

Sharon stopped walking to the refrigerator to take the food out to prep lunch. “You mean, nobody ever offered you food to eat when they had plenty for themselves?” She asked in return.

“No, you are first one. I thank you.” He stepped in and hugged her slightly, as not to offend her. He could sense she was upset. The desolation of this country was wearing on her. She was in a sort of culture shock.  “The light of God comes from you, Sharon. You are special. Not like others.”

Sharon wanted to run and hide. He had no clue who she was. No clue as to her past. Removing the ice chunk from the freezer she asked if he could pound some loose for the drinks. While he did so, she left the room. She ran to the bedroom and cast herself onto the bed and murmured her sobs in the pillow. His words kept on repeating in her head. You are special. The light of God shines from you.

There was no way that was possible.

That night as they ate dinner Sharon could hear singing from underneath where they satAsking what she was hearing the group told her that the local church was underneath that building. The local people were there having church service. Finishing up her food Sharon walked to the terrace and attempted to hear more of the rejoicing. A guitar was being played and then it stopped. They must have been having the readings and prayer time. Walking back into the kitchen area she thought about the people of this place. So much love for God, and they had so little. She had much to process from her time here thus far. Yet, she had so much more to learn.

Each morning was greeted by the farmer sharing his corn with the cows and the chickens at his feet. Breakfast was eaten and then they headed down the hill to work. The students came each day to work. Some days there were new faces along with the ones she recognized. As they painted with the water thin paint they talked and learned of one another’s lives. The students had many questions about America. None had been there but had learned about it through various sources. They told Sharon how there were movie theaters prior to the earthquake. They no longer existed. Other things such as the local store was the same way. Now, a lady ran a small shop out of her home where they could get a few things. That and the small stands were what they had to choose from. Questions were asked that made Sharon think about her lifestyle back home.

“Have you ever been to a Walmart? They say you can buy anything you need in that one store. Is that true?”

“I have been to one. They are quite large. You can buy a lot of things there. Not everything you might need, but most of it.”

“Is it true there are stores for dogs in America? Do people really buy clothes and sunglasses for them?”

Sharon thought about this one. She’d never thought about how much money she spent on her pets in this fashion. She had noticed only the Americans and others who lived here had pets. Most could not afford them. “Yes, there are stores like that. They are very big. You can take your dog in the store with you.”

The students wanted to hear more about that. They laughed and talked about dogs in dresses with glasses and more. Sharon joined in the laughter but inside felt a bit ashamed she had shopped like that. Here, they barely had food. No wonder God has said that those who are rich have a harder time getting into Heaven.

“I hear that you have table after table filled with food at the churches. So much food you cannot eat it all. Is that true?”

“Yes, they are called carry-ins or potlucks. People each bring food and put it onto the table. Then, they all eat what they like. Other places have them as well.” Sharon pictured in her mind some of the food being thrown out at the end but chose not to tell them that.

Walking up the hill that day she saw a dog that seemed to have mange. Lander told her not to touch it. It was sick. Thoughts of her nieces back home entered her mind. They would have had a fit if they saw this dog. They would have found it help. But here, was there a place to even take it for medical assistance? Sharon doubted it and then would they have the money to do so?

Lunch that day was to have rice as a main component. Sharon had feared that. She had even read how to make it prior to their coming. Edward being a garbage man would never eat it. When she did fix it, she had a rice cooker to do so for her. Entering the kitchen Makeson was there to help. He would hopefully make the rice! But that plan didn’t happen. He began making the chicken legs as Sharon attempted to figure out how to make rice. She placed water into a pan with some salt and added too much rice. Makeson was watching and began to laugh. Lander came over and asked her if she knew what she was doing. She admitted that she didn’t. Lander told Makeson and they laughed and laughed.

“Hey! Back home I have a machine to make it! I can’t help it!” Sharon began to laugh as well.

In the end Makeson helped by placing some of the rice into another pan. When lunchtime came Kris and the others saw a multitude of rice ready to be eaten. They had cooked it all and not wasted one bit. Telling the story, they laughed as they knew they would have plenty to eat the remainder of the week. Sharon was glad to have lots of extras to feed Makeson and Lander as well.  Laughter seemed to be the theme of this day. The levity was something they all enjoyed as they ate and went back to work.

That night as the work drew to a close Sharon stood on the veranda overlooking the basketball area. The single ball and hoop were being well used. Children from the area gathered there and she enjoyed watching them and wondered if they had an extra ball someplace if this one went flat. Lander walked up to her side to ask her a favor.

“You write down words to Amazing Grace for me? I like that song.” He requested.

“Yes, I can. Let me find a piece of paper and a pencil.” Sharon walked into the office area they had just built and found what she needed. Taking pencil in hand she wrote the words in English for Lander. Then she handed the paper to him.

“Can you sing for me? I can hear the words and learn to say them.” He smiled as he asked.

“Yes, I can do that.” She stood beside him and sang the words helping him to follow along. Other students gathered around to listen as well.

Later that night as the project came to a close and work was done they all decided to christen the new school. A small speech was given. Prayers were said. Then, they closed with the singing of Amazing Grace in both languages one at a time.  Sharon sang out with pride. She had come to this country to help them. Yet, in the end they had helped her as well. She thought back to her singing the same song at her father’s grave and smiled. She was healing.

Their final day in Haiti was met with anticipation. They were going up the mountain to the Baptist Haiti Mission for lunch. Here they would also be able to shop. Edward asked Lander and a couple of the students to join them. He especially wanted Lander to go to walk alongside Sharon as she bought souvenirs and trinkets to take home. He knew she had brought along Christmas money to buy from the vendors and support them. He didn’t want her to be alone with cash in the streets of Haiti. He, himself was going to meet with some people to tie up some loose ends on the project. Lander walked along the street with Sharon as she shopped for several things. Her favorites were the metal sculptures Edward had told her about. Other tourists seemed to be enthralled with the paintings. Sharon watched as the vendors hawked the tourists hoping to get them to buy their wares.  They seemed so desperate to make a sale. After having shopped the pair entered into the dining area.

The lunch menu here was similar to in the states. They served a wide assortment of foods including salads, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. Sharon was glad she didn’t have to cook today. She sat back in the booth and loosened her shoes to relax.  Lander approached the empty bench opposite of hers.

“May I sit here?” Lander asked.

“Yes! Please do.” Sharon moved her shopping bags aside and searched for the necklace she had bought for him. Once she found it she held it up for him to see. “I would like to thank you for all you’ve done for me this week. I’m proud to call you my friend. I would like to offer this to you as a token of our friendship.” She walked around the table and placed it around his neck. Lander’s eyes began to well up with tears.

“Why you love me so much? I nobody special. I do not understand.”  Lander glanced down at his food on the table that was cooling off.

“Lander, I think you are very special. I’m honored to know you. You kept me safe all week. Edward and I are thankful for that.”

“You owe me nothing. Kris pay me to keep people safe. I do my job to honor God.”

“Lander, this was a gift to me from one of the vendors. It cost me nothing. I would like you to have it as a reminder of our time together. This gift given to me, now I pass along to you. The heart on the chain represents your love for people. You have a good heart. Wear it to remind yourself of that fact. One day God will use you in a big way.”

The day passed as they exchanged information about one another. Sharon had recently joined a social media site and let him know how to find her on it. She knew that he would have access to the computers at the school. She had seen a good heart in that young man and he in her. Yet, neither seemed to see it in themselves. They would learn that the Lord had plans to raise them to a new level of servitude for his glory.

The team left early the next morning from the site. They needed to get to the airport to catch their flights. Lander came to see them off.

“I not forget you, Sharon.” His eyes showed sadness with her leaving.

“I left some food on the table for you. We did not use everything we brought along. Look on the dining room table. It is all there.” Sharon smiled as she looked at him. “You have taught me so much this week. I will never forget you or your country.”

Hugging there in the moonlight the friends bonded even more. Sharon did not want to leave but knew she must. Her time in Haiti was complete.

Edward stepped in and shook Lander’s hand. “Thank you for taking care of my wife. I hope we will see each other again one day.”

“It honor sir. I hope see you again too.”

“Time will tell. God has a plan for us.”

With that the team loaded into the van to leave. The school was built and there seemed no apparent reason for the construction crew to return.

Sharon thought it was the end of her serving the people of Haiti. But God had other plans. She and Lander would have new beginnings. One door had closed, but others were about to open.

CHAPTER 16

Over the next few months Sharon sent emails and looked for Lander on social media. Concerns welled up in her heart and she prayed he had enough to eat.

After a while she received a note. She quickly responded and asked if he could set up a Facebook account for them to chat. Here she could send photos and notes as well. In time, both had set up accounts and were able to converse with one another on a regular basis. Lander wanted to practice his English in the hopes of passing a translator’s test. Sharon wanted to know more about he and his country.

One day, in a private chat, Lander revealed a need in their country.

Lander: I want you to know that the baby house next door needs help.

                Sharon: Is everything okay?

                Lander: Yes, but they need volunteers to help with the babies.

                Sharon: I can volunteer there?

                Lander: You can apply on the computer. They have an application you can fill out.

That was all she needed to hear. She immediately opened a new window on her computer and searched for God’s Littlest Angels in Haiti. She found how to volunteer.

Lander: You find it?

                Sharon: Yes, I did! I will look it over and talk to Edward when he gets home.

                Lander: You come see me again?

                Sharon: I hope so, Lander. I need one of your bear hugs!

Sharon signed off that day with a new dream. She may be able to return to see Lander and the school she had helped build. She also wanted to help at the school she had seen but not gotten into while there.  Could it be that God was opening another door for her?

Reading over the information she saw that all volunteers would need to come stay at least two weeks. She thought back to how hard it had been when Edward was gone for a week. She wondered if he would be okay with her gone that long. She couldn’t wait until he got home so they could discuss it! She wanted to go back!

Time passed and the application was sent in. Edward told her to apply and then stay as her heart led her to. She needed to ask God and let him guide her. Sharon was surprised when she prayed, and God asked her to stay for one month. Being off all summer long she decided to spend most of her summer vacation there. Edward seemed concerned about her safety and asked Lander to meet her every day at the gate and escort her wherever she needed to go in the village outside the gates. If she left the confines of the orphanage, she needed him there or she could not go.  Lander agreed and soon all the paperwork was complete, and she was accepted to serve. Sharon would be spending the month of July high in the mountains of Haiti, rocking babies. She was going back!

The following months found Lander and Sharon talking more than ever.  By now Lander had begun calling her mom, and she called him her Haitian son. It was as if God had hand picked this young man just for her. She felt as if he was one who was chosen to help her heal. For Lander, the relationship stemmed from a need for his education of the English language as well as needs of the heart. The two bonded over her lessons for him in English and her lessons from him on Creole. They both shared the language of Spanish as well. Sharon had been an exchange student in her youth and spoke some Spanish. Lander knew some from living next door to the Dominican Republic. Language studies were intermingled with conversations about faith and their lives.

Soon June was upon them and Sharon was busy packing to go. Lander had asked for a Bible in English and Sharon got him one. She also packed food for her friend as she knew he was without it for days at a time. Buying clothes at secondhand stores she packed things for him to wear. She also packed clothes for herself that she would leave there for the people. Getting ready this time was different. She knew where she was going and had a friend waiting on her there. She couldn’t wait!

The day to leave came and Edward drove her to the Detroit airport to fly out. On the way up he reminded her of the safety rules he wanted her to follow. A female American in the streets alone might not be good. Lander needed to be with her as they had agreed. Sharon smiled as she knew she would see Lander soon. Dropping her off at the gate outside the airport Edward walked around to her side of the truck. He helped her with her bags and watched as she checked them in. Each weighed fifty pounds and her backpack was heavy as well. She had packed it with food for Lander’s family. Canned foods and rice were among them. Kissing her on the lips he began to think about how long she would be gone as did she.

“Do you have your passport?”

“Yes, it’s right here in my lanyard with the envelope to hold my papers”

“You call me as soon as you get into Miami. In fact, call me before your flight takes off. I will feel better if you do.”

“Okay. I will.”

“Remember our phone does not have the international calling on it. Once you leave Miami shut your phone off. Don’t leave it on while there as you will get messages etc.”

“Okay.” Edward knew Sharon was new to a cell phone. But she was glad she had one.

“I love you and I will miss you.” The two embraced and held the hug for a short time.

Sharon responded. “I love you too.” She had never been away from him this long.

“You’d best go. The security lines can be quite long.” He looked at her and turned to walk to his side of the truck. Getting in he waved one last time and drove off. Sharon was sad yet happy at the same time. She was going to Haiti but would not be with Edward this time.

The plane rides were uneventful. She flew from Detroit to Miami where she had a layover. Making sure to call Edward and charge her phone her mind stayed occupied. Being blessed to be on a large plane into Haiti she was given a blanket and snacks. Being ready to disembark she noticed others stuffing the blankets and snacks into their bags to take to the people.

“Can we take these blankets?” Sharon asked the stewardess on the plane.

“Yes, people have before, take what you can carry.”

“Thank you. Sharon’s back was hurting from the weight of the bag on her back but she stuffed as much as she could while the stewardess helped her gather more of the snacks that had not been opened.”

“They’ll just be thrown out. Here I found some more.”

Being almost the last one off the plane the pair searched for any food to take so it would not be wasted. Sharon knew Lander and the students at the school would enjoy them.

How blessed we Americans are that we simply throw food out that hasn’t even been opened.

In her mind she knew the laws made such a thing happen, but it was sad that others did not take it along.

Reaching the end of the aisle anther stewardess handed her two bags of food she had gathered up hoping someone would take it to the people. Sharon took them and thanked her. She had quite a load to carry and was unsure how she would manage her bags.

Looking back one last time at the plane Sharon saw waste everywhere. How sad, she thought.

Arriving outside the gate from the luggage area Sharon looked for her driver hoping to find him as soon as possible. She had been having problems with her bags but knew not to hire someone to help. Finally, she did ask one young man to help her find her driver while she waited with the bags. Coming back, he had brought along the driver carrying a sign with her name and Sharon tipped him.

“You Sharon Gibb?” his accent was strong, but she could understand him.

“Yes, I am.”  She put out her hand and shook his.

“I am Luberman. I’ll be your driver. Follow me.”

Taking ahold of her luggage the man began to hurry away. Following him she picked up her pace to not lose him. He loaded her luggage into the back of a two-seat truck. Both then got into the truck and took their rightful places. He turned on the radio as Haitian music filled the air. Looking out the windows she could see that the tent cities had decreased in size somewhat. That was good! It would be about an hour to get to the site. She hoped to see Lander when she arrived.

“Would you like something to eat? I have some snacks from the plane!” Sharon offered.

“Yes, thank you.” The driver took some snacks and ate freely as they drove along. “These are very good!”

Sharon continued to look out the windows.

“Do you know Lander? He is my friend. He lives next door to the orphanage in the basement of the church.” Sharon explained.

“Yes, I do. How do you know him?”

As the drive continued, they spoke of her first visit to Haiti. She told the driver that she hoped to see him on the way to the orphanage near the school. She also asked if he was there if they could stop for a moment so she could let him know she was there. The driver agreed to do so. Speaking about how he got the job working at the orphanage and how long he had been there time passed.

Once up into the mountains above Port Au Prince some things began to look familiar. Looking to her right she saw the school where she had met Lander. She looked closer hoping to see him standing there. His tall, thin silhouette came into view. He was near the front gates. Sharon’s heart leapt for joy inside her body as she watched him run to her side of the truck. Taking hold of the door handle he swung it open and she hopped out. The two embraced. It was one of the tightest hugs she had ever gotten in her life.

“You’re here!” Lander’s words spewed forth.

“Yes, son, I am. Now step back and let me look at you.” Sharon eyed him up and down. He looked thinner than he had the previous summer.

Lander stepped in for another hug, “I miss you mom Sharon.”

“Here, Lander. I have some food for you from the plane.” She handed him the two bags. “I have more for you. We can talk later. I need to get up the hill and unpack. Can we meet later tonight in front of the church building where I stayed last time?”

“Yes, thank you for the food. I’ll eat some now.”

The driver motioned to Sharon that they needed to get to the top of the hill and unpack her things.  She looked at Lander and listened as he spoke.

“I love you mom Sharon. I see you soon. We have a month to talk.”

Getting back into the truck they headed to the top of the hill. The gate was opened and inside they went. Sharon looked to the side to see the cows and chickens still there. She thought about the man with the corn who came every morning. She was in Haiti! She would be there a while.

Stepping out of the truck into the familiar play area of the orphanage, Sharon could see children of all sizes running toward her. Bending down to receive their hugs she heard the metal gate clank shut behind them. So many wanted her to hold them. Feeling like a magnet she reached out to touch as many as she could.  Little arms were reaching up from everywhere. Choosing to sit down in a chair, Sharon soon had a child in her lap. Others stood nearby and pointed at her shirt. The words cat and lion were being uttered aloud. Looking at her t-shirt she realized she had on a shirt with a picture of a cougar on it. That animal was her school’s mascot. Sounds such as meows and roars could be heard as well. All were so happy to get attention and so was Sharon.

The tour of the building where Sharon would be working began with the social living area. Here would be the location she would write home. Sharon saw people using a WIFI connection and hoped to write Edward soon.

Walking on, she entered the kitchen and the dining room area. The food smelled wonderful. She watched as they placed American burgers and hot dogs into the buns alongside a potato and beet salad. She’d not eaten since morning and her stomach was beginning to growl.

Next, she went up the stairs into the NICU. Babies were everywhere! Some were so small that incubators were still their homes. Others lay in wooden layettes looking up at the ceiling.

Her tour guide explained that her job would be to assist with four children ranging in age from infant to potty trained or about age three. Sharon listened intently as she gazed at all the brown eyes looking back at her.

The third floor, or the patio, was the largest area Sharon had seen thus far. Here, little jumper seats and a plastic plane were suspended from the ceiling. Swings, wooden rockers, and toys were everywhere. It was here Sharon would bring one baby at a time to bond with them.

Walking back downstairs she could see the table was being set and joined in to help by placing two ice cubes in each glass. Forty-four people would be dining here tonight. Soon, the evening prayer was said, and people got in line. The sandwiches and salad as well as fresh cut fruit were displayed for all to help themselves. Sharon dug in but tried not to take too much. She was famished but didn’t want anyone to go hungry.

Dinner conversation centered around who was who. Some people were staff and lived at the orphanage. Others were volunteers who had been there minutes, like Sharon, up to weeks. One young lady had arrived on Friday and would be there two weeks. Others had lived there nine years.

Following dinner, Sharon borrowed a laptop and sent a quick note home. The note stated that she had arrived safely and that she needed to unpack. Knowing her family back home knew she was okay she moved onto the next task at hand.

Moving in was easy. Her things had been taken upstairs and placed into her room. She was to have a bottom bunk bed and she was glad for that. Her experience with the cot the year previous had not been her favorite, and this stay would be for a much longer time. She also found two empty drawers in a dresser and room in the closet. Rifling through her things she sorted them into piles of what was for Lander and the orphanage. She cleaned up and went downstairs to see the toddlers. They were now in a long line being washed off and changed into their pajamas for bedtime. The children seemed used to this routine as the nannies did their jobs. Seeing how well things were going she decided not to interrupt and went upstairs. Looking out across the buildings in her view she spotted Lander sweeping the veranda on the school. Waving har arms and calling his name she caught his attention. Pointing to the gate he understood and soon began climbing the hill to meet her. Loading up the things she had brought him she went out and asked for the gate to be opened. She explained to the person there that she would stay just outside the gate and not leave the area. She wanted to meet with her friend. Lander came and they hugged once more. Sharon asked him to sit as she had things for him. Holding up the clothes and other items the two shared their likes and dislikes. They also spoke of the food from the plane and that it had already been eaten by him and the students. Sharon was glad that they had something to eat. Talking until the sun began to set she realized she needed to get back inside the gated area. It would not be safe to be there after dark. Saying goodbyes they spoke of their upcoming time together. Lander gathered up his gifts and went into the building with his room while she went back inside the gate.

Going back up to sit on the veranda, just outside her room, Sharon looked at the sky. The familiar view was welcoming to her soul. Heat lightning was speeding across the heavens and Sharon grabbed her camera in an attempt to capture the beauty of it all. The hum of the breeze and the sounds of Creole being spoken in the houses below, Sharon relaxed and soaked it all in. She was back in Haiti! God had given her the opportunity to come back!

CHAPTER 17

Having slept well, Sharon awoke to have breakfast and type into her journal. Never had she taken along a means to journal in this way, but did so for this month of time.  An hour passed quickly and soon it was time to check on the babies that needed her help upstairs.  Heading up to the patio with water bottle in hand she began looking at what she had to work with. She found lots of toys and dress up clothes as well as teaching materials.  Books, crayons, and more lined shelves and filled cupboards. 

Glad to see she had plenty to work with she settled in to read the four bios of the children she would be working with.  She wanted to learn as much as possible about the four little angels God had placed into her care. 

  1. Daniel – This eight-month-old came to us about two months ago.  His legs are scarred from scabies. Rubbing lotion on them will help. He loves attention and needs to strengthen his legs and arms. Help him learn to crawl and sit up without assistance. If you can, feed him some extra food to help him gain weight. He had been malnourished. 
  2. Emiline – She is fairly new to us. She just arrived a couple weeks ago from an orphanage that was closed by the Haitian government.  Help her to acclimatize to her new surroundings.  The scars on her legs are from rat bites at the old location. Help keep an eye on these, they are healing. She is in need of love and maternal attention. 
  3. Louna – She needs to strengthen her neck so she can sit up. Also work with her tracking your finger. She has medical needs. Be aware of her food intake and do not keep her away from the NICU too long. Ask the nannies about her feeding schedule. 
  4. Joe Jean – He has family awaiting his adoption.  Work on English with him. Also, check in his special bin for things his family has sent for him. In there is a photo book of his family. Help him learn their names. 

Taking the information cards Sharon placed them with her things as not to lose them.   After reading it all and looking for things to help with various needs, Sharon decided to go get Louna first.   Heading down the stairs to the NICU she met a young lady headed up to the patio with one of her assigned children.  The two smiled in passing as Sharon noticed the eyes of the child.  The dark brown irises contrasted with the white sclera reminded her of the child she had met last summer.  With those thoughts in mind she moved toward the NICU. 

“Bonjour, I need Louna please.”  Her Creole was not all she had hoped it would be. 

“Louna doctor” replied the nanny on staff. 

“Merci,” replied Sharon. She said a quick prayer for the baby and went back upstairs to reread her cards and choose a new child to work with. 

Deciding on Emiline Sharon went to the room and asked the nannies for her.  

“Bonjour, Emiline is here?” she inquired. 

A nanny on staff looked up and nodded in the affirmative. She then walked off among the cribs in the room and soon returned with a little girl in her arms. Sharon smiled and reached for the girl who was clinging to the blouse of her nanny. Emiline’s eyes and actions revealed she was quite afraid.  Sharon thought back to the information and realized that this child was one who had just arrived from the closed orphanage. Taking a step back, Sharon leaned over and spoke to the child in a small voice. She then worked with the nanny to help in the trade off of the child from her arms into Sharon’s.  The little one resisted and squirmed. 

Sharon began to sing to the child in a sweet voice. “Emiline, dear Emiline, the prettiest girl in the world. Emiline, sweet Emiline, you’re God’s little girl.” 

Soon, the wee one began to let go of the nanny and came to Sharon. As she did, she grasped hold of her top and nuzzled into her neck for safety. She clung to her as she had the nanny. 

“God, help me to know what to do with this little one to help her transition from the closed orphanage to here.” Sharon’s prayer was soft and tender. “Help her to know your love Lord. She needs you so!” 

Sharon held tight to the child as she climbed the stairs to the patio. She had never had a child cling so tight to her. Her sons, now in adulthood, hadn’t ever grasped to her like that even when they were ill.  Taking a deep breath she unlocked the gate onto the patio and stepped out in search of a rocking chair. Finding one, she stepped across the tiled floor and sat down.  The Haitian made wooden rocker fit her perfectly.  Emiline shifted her weight yet remained with hands clinging to her top. Singing songs of love, she sat and rocked the child for hours.  Desiring to look over the child to check her rat bites would not happen today. Her grip was tight, and Sharon was not going to pry her loose. 

“God, use your love to fill her voids. Let her know to trust me. I will not hurt her in any way.”  Sitting there, rocking, Sharon lifted up prayers.  Sharon knew she was a mere human and could not provide all this child needed. God needed to help. 

Following lunch, Sharon went upstairs to find her next child. Louna might be out all day and she needed to see each child. She had been with Emiline quite some time. When she had drifted to sleep, Sharon had taken her to her crib just prior to lunch. She hoped to check back in on her if time allowed. 

She decided to look for Joe Jean. He was more active and loved to play ball. After rocking most all morning this seemed like a good change of pace. Taking advantage of the opportunity Joe Jean and Sharon ran around on the patio kicking a ball.  Joe Jean laughed and kicked it over and over as Sharon smiled at his ways.  Giggling and tickling enticed more giggles and Sharon loved every minute spent with this loving child. The family who was adopting him was in for a lot of fun!  Sharon hoped whoever they were they would have enough energy to keep up with him. 

After an hour or so, Joe Jean was ready for his afternoon nap and Sharon took him downstairs to do so. She returned to the patio and wrote into his and Emiline’s notebooks what had transpired that morning. Taking the time to read some of those notebooks she got to know each one a bit better. Talking to the other volunteers they told her of how Emiline had come to GLA. She was in a truckload of children who were being taken to various locations for care. The government had closed that other orphanage for many reasons. Babies and toddlers had been bitten by rats and a few had died because of it. They were also living in squalid conditions that were unfit. The truck had pulled up outside the gate and dropped off some and then left to take more to other well-run places in the area.  The children were brought in that day and placed into rooms and cribs where they could. Many were frightened and malnourished. With no paperwork many would be there until young adults. They didn’t know their ages, or anything. Without birth records they might not be able to be adopted. Time passed and Sharon went down to see if some of the children were awake yet. Going in to find Daniel she noticed his name on the bed. The small child lay in his bed, drinking what appeared to be red juice from a bottle.  As soon as he saw Sharon, he dropped the bottle and smiled at her. It was as if he knew she was there to get him.  Picking up the child, Sharon held him close and hugged him.  He was such an adorable little thing, Sharon loved him already. 

“Bonjour, Daniel! You want to go with me?” Her question was one she hoped the nannies in the room could understand. 

“Oui, yes,”, the shorter statured nanny replied.  

Climbing the steps Sharon watched as he sipped on his bottle and cooed at her. His body was fuller than she had imagined from reading his file. She was glad to see malnourishment was not getting ahold of him. 

“So, little man. What would you like to do first?” Looking around she found a small rocking horse on the far side of the patio underneath an overhang. “You want to ride the horsey?” 

Daniel sat on the rocking horse and began rocking back and forth. His little body seemed to want to rock too far to the back. She watched he did not tip over. She could understand why they wanted her to work on his strength.  Realizing, this was the child they wanted to have eat more, she carried him downstairs to the kitchen and asked the staff for something to feed him. They gave her some mashed potatoes. Walking into the dining area she took the child and sat him in a highchair.  Daniel dove in and ate all that she would offer him.  Repositioning him so he could see the television she watched as he had no interest at all. It was as if he had never seen one before. She changed the channel to a children’s program and his response was the same. While there she met a new staff member working with a child with a disability. She was a retired nurse from the states who lived there to assist with the children. Talking to her and getting to know her Bo they heard the doorbell on the gate ring. One of the kitchen staff ran to open the gate. Within moments, Sharon noticed people coming into the room with a small infant.  

The woman carrying her approached the ladies who had been conversing, “Are you Sharon?” 

“Yes, I am. Who is this little lady?” Sharon gestured at the baby wondering if it was Louna. 

“This is Louna. She was at the doctor in town this morning.” 

Sharon smiled and looked into the wee baby’s eyes.  “I’d heard she might be back soon. Do you want me to take her now?” 

“In a little bit. I’m going to take her upstairs and have them feed her. Give us, say, an half hour or so.” She smiled as she replied. 

Sharon and Daniel followed Louna upstairs into the NICU. They watched as the lady explained to the staff, she would be there in half an hour or so to get Louna. They were to feed her. She also updated them on the doctor’s visit and new orders. Watching as the lady opened a cupboard nearby Sharon saw formula and medical supplies being stored there. They had so much for those who needed it. Watching for a bit more she decided to take Daniel back up onto the patio. 

“Louna is back!” she announced as she unlocked the gate to enter the space where other volunteers were playing with children. “She is being fed right now. Man, is she a tiny thing!” 

Volunteers were glad to hear she was back. Placing Daniel into a Bumbo seat to strengthen his legs Sharon and her peers conversed. With rattle in hand, she played with Daniel and learned more about this place high in the mountains.  After a half an hour or so, she walked down to check on Louna. She was fast asleep. The nannies told her she needed her rest. Sharon understood. Taking Daniel to his bed she went back up to write in his journal and read about he and Louna. Her first day had been a busy one. She had met all but one of her little angels. In time she would meet them all. 

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Being an early morning riser Sharon awoke and headed into get a shower. Being allowed to shower every other day she wanted to get in ahead of the others and then go type in her journal.  Knowing it needed to be military style she gathered her things and readied herself. She planned to get in, get wet, lather up, and rinse. The water would be cold, so, she knew she would need to hurry.  Turning on the water she flinched as the cold water ran down her back.  Being sure to preserve the precious commodity she turned off the water and lathered up. She was thankful for the warm air to keep it somewhat comfortable. Turning the faucet back on she stepped under the shower head ready to quickly rinse. But, there was no water! Sharon reached down and turned the faucet off and on again but no water.  

“Oh man! I forgot! The electricity is not on until 7:00!” Thoughts raced around in her head and she attempted to figure out how to rinse. 

Pulling back the shower curtain she found a bucket sitting there, but it was empty.  Nothing there! Looking to her right the toilet bowl was full of yellow water and paper. They had to follow the rule of If its yellow, let it mellow. If its brown, flush it down.  That water choice was most definitely a huge NO! Looking around the room she considered the toilet tank water, then saw the cups of water for brushing teeth. Quickly, yet carefully, she slid across the room to get two of them. Then she tiptoed back into the shower and poured them all over her body. Stepping back and forth she finally emptied each and every cup with a name on it. Yet, she still needed more! Looking to the sink she said a quick prayer and turned on the faucet. Water enough to fill her cups gushed forth. It must have been what had been in the pipes!  Praising God for each and every drop she finished rinsing, toweled dry, and dressed. Inside her soul she wanted to break out laughing but knew if she did she would awaken the entire place. Slipping into the lounge area Sharon entered things in her journal. Wait till she told Edward this one! Relaxing there she could hear some of the children getting up for the day. 

As soon as the power was on she headed downstairs to wash the cups and put new water in them from the tipper bottle in the kitchen. She then made herself some oatmeal and ate a fresh banana. It was much tastier than in Ohio. It had ripened on the tree, she loved the fresh fruits here in this tropical place. Giving up her seat to others coming down to eat Sharon decided to walk into the area where the toddlers were getting ready for the day. Here, she assisted with the morning routine. Outfits from the bin were handed to her and she helped dress each one. She slid on the tops and dresses as their little hands went up in the air.  It was amazing to watch the children line up and behave so well. In the end, their little shoes were placed onto their feet. The nannies did this part as they seemed to know which shoes fit who. 

Leaving that area Sharon walked up to the balcony area overlooking the school below. She could see Lander there sweeping the patio preparing for his day as well.  Waving her arms and yelling his name as before the two were able to meet outside the gate and talk for a half an hour or so. He was anxious to hear how things had been going. The two exchanged stories about the past two days. Lander laughed quite hard when she told him what had happened in the shower that morn.  Asking Lander about the food she had brought he told her the family had eaten it all already. She understood and wished she could have brought more.  Talk of their plans for the upcoming month went on until the sound of vehicles approaching came into earshot. 

Looking up the pair could see two vans approaching GLA. Both were loaded with people. Speaking to them just inside the gate they learned that they were from a church in the states there to assist with construction on the new site up higher in the mountains.  Saying good-bye to Lander Sharon watched as teens and adults piled out of the vans. The older children began running to greet them as the group greeted them with hugs and handshakes.  Sharon moved on back to her room as she watched the love fest in the courtyard. She was glad to see each child had someone to love on. They needed that!  This place was quite magical. It seemed to draw people with loving hearts here to serve.  This was truly a place that only God could have created. 

**************************************************************** 

Louna was in the NICU in her crib, arms raised in the air almost asking Sharon to pick her up.  She looked as if she had been crying a little, so Sharon picked her up and rocked her in her arms.  

“It’s okay little one.” Sharon sang a lullaby to her as she rocked her to and fro calming her down. 

Finding a nanny she motioned with her free arm to the upstairs. A nanny looked toward her, and she then asked if she could take her upstairs. The nanny agreed.  Finding a rocker on the patio, Sharon lay the wee one across her lap. Then, just like any new mother she began looking her over counting fingers and toes.  

Sharon spoke, “Look at those beautiful eyes of yours! Aren’t you the prettiest little thing!” 

The wee infant responded with a huge smile. Sharon had never seen such a young baby smile like that! 

“Wow! Did you guys see her smile!” she stated to the other volunteers. She smiled at the child hoping to get another smile in response. 

A red haired volunteer, named Kristen, walked over to Sharon and spoke, “Did they tell you she is eight months old?” 

“No, her age wasn’t on my information sheet. She is so tiny! She looks to be about two months old at the most!” Sharon was shocked! 

“Yeah, my sister and I have been helping with her since we arrived about three weeks ago. She is what they call a miracle baby. She weighed about two pounds when she was born. They didn’t expect her to make it.  She has surprised everyone, but she’s still not well.” 

“What’s wrong with her? Is there anything we can do to help?” 

Hearing the group coming up the stairway Kristen held her pointer finger to her lips. “We’ll talk more later. Right now, let’s help them find babies to love on.” She then stood up and helped direct people to find little ones one floor below. Taking the list with her they went down to find their assigned little ones. Walking back with infants in tow the patio space filled with sounds of laughter and baby talk.  Kristen and her sister Kelli inflated a bouncy house for the children to play in. Smiles were everywhere! 

A visiting adult approached Sharon; she was still rocking Louna. “What is the name of this little one?”  

“Her name is Louna. She’s eight months old,” Sharon replied. 

“Eight months old? Look how tiny she is!” The lady bent over and placed a hand on Louna’s wee foot. “May we pray for her?” 

Sharon looked up to see the assemblage on the patio walk toward she and Louna. The laying of hands and prayer lasted for a while.  Louna remained calm and quiet except for her big smiles, which at times made the people smile in return. Sharon hoped that all the prayers would come true. This little one really needed them. 

CHAPTER 18

Days passed as Sharon got to know her four little angels and the other volunteers.  The large group that had come stayed a while and worked up in the mountains at the new site. They were on the patio only a few times and then stayed at the construction zone . Kristen, was there daily, as was her sister Kelli and the three worked with the babies daily. They were staying for two months and were a great help with getting to know the staff as well as the little ones.  Leah and Elise, teen friends, came and stayed for two weeks. They were best friends and their love for one another showed.  There was also a mother-daughter team from France. Carole, the mother on the team, was a neonatal nurse back home. Her knowledge of English helped the other team members learn more about each child’s medical needs.  One topic that came up was the children’s distended belly buttons.  Leah, as well as others wanted to know why they stuck out so far. Discussions surrounding the types of births with midwives in Haiti, surfaced and led to more questions. Talking on through the days and nights the team members learned of things such as Scabies, AIDS, and dry scalps. Sharon listened and asked as many questions as she could. She, as well as the rest of the team, wanted to learn as much as possible about the children they were there to serve. Sharon was also glad she was there to help her if Louna would need her. 

Every day, Sharon worked with her four little angels and helped them to learn and to grow strong. Emiline continued to cling tight to her but was getting more and more trusting over time.  Massaging lotion onto her arms and legs Sharon would sing to her and calm her soul. At times, Emiline would get down to play with the other children, but then something would startle her, and she would need held and comforted. Daniel began to get strength in his back legs.  Sitting in the Bumbo Seat was helping. He also loved the swings for fun. By now, Sharon would enter the nursery area and his eyes would light up and reach for her. She loved the attention as well. She was soaking it all in. Joe Jean was the ball player. Sharon had discovered a blue ball on the patio was his favorite. The pair would run around playing ball and then sit and read his books in his special basket. Practicing English was a major focus with him.  Louna, the miracle child, held her ground and did not return to the doctor the remainder of the week.  Sharon fed her and held her as much as she could. Since the visitors had lay hands on her she seemed a bit better. Sharon was glad for that. 

Facebook time and emails home told of Sharon’s goings ons and asked for prayers for Louna.  It also told of her first Sunday service at the Orphanage. Services had been held on the patio and were quite nice. Edward was glad all was going well and asked about Lander. Sharon assured him that he was watching over her if she left the gated area and that he had been busy studying for his senior exams.  The tests were coming up next week and he needed to focus on those right now. Edward reported back that all was well at home, but he had burned some bacon when he fell asleep while it was cooking. He’d had to air out the house and it still had somewhat of a burnt smell.  Sharon was sorry she had not been there to cook for him. But, he would get by.  He worked such long hours and was probably exhausted. She asked God to watch over him and placed it in his hands. 

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Sharon and Lander spent time walking in the community in the evenings. He and his friends went door to door to ask if they had a home church. He would then ask them to attend his church on Sunday. This Sunday was going to be a special one. People were going to be baptized.  

“Lander, may I come with some of the volunteers this Sunday to witness the baptisms firsthand?” Sharon asked. 

“Yes, I would love for you to come.” Lander replied. 

“Will I be able to meet your family there?” Sharon asked. 

“My brother and my baby sister will be there. You will be able to meet them.” 

Sharon smiled. She had heard about Lander’s family in their chats but had never met them.  “How wonderful! I look forward to it!” 

Sunday morning came and Sharon attended church on the patio first. She knew that was a requirement of volunteers at the orphanage. She also wanted to attend there as to be able to understand the readings. After having attended those she went to the little church under the place where she had slept that previous summer. She had hoped to be able to see that church and join in their worship. Today was to be that day. She hoped she would be able to sing along in her mind with some of the hymns. Walking down the slanted walkway followed by a group of invited volunteers she saw Lander at the door. He was waiting to greet them. 

“Good morning, Mom Sharon. I show you all where to sit. Come with me.” He motioned to the inside as the girls giggled at his having called Sharon mom. 

Lander and I at church

Walking into the chapel Sharon saw several people dressed in common clothes seated to the far side and assumed they were the choir. A small wooden pulpit was at the front of the church.  Music was playing on a CD player at the front. In front of the pulpit was what appeared to be a trough for watering animals. It was off white, and half filled with water.  

“Today we’ll have baptisms. We’ll also have two people join our church as members.” Lander explained to those in attendance. 

The group of visitors began taking out their cameras to take pictures of the water trough. They were excited to witness such an event as was Sharon. 

‘Here, you each take a songbook. I will help you if you need me to.” Lander offered. 

Sharon looked into her Haitian son’s eyes and smiled. She was proud he was using his English to help others. “Are your brother and sister here?” she asked. 

Yes, you want them to sit with you? He watched to see her head nod in the affirmative. “I’ll go get them. You sit here. I’ll be right back.” 

Sharon watched as Lander walked toward the back of the building. Then he came back with a young girl about eight years old.  He was holding her hand. “This is my little sister. My brother is in class. He is not able to sit with us today.” 

“Hi. My name is Sharon. You want to sit next to me in church today?” The little girl looked up and smiled. Sitting down, she slid over next to her as close as she could. She saw the American’s journal and pencil and motioned for it, wanting to draw. Sharon handed her both and watched as the little one scribbled in her book. Sitting still and watching Lander find people seats, Sharon watched the Pastor approach the CD player and place in a new CD. Soon Chris Tomlin’s song filled the space.  

“Pastor Colbert will be speaking soon.” Lander spoke to the sisters as well as the other guests in the chapel.  Finding a seat on the other side of his American mom Lander reached over and took her hand. So many times, they had shared stories of what transpired in their home churches. Now, Sharon was going to witness it first-hand.  They looked at one another and smiled. This was going to be their first church service together. It was a special day. 

Looking up, Sharon noticed two people had come out of a room adjacent to the front in white gowns. After walking to the front of the room, they sat and faced the pulpit.  The baptismal font was half filled with water, and their eyes gazed at it briefly.  Lander’s little sister looked up at those dressed in white, smiled, and returned to her drawings.  

The service opened with reports from various groups. Even the children stated openly about their recent happenings. Hymns were sung in French and then Pastor Colbert welcomed the visitors. The message followed the singing of Happy Birthday to one of the adult members. Lander explained to all that this was a weekly custom at church.  

The reading was from Ephesians 2:1-10. Sharon read along in her English Bible King James Version to understand. 

  1. And you he made alive, that were dead in trespass and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of power of the air, the spirit now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just like the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us in Jesus Christ 8 For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that none of yourselves; it is a gift from God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast,  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

Watching Pastor Colbert, Sharon smiled as she read the passage that reminded her, she had been saved. God was not going to let her burn in hell as she had once, thought. God had made her alive even though she had once walked in tremendous sin.  Sitting there, reading the passage over and over, she felt the love of Christ settle upon her soul. Warmth emerged and a feeling of being hugged enveloped her body. Sharon looked at Lander and his little sister seated on either side of her and smiled. God had been so good to her all these years, yet she had failed to recognize it. Her sins, all of them, had been washed white as snow, and yet she’d been too caught up in her mindset to notice. All she had to do was ask for his forgiveness.  

With the message complete, it was time to baptize and welcome the new members.  The first person stepped into the tub as the tourists in the building snapped photos.  

“You want picture Mom?” Lander asked. 

“No. I just want to savor in the moment with you.  I’ll get one from someone else later.” looking at the notebook Sharon noticed his sister had drawn a full-fledged butterfly on the page. 

“That’s so pretty, sweetheart. Lander, can you tell her how pretty that is?” 

Lander did as ask, and his sister acknowledged the compliment. 

As the person sat back in the tub a voice began to sing, Amazing Grace in French. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” 

Sharon’s face melted into an entanglement of emotions. Memories of having sung that song at her father’s graveside entered her head. She relived that moment with Edward in her mind’s eye and began to weep. God was revealing to her how much she had grown since that time in her life. The butterfly, a symbol of metamorphosis, coupled with the song was a message from God. She reached over and held the hand of the little girl tightly. Sharon was in awe of God’s timing. 

“Mom, you, all right?” Lander asked. 

“Yeah, I’m good. It’s just all so beautiful.” 

Then in silent prayer, she spoke to her father in heaven. Thank you God for loving me. I was lost, but now I’m found. 

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The service ended and the group went to GLA to eat their lunch. Massive dishes with grilled chicken and sides filled the counters. Coca- Cola and Sprite bottles were set on the table for those in attendance to share. Glasses and plate service were ready for the feast. Prayers were offered up, and the guest all began to dine. 

Dave, a staff member who was from Australia noticed Sharon writing in her journal again. 

“You write in that a lot. What are you putting down in there?” he asked. “What do you plan to do with it?” 

Sharon explained that one day she hoped to write a book about her thirty days spent there with them. She noted all kinds of things like what the meals entailed and so on. 

Dave then asked, “Could you read some of it aloud to us?” 

Sharon paused as thus far, only she had known what lie in the pages of her journal. It combined with what she had typed was personal. Yet, she obliged his request and humbled herself. As she read, those at the table listened intently. They seemed to truly enjoy her words, and this surprised Sharon. For years now, people had been telling her to write a book.  Perhaps, she needed to listen to them and believe in herself more. 

CHAPTER 19

Following lunch part of the group dispersed to go sightseeing, and Sharon decided to use her day off to get on Facebook and talk with Edward. It was just what she needed. Each one told each other of the happenings of the week and messages from the church they attended. Posting photos on Facebook, Sharon began to lose track of time. Hours had passed and it was near three o’clock. Standing up she crossed the room to refill her water bottle from the jug in the kitchen. Her thoughts quickly turned at the call of her name.

“Sharon, come quick! The baby girl you have been helping with has taken a turn for the worst!”

Looking up Sharon saw the nanny just above her on the steps. Calling to Elise, who was seated near her on the computer, she asked her to shut down her PC as soon as the pictures had uploaded. She agreed. Sharon started up the stairs. Elise called out well wishes to all.

Walking into the NICU, Sharon saw the staff nurse by Louna’s side. Her little body lay in the observation area and she was not moving as she usually had been.

“She’s not doing well. We need your help with the feedings today. You’ll need to feed her with a syringe. She’s too weak to suckle the bottle. Is that okay?” the nurse ask.

“Yes, I will. But honestly, I have never fed a baby with a syringe before. You’ll need to explain to me how to do it.”

Little Louna

“She’ll need to be fed every two hours. She’s losing weight and she cannot survive that. She is so tiny already. You’ll need to press the formula in the syringe into her mouth alongside her cheek. This way she’ll swallow it. If you place it onto her tongue, she’ll just push it out.” The nurse’s explanation was complete as she needed to make sure Sharon understood.

“Do you want me to feed her right now? I can try.” Sharon’s voice was trembling.

“Yes, take her up to the patio where it’s quiet. Feed her the two ounces in this cup and then hold her upright for as long as you can. Any jarring of her body may cause her to throw it back up.”

“I understand.” Taking Louna and the necessities, Sharon headed up the stairs to the patio area. She sat down and began to feed the baby as she had been asked to. At first, she struggled with trying to get the formula to stay in her mouth, but then, with practice, she did better. Sitting as still as she could, she began to hear singing from below her on the balconies.

“How’s she doing? The neonatal nurse from France had heard and come to assist.

“She’s eaten some, but I can’t tell how much of it she spit up.” Sharon was concerned.

“That happens,” Carole reassured her. “Did you squirt the formula into the back of the mouth between her gums and cheek?”

“Yes, I did.” Sharon paused. “By the way do you know where that singing is coming from? Are they having another church service?”

“No, the nannies are singing to ask God to be with Louna. Many of them are on their knees in prayer,” Carole explained. “Can I get you anything?”

Sharon looked at her new friend and smiled, “No, I’m fine. But will you pray with me?”

The two sat and lay hands on the wee one digesting the meal. While lifting her up in prayer, Sharon began to recall her past and all it had entailed. Could God be placing her into another position where a child would die? If so, then why?

“Please God, be with us. Lessen her pain as she needs you so. I understand that she is your child Lord. Have I not lost enough already? Please help me get through this, her hour of need.  Help me to grow as your will unfolds. I need you beside me.”

Carole took Sharon’s hand to comfort her.  She’d seen this issue with other babies she’d helped in her job. He knew Sharon was not going to like the outcome. A miracle needed to come, and soon.

For the remainder of that Sunday Sharon fed the babe taking only a break for her supper and to walk into the rooms to check on her other three little angels. At one point, she lifted Emiline from her crib and held her tight. The children here had been through so much and yet were so resilient. Sharon was amazed by it all.

Sunset came, and the nannies told Sharon to get some sleep. Walking just outside the gate, she looked for Lander. She needed a friend to talk to. She found him sitting adjacent to the ramped walkway to the church.

“Hello! I’m so glad to see you!” We’re having a prayer meeting. Would you like to come?”

“Yes, I would. Can I ask that you pray for a baby I am helping with? Her name is Louna and she’s not doing very well.  Her voice relayed sadness and concern.

“I’m so sorry. I heard today that one of the babies was ill. I didn’t know she was on your list to care for.”

“Yes, she is. Can you ask others to pray for her?” she pleaded.

“Yes, I will. The service will begin in about ten minutes. Can you come then?”

Yes. I’ll be back. I’d like to get my journal to make some notes from today. Then I’ll return.”

Lander hugged his friend tightly and could tell she was holding back tears.

“God has a plan, Sharon. It will be okay. God is with you. You must trust in his will.”

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Walking into the service Sharon noticed she was a tad late. Not wanting to interrupt she went to the back of the church and took a seat.  She opened her journal and began talking to God.

“God,” she whispered. I need to hear from you.” sitting quietly she attempted to connect with his wee voice. Then, she began to hear him and took pencil in hand to write down what he had to say:

Dearest Daughter,

Through your pain I am molding you back into the woman I designed you to be —- a woman who lives a life of servitude. Your gift for language, which you have questioned in the past, is now, and was even then, being used to glorify God. Language emits communication, communication is the means through which God’s love is shared. Communication comes through spoken words as well as the heart. Love emanates from you, dear one. Your intentions are pure, yet at times, they are confused. I can accept that. Actions stemming from love are good. You learned so many years ago from a lady named Alice, whom I placed in your life. Back then, you asked to be like her. You asked to be filled with God’s light. This has been done. The gift has been opened and has just begun to be revealed to you. You are a light, a beacon. In the past, your anger darkened my light, and the darkness enveloped you and yours. I forgive you. You knew not what you did. You knew not of those things, but now you do. You have changed. My will has been done. As you prepare for the days ahead, know I am with you. Your heart is full but must be prepared for things yet to come. Your future is bright, Sharon. I love you my child. I always have. Your trials saddened me, but I never left your side. Where do you go from here? Go forth to love and serve the Lord, your God. Use your gifting to dance, sing, pray, lay hands, heal, prophesy, and more. But do it all for my glory alone.

Sharon sat back on the bench and fanned herself as sweat began to bead up on her face. The Haitian church was not air conditioned like at home.  In fact, there was no electricity in the room for even a fan. Yet she wanted to stay. Looking around the room, she realized people were still with their heads lowered in prayer. So, she continued to talk to God.

“God, thank you for loving me and forgiving me. Lord, why am I the one who was placed with Louna? There are so many volunteers, I am not the one who knows best how to care for her. I don’t understand.  Please talk to me again. I’m not qualified for the task you have placed before me.”

Lifting her pencil once more Sharon wrote the words that flowed into her mind.

Sharon, dear one. Children are a gift from God. I welcome all of my children back into my arms at various stages of their lives. I placed Louna with you because of your love for children. You are the one who will love her and be with her in her final days. She will come home to be with me. But, for now, you need to love her to the best of your ability. You will be her final Earthly mother.

Sharon looked at what she had just written and realized God was not punishing her. In fact, he was honoring her pure heart by allowing her to be with his child in her last days. Getting down on her knees, she thanked God for helping her see things through his eyes. She had been chosen by God to be with Louna and was honored.

https://www.glahaiti.org/      Here is a link to the webpage of GLA in Haiti.
God’s Littlest Angels

CHAPTER 20

Two days came and went. Sharon’s primary focus was on caring for Louna as her little body grew weaker and weaker. Lander was taking his tests and she was on her own for a while.  She did not leave the confines of the gated area for days. Filling her time in the mornings with preparing scrambled eggs and other foods for the staff and volunteers she kept her mind occupied in ways to serve the Lord. Sending messages home to her church family she asked that they pray for Louna’s pain to be lessened.  This too aided her in doing what she could for the wee one. By now, Louna was unable to keep down her formula and an IV drip was being placed in her arm. Sharon held down her hands as the staff attempted to find a miniscule vein. Having no success Carole was summoned to assist.  Looking up at Sharon she eased the IV into the small arm and smiled. Those in the room celebrated with laughter and hugs. The Iv line was taped down. Now they needed to immobilize her other arm so she would not pull it out. Louna fussed and cried as this meant she was no longer able to suck her thumb. Sharon looked at the wee one and felt bad for her. She wanted to suck her thumb to ease her pain.

Carole was the first to speak, “Sharon, she cannot have her thumb. She needs to reserve her strength to heal.”

“I know. It’s just so sad.” She watched as the nurse removed her wee diaper and saw the pustules forming on her body.”

“I need to tell you that she has AIDS. Her mother has AIDS as well. When she was carrying her, Louna contracted the disease. Upon birth, they could have given her medicine to help but they chose not to. The children born in this country with AIDS do not make it. The medicine is very expensive.  By the time they realized she was a fighter and began giving her the meds it was too late.  In the United States or most developed countries she would have had a chance. But here. it’s different. The government nor the people have the means to help.” Carole knew Sharon was trying to grasp what was happening and hoped her explanation would help.

“Thank you for explaining this to me. I think God had a plan for you to be here at this time. We are all blessed someone with your expertise is here to help her. Louna needs you now.” Sharon pushed a smile into being. Her heart was aching, and she knew her time with Louna was limited. God was with her. Carole was with her.  Everything was going to be alright.

Sharon spent part of the day with Louna holding her hand and talking to her. She could see the pain in her face and lay hands on her hoping to relinquish it. She was unable to hold her now as the IV drip was fragile.  But she did what she could when the wee one was awake. Watching her fidget attempting to suck her thumb bothered Sharon and she would at times bless the situation and go upstairs to be with the other little angels she was assigned to.

That night, walking out onto the patio Sharon decided to share with the other volunteers what God had told her. She read aloud his words from her journal stating that he was going to bring this little girl home to him.  The four girls listened intently as Sharon read. She wondered if they believed her. Talking to God was kind of out there.

Trying to coax Sharon into thinking of other matters the girls came up with the idea to play a game three truths, one lie. Laughter filled the room as Leah began and told her truths and untruths about herself.  It was nice to be away from the pain of Louna and be in the respite of friends.  The young women she had been spending her time with had now become dear friends. All of them had grown closer to one another with each passing day. She was glad to have friends to share in her life here in Haiti.  Sharon sat back in her chair and attempted to let go and let God.  The volunteers plan of getting her mind off things was working. She was grateful.

Sleep came easily that night. It was as if God had sent Jack Frost to hush her mind and help her dream. His pixie dust was just what she needed. Following breakfast Sharon climbed the stairs to check on Louna. She was fearing the worst. Looking into the NICU Sharon saw another child in the bed with Louna’s name on it. Looking left to right she could not find the child anywhere. Not knowing what to think she walked out onto the small veranda off the NICU to find the nannies there in conversation.

“Louna okay?” Sharon spoke with a strong inflection at the end of her phrase wanting them to know she was asking a question.

The nanny in front looked up and stated, “Louna die.”

The language barrier stepped in and reared its ugly head. Sharon had so many questions but was unable to convey them. The nanny told her what she could. Louna had been taken to the hospital and died during the night. That was all she knew.  There had been a telephone call and not much more. Sharon looked around to find Emiline. She was on her bed fast asleep.  Her little body drawing in deep breaths was a relief to Sharon; and the desire to hold her filled her body to the core. Walking up the stairs to the patio Sharons sobs turned into crying. She wanted to be someplace that the children would not see her wiping her tears away. She walked to the closest room, Carole’s room and asked if she could come inside. Here, she told the neonatal nurse what had happened. It took a while for her to calm down as the salty tears that flowed consistently burned her eyes and face.  Sharon knew Louna was with God. She also knew she was no longer in pain. She just needed time to grasp it all.

Heading back to the patio was not easy. She wanted to hold a child in her arms and receive the comfort. She went in search of one to do so. She wanted to hold a healthy one who she could sing to and enliven her spirit. Walking into where Emiline slept she noticed the child was awake and reaching for her. Taking her into her arms she caressed the dear one and snuggled against her soaking in the life within her. Emiline cooed and seemed to understand. Holding her close she climbed the stairs and went in search of a hairbrush and barrettes to do her hair.

“Thank you, Jesus, for your gift of this child.” Sharon continued to fix her hair and rub lotion onto her wee body. It not only soothed the child but helped her to heal from the morning’s occurrence.

An announcement was made to all staff that Louna had passed at 3:00 in the morning at the hospital. Her death was peaceful, and a staff member was with her when she died. Sharon asked what would happen next. The staff member explained that her real mother would be contacted. She would be given the choice if she wanted her child’s remains or not. She would then be buried by her mother or the orphanage.

News came back later that day that in fact the mother did not want her body. A small cemetery in the distance would be her place of rest.  Sharon asked if she could pray over her. The response was yes. Someone would come to get her when it was time.

Sharon and Emiline continued to play and enjoy the day. Soon, a staff member came to get her. Sharon followed her, holding on to Emiline. She didn’t really know what to expect. The trio walked on down the hallway, past the NICU to a door that was opened and all three stepped in. There inside the room was a storage area filled with diapers and supplies. Among them on the floor was a cardboard box.  The staff member pointed at it and told Sharon Louna was there awaiting to be buried. She then left the room after letting Sharon know she could take as long as she needed to. When she was finished, she could leave and close the door behind her.  A man would be coming later in the day to take her to the cemetery for burial. Sharon watched as she left and went over to the box. It was not anything special. In fact, it was a box that had been used to hold cookies used at the site. Sharon knew that was her casket. The idea of her being buried in such a manner took a bit to settle in. Here in this country she was not to get all the bells and whistles as in America. No showing. No flowers draped on the casket. Not even a casket as she had grown accustomed to in her culture. Just a wee box. Kneeling down beside the box she noticed it had been taped shut. Unable to see her once more, Sharon held onto Emiline and wept.  She had to think of this as a closed casket ceremony back home. Holding back tears and wanting to vomit she raised up a prayer for the wee one and those who loved her. She had made such an impact on her life in the short amount of time she had known her.  “Thank you, Lord, for letting me love this child. Thank you for allowing me to love her and to serve you in this capacity. I know that she is in your arms and is whole again. Amen.”

Emiline and I

Holding Emiline close she continued to say her goodbyes. She recalled that only days previous this child had smiled the biggest smile she had ever witnessed. She thought of the people who had lay hands on her wee body and lifted her up in prayer. The desire to see the baby’s face once more tugged at her heart and she fought back the temptation again and again to open the box and do so. It was just like when they had buried her father years ago. She longed to see him one more time. But even then it was not possible. She turned and placed her hand onto the doorknob. Glancing back, she had one last thing to say, “I love you Louna. I always will. Thank you for being a part of my life. I will never forget you.”

Later that evening as the group was enjoying their dinner Sharon noticed one of the men on staff carrying the cardboard box down the staircase. She stood up quietly and left the table. Walking behind him silently she watched him from afar as he loaded the box into a truck. Peering around the corner of the house she saw him handle the box with love and respect placing it on the front seat on the passenger side.  He then made sure she had a shovel and other needs. Starting up the truck he tooted the horn so someone would open the gate. Sharon watched as Louna and the man disappeared from sight. She stated a quick prayer and then went back in.  She needed to move on yet again.

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God’s Littlest Angels

CHAPTER 21

Lander’s family in their home.

The remainder of the time in Haiti was spent loving on the three angels and an additional baby new to GLA.  Spending time with her new friends, and Lander, the time passed quickly.  Sharon did get to meet Lander’s family. She and the other volunteers ventured down one day into the area below the orphanage to visit them. They had each brought some small toys and wanted to give them to children in the area who had none. Being welcomed into their home the group met his parents, his brother and the sister they had met at church. Taking photos, the group hugged one another and talked with the aid of Lander’s translations. His mother requested pictures of her family and each of her children. She had none and hoped that Sharon could get them to the family in some way.  The toys were quite welcomed. Mere dollar store items were like a treasure to the children who took them outside to play with. Friends from other homes came and shared in the joy. Watching them play the group sat outside as they conversed for a time. One lady complimented their feet, saying how pretty they were. Sharon looked about and realized the Americans feet had always worn shoes and were not toughened by life as the Haitians were. When being introduced to the people she also began to realize that people were not as old as she would have guessed. Time had been hard on them. Malnourishment coupled with lack of medical care they aged much quicker. The one thing that seemed to be of major difference was their teeth.  They were well kept and without black or rotten areas. Sharon pondered on that and realized that most everything they ate was from the gardens and trees. They did not eat things like sweets or junk food like Americans do. They couldn’t afford it. She thought about those things and more as the time passed. The girls joked they felt like they were on the Oprah Winfrey show interviewing the people of Haiti. Their homes were very simple. They had no running water, in fact no water access at all. Their furniture consisted of old burlap potato sacks they had stuffed inside one another to sit upon. They had no beds, no blankets or sheets, few clothes, and very few dishes.  There were no restrooms, no fans, and no lights. The blessed ones had a place to store food if they had any to store. At times days would pass with no food.  Fetching water was a long hike into the mountains to retrieve it and carry it back. Street vendors nearby sold pop at one dollar a bottle, an hour’s wages. One day wages could buy a pop for each member of the family if they were blessed with a job. They were few and far between. The earthquake had changed life in many ways. One man told of how he had been going to the school to get his child when the quake hit. He never saw his child again. He was buried in the rubble. Schools there are not free. It costs around one hundred dollars a year tuition for the little ones, each. They also need their uniforms and supplies. Very few could afford to go. Lander had been a lucky one. His siblings not so much. They couldn’t afford to send them all. Time spent with the families taught all who were welcomed a great deal. The visitors were truly blessed to be born where they were. 

Visit with Haitians

At the orphanage the children were blessed to have so much more than all else outside the gates. Sponsorships from varied nations aided them in having what some Haitians called the American good life. Joe Jean had his favorite ball and other things to play with. Sharon saw in him a lot of the same ways as her sons had. They loved ball. Being one to go to live in America Sharon knew he would be fine. He would relish in a culture where sports were a part of everyday life.  He had a family that would be taking him to ball games and would teach him to bat and pitch. Sharon knew when she left he would be fine; well fed with a roof over his head and electricity to light his way. He would be blessed. The pictures of his family they had shared told a story of his world to come. He would be fine. 

Daniel had been her cuddly little man. She knew she would miss his big smiles when she entered the room to get him. She would also miss swinging him in the airplane swing and his rolling around on top of a big exercise ball on the patio. He and Sharon had created a sort of amusement park ride out of it. He would love it when she would lay him on top of the ball belly down and roll it to and fro. His giggles filled the air with joy.  She loved when he played in the plastic pool as well. He would splash and kick quite a lot. The volunteers had to watch he didn’t drink the water. It could make him sick. Sharon knew he did not have a family to go home to yet. But she prayed he would. Some of the children were there for a time. Their families needed help for some reason and then would come and get them when able to. She prayed it would be soon for this bundle of joy. 

Emiline, her favorite, had grown quite fond of Sharon as well.  She no longer clung to her and would go to others now. Sharon and the volunteers had watched her come out of her shell into the world of play. She loved the bouncy house and would at times get a little too excited and throw balls at the other kids. Yet, in time this behavior could be remedied by simple instruction. Sharon was glad to see her bonding with the others. Joking she was going to take that one home in her suitcase Sharon dealt with the fact she would be leaving soon.  She didn’t want to leave her behind. She had no chance at being adopted. She had no paperwork.  Sharon longed for her to have a family to love her.  She would grow up in the system. A good system – a great place- but just not in a family. Sharon had the hardest time leaving her. She had been there when she needed a child to love. She was the one who had helped her heal from the loss of Louna. She was special in so many ways. Sharon knew in her heart that God had planned that all had occurred from before she had even arrived. She was blessed. 

The children who had come from the closed orphanage healed well. The rat bites had left scars on some of them, but for the most part were healed. Their emotional scars healed as well. Twins that had arrived while she was there each had six fingers on their hands. Sharon learned from Carole that this happened in other parts of the world as well. They had the means to operate there. Here in Haiti they would have them, most likely, for life. Sharon enjoyed movie days, pinata breakings, dances, birthdays and more. GLA was home to so much joy. She had been a part of it for thirty days. But, it was time to go home. 

Calling Edward on the international phone Sharon reminded him of her flight plans.  

“Edward, my flight will get in late at night. Can you meet me at the baggage pick up area?” 

“Yeah, I’ll park just outside where you parked when I got back from Mexico last time. Call me when you land. I’ll know to pull around then.” 

“I’ll call you when I get into Miami and then again when I land in Detroit.  You can plan accordingly.” 

“Sounds great! That will help me know if your flight is on time. I’ve missed you so much! You need me to bring anything to you?” 

“I’d love to see Cali dog but that would be a really long ride for her. I can wait until I get home to see her. We’ve had two dogs here at the orphanage. They have helped me with missing her. Well I better get off this line. It’s the one they use for adoption paperwork and contacts. I miss you!  I’ll call you again soon!” 

“Love you. Watch your stuff in the airport.” 

“I will.” 

Sharon hung up the phone glad she was going home to be with her family. She was craving a hot shower and a good long soak in the tub. She had cravings for some of her favorite foods as well.  Looking up to the roof above where they slept, she saw the sisters watching the sunset. They would be going home soon as well. They had all been missing the best friends who had gone home a short time ago. Even if their friendships continued, they would not be the same as they had here. Smiling as she watched some Haitian young men join them, she walked into the room to complete her packing.  Her final night was about to transpire. Taking one last walk outside the gate she met Lander and his little brother. Taking a walk to the local shop she bought each of them a pop and they talked until she had to go to bed. 

“Mom, I like to travel with you to the airport in the morning. I ask driver and he say okay.” Lander was having a hard time with her leaving and there was an air of sadness in his voice. 

“You are more than welcome to ride with me. I will enjoy the extra time with you.” Sharon replied. She took a look at him and revisited when they had met not so long ago. God had given her a son to replace the one she had aborted. One to love and to cherish for life. 

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 Loading up to go good-byes were said and hugs were doled out. Lander slid to the middle of the front seat and Sharon climbed in on the passenger side. Her things had been loaded into the back of the truck and they were ready to set out. Looking over the area Sharon reflected upon how she had come there thirty days ago with fresh eyes. It was then a mere building where she had come to help those God had led her to. Now, it was much more. It was a place filled with family and friends who had led her through a maze of wonderment. A maze including her finding God and healing from her past. It was a home away from her home in America that she would never forget.   

Driving along on the road the man behind the wheel conversed with the pair about how they knew one another. Sharon pulled out her last bag of M&Ms and doled them out into each open hand. Tossing them into their mouths they crunched on them and savored the chocolate.  Lander told Sharon how he hoped to get his translator’s license soon after hearing from his high school about his test results. He hoped to translate for those in medical need in Haiti. He wanted to help his people.  

Sharon talked about returning home and turning her journals into a book about her thirty days in Haiti. She was also hoping to help her friends by speaking at churches and luncheons about Haiti and their needs. 

The Port Au Prince airport came into view all too quickly. Sharon stepped out of the truck and let Lander slide by her to assist with her luggage in the back. He hopped into the back and toted her suitcases onto the sidewalk. Here, the two hugged and said their final goodbyes.  They did not know if they would ever see one another again but had the internet and social media to keep in touch.  

Holding back tears, Sharon turned to walk into the line awaiting security checks and ticketing. Turning to glance back she watched Lander climb into the truck and then the truck pulled away. She watched as far as she could and then focused on her task at hand.  

Once being checked in, she headed upstairs to a café to get some food. Ordering a yogurt with honey, a breakfast sandwich, and a decaf she found a table to wait for her readied order. Sipping on her hot cup of coffee she leaned back and relished in the pleasure of fast food. She’d been craving a yogurt for quite some time. 

“Bonjour, do you mind If I sit here?” A deep male voice shattered her fast-food moment as she looked up. Seeing a man who seemed to be an American she motioned to the seat across from her and he sat down. Relishing in yet another sip of her hot beverage he spoke once more.  

“Hi, my name is Michael. How long have you been in Haiti?” he asked. 

“About a month.” As she stated it the words sank in that her time was done. It had gone by so quickly. “And you?” 

“I live here now. I run an orphanage up in the mountains. I’m headed home to drum up some funding to feed the people. We serve the locals lunch daily and our numbers are growing .” 

“That’s quite an undertaking. How do you get all that food into Haiti? It’s an island for goodness sake. There’s just not a lot here for the people to eat. The land is so poor….Oh I’m sorry. You know all that.” 

“God has blessed us richly. I have friends who bring things in by plane. Trucks in the area help as well.” he continued. 

“The people here are amazing! I’ve been here only a short time and have been molded immensely. I can’t imagine living here,” Sharon added. 

The conversation continued with what Haiti had taught them. Sharon asked if they had water issues at his location. It seemed to be a norm.  Soon, the two were laughing about her shower story and tales about the kids in the pool. Time passed and soon the servant of God needed to board his plane.  

“You may think this odd, but have you considered writing a book about your stay here? I just had a feeling that I needed to say that to you.” He had a puzzled look on his face. “Anyway, enjoy your flight and your shower with hot water enough to rinse!” He chuckled and walked away into his future. 

He went down the stairs into one of the two boarding areas and was gone.  Sharon pulled out her journal and reread the entry from the night in the church prayer meeting. Part of the message seemed to jump off the page at her. 

Your gift for language, which you have questioned in the past, is now, and was even then, being used to glorify God. Language emits communication. Communication comes through spoken words as well as the heart. Love emanates from you, dear one….. The gift has been opened and has just begun to be revealed to you. You are a light, a beacon. 

Did God want her to share her stories from Haiti with the world? She had thought about writing one but was it his will? Sharon sat and pondered what had just occurred. Taking her things downstairs she then reopened her journal and began to write. She wanted the people to know how Haiti had shaped her and molded her into the woman she had become. She had been so lost, and yet here in this poverty stricken world she had grown so much. 

CHAPTER 22

As I type in this chapter it will be greatly modified, mostly all new, from the original book as to lend itself to the additional chapters I will be adding.

It also explains that my real name is Pam. I chose to use a fictional name for many reasons. Some of which are explained in this chapter. I will continue to use the fictional name throughout the story as not to confuse my readers. As for the pen name I used when originally writing this book it is fictional as well. Phoebe is a name meaning pure love. Siylor is a combination of my maiden and present last names. Phoebe Siylor was my pen name. You can still find the original book online at Amazon although paper copies are mostly gone. My reason for placing it online.

These additional chapters will allow me to let my readers know how God has continued to work in my life. Enjoy!

Chapter 22 –

The flight into Miami was one a plane much smaller than had taken her to Haiti. Sitting back she watched as the island disappeared from view. Reflecting upon the living conditions there she thought about how she would soon be back in an environment she was familiar with. One that she had taken for granted in the past. Disembarking the plane she got her bag with fragile pottery from the bin above her seat and walked into the terminal. Bright lights and stores adorned with ads came into her sight. Diamonds and jewels were amongst the items sold in the first store. She had never been one who had collected such things since having hocked some jewelry to feed her son years ago. she kept moving. She walked along to her next gate glancing at the stores and people shopping in them. Her new eyes were now being used in her homeland. A land filled with riches and opportunities abundant. Heading into the ladies room she smiled at the clean, almost sterile, room that had running water enough for all. No more letting yellow mellow. She laughed inside as she remembered the day when the abundant number of visitors were there and the power had gone out. Unable to flush the toilets, three total at the site, they filled rather quickly. The reminder of the stench they had endured to serve their God was fleeting yet brought to her mind a new appreciation of her homelands blessings. Walking over to wash her hands she let the warm water run over them and rinsed off her face and arms. It felt good to be able to use warm water again. She couldn’t wait to get a shower at home. Heading back into the terminal she found a wall unit and began to charge her phone. It was completely dead and it would take a while for her to be able to call Edward. Thinking of him there waiting in their home brought a burst of excitement to her soul. She would see him again in a matter of hours. Calling him when able they spoke and time passed until soon she could board her flight to Detroit. Living in Ohio, this airport seemed to cost far less than others for international flights. They used it even though the drive was much farther as to save money and be able to do more. That night as Edward came to pick her up they embraced and conversed all the way home. A quick stop for a burger and fries just off the highway served as their late night meal and fed their bodies and souls for the trip ahead. They were together again. God had blessed them richly with all Sharon had learned. Now she just needed to take the time to write it all down and share it with his people.

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Beginning to write on her laptop Sharon used her notes from her days in Haiti to tell the story. Soon, she began to understand that the story was not complete without starting at the beginning.  Speaking with Edward about how to handle the book they talked about the repercussions of letting what happened when they were teens out into the public.  Speaking to her sister-in-law Sharon was warned to not write it. She was a teacher and could lose her job over taking such a political topic on. Others who knew of their past seemed to fear what might happen as well. Then, there was their sons. They would find out.  How would they handle it? They knew that their mother’s relationship with her mom had never been good, but why was not ever discussed. Her mother would be a victim of the writing and possibly quite angry with the couple for writing of the past. She had wanted it to stay buried. Considering many options Sharon decided to create a pen name for herself and change the names of the people in the story. Her spouses middle name would be used. Her name, the name of the main character was hardest to choose. Edward and she decided to take their camper and go on a weekend trip to get out into nature and let her think. He loved to read and she would have the time to write in her journal. Setting up next to a stream the couple bask in the sounds of the gurgling water rippling by.

“Lord, I need to name my primary character. I have come up with some ideas but none of them seem right. You know I don’t want to use my real name, Pam. Do you have any ideas for me?” Sharon sat back in her fabric sling style lawn chair and looked toward the creek. In a few moments she saw a heron land on a fallen tree and look up at her. She watched it for a bit and then the name Sharon came into her head. Smiling she stated the name aloud. Edward put down his book and looked at her.

“Did you say something to me?” he asked.

“Not really. But, I think I have an idea for my main character. See that heron perched in the fallen tree? I saw it and the name Sharon came into my head.”

“Whatever you think. I like it.” He went back to his book.

heron wading

The author of the book took note in her journal. Now she could begin writing. She had asked her friends and some of her family if they wanted to use their real names or not. Weenie wanted her real name, Colleen. She was at the end of her life dying with cancer. She thought it would be a nice way to carry on her name. Lander decided to use his real name as well. He was honored to be in the book. Others chose as they wanted. Now, where to begin? Sharon toyed with several intros and decided to begin the tale when she was a teen. Prior to that seemed to not have much standing on her goals for it. Writing as often as she could she began to create the setting and problem in the story. Writing parts of the book were quite difficult as it forced her to reread things over and over to get them right. Some days the words flowed onto the page as if they were directly from God. Other days she struggled, those were the tough days she wrote about. The chapter about the abortion itself was the hardest. She would have to stop and go cry, come back and write more. But, what she learned was that it was quite healing. The more she read and retyped that passage the easier it became. She was healing. As a teacher she had heard of a topic called bibliotherapy. She had used that when a child in her classroom’s mom died. Reading about another child going through the same circumstances helped him talk about his feelings. Yet, she had never thought about doing that for herself. She began looking for books that others had written about being post abortive and found a couple. She read them, being careful as not to let them taint her words nor her story line. But, she knew that possibly her words could help someone else as the writing was helping her. Talking to her brother’s wife she was in favor of the book. She was one who had asked her to write for years. She had hoped it would be a children’s book, but understood she needed to get this out of the way first. She told her she had spoken with her mother about the topic of the book, yet not that I was writing one. She was afraid of that box being opened as was Sharon. Her brothers had not been told about the book either.  Writing and rewriting the story it began to take shape. Sharon was enjoying putting the words together, especially about her friend Weenie. She wanted her to be remembered fondly.

Weenie, Maxx her sock monkey chemo buddy , and I

Attempting to find a publisher was a challenge. She had hoped to find a Christian company to work with her. Yet, the topic of the abortion seemed to turn most off. They did not want to handle that topic. Finding one publisher who was interested Sharon spoke to them a few times to get their take on what they wanted. They were drawn to the part of the book about the Spiritualist Church. They wanted her to elevate that section to a more predominant standing. They also wanted her to focus on the elements of the faith. Their readership was interested in the New Age topic and they wanted to favor that market. Sharon didn’t know what to do. She needed time, she needed to discuss it with Edward. Conversations about what to do followed. Sharon nor Edward wanted to glorify anything but God. It was not about selling multiple copies or making money. It was about helping someone who was in their shoes. Somebody who had suffered the pain and the loss of a child. A child lost to abortion, a child lost due to no choice of their own. Yes, they had sinned by being together out of wedlock. Yes, it was their fault as well. But, that price was far too high. Deciding not to go with that publisher Sharon looked on to find someone else to publish.

Finding a company who did partial funding to publish a book Sharon called them and told them of her book. They liked the story line but asked that the actual act of her becoming pregnant be subtle and not bolden to read. It had to be put in a way that the reader could understand yet not experience anything in detail. There also needed to be a reason, not just something typically done. Sharon had to design something to befit their Christian standards and then they would look at it. She agreed to do so.

Going back to her book, she changed the circumstances from one of passion and the need to feel loved to one wherein she clung to her love following the death of her father.  The circumstances of how her father had died would maintain their integrity. Yet the timing was shifted to much earlier in their lives. Her father had died after she had married and had her sons, not in high school like the story would now state.  Redoing that section took time. She placed into the story that her mother had been left alone to deal with the timing of things. When, in reality she had not.  Having mixed emotions about that she told herself that it was the story that mattered. It was about her finding God after the plain of such a loss and she moved on.

My book

The writing took near a year, and the publishing process with revisions and updates took a bit longer. By 2014 the book was due to come out in print. She longed to get her first shipment of books to sell that summer. School was winding down, and she looked forward to going to her grandson’s baseball games and spending more time with them. Asking family members to go to the game the night following the student’s last day at work they decided to go together. Edward stayed home as his work hours did not allow him the privilege’s of going to a weekday game. Her brother-in-law would drive. Sitting in the back seat of the car Sharon felt uncomfortable all the way to the game. The belt that went up around her chest was cutting her in the neck and needed to be adjusted. The game went well and all enjoyed the festivities of summer vacation coming into being. Following the game the trio loaded into the vehicle and began the road home. Sharon reached back to fix her belt and was unable to do so without unhooking it. Doing so, she stretched it out some and reattached it. It still felt odd. Struggling to make it comfortable she looked to the side and saw a car approaching going too fast. Calling out to the driver that they were not going to stop she tried to brace herself for what was about to occur. Metal on metal and an impact occurred, then the vehicle began to roll over and over. While rolling the tools in the back of the SUV began flying through the air and hitting the back of Sharon’s head. Holding on, knowing that her belt was not correctly holding her she could feel the pain in her head and in her body. Then they stopped rolling. Her sister- in-law Kay was crying out in pain. She was on the floor under the glove box pinned. The driver was hanging by his seat belts as the SUV was on its side, his side up.  Sharon was lying against the door in a fetal position crumpled up and could see parts of the inside of the door were gone. The air bags had gone off, but the occupants were in dire need of help. Searching for her cell phone she threw items that had landed from the back to the side. Finding it she began calling 911. She stopped. Firefighters were already there. The accident had occurred within a block of their department. Engines were on their way as well. Kay needed to be taken out of the vehicle first. They feared that she was hurt badly as her screams and wails filled the air repeatedly. The driver was having a hard time breathing and he would be taken out next. Sharon seemed to have the least amount of visual injuries and would have to wait. Attempting to get Kay out of the front they broke the windshield to take her out that way. Having problems they decided to take off the entire roof. Tossing in blankets the firefighters asked Sharon to cover herself in case of glass and other things that would be scattered in their midst, the other two had been covered due to the window. Closing her eyes and covering her ears she prayed in her mind in an attempt to block it all out. She stayed like that while her family members were extricated and taken in an ambulance. She was next. They had to figure out how to lift her out of the vehicle. They did not want her to crawl out of the back as her body was twisted in such as way they were unsure about her back. Eventually, they got her out and onto a board and strapped her on. An ambulance was coming. The small town only had so many transports and they needed to wait for one to return to take her. Sharon’s back was in pain. She continued to pray as the man took her vitals. Her blood pressure was good.

“Your blood pressure is great! That’s a good sign! How did you do that?” he asked as he laughed a bit. He knew that some levity may help the situation a bit.

“I’ve been praying. Maybe that helped.” Sharon responded. She did not like being on the flat board strapped down but was dealing with it.

“You are a Christian?”
“Yes, I am.”

“Me too. Prayer can help. I am headed out on a missions trip soon. My church is headed to Haiti to do some construction work.” the paramedic stated.

“Have you been before?” Sharon learned that this would be his first trip. She then told him of her book that was going on the market in a few weeks. The two conversed for a while but then Sharon began throwing up a lot. Keeping nothing down and then dry heaving she attempted to stay calm. Ending up at the local hospital her daughter-in-law Julie came to be with them all. The driver had been sent on to Columbus to a trauma center. He was having trouble breathing and his heart was out of rhythm. Kay had been sent as well. Sharon had to wait for them to return to go herself. The pain in her head, neck, and back was getting worse and worse. They gave her something for the pain. Soon, she was loaded into a returned squad and sent on. In Columbus a team of trauma doctors ordered tests and looked her over. She had thrown up repeatedly the entire trip. Assuming it was the pain meds they dismissed her from the ER.  The driver had been admitted overnight and the ladies were free to go home. Having called Edward Julie sat with them until he came. She then explained all that had happened and what to do when they got home. Sharon was not to sleep. They needed to keep an eye on her and be watch her closely. Edward called their youngest son in the hopes he could come sit with her as well. He knew he would be concerned and want to be there. Loading the ladies up in the car the three headed home. Julie went home herself. All had been up the entire night and were exhausted. Taking Kay home Edward then took Sharon to their house. Finding their son there waiting he went to the town where the accident had taken place to get their personal belongings. Sharon was yet in pain and quite nauseous; she had thrown up  all the way home.  Her son stayed with her and watched over her as the doctors had asked them to. She was alive. They had God to thank for that. Yet, things didn’t seem quite right. Something was amiss.

CHAPTER 23

Having told her boss at work she had been in an accident they told her she could come in another day to close down her room. She was glad and said she would let them know when she felt up to it. Time passed and she completed her work and was ready to enjoy the summer off and heal. As time passed she went to physical therapies and more. She was trying to get back strength and regain what she could of her mind’s focus. Sharon continued to have headaches and other symptoms. Taking meds to assist she went on attempting to live life as usual.

Her communication with Lander continued as she learned of his father’s death. The government had come in shortly after and removed his brother from their home and placed him in an orphanage. Lander was distraught. He was trying to work and earn a fair wage to feed them. Talking to Sharon the two discussed their faith and ways to cope with the challenges in their lives. They would overcome. Life had its ups and downs.

Finding out about the book, her eldest brother called her.

“I would like to pay you the amount the publisher has offered you and more. I don’t want this book to be published.”

Sharon was shocked. Her brother wanted to pay her off. “The book is not about making money. It is for a cause. We hope to save someone the pain that we went through.”

“Well, then maybe I can write a book about you and tell lies. Would you like that/”

“You can write one if you like. I did not tell lies. I even put it as fictional and used fake names and a pen name to protect us all. I am not doing this to be mean.”

“You are going to kill mom, just like you killed our dad,” he stated.

“What are you talking about?” Sharon was baffled.

(Remember he had died later in life and not as stated in the earlier chapters of the book.)

“You know what you did!”

“I don’t get what you are saying!” Sharon was now deeply pained and confused.

“You were in on that scheme with our aunt and embezzled Grandpa’s money. Daddy fought them in court and you took sides with her. Daddy was never right after that and you know it. You basically killed him!”

Sharon was crushed. How could he think such a thing? She loved their father. She had never understood why he didn’t stand up for her in her hour of need but she loved him.

“I never was in on anything like that! Daddy asked me to stay away from the courts when he was dealing with it all and I did as asked. I never even went over there!”

“Well, you know the truth, that’s all I have to say. Now, this book is going to kill mom. Do you want to kill her too?”

Ready to throw up Sharon decided she would prove her case. She was going to go to the courthouse and fight for what she knew was the truth.

“I didn’t do that. I will prove it to you. God knows the truth. He knows my heart. That is what matters most.”

“So, it is okay to kill her in the name of God!”

“I have to go.” Sharon hung up and doubled over in pain. She couldn’t handle being accused of killing her father. She had already killed their child. Calling her boss she told him she needed some time off for a family issue. He agreed and let her come in to prepare for a substitute teacher.

The next morning, Sharon went to the court house to ask for the records from the proceedings. She leafed though them to find documentation of who had testified and more. Sending pictures of them to her brother she hoped to end this all. But, it didn’t. He sent back a message saying that the papers proved nothing.

Driving to her mother’s house she was let in. She then asked her mother why her brother had the notion she had killed daddy.

“Who told you?” Her voice was filled with anger and contempt.

At that moment Sharon had her answer. Her mother had told him.

“I went to the courthouse this morning and looked in the records. I have pictures of who testified and who came each day.” Sharon attempted to defend herself.

“You can do that?” Her mother replied.

“Yes, it is a matter of public record.”

The conversation continued with Sharon asking questions and her mother doing the same. Heading home she thought of what other papers she might have been able to view that would have helped her prove her innocence. The thought of her family believing such a story was unreal! Going back to the courthouse the next day she found the paperwork out on the counter ready to be viewed. She had not called.

“Hello. I am here to view the court proceedings from Mr. Gibbs.”

“Oh, you must be the one who called. Is the young man with you?”

“I didn’t call. But, I would like to see them if I may. The person who called can see them if they come.”

This time Sharon had the lady make copies of certain pages. She then left knowing that her brother and mom would probably be there soon. She took the copies home to reread at her own leisure. The whole fiasco coupled with the remnants of the accident were taking a toll on here. She was unable to sleep and her mind was spinning with the idea of things going on. Had she lied to her family members? Was that why they looked at her as they did at a recent funeral? She didn’t know.

In time things settled down. Talk of a law suit died off and Sharon relaxed a bit. Yet, for her she went on living not knowing if she had family or not. She decided to let go and let God. It was more important to her that he knew she had done nothing wrong as far as that was concerned. The Devil had attempted once more to get her down and have her stop serving God. She wasn’t giving in. She was going to make a difference somehow or he would have stopped attacking her. She took him on full speed ahead.

When the book came out, Sharon was invited to be a guest author at a Pro-Life convention in Kentucky. It was here that she noticed the high number of Catholics in attendance. They seemed to be the predominant religion in attendance. She was Protestant at the time and it bothered her that more were not there on that side of the faith. Here she learned more about the cause. Listening to one lady speak of how she had survived being aborted Sharon thought about her child once more. This lady, now expecting, told of the event and how it affected her life. Sharon also heard others speak about being post abortive and the healings they had come through. Men and women shared from their hearts and she soaked it all in.

Later that summer while at a Christian music event she gave copies of her book away and toured a van equipped with technology wherein the expectant mother could see her child through an ultrasound. This van and others were being used near abortions clinics to offer a free view at the fetus. It was a tool for the cause.  While at this event Sharon passed out her business cards and sold more books. A few people came to her and opened up telling her their stories. One of them was a young man, maybe twenty. He had been in the same situation as Sharon and Edward. His girlfriend was pregnant out of wedlock. She was going to abort their child. He wanted to raise it. So, he fought. He hired an attorney and took her to court. In time the baby was born and through a DNA test he discovered it was not his. The baby then went to another home. Sharon listened as the man went through the pain of what had happened to him.  She told him she was sorry that it wasn’t his. Yet, his major focus was that he had saved that child. He was not feeling sorry for himself. He was not mad at the world. He was glad the child had lived.

Stories would begin to come to her in this manner. Women who had never even told their spouses or families would open up to her and divulge their deepest secrets. Sharon would watch as their faces would turn to pain and sadness as they wished they could go back and change it. Talking to them she knew what they had been through. Some had chosen it themselves. Others had felt forced or coerced. But all of the stories were filled with pain.

Returning to work that fall, Sharon attempted to get as much done ahead of time as possible. Her fatigue and headaches had changed her life and she was unsure of she would be able to handle the job anymore. Months passed and she began to be more and more tired. In addition, her eyesight began failing ever so slightly. It came in steps. At first, for a few minutes a day her eyesight was blurrier than normal. She attempted to rest them but the workload of teaching and grading papers in the evening was daunting. She began tossing papers into a basket to grade on the weekends and took breaks while at work with her eyes closed in a dark room. She even stopped eating lunch with her peers to relax in this manner. Weekends became a time to sleep. Sleeping most days away she began to get farther and farther behind. Her eyesight was gradually worsening. It went into a phase of hours a day of blurred vision and then all day long. Having gone to eye doctors they ran a gamete of tests to find nothing wrong with her eyes. They were fine. Sharon was baffled and exhausted. Her hope was to make it through the school year and get to the next summer. She wanted to teach.

Time passed and the challenges of life and work wore on her. She was not as patient as she had been before the accident. Things could tip her off and she was angry at times and could not control her outbursts. Work was now more difficult than ever. She spent her planning times under her desk in a dark room trying to get her mind under control. Hiding there she hoped nobody would need her to do anything and could calm her body down. Wanting to take time off Edward told her to just keep trying. It would get better. But it didn’t. In the end Sharon had a nervous breakdown at work and was hospitalized. While there they ran more tests and scanned her brain. Nothing was found. Being unable to complete the school year she resigned to stay home and rest. She couldn’t handle it.

The next few months were spent going to see specialists of all kinds. The Superintendent of the school system recommended that she may have to look into disability. He had once had another staff member do so. Seeking advice Sharon called the state teacher’s facility for an appointment.  She needed to know what her options were.

In time, Sharon would discover that she had a mild brain injury. The accident had caused damage to the nerves attaching her brain to the eyes. The easiest way to describe it, they told her was that her eyes were like that of an infant’s. They did not track as they were supposed to. She had been putting stress onto them attempting to work.

Hiring a driver, Sharon went to specialists near Akron three times a week. Here she went through more therapies that lasted about three hours each time. When home, she had tasks to do as well. As time passed Sharon learned that she would never teach again. Her eyes could not function as they needed to for her to work. Asking them if she could work even part time they said no. This was a tough blow for her. She loved teaching and could not fathom not being able to do so.

As the disability claim went forward Sharon saw all kinds of specialists across the state. She tried rose colored glasses, tinted glasses, and more. Nothing worked. Her eye sight would be this way for the remainder of her days.

Running out of sick days at work she was given the option to be fired or resign. She resigned. She would not be able to retire. She could not get any income. She was done. Edward supported her and put her on his insurance plan at work. At least she had that.

The disability claim never came into fruition. A brain injury is quite hard to prove. Lawyers tried to no avail. This took over a year to settle. Sharon was broken hearted. She had lost her career. Attempting other small jobs she failed. She couldn’t do it. She had to accept it. Edward had to be the bread winner and there was nothing they could do about it. Her retirement plan from teaching did eventually kick in but it was nothing near what she had made. Sharon started to go back to her old way of thinking. The good old feeling sorry for herself. Then, God told her to stop it and get back to work. Enough of the pity party. She picked herself up and began again.

CHAPTER 24

Time passed and soon she began looking at ways to serve God with her knowledge base. The sales of her book had all but dropped off as she was no longer able to venture out to speak and sell them. She was unable to drive much distance at all. Finding an organization called Silent No More she spoke with them about their ministry. She learned that they assisted post abortive men and women seeking help. She decided that this might be something she could do from home. Taking on the job of a state rep Sharon was able to answer the phone and talk to people in her part of the state to help them. She would refer them to a local pregnancy center with a class, like she had taken or to a church. Doing this she felt a part of the healing team. Calls came to her and she would listen as mostly women would ask for help. https://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/Index.aspx

Taking time to listen to those in need Sharon decided to do more. She signed up to speak at the March in Washington D.C. Her testimony would be given at the base of the steps of the Supreme Court alongside the festivities. Edward decided to go along and watched from afar as Sharon spoke that day. Being approached by people who had lost a child to abortion Sharon listened as some had never even told their families or spouses. One man told her how his wife had aborted three pregnancies without his knowing. Now, she was unable to conceive and the pain of it all was taking a toll on him. Listening to other testimonies she heard of women being driven to the clinic with a gun pointed at them. Men spoke of their losses as did siblings and grandmothers. In an odd way, it was nice to know she was not alone. Yet, she wished all of them had never had to go through what they did.

Following the march Edward and Sharon decided to travel to Israel and Italy. Their faith had grown but the desire to see the places in the Bible was strong. Going there they saw so many things. Sharon loved to sit in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and pray. With two weeks in Jerusalem area the couple visited all they could. Their faith grew stronger and they healed even more.

After a brief jaunt to Rome and Vatican City the urge to join the Catholic Church grew. Standing near the Pietà Sharon witnessed firsthand the marble statue of Mary holding Jesus and smiled. Mary could be her mother! She needed the love of a mother and had found it.

RCIA classes began and both attended. Confession was taken seriously and all sins were absolved. Joining the church near Easter they could now partake of holy communion. Sharon also joined the pro life group and marched with them when possible.

She regretted her abortion and always would. Yet, the healing presence of God in her life truly brought her into redemption. She no longer thought she would burn in Hell. She no longer sought out readings to speak to her lost child. She knew he was safe in Heaven with her father.

The torment that she had lived through was becoming a testimony for good. God had raised her up out of the pits of darkness into his light. She had been lost but, now was found. She had been molded and shaped like clay in God’s own hands to become a new creature. He had been molding Sharon for decades into one who served him with all her heart. She was healed.

The Little Red Hen Diner

A modern day twist on the original Little Red Hen

Once upon a time there was a diner that served the best fried chicken and carrot cake in all the land. The people came and went after eating meals served by the red haired owner and were always satisfied. The delivery people were always greeted with a free sandwich or a treat from the fresh baked goods section and the staff were always happy. Sharing stories over a good meal or a simple cup of coffee passed the days in the land of Fieldly.

Then, one day a fierce illness came into the land. All of the people who lived in Fieldly were saddened when their dear Little Red Hen shop had to close. They longed for the best carrot cake and dreamed of a nice plate of fried chicken with a side of tators. Wanting to go to the shop where Red, the red haired lady, worked they asked her to make the food available by pick up. Red decided to open only for carry out. People called and ordered but it was just not the same. It was a problem she’d never dreamt of having.

Time passed and soon Red had other problems to deal with. She called the man who delivered the chicken to her establishment to inquire when a new shipment might be coming.

“When will you be bringing me more chicken? My freezer is empty and I cannot fill my orders without chicken. Will you come?”

“Not I,” said the delivery man. “I am afraid I will get sick. You go pick it up at the store.”

So she did. She drove down the road and bought the chicken and brought it back to her shop.

Next, Red noticed she was running out of carrots to make her famous cake. She also needed other vegetables for the cook to make soup.

She called the produce delivery company. “Can you tell me if my next shipment will be coming soon?”

“Nope,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “I am not going out right now. I am staying home. You do it.”

The little red haired lady got onto her computer and ordered her vegetables then drove down to the market to pick them up. She wanted to be able to serve her customers.

Carrying the produce into the back room she saw her cook packing up her things and leaving to go home.

“Are you leaving?” she asked. “Yes, my husband is afraid I’ll get sick. He wants me to file for unemployment. I’ll get a check. It will be fine.” her cook explained.

“Who will cook while I run the errands to buy the foods we need?” Red asked.

“Not I.” said the cook and she left.

Red wanted to cry. She heard the phone ring and ran to answer it. Perhaps someone was going to come help her. On the phone was a customer wanting some vegetable soup and carrot cake. Red thought for a moment and then wrote down the order. She needed to keep her little shop open to pay her bills. She had no choice.

Going into the kitchen she found some carrot cake baked that morning. She was glad for that. From here on out she was going to have to do it all. She was going to do the work of at least three people; herself, the cook, and all the delivery people. She got to work.

Orders kept on coming in. Red worked as hard as she could. Soon she decided she would have to cut back on the amount of items on the menu. She could not get deliveries and she simply couldn’t cook as needed. She closed the bakery section of the shop. No more cakes. No more fresh baked items that her customers loved. She sat down and wept. She would miss baking.

She placed daily specials online. She hoped this would satisfy the people. She could handle making one large batch of a special item each day. That would have to work. Working harder than ever Red prayed she could stay open. She longed for the days that people came in and chatted over their meals. She held her head high and kept on going. Another phone call came in.

“Hello. I want to order a cake and some fresh bread for my family.” The customer had been a regular for years.

“I’m so sorry. I had to close down the bakery section. Our special today is meat loaf and mashed potatoes. Would you like that?” Red asked.

“No, I want a cake.”

“Thank you but I am unable to make them right now. Do you know of anyone that can come help me? Red asked.

“Not I. The people I know who are working are doing so much they are tired and cannot do any more. Many of the others are home and do not want to work until things get better. Best wishes. I will call back when you reopen the bakery section.”

Red wanted to stay open but things were not like they used to be. She wanted to be able to support her family. Her little business had always been a favorite of so many and now it was hard to stay open. She was exhausted. She decided to cut back the hours and even closed three days a week. She shopped on the days her shop was closed and even cooked foods ahead for the days she took orders. That helped.

As time passed the bills were piling up. She was unsure how to do any more by herself. She still couldn’t get deliveries and the calls were becoming fewer each day. She advertised for help but those who did come stayed only a short time and then left. What was she to do?

She went home that night and pulled out her family photo album. She smiled as she looked at the pictures of her grandmother. She was the one who had asked for help making her special bread many decades past. She remembered the story where she had ground the wheat. When her grandma had asked for help nobody helped her either. Pondering how her life was in many ways the same Red fell asleep and went into a wonderful dream.

In her dream Red saw all the delivery people she had fed coming to her aid. They smiled as they stood at the doorway and accepted her free treats. She had blessed them and now they were blessing her. How wonderful that was. She was now able to cook as she had more time. She did not have to shop on the days she was closed. She could be open more and that would give her more income! As the dream went on she saw herself making foods from her old menu. She was once again making her famous fried chicken. Her customers were coming to get more orders and the world was a better place. Then she awoke.

Red shook her head and got out of bed. She knew the dream would never become a reality. At least not soon. She had been so kind and worked so hard. Yet, it just didn’t seem to matter. Then a message popped up on her phone. Looking at it she read,” Can you come over and help me bake some bread? I know you have the day off since the shop is closed..”

“Not I.” replied Red.

“Why not? You used to bake and I want some fresh bread.”

“I repeat, not I. Things have changed.”

An angry face emoticon appeared on her screen.

Driving into the shop she noticed a truck in the lot. As she pulled in one of her old delivery men stepped out and walked over to her window.

“I need to ask a favor. I am having trouble since I have not been working. Could you make me a sandwich like you used to?”

“They are five dollars. Do you want dill pickles on it?” Red inquired.

“I don’t have five dollars. I was hoping you could help me out with a free one like you used to,” the man said.

“Not I.” stated Red.

The man looked angry. He grimaced and left the lot. Red looked up and smiled. She prayed one day he would be back on his route and come to her little shop. Maybe one day she could once again spoil him with a free cup of coffee, but no more free food.

Red smiled. Her dream had helped her clarify things. She needed to take care of herself now. She needed to do what was best for her. She walked into the old dining room and began putting up the chairs and taking the signs down. The old menus were gathered up and placed into storage. Taking out her computer she went online and posted her baked goods onto a web site that she had used in the past. Knowing she could bake and ship her wares she placed photos of her sweets and posted the costs. She was going to bake again!

Soon enough orders were coming in from all over the United States. Red did not have to deal with people who were afraid of getting sick in her dining room. She didn’t even have to worry about staffing the place. She was in charge of her baking and what she sold. If they liked it they bought it. She was in a new world and she liked it.

A new text message appeared on her screen. “Do you want to sell your place? I know of a guy that is buying up old businesses cheap. If you want to get out from under your bills let me know.”

Red picked up and texted back, “Not I. I am a hard worker and I am doing just fine.” And she was.

Dream Journal – 9-12 -21 We Are All Students

Last night’s dream was one that led to a greater understanding of life. I must state up front that I am a retired teacher of over 20 years in education. This will help you understand my dream.

Last night in my dream I was a child in a school. I was in a classroom that seemed to be around the 3rd grade. The class was taking place and I was involved but not with the mind of a child. I actually had my adult mind with all of the wisdom of college and years of teaching. I noticed things that were going well in the classroom and other things that could have been approached in a varied manner. I awoke wondering why I had dreamt of being a child in the classroom with the mind of an adult.

Then, this morning while at mass the Priest told us in his homily that we are on this Earth as a way of learning how to assimilate into heaven. We are in a type of school preparing us for our future. As I listened I realized what my dream had been about. I am yet a student but not in the type of school in which I worked for decades. I am a student learning with an adult mind all the things I need to know to graduate to the next phase in life.

All the years I taught school I told the children that they were being prepared for their futures. Yet, not until today had I thought that in fact we are all in school. All of us are learning and growing. Some will take the harder classes and work toward lofty goals. Others will take courses that teach them about their walk in life. Some will spend more time in recess. That is their choice as they have free will given to them by their father in Heaven.

I want to thank God for my dream. I see now what you were showing me. I pray it helps others as well.

911 – A Prophetic Dream that Became Reality – Fact not Fiction

My dream became a reality. 911 was not the same for me.

As we reflect back to 20 years ago I realize that it is time to share my story. As I look back I have the commonality of being one effected by the reality of that day in most ways all of you living then experienced it. I recall the news stations broadcasting the minute by minute updates as I sat watching. Yet, I also recall something most of you did not experience. I recall that as I watched those updates I correlated their announcements with a dream I had a week previous.

That night I dreamt of being in a large city by the water. In the dream people were walking on sidewalks with back packs on their backs. On their feet many had on tennis shoes yet were dressed in nice clothes, Sunday go to meetin’ type of clothes. As the dream went forward I saw the people in their everyday fashion, walking to work or to shop. But then it all changed. The biggest thing I can recall is that people were not acting in their usual way. An elderly lady was in need of help yet able bodied men ran by her and I was afraid she was going to be trampled in the rush. Smoke and ash began to fill the air and I asked God to reveal to me where I was at. I looked at the license plates on the cars parked alongside the street and saw mostly sets of numbers. (I have those someplace jotted down but as for now I can tell you these came into play later as I watched the event unfold.) I did see the state of Georgia on one plate. Later on this caused me to reflect on the events of the Olympics in 1996. Was this dream taking place in Atlanta? It didn’t seem to be as there was a giant body of water nearby. I dreamt of a building falling toward me. I was running in the dream as the building toppled toward me. I saw a projection, like a thin tower, at the top coming at me. It seemed to puncture my hand. I awoke and looked at my hand to realize that I was safe. I had not been stabbed by the object nor had I been killed. I was quite upset by this dream. I was trembling. I could not go back to sleep. Picking up my journal I wrote down what I had just experienced hoping to make some sort of sense of it all. (I cannot find that now, sorry.)

Later that morning I went into work. I was still frazzled and one of the young male teachers asked me if I was all right. I told him about my dream and we discussed it a bit.

Fast forward to a week later, Sept. 11. Back at work, the morning started as most do. By now the dream was but a memory and I was teaching my class. I looked up to see the young teacher coming into my room. He asked me to make sure to go to the Library for lunch. I needed to see what was on the television. I said okay and continued to teach. There was no announcement, nothing. Around 11:00 I walked to where he had asked me to and entered the room. I saw he and others in the room watching television. (We did not have tvs in our rooms back then.) On the screen was the building with the lean thin tower at the top. I recognized it immediately. I was mesmerized for a moment. Then, I looked at the young man and I yelled out, “That is the building that was in my dream.” His eyes caught mine and I could not watch any more. I ran out of the room and went away from it all. What had I seen? Why had I been shown this horrible thing? As the day progressed a few parents came and pulled their kids out of school and took them home. We heard of a staff member who had a loved one working in the towers. I was in a daze. I just wanted to go home.

When I did go home I ran to get my journal with my notes about the dream. Then, I went into the living room and watched the news. As I watched I noticed that the numbers on the license plates were the flight numbers. The back packs were on the backs of New Yorkers headed to work. In them were most likely their dress shoes and I decided that was why they had on tennis shoes with their dress clothes. Of course, the building that had fallen was one of the towers. I kept watching as the events on the news unfolded and I correlated them with my dream. The only thing that did not fit was the Georgia plate. I could not figure that one out.

A feeling of self blame came over me. Should I have told someone about my dream? Could I have done something that could have helped save lives? I’d had dreams like this at times and I had seen the reality of the dream on tv before. I had experienced dreams about plane crashes, family deaths, etc. But this one was different. This one hurt deeply and it saddened me that I had never done anything to help.

Back at school the following day there was a knock at my door. I answered it and found a middle aged man with a box. He told me he had heard that I liked to share wildlife with my class and wondered if I would like to pass what was in the box around the room for the children to see. I did. I took the box in and showed the students the contents and they began to pass it around. It was then that he asked me to step into the hallway and speak to him. He had some questions. Not thinking much about it, I did. He told me that he was with the local FBI. He then began asking me about what had transpired in the Library the day previous. Someone I worked with had called him. I was shocked! The FBI wanted to talk to me? Long story short I agreed to come to their office after work. He told me where to come and what to do to be able to enter the building. He asked me to bring along my notes in my journal. That afternoon I did as asked. All day, I had wondered about the whole situation. Who had called him? What did they want? I was now more upset than ever. Should I have taken it to them days ago?

That afternoon I spent time with the agent and did as asked. I took my journal in. I answered his questions. Honestly, at this point the things I remember the most are that he was upset with me and kept asking question about the Georgia thing. He demanded to know how I knew about Georgia. I repeated over and over that I saw the license plate in my dream. That was all I knew. To this day I have no clue as to why he was so persistent on that part of the dream. I also recall him asking me to send in any dreams I have to them prior to the event. After the fact did no good. I agreed to do so and did for a while. Then, I simply asked God to have my dreams stop. I could not handle the fact that I had done nothing. The guilt and the blame was too hard. I now had people at work asking me if I had been given a dream about them. I also had people telling me that if I did dream about them to keep it to myself. I was a mess. I had to have it stop.

Fast forward to a while back. I asked God to allow the dreams to begin again. They have. I had a dream about 2 days prior to the floods in the south about a young girl camping with her family. They were in a campground and the waters were rising. I watched as they and others attempted to exit the park. The grounds were too soft and they did not get out. I then saw the girl in her camper as it filled with water to near the ceiling. She was trapped. I woke up.

As one who used to dream of events, and it seems am once more, I am writing this to ask you a question. It seemed to me 20 years ago that there had to have been others given that dream or one similar. If we had convened and shared notes could we have not done something? Was I to pray? More? I am asking for feedback from anyone who has any ideas on what to do with these dreams. I am a Christian so PLEASE do not tell me I am some kind of whatever etc. I am not on the dark side by any means. I pray to God. I go to church. I worship God and his son, Jesus. I would also like to hear from those of you who have prophetic dreams. What have you done with your dreams?

I pray this day you are well and that this article has touched you in some way. I lift up your concerns in the name of Jesus and I now close this post. Pam

MLMM Photo Challenge #374 My interpretation

“Come back to me,” she whispered as she wiped the vomit from the shower wall. He had left, and the pain of it all tore her apart from the inside out. Only a moment ago she had been wanting to run after him, to follow him. Yet, she could not. Unable to move, she heaved her inner being onto the dress she had bought especially for this moment in time. The day when she would tell him that she was going to have his child. The day that was supposed to be a joyous one, forever in her mind as the day they became one in a new way. Yet, now, here, she was trying to wash away all that had just occurred. Turning her face to face the opposite wall she heaved once more as she felt the warmth of the water run down her back. She just wanted to wash it all away, but couldn’t.

Bullies Attack and We Watch

(A commentary post George Floyd trial and the conviction of Officer Chauvin)

As I have gone through life I have seen things that upset me, people treating others with disrespect or worse. Today, as I watch on the news how Officer Chauvin has been found guilty I once again wonder why in most situations in life we allow bullies to do as they do. Why do we allow racism, sexism, and just plain old mean people to thrive? Why don’t we stop them? Officer Chauvin is not going to bully anymore. He is behind bars. But, what about all of the others we see that do that same type of thing?

Why is it that we as one nation under God have such issues? Why do we see others as anything other than children of God?

Surveys ask us about our race and other information all the time. I myself hate it when I am asked to complete a survey or fill out paperwork and designate my race. Why is that necessary? I understand that at times they may need to compile such data to aid in the understanding of such things as medical issues. Yet, why is it needed in other realms? If I am completing a survey on my favorite foods why do I need to proclaim my race? In fact, I have begun marking the optional other box and typing in that I am a child of God as my descriptor. I am a child of God, designed by him in my mother’s womb. That is all. My hair color, eye color, skin color has nothing to do with my favorite food choices. For that matter, my skin color has not much to do with any kind of survey I complete. Yet, we continue to fill out those and other papers with said information. Why? Yes, they may want a good sampling of many variations but really is that even necessary?

Why is it that we allow people who see color or differences to do so? I ask myself this a lot. Why is it that we stand by and not step in? Perhaps we fear the repercussions. Recently I was fired from a job for standing up for someone being bullied. The bully had continually picked on people and gotten away with it. The young lady being verbally assaulted this particular day had been in this position many times. I, among others, had watched and not done a thing. Yet, on this day I stepped in and stated to the bully that she had picked on her victim more than once. The bully reacted to me in a usual way. She became defensive and confrontive. I stood my ground and stated that she needed to stop. The young girl stood nearby and watched as I stood up for her. Words were exchanged between I and the bully. Then the bully stormed out of the area and went to the office of my manager. The bully then misrepresented to the authority figures at work and told them I had threatened her. I was fired. Looking back on that situation I see that I could have handled it differently. I could have just ignored it once again and let the bully assault that young woman. In fact, since I am no longer in that workplace she is most likely doing it to that young lady and all of the others she had bullied for the entire time I worked there. She is getting away with it and most likely will for a long time. She has the upper hand as nobody attempts to stop her. Plus, having seen I was fired that will add to her power over them all. Who else would step forward and risk the same result? I was fired and am banned from the site. I am supposedly a threat and am now unable to even come to see the clients I worked with. At times I wonder how they reacted to that news. I see some of them from time to time. They tell me they miss me. I was the one they came to talk about their issues with the bully. I was the one who listened and talked to them about how it was not their fault. Who is there for them now?

When I saw the incident with Mr. Floyd on television I wondered if the officer was one of those people who had a history of bullying and attempting to control others. I wondered why those who were viewing the incident did not rise up and step in to assist Mr. Floyd. My guess is that they reflect back and wonder the same thing.

In any occupation there are many types of people. Some are passive, others are aggressive. Some are shy and timid, others outgoing. Some are controlling to an extreme and others are a doormat and just lay their and get stomped on. Some are bullies and others victims. Co dependency as well as other issues enter into any and all scenarios. Mr. Floyd attempted to set boundaries within the incident he was a part of. He voiced over and over again that he could not breathe and had even told the officers that he was claustrophobic and was struggling with being placed into that small vehicle. Yet, his pleas for help were not acknowledged and he died as a result. His life was squelched right in front of those viewing the incident. I am not placing blame on them. They were bystanders in an unimaginable circumstance. They were most likely afraid of the consequences they could face with the law themselves. Yet, let’s look at the scenario above once again and look into the actions of those around me when I stood up for the victim of the bully at work.

What did those around me do while I was confronting the bully? Some walked away. They retreated and did not want to be a part of what was going on. Some watched but did nothing. They did not back me up, nor did they attempt to help in any way. I looked at them at times and most looked away. One did make eye contact with me and made a facial expression cheering me on. It was as if she was saying to me, you go girl. She was cheering me on but stayed to the side and did nothing. I must admit that after the offense she did come to me and state that she felt my being fired was wrong. She was proud of me for standing up to the bully. She said she had thought about doing it herself. But she never had. How about my boss? She did ask those who viewed the incident what had happened BUT in the end she knew the bully had filed a report and told me my being fired was out of her hands. She did nothing to back me up. The bully had contacted a person with great influence in our community and now she had this person believing her version of the story. There was no video to back me up. There was nobody who would confront the lies and come to help me. They stood by and watched as I was fired and did nothing.

Why is it that we stand by and do nothing? Why is it that the mean people of the world most times are allowed to do what they do? I had reported the bullying incidents numerous times. Yet, my boss did nothing. According to her, the bully was one of the best workers we had on staff. We needed her. She worked hard and was an asset to the workplace I was told. So, did her work ethic qualify her actions? If she had been lazy and unproductive would she have been spoken to? I doubt it. My boss was a passive person. She was very kind and loving to a fault. Things happened and she seemed to not see it and over and over let things go. I have seen that many times in my careers.

In my past career as a teacher I saw bullies all the time. Some of them were children, others adults. The worst scenario was when my boss was a bully herself. Controlling all situations to the max seemed to be a goal of hers. Not only did she control others but she also had what I will call a posse of followers. Those people seemed to be allowed to get away with things if they followed her train of thought. Students were lambasted and treated with disrespectful means by those in the posse and got away with it. Here again I attempted to stand up for the children and had various repercussions due to it. I quickly became a target of sorts.

I could go on and list more examples but I want to get back to the point at hand. Why is it we see differences rather than commonalities? Why is it we do not simply see others as children of God, designed by his hand? Why is it that we allow those who are domineering and mistreat others to rule over us? Is that the way God designed us to be? What would Jesus have done if he had been a witness to the George Floyd incident? Would he have stepped in and stopped the unjust actions of the officer? What would he have done when the person where I worked was being bullied? Would he have cheered me on or walked off? You can decide that for yourself.

WWJD? What would Jesus do? How does he treat his children? Does he look at their eye color. skin color? I don’t think so. Why do we?

In closing I want to go back again to the George Floyd incident. What if even one person had stepped in and did something? What if they approached the officer and attempted to help Mr. Floyd in any manner? Why is it we stand back and do nothing? Yes, people are protesting. Yes, they are standing up now but to what avail. It will not bring the victim of this atrocity back to life. In the incident wherein I was fired I brought a lawsuit against them. I won. I got a monetary amount and was told I was fired outside the law. Yet, I have no job. I have no apology for being fired. I have no income from that source nor will I ever again. My life in that place was snuffed out. His life was snuffed out. NOBODY came to his aid when he was in that situation. They filmed it, they took pictures, but they did nothing. Most of us do nothing. We stand by and watch as others treat people with disrespect. We watch as people use racial slurs and speak of others not as children of God but as different in some way. Why?

I challenge you today to rise up from the ashes of the past and make a difference. I beg you to notice when someone is being mistreated and join an anthem of people who pray and act as soldiers of God. Ask yourself in any given situation what God would want you to do. Not what the world would want you to do as their will does not always align with the will of God. Stop watching. Stop being an observer. Stop bullies and those with narcissistic tendencies and speak up. We are not meant to be victims. We are meant to be so much more. We were designed for greatness.

Miracles in Ohio

Do you ever wonder if miracles occur today? I mean now, at this time in history, 2021. Well, let me see if I can convince you that they do.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a healing event at the Catholic Cathedral in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio. Here I witnessed healings of all types. As the congregation prayed for one another blessings occurred over and over within the sanctuary. Testimonies rang forth as people shared their healings, but the miracles did not just happen at that time. The next day I noticed that my back was straighter and more strong than it had been in quite some time. Then, later that week while at mass I and other members lifted up prayer for our young priest while he was officiating services. His voice was strained as he attempted to preside over mass. We could tell he was struggling. We prayed for him and at one point during the mass his voice cleared and he was able to speak clearly. In that moment I could see he became emotional and he was about to weep. Following the mass I approached him and he told myself and others in the room had been praying for him. He then stated how he felt the presence of God touching him, healing him during the service. The presence of God was there for him as it is for all of us. Yet, there is more.

Go forward to last weekend when I was a part of a silent retreat in southeastern Ohio. Sixty women from all over Ohio and other states had come to be with the Lord. The event began on a Thursday night at Catholic Family Land. The first miracle I witnessed was on Friday. I had gone to pray at the tomb of the unborn. I was asking God if my mother-in-law, who had just recently passed, had seen our child in heaven yet. I asked him if she was able to be with him. I stated that I longed to be with him one day. That night while at Eucharistic Adoration I asked God to reveal to me what he wanted me to know. In an instant Jesus appeared to me. In his arms he held a baby. I knew it was our Matthew. The babe was about 5 months old and of good health. I smiled. In an instant Mary and Joseph appeared at Jesus side. Then Jesus with the babe began to walk the aisle toward me. As he did the baby suddenly grew into a full grown man. He was tall in stature and had light colored curly hair. I smiled. He had my hair. As they continued toward me I noticed that Matthew was going to sit down next to me in the pew. At that moment I could feel his presence as he sat down and leaned into my left side. He sat with me as we watched Jesus continue about the congregation stopping to touch various women on their right shoulder. He seemed to not go in any type of order. Yet, he touched most all of them. Matthew and I watched for a time and then they left. I had been given what I had asked for. I had been given the gift of spending time with my child. Being a silent retreat I returned to my room wanting to tell someone but kept it to myself. Saturday brought about yet another miracle for me. I was in the chapel praying when I heard the Lord ask me to go up front and lie in repose, face down, in front of the altar. I did not do so and thus he repeated himself asking me again to go up and lie down. After the third time I got up and went to the front and did as asked. In an instant Matthew joined me to my left. He lay down next to me and placed his right arm over my back. We stayed there for a while and I soaked in his being with me. As they began to light the candles for mass I rose to take my seat and Matthew left. I was being blessed by God here at this little chapel in the hills and I was loving it. Sunday morning came and I returned to the chapel for mass. This time Matthew came and knelt at my side while the congregation renewed their baptismal vows. The moment was brief but welcome. I told one of the visiting nuns about my experience when we were once again able to talk to one another. She smiled and we rejoiced in the moment together. While driving home from the retreat the Lord blessed me again. I have a traumatic brain injury and have difficulty driving in the rain. The motion of the windshield wipers coupled with the falling rain make me dizzy. Yet, when it rained it was like the days prior to my injury. It did not bother me at all. Going forward to today, Tuesday, I received yet another blessing. My novel, Molding Sharon, had been typed in for people to read online for free. I had done this during the Covid lock down. At some point the entirety of my novel had been removed by a hacker. Yet, now it was restored completely. In no way could I fix it. Yet, I found it restored.

God is with us. He loves us and cares for us every day. He knows our hearts and desires to be with us. I am glad I attend church even in these trying times. He is reaching out to all of us. He is healing us and sending us miracles. Are you listening? Are you ready to receive his countless blessings?

Miracles happen even today in 2021. I believe. Do you??

Molding Sharon: My novel

I am placing my novel here as well for you to read.

In 2013 I was still teaching and had been inspired to write a story based on my life. I had some tell me I should not do so as it was about a controversial topic. They said I would lose my job if I wrote it. Yet, in my heart I knew that I needed to write the story to assist with saving others the pain I had gone through. I thought that if only I could save one person the loss of a child or bring them the healing that I found it would be worth it all. The story that follows when originally published was done so under a pen name to protect my family. That did no good. Now, I place it out there for all to read free online in the aspirations that it may still help those led to read it.  I state that it is somewhat fictional. Many parts are created, but others are my life. If you by chance read the original the main plot is the same as are most words. I’m also going to add some new chapters at the end to explain where I have come since then. I write this for his glory alone and for his sheep here on Earth; especially those in most need.

Chapter 1

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

                                   Proverbs: 3:5-6 (KJV)

The fall of 1976 was especially beautiful. The crimson colors on the maples stood out amongst the green hues on the evergreens that wrapped the country home in Ohio where the girls sat. Colleen and Sharon leaned back on their lawn chairs, watching as a female cardinal fluttered down to the feeder in the backyard, hoping to find some sunflower seeds. The two friends had known each other for a couple of years now and had grown to love one another as sisters do. Looking at each other’s proofs for their senior pictures, they sat admiring the one that Sharon’s father had taken of her lying in a pile of raked leaves.

“You wanna go cruisin’ tonight? I think Dwayne can pick us up after work.” Colleen asked.

Colleen so loved to cruise up the main drag with her beau. They both loved chatting on  the CB radio in his car and visiting with friends. He was the only one of the trio with a car and so he helped them hang out on Park Avenue West on the weekends. Colleen was hoping for an answer in the affirmative as she and Dwayne had been making plans to matchmake Sharon with his younger brother. Tonight, a special match was going to be made that would hopefully result in Sharon being her sister-in-law one day.

“Yeah, I think I’d like to go again. I wonder if we’ll see that crazy guy with his CB radio with the external sound system. He was hilarious last week, blasting music out of that thing.” Sharon paused as she glanced over at her friend sitting there with a big grin on her face.  She continued, “Wonder if he’ll play something decent this time?”

Colleen had not responded to her question. She hadn’t even looked at her. Sharon stopped talking as she tried to interpret the look on her friend’s freckled face. She’d seen that look many times and knew that Weenie wasn’t even listening to her. She was in some far-off land, dreaming in her head about something. What in the world was she up to now?

Cruising that night went as Colleen had planned for, they found Edward sitting in the parking lot in front of the shopping mall in his turquoise 1966 Chevelle Malibu before they had even looped around at the end of the drag. Dwayne saw the car first and made sure Colleen noticed it as well by elbowing her in the ribs.

“Look, my brother, Edward, is over there in the lot. Let’s pull over next to his car and see what he’s up to.” He paused and glanced back at the unsuspecting victim of the matchmaking scheme in the back seat. “Sharon, have you met my brother Edward yet? He’s a senior at Hayes High, but he’s going to the vocational school studying auto body.” Dwayne smiled at Colleen. She giggled.

“What are you two up to? I know something is up by the way Weenie is acting. Come on you guys! Dwayne, are you two trying to hook me up with your brother?” Sharon stretched to see from her position in the back seat. She could see a blue car in the distance facing the main drag. She liked the car, but then what was she going to find inside? She’d never been attracted to Dwayne. Hopefully, his brother was better looking. As the cars drew closer, she saw the outline of a guy awaiting their little game. Poor guy, she thought. He has no idea what these two are up to. She held her breath as the car stopped and the two front seat passengers evacuated the car. What should she do? Should she get out and play along or just sit there? Trying to see him, she craned her neck and saw him get out of the car. His tall, lean appearance met her approval. Maybe she should check it out! Sharon knew this could go one of three ways: bad, good, or ugly. She took a deep breath and stepped out into her future. Little did she know how important this night would be.

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Their first date was one that Weenie and she devised. The Homecoming dance at Blair, their school, was to occur in two weeks.  A dance seemed to be a little too forward for a first date, but a football game could most likely be more feasible.  Sporting events had always been a blast for the two girls; they’d been members of the pep club and wore their outfits proudly. Having traveled with the football and basketball teams to all the away games they knew the cheers well and liked to scream them at the top of their lungs. Their plan was to ask the brothers to sit near them in the student section near where they had to cheer. Plans went accordingly, and the double date was set!

The game itself was nothing to write home about, but the action on the field, added to the presence of friends, aided in stirring up conversation. Edward was not near as loud as the women he was seated with but seemed to truly enjoy the game. He’d played some football himself and was therefore able to explain some of the intricacies to Sharon who really had no clue about the strategies of the game. She was more of a social butterfly than he was; that was obvious right from the start.  As the game ended, the couples made plans to head to Weenie’s house. Her dad owned a used car lot, and there was a vintage car on the lot that the brothers wanted to see. The four fans loaded into Dwayne’s 1969 Chevelle, the ladies with their rooter poms and the men with their sodas. As they arrived, the guys spotted the car in the lot and went off to talk about it. The girls jaunted next door to buy some gum at the small mom and pop shop. Sharon was hoping for a first kiss, and her mouth tasted like something not too accommodating for such an event.

“So, you like him?” Weenie needed to know if her matchmaking was working. “He’s really cute! Have you seen his blue eyes? They’re gorgeous!”

Sharon hated to admit to her dear friend that in fact she’d not yet looked into his eyes.  She’d truly never looked into any man’s eyes, although by now, most of her friends at school had done far more than that.  She hated that they had nicknamed her the Prude. Her religious beliefs had always led her to waiting to be with a man until her wedding night. She planned to hold true to that promise, even if she did get picked on by her friends.

“Prude! What’s going on in that head of yours? I asked you a question. Do you like him?” Weenie was getting impatient.

He’s kinda cute, but I just don’t know yet. I have to get to know him better.” She stated as she placed her change onto the counter near the register.

Prude was being her good old self, slow to love and even slower to let someone in. Her life until that point had been quite restricted by her mother who protected her too much. Most of her friends had been labeled by this maternal instinct in her life to be acceptable or unacceptable. Even those friends had been few and far between. Up until high school, she’d been close to only two friends, Patty and Sheri. This meant Sharon wasn’t as socially adept as others in her peer group. Colleen had been her first friend that she’d been able to truly have a good time with. The two silly girls had a lot of fun but never broke their vows made at church.

“Oh, come on.  You know you want to kiss him! Look at you all mushy eyed!’ Colleen reached over and tickled her friend in the ribs. Sharon flinched back and dropped their pack of gum. The silver wrapped sticks fell to the ground. Weenie picked one up and threw it at her. Sharon retaliated with the same action and began to laugh. How she loved this friend of hers. She hoped they could be sisters forever.

Walking back over to the lot, they found the young men had moved onto another car and were now discussing a fairly new Pontiac Trans Am. Sharon liked how that model had the picture of a big eagle across the hood of the car and knew that car was most likely quite expensive. It was one of the most popular vehicles at school.

“Well. It’s about time you guys got back! What’d you do? Buy out the whole store?” Dwayne taunted the girls as he usually did and tossed a smile at his girl, Weenie.

Weenie responded with a casual smile that let Sharon know they wanted to be alone. Edward caught the glance and interpreted it the same way she did. He seemed a bit uncomfortable. He had wanted to get home to watch Starsky and Hutch, his favorite show.  The conversation quickly changed to next week’s game and plans were made to go together once again. Sharon watched as Edward pulled out of the driveway and spun his tires, laying a patch on the front road. Dwayne laughed and nodded his head as if to say, yep, that’s my brother!

Sharon watched him drive away and then turned to see her friends then stated. “Look guys I’m going to head inside and spend some time with the sisters and give you time alone.”

“Okaaaay!” Weenie drew out her word again. “We’ll see you in a little bit Prudie!”

Sharon entered the house to find the sisters watching a Bob Newhart Show episode she’d already seen so she opted to go into the CB base station room and find a seat on the soft sofa. She fell back into it and sighed.  Their first kiss hadn’t happened tonight as she had previously hoped. Reclining back while propping her head with a pillow, she dreamt what it might have been like. Doodling on a piece of scratch paper she came up with ideas of how to approach her first kiss. Putting things onto paper had always helped her process things. As she drew, she also wondered if he had ever kissed anyone else. She thought back to some of the conversations at school she’d listened to. It always amazed her that some of the girls were so vocal about what she considered private matters. From listening to them, she knew she had never even known about some of their activities, let alone done them. Weenie was one of the listeners as well. Although she had necked a few times, that was the extent of her knowledge base. Weenie knew of all of Sharon’s deepest, darkest secrets, and Sharon knew all of hers. Sitting there, Sharon went back over the entire date in her head and processed each moment. He did seem open to going to another game the subsequent week. She would get another chance, and possibly by her upcoming seventeenth birthday, she would get a first kiss.

Tonight, she and her friend would talk for hours about kissing boys. The sleepover tonight had a definite topic to be explored. 

nature red forest leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chapter 2

Following the game Duane’s car was the mode of transportation.  The four friends loaded in as they had done the previous week. Sharon sat in the back with Edward and felt him move a tad closer and attempt to hold her hand.  Immediately, as trained she glanced down to find the door handle. What if he tried something right here and now? She could hear Weenie’s giggles coming from the front seat as she was tickling Dwayne. The door handle was intact, so she relaxed her now tense body just a bit. She seemed safe, and by now they were almost back to Weenie’s house down the road for a small party. Sharon could hear the music playing as they entered the house Carry on Wayward Son, by Kansas, was blasting out of the speaker from the area next to the kitchen. Sharon loved that song as did Weenie and soon both girls were belting out the words aloud. Hilljack and his girlfriend Rosie looked up and smiled at the silly girls that they had grown to love. Hilljack let out a huge roar of a laugh. Sharon love to hear Hilljack’s laugh.  It was one of those big, deep, belly laughs that shook the floor.  She noticed his glance and smiled back. He was such a good friend.

Feeling hungry, Sharon walked into the kitchen to find something to eat. Weenie’s mom, Judy, was one who loved to cook for the visiting youngsters, and she’d made enough for twice as many guests. Sharon had never seen so much junk food before! Her home never had pop except at the Holidays, and the other foods at home were always limited to small portions. She loaded up a plate and dove in forgetting about her earlier thoughts about having fresh breath. As she ate, she watched the other couples in the room. Rosie and Hilljack had been dating for some time, they kissed and held hands quite a bit. Weenie and Dwayne were busy dancing to a song by Heart. Edward seem interested in Weenies father’s CB radio set up and was talking to him about the intricacies of its workings. So, Sharon decided to take a walk outdoors and look around the used car lot. She hadn’t taken driver’s Ed. yet but longed to own her own car. A car of her own meant freedom to be away from her mother’s controlling ways. Walking around the lot she spotted a little Volkswagen much like the one her eldest brother drove. As she peered into the window someone touched her arm and she flinched.

“I’m sorry. Did I startle you?” Edward asked.

“I’m fine. I’m just dreaming about owning my own car one day. My brother has one similar to this, but we don’t like how the motor is in the back of it. In the winter the window freezes over a lot. I have to scrape the windshield while he drives. She smiled. He was listening to her every word. She had lived with males all her life and had spoken to them but somehow this was different. This conversation made her body tingle in the most simplistic way.

The remainder of the evening was spent wandering around the car lot. Sharon shared her dream of getting a driver’s license and how she had started first grade earlier after having taken a test. Her mother had been expecting a baby that year. She’d always wondered if she wanted time alone with the new baby. By the evening’s end they’d found a private spot in the corner near the fence of the adjacent store and were sharing things about their childhoods. No secrets were told that night, just common things about likes and dislikes, siblings and such. Sharon felt safe with him as they talked on and on. She could hear Hilljack’s belly laugh and Colleen’s giggling from within the house, but the party was not of interest to her at this moment.  She was right where she wanted to be.

Then, unannounced, the moment she had been waiting for came. Edward leaned in ever so gently and kissed her. The brush of his lips on hers she sent shivers up her back like she had never felt before. She wanted more but knew that it would be quite forward for a young lady to ask. She stood there looking into his hazel blue eyes and smiled. God willing, this would be the first of many to come. She silently lifted a prayer to ask God for the possibility of such an outcome.

Their next date was one where Edward picked her up at the house. Sharon’s mother had not yet met him, and this made Sharon quite nervous to say the least. She really liked the guy. What if her mother placed her stamp of disapproval on him as she had others in her past? She awaited her first real date with anticipation and a nervous stomach. They were going to go out to dinner, and she didn’t want to be ill even before he arrived. Soon, the sound of his revved up Chevelle could be heard pulling into the driveway. Sharon’s heart leapt for joy as she knew he had arrived. She looked up to see the reaction on her mother’s face. It wasn’t good. She had heard the thunderous motor and a concerned look had come onto her face. Her mother had never liked loud cars or the people who drove them, and now her Edward was one of them. Sharon’s body tensed as she prayed that her father would step in and allow her to go out to eat with him. Her 17th birthday was but a week away and she felt old enough, ready for what lay ahead. Would they hold to the rule that she had to be 17 over her head? The doorbell rang and Sharon gasped for air. She so wanted to go! Her mother answered the door to find Edward positioned there wearing jeans and a burgundy coat. He looked inside to see Sharon with a smile on her face. Sharon stepped closer as Luanne, her mother, then told Edward all the rules including curfews. Looking at Sharon, she gave her consent all the while reminding her to stay true to her teachings. Sharon smiled, this time she was able to walk out the front door into his car.

The young couple walk down the sidewalk in front of her brick house and Sharon glanced back to see her parents watching them through the front windows. Edward was a true gentleman and open the door for her as a gesture of respect. Sharon placed her seat belt around her waist and looked back to see him walking around the back of the car. His car was nice, a muscle car, some would say. She loved the sound of its motor and wondered how fast it could go. Her parents had always been very observant of the laws of the road. Neither one had ever gotten a speeding ticket. Sharon laughed inside as she recalled the story about her uncle Ed and how he had once gotten a ticket for driving too slowly. She wondered what he would do in this car!  A giggle escaped her lips as she envisioned her uncle Ed behind the wheel of the Chevelle. They began to pull out onto the road and the car was soon in motion. She was now on her official first date alone. As soon as the car was headed up the huge hill near the swampy area Sharon recalled the checklist. As her mother had trained her to do, first she looked to check the door handle situation. The door handle was broken, and she wouldn’t be able to open it from the inside. Nervous, yet ladylike, she settled in all the while saying a quick prayer that God would protect her in case of an accident or any aggressive tendencies on his part.

“Do you like Kiss?” he asked politely

His question caught her off guard. Sharon didn’t know who the band Kiss was. She glanced down at the door handle and took in a breath. There was no escape as the car was in motion and the door handle didn’t work! Her mother had never mentioned that part! She was so appalled that he would ask for a kiss so soon!  While processing what just occurred, Edward reached across the car and accidentally brushed her knees as he popped open the glovebox. He grabbed an 8-track tape and inserted it into his player.

He noticed her apprehension and quickly spoke again, “The rock band Kiss, you know?,” he clarified.

“Do you mean to tell me that there’s a band called Kiss?” Sharon laughed. “Oh my… I thought… Well I never knew… she couldn’t even finish her train of thought. How silly she had been! Her sheltered childhood hadn’t prepared her for this night in many ways! He wasn’t being forward at all! He was merely asking her the type of music she enjoyed. She’d never really been allowed to listen to this style of music and the name was totally unfamiliar. They looked at each other and busted out loud with laughter that filled the interior of his hot rod and beyond. This moment was one that would always be one of their favorites.

CHAPTER 3

Edward and Sharon dated most every weekend as they had become good friends almost instantly. They bonded over stories from their childhood and movies at the theater. Edward seemed to enjoy scary films and loved it when she would hold his hand tight when she was afraid.

Soon, spending time together became the norm, and issues arose at Sharon’s home as her mother’s concerns grew each day.

“Sharon, we need to talk. You’re away from home too much. You need to remember that you’re just barely 17, and I have plans for you to go to college to be a nurse.”

How many times did Sharon have to tell her that she did not want to be a nurse! She couldn’t stand the sight of blood, and when someone puked, she almost heaved herself!

“Mom, I know that you are concerned. We’re just good friends. I promise,” Sharon pleaded with her to no avail.

“I’m sorry, but I’m drawing the line. You’re not to go out with him anymore.”

Sharon was crushed. Here again, the stamp of disapproval was thrust upon someone’s head. She envisioned Edward with the mark on his forehead in red, not good enough for Sharon.

She was forbidden to see him. The boy with the souped up hot rod was nothing but trouble, according to Luanne. Sharon, had feared this was coming, she wept as the words came out of her mother’s mouth. Here again, her maternal stamp of disapproval was going to regulate who she could be with. She wasn’t a baby anymore. This time, her mother was not going to win. The battle commenced!

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Sharon thought and thought of how to sneak away and see him. They attended different schools thus, the daytime hours were not the answer. The evening was the only possibility. But then, she had no car or even a license for that matter. Babysitting for a local couple and mowing grandma’s yard had been the only way she had made any cash, and that was taken to be put in her savings account. The only way they could get together was when Weenie would call and tell her they’d plans to go to Park Ave. It was so hard for both; there needed to be a way that they could be together.

Finally, Sharon found a job working at that establishment owned by the people she had been babysitting for. One of the waitresses had quit; Sharon was glad for the opportunity. So, she had the job, but not a mode of transportation. Edward too was working now, at a garbage company just outside the city, using his newly acquired body repair skills to fix their containers. He had money and a car! Thoughts began to churn in Sharon’s head. It was as if she could not stop thinking about a way to be with him. She finally arrived at a plan that would be best for all concerned. She could ride the bus and get dropped off to walk to work. Then Edward could pick her up afterward. His place of employment was just down the road! This way, her mother, who had always hated to waste gas money on picking her up at events, wouldn’t have to drive her, and they could be together! It was a plan that just might work!

The daily routine after school now became her walking from a nearby corner to her job and then him coming in after work for dinner and to drive her home. Sharon love cooking his meal on the grill, at times, even cut the slice of cheese for his cheeseburger to resemble a heart. She loved to see the expression on his face when he saw the shape on the open-faced sandwich. His smiles made her feel so special!

Most nights, Sharon would attempt to get her homework done on break and during dinner while sitting in a back booth. Her school newspaper articles came first, then all else followed. In this way, she could have more time with Edward to talk and get to know each other better. The plan was working, and it was a win-win situation for all.

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After a while, the girls wanted to meet their beaus’ family. Sharon knew that Weenie hadn’t met Duane’s family yet, either. So, it was planned that they’d go meet them on the same night. Sharon and Edward pulled into the driveway to find the other couple had just arrived as well. The house was outside of town on the opposite end of the city, from where Sharon had been raised. Its two-story plan was unique from the one she was accustomed to living in, as this was an older style home with the big front porch and a swing. Her eyes were drawn to the full-size majestic trees that lined the border of the property to the left. Sharon loved the variety of trees that God had planted in Ohio and hoped that Edwards family did as well. Glancing to the right, she caught a glimpse of a lady coming out of the house. Her stature was smaller than the brothers and her hair was a much darker black. She smiled as the girls approached with her sons, and Sharon began to wonder if she knew their names. Introductions were made on the front porch, standing near two doors. One door led to the formal living room: and the other, a sitting area. His mother seemed a bit like him, – quieter and more reserved than Sharon’s own mother would have been. Edward seemed to get his personality traits from her. Entering the house, Sharon beheld a huge bay window area to her left. It was part of the living room where the view overlooked the bank beyond. Past this lay a huge open old fashion kitchen with long counters were dishes were stacked, waiting to be washed.

“I didn’t know until just a bit ago that you girls were coming. I wish I’d had more time to make the house decent.”

His mother’s voice was apologetic for no reason. I knew that she had a lot on her hands where she was the main breadwinner of the family. Edward’s father had nearly died a few years back from spinal meningitis. And she had to step in and take over most all of the responsibilities for the family of six. Edward’s other brothers came out to greet them. Jason looked to be about ten to twelve. They had nicknamed him Rerun because he reminded them of a character on a television show, What’s Happening? He looked up at the girls and then began showing them the pet rock he had made. He had probably never seen his brothers with dates before. The guy always had to go pick up his date, but for the young man’s family, getting to meet the girl was different. Soon a rambunctious kid with red hair and freckles entered the room. He was carrying a Racko game looking for someone to play with. Boo, as he was called, was more impressed with the girls than Jason had been and let them know it.

“Hey, Edward, she’s got some nice legs!” His laugh caused him to release a small snort, which sent all of them into a laughing spell.

“You’re a real cutie Boo! Would you like someone to play your game with?’ Sharon loved children, so much. She aspired to be a children’s librarian, one day and hoped she could be befriend him.

“Nope!” Boo ran off into the room, followed by a short legged, long haired, black Wiener dog. “Come on Sparky! Let’s go find some rabbits.” Tossing the game onto the floor, he burst out the front screen door to the porch area. Dwayne trotted after them both, laughing as he went.

“Sorry about that,” apologized Edward’s mother, Elizabeth. “Boo loves to tease girls.”

Stepping into the kitchen, she poured some iced tea into some tall glasses. The ladies sat down at the rectangular table and began to get to know one another. Through the window to the back, Sharon could see the garage that Edward had told her so much about. It was here that Edward spent most of his time at home. His father was there, always tinkering with cars for those in need of help. Edward loved to learn from his dad and took most every opportunity he could to do so. Knowing that Sharon and Colleen wanted to have some girl time with his mom, Edward excused himself from the room. His dad was asking for help with the car that was not running correctly. It was one that the widow Hester from down the road needed back by evening. His father needed him to help wrench something in a tight spot. Sharon smiled as he exited through the rear kitchen door. His kind demeanor was one of the things she loved the most about him. She was falling in love, and so was he.

Upon arriving back at her house that afternoon, the couple hoped to sneak a quick kiss, but her mother had been waiting on them to pull into the driveway for hours. She had been told that Sharon would be gone most all day, but she had forgotten. Where her daughter was at was all her mind could dwell upon. Sharon had chores to do. Her half of the lawn needed mowing, and her room was a mess. If these things were not done by five o’clock, she would not be allowed to join them at the dinner table. Sharon watched her mother run out of the house, then listen as her mom questioned and then lectured her beau.

“Where have you two been? She has chores to do!”

“We’ve been at my house. The girls wanted to meet my family.”

“You’re not taking my daughter to that house of yours again! Do you understand me? I know you picked her up after her breakfast shift, but she needed to be home to get her work done.” Luanne’s voice was angry, and she meant what she said.

“I’m sorry if we’re late. It won’t happen again. We’ll be sure to call if we’re late.” Edwards apology seemed to calm Luanne down a bit.

She walked toward her daughter and took hold of her arm. “You get inside and get busy. Do you hear me, young lady?” She turned to look at Edward as if to say you can leave now. Edward saw the look and knew what it meant. He did not want to press his luck, so he began getting into his car.

“See you later.” Sharon called out to him. She wanted her mother to know that she was going to see him again no matter what she said.

“Yeah, see you soon.” He responded in like and then climbed into his car and left.

***********************************************************************

In the days that followed, Edward kept his promise to Luanne. He made sure that they stopped at a pull up payphone at a gas station if they were going to be late. He even reminded Sharon that she needed to call and obey her mother’s wishes. She listened to him but didn’t always want to adhere to his request. She was growing tired of her mother trying to run her life. She just wanted to be allowed to find herself and not be told everything and how to do it. She was 17 and wanted to be able to grow up into adulthood without all of the tangled up strings that connected her and her mother. It was time.

Sharon began spending more time at his house. The young couple enjoyed simple things like watching the television or playing cards. They didn’t need fancy dates or high dollar movie theaters to be happy, they just enjoyed one another’s company.

One night on the way home both had been discussing plans for the next night and how they had wanted to see the new Bruce Lee film.

“You wanna get a burger? I know a place on the way back to your house that has the best burgers around. It’s called Naomi’s.  I think we have time to stop if you don’t mind.” Edward was hoping to get a bite to eat and still honor her mother’s wishes by getting her home on time if not early.

“Sure, sounds good!” He and Sharon had shared a banana split before, maybe tonight, she could get a bite of a sandwich somehow sharing things like that made her feel like they were a true couple.

They pulled up into the lot. It wasn’t what she expected to see. It looked more like a giant shed than a place to dine. The exterior was made of a silver colored aluminum siding with a rounded roof and it looked like something she had seen in the past on a military base. Inside there was a jukebox and two billiards tables, as well as a long counter that stretched the length of the place.

“Hey! Long time no see. How ya’ been?”  Naomi greeted Edward like a dear friend.

“Been great! Hey, I want you to meet my girlfriend Sharon.”

“Hi there, honey. Any gal of his is sure a friend of mine. Have a seat here at the bar. Now what can I get you guys?” Naomi was a dear soul. Sharon could tell by her demeanor and by the way she treated her customers. Looking around the joint, Sharon could tell the kids their age was most of the clientele. Some were attempting to shoot trick shots on the pool table, while others were dancing to the tunes from the jukebox. It was a perfect place to hang out and Sharon was glad that Edward frequented such an establishment. Naomi turned around and slapped more burgers onto the massive grill and then lifted some fries out of the fryer.

“It might take a while dearies. I’m behind with a big order that came in for a party that’s picking it up soon. Here, have a pop while you wait. It’s on me.”

Sharon looked at Edward and he knew what was in her heart. If they stayed, she would be late getting home. She needed to call home and let her mother know the situation.

“Naomi is she please borrow your phone to make a quick call? It’s not long distance.” He asked.

“Immediately Naomi stepped toward where the phone set and responded, “Anything for you babe. Let me grab it. Honey, you may have to step around the corner as my cord won’t quite reach that far.” She motioned to Sharon to come to the end of the counter.

Sharon knew she should call as she did not want any more trouble. She immediately dialed the seven digits on the Rotary dial.

“Hello mom. Edward and I stopped for a bite to eat and I’m going to be a bit late.” She barely got in the sentence when her mother butted in.

“Where are you, young lady? I hear pool tables in the background. You’re in a bar, aren’t you?”

“No, ma’am, we’re not in a bar. We’re in a little sandwich–”

“You get yourself home now!” Her mother was screaming at the other end of the line. “You hear me. You tell him to get you in that car and that he needs to bring you home right now!”

Sharon had begun to shake. She had heard this voice before. “Mom we’ll come soon as we can. You had asked us to call if we’re going to be late, and so I’m calling you as asked. Please, Mom, I’m not in a bar. We stopped for a burger–”

She was unable to finish her train of thought. The call was over. Her mother had hung up on the other end.

“Edward, we need to go right now. It’s not good. Sharon trembled as she spoke. Fear of yet another whipping entered her body. The image in her mind was one of her mother, at home, finding the belt– The one with the holes in it.

“All right. Calm down. Naomi, we need that order to go ASAP!” Edward looked at hisloved one and did not understand. They done as her mother had asked them to. Why was it not a good thing? What was going on? “You go ahead and get into the car. I’ll be right out.” He stepped over to the Register and took out his cash to pay. He knew he had to get her home immediately.

Sharon did as he asked and went out to the Chevelle in the lot. She no longer cared if she got a bite of his burger as she was feeling a bit queasy. As soon as he got into the car, he tossed his to go order aside and looked at her.

“What’s going on? I don’t understand. We did as she asked and you called her. Please help me to understand.” Edward turned so that his blue eyes looked into hers, begging for anything to help him know why she was upset.

“Well. She heard the music and the pool tables over the phone and she thinks we’re in a bar.”

Edwards eyes turned darker. And he repeated almost verbatim what she had just said.” OK, so let me get this straight. Your mom is upset because we called and she heard the music and thinks we’re in a bar.”

“Yes, can we please get on the road or I am really going to get a whooping.” Sharon pleaded.

Edward started up the car and pulled out of the lot, all the while doing a burnout. He wasn’t happy. He couldn’t figure out how to please her mother. He was getting tired of her games. They were trying to do what she wanted, and it did no good.

As he drove, Sharon asked him a question,” Edward, can I ask you a favor? When we get to my house, will you please go in with me? I’m afraid she’ll be waiting with a leather belt.” Sharon meant what she said. She’d never told Edward about how she’d been severely disciplined before.

He looked at her in disbelief.” Sharon, she will not beat you. You called her.”

Sharon didn’t agree. “Look, walk in with me until you see it’s safe and then you can go. If she has the belt, I ask that you stay until I leave the room and get to my bedroom where I can be safe.”

The couple agreed to the plan, Sharon leaned onto his right side trying to avoid the gear shift. She wished the car didn’t have the bucket seats and decided to place a pillow from the back seat on the hump that fitted over the drive shaft. She needed to feel safe and wanted to get as close to him as possible.

Edward didn’t eat his sandwich as he had lost his appetite as well. What was he about to walk into? Pulling into the driveway, they could see the back-porch light was on. Sharon looked at her young Knight in shining armor with pleading eyes.

“Don’t let me go in there alone. Please you need to do as we discussed.”

“I’m not leaving you until I know you’re safe. Come on, let’s get you inside.”

The couple walked arm in arm toward the light. The door swung open. Edward was in for an earful. But he stood by her until she could safely go to her room and lock the door. Sharon never really asked him how long he had stayed there with her mother in that dismal doorway. It didn’t matter. All she knew is that he had protected her and it made her love him all the more.

CHAPTER 4

Time passed, and soon, it was their first Valentine’s Day as a couple. Sharon hoped that he would give her his class ring, and he did. She wore the yarn- wrapped amethyst -stoned ring on her finger proudly. She had a beau that loved her. 

At home, things worsened as her mother was accusing her of all sorts of things that she hadn’t done. She taken so much she just didn’t know how much more she could handle. Her father, a military man, wasn’t always there to talk to. He’d always been the one with the tender heart. Sharon loved him so and wished he were there to discuss things with her. Her mom had never really talked to any of them about relationships or love other than the list of rules she had imposed. Sharon wanted to know about love; more than that, she wanted to feel loved. She watched couples at the airport kiss when the men returned from active duty, her parents never kissed in front of them. Her mother was not into public display of affection of any kind. She never even hugged or kissed her own children goodnight. Sharon longed, for the feeling that she had with Edward more and more. He was the only one ever who touched her and told her she was special. Not even God himself had ever done that. Sharon had heard, in catechism or Bible study at church, how God touched each person he loved in his own way. Yet she did not know what they were talking about. Some of the kids at school had been talking to her about their baptism in actual pools of water and how they’d given their lives to Christ. But there again, she didn’t understand. And when she asked her mom, she was told to hush up or that children were to be seen and not heard. Sharon searched her soul attempting to understand the world about her. She couldn’t ask her mother as that door was shut and her father was always at work or away on duty. Sharon long to understand about the ways of God and how he conversed with others. But that understanding was not meant to be for quite some time. 

************************************************************************ 

In the latter part of February that same year, Sharon found herself at the bedside of her father. He had been hospitalized for ulcers in the past, but this was different. They were thinking that this time something was wrong with his heart. Sharon sat with him and simply held his hand or sang to him his request. As she sang out, Amazing Grace, tears fell down her cheek. A nurse walked in and smiled at the pair, she could feel the love between them. Mom had stepped out of the room to get a bite to eat. The one on one time was just what Sharon had needed. 

“Daddy, are you doing okay? I mean, are you scared?” Sharon was hoping to learn more of God than what she had learned thus far. 

“I’ll be alright. Don’t fret. If God wills, I’ll stay, then I will walk you down the aisle on your wedding day. If not, then I’ll be going home to be with him forever.” His weak voice was like a hushed whisper. It was almost like those words were for just the two of them. 

“Daddy, I’m in love with Edward. How did you know when you were in love with Mommy and that she was the one for you?” Sharon needed so many answers and perhaps today God had given her the opportunity to find a few of them. 

“You’ll know. Listen with your heart and not with the will of your mind. Your mind can play tricks on you, but your heart will know the true love you seek when you find it.” His words touched her soul and she fought back the warm tears forming at the edge of her eyes. 

“Don’t cry, sweetie, everything will be okay either way. God will be with us.” 

Sharon looked up to see her mother return to the room. She asked Sharon to step outside and give her and her father some time alone. Sharon glanced back to see her mother sit in the chair near her father. She hoped she would hold his hand or embrace him, but she didn’t. Sharon did as she was asked to and walked to the end of the hallway to find a cushioned seat next to a window. She glanced outdoors to watch the gentle dance of freshly falling snowflakes in the light of the parking lot. It was truly amazing how each one was unique in design. She lay back and drifted off to sleep until her mother was ready to go home. 

**************************************************************** 

The phone rang during the night. Her father had taken a turn for the worse. Sharon’s mother quickly dressed and got into the family car to go see him. She asked the older siblings to keep an eye on their younger brother. They agreed to do so. Sitting in her bed, staring out the window, Sharon could not sleep. She wondered what was going on at the hospital and wished that she had asked to go along. The boys would’ve been fine there alone at the house. But she hadn’t been asked and thus was left there staring out the window at the full moon, lighting up the trees around their home. Sharon scribbled some notes into her Journal as she wondered if the deer were out. Oft times they came out at night to feed during a full moon. She looked down at the tree line and spotted a Buck in his full regalia. She watched as he stood there in the moonlight and looked up at her. Sharon shuddered as they made eye contact. It was as if for that moment their souls had connected. And then almost as quickly as he had appeared, the Buck was gone. Sharon watched as he ran into the trees of the forest and disappeared. He was gone forever. Picking up her pencil, she began to make notes of what experience she had just had. She somehow knew it was an important moment in her life. She dozed off pencil in hand. 

************************************************************** 

Funeral preparations were not easy for Luanne. She did know she wanted full military honors at her husband’s graveside. That was a given. She also picked out a plot in the veterans’ section so he would always receive full honors on Holidays. Sharon was trying to deal with her father’s death in her own way, wondering where he was, and why she’d seen that Buck in the woods on the night he died. Her mother seemed to be going through the motions of closing one part of their lives and trying to begin another. 

Edward had found out about Sharon’s father’s death from his mother, Liz, who worked at the hospital. She had asked friends on staff to let her know the man’s well-being as she had seen Sharon there one day. She didn’t bother the child as she had not yet met the family and didn’t want to eavesdrop at such a critical time. This wasn’t the time to get to know the family. She had experienced many months of sitting in a hospital room with her husband Freeman. She felt that the time they had been given wasn’t enough to introduce herself to them. Edward came to the house as soon as he heard. He rapped on the back door and was let in. Luanne quickly called for Sharon who was upstairs in her room, staying out of the way. She was glad to hear her mother call her in the hopes that somehow, she could assist with the plans. Coming down the steps, she caught a glance of a familiar face; it was Edward! 

She ran into his arms and he held her as she nuzzled closer, wanting to feel his love. Then sitting down on the couch and holding Sharon’s hand Edward asked Luanne how he could be of assistance. He was there for her and her family. Sharon hoped her mother could see his kind heart as she did. 

******************************************************************* 

The funeral showing was just a few days off and there was a lot to accomplish. Edward offered to pick up Sharon’s great uncle at the airport in Cleveland just prior to the event. After that, Sharon was put in charge of picking up some last-minute items for the reception at the house. They needed more paper products and plastic silverware. Those things could be kept in the car until they needed them. 

Heading back with Sharon’s great uncle in the car from the Cleveland Airport, the weather began to shift. On the radio came news of an impending ice storm with high winds. The area most affected would be near Sharon’s house. The roads became slicker as they arrived near the home where her relative was to be dropped off. They unloaded his bags and helped him inside. The family he was staying with had heard that some parts of town were without power as lines were being taken down by falling trees and limbs. Sharon and Edward left so that they could complete their final errand for the day. Walking into the store, they could see people hurrying to buy staples such as milk and bread. Sharon went to the paper products aisle, got what her mother had asked them to, and hurried to pay. Then they headed out to the Funeral Home. They were running late as it was. As they pulled into the parking lot of the Funeral Home, there were no cars to be seen. In fact, the lot hadn’t even been salted. Hiking up the maxi length skirt that her father had gotten her, she stepped out of the car onto pure ice. Edward came to her side and assisted her as she walked to the door of the establishment. Upon opening the door, the two entered to find the place dark and only one person in sight. 

“Good evening, are you here for Mr. Gardner?” The man spoke softly as he glanced at the young couple. 

Sharon looked around and saw the sign with her father’s name on it. “Yes, we are.” 

She could feel Edward squeezing her hand ever so slightly to remind her that he was there for her. He knew she was becoming aware that the Funeral Home was without power. The place was pitch black. 

“Well,” the man began. “As you can tell, the storm has taken out our power and thus the showing tonight has been cancelled.” 

Sharon felt her knees begin to buckle as Edward and the man grabbed ahold of her and sat her down in an adjacent room.  

“He’s my father and I would like to see him. May I please see him?” The plea was one of a daughter wanting to be with her daddy. 

““I’m sorry. There’s no light and he hasn’t been prepared for viewing. The hair and makeup person couldn’t get in to work on him.” His words tore at her heart. Her daddy didn’t need his hair done and makeup on his face. In fact, he didn’t like makeup and had forbidden her to even use the stuff. She just wanted to see him. 

“I don’t care if his hair is not done and his face isn’t made up. I would like to see him.” She repeated her plea only to find more resistance. 

“Young man, please talk some sense into your lady friend. Her father is in no condition for her to see him. Why his body is cold from being in the cooler and as for the fact that we have no heat well, he is ice cold.” 

Edwards reply was what Sharon needed’ “Is her father dressed?” 

‘Yes, but..” 

Edward interrupted, “Then we’re going in. She needs to be with him. Surely you must understand that.” 

Apprehensive about what was to occur, the gentleman allowed them to enter the room only after having explained a few more things. “Listen, sweetheart. Your father’s body will be cold to the touch. He will not look at all like what you have seen at other funerals. Also, there are no flowers in the room. The deliveries could not get here with the storm. What did come are not out here as the showing had been cancelled. The room will be dark and cold. We have no heat and no lights. I’ll get some candles to light our way. The sun is beginning to set and it will be hard to see in there. 

The man left the couple alone as they embraced. How could this be happening? Were they going to be able to have a funeral tomorrow? Were they going to be able to bury him?  

Returning with the candles, the man aided them in lighting them as promised. As they entered the room, Sharon saw the casket that her mother had picked out. Her father lay with his hands neatly folded across his chest inside. Handing her candle to Edward she ran to kiss her father on the forehead trying to ignore the dismal dark room that he lay in. 

“Daddy, I miss you already!” She glanced around the room and then looked back into his cold, ashen face. “You deserve so much more than this. I wish things could be different. I wish that everyone who loved you could be here to honor you. There aren’t even any flowers on your casket.” 

            Edward approached her side cautiously, sat down the candles nearby and wrapped his arms around her. Glancing down, he noticed her father’s face was bare at almost the same moment as his love did. 

“Sir,’ Sharon began, “Do you know where my father’s glasses are?” 

“No miss. I don’t and in the dark. I won’t be able to find them. They could be almost anywhere.” 

Sharon began to weep for all that she was grieving. Not only had her father died. But now, she would possibly be the only one he knew and loved to say goodbye to him. 

“Do we know the plans for tomorrow yet? Will it be possible for people to come then?” 

The man replied as tenderly as he could, “No miss. The funeral has been canceled as well. Your mother called to say that your home is buried in fallen trees and she cannot get out of the driveway. She needs to cancel it all.” 

“You mean he will be buried alone?” Sharon needed to know more. 

“Well, Pastor Garrett will be officiating at the graveside as he lives the closest and thinks he can get in here. He’ll travel with the hearse to the graveside.” 

“Then I’ll be here also. He’s not going to be buried alone by someone that he has never met in his life.” Her emotions were starting to get the best of her. “We’ll be back in the morning.” 

Sharon spent some time alone with her father and promised him that she would be back. She talked to him about things she wanted to say and then turned and walked away. She knew that she may never see his face again. This was quite possibly her final goodbye. 

************************************************************** 

A call was made from a nearby payphone that was accessible. While standing in the booth, Sharon listened as her mother explained to her that the large maples to the side of the house had fallen on the driveway and taken down a few of the lines. She was glad that they had phone service and hoped to get outside with the boys to clear some of the debris while there was still a tad of light. She told Sharon to stay the night with a friend as she was unsure if any of the lines on the driveway were live. There was no way to get in except through the woods in the back, and even that would be risky due to the icy conditions. Sharon hung up the phone and looked at Edward. She’d never wanted to go home before, and now that she couldn’t, she was just as upset. Things were not making sense at all. 

“Edward, I need to find a place to sleep. Mom says it’s unsafe to go home right now. Perhaps I can stay at your house on the couch?” 

“We can see. I’m sure that my mom won’t mind one more person for the night. As far as I know, we have power at our house. A hot bath might be just what you need to relax a bit.” 

Sharon loved that he was thinking of ways to take care of her. His kind heart was dealing with the situation better than hers, inside she felt so many emotions that she didn’t know which one to even begin with. She was angry with most everyone that had anything to do with the funeral. How dare Father Ben not come tomorrow. Who was this guy who was going to be there anyways? She never met him before! Then it was her mother’s turn. How dare she cancel the funeral? There may have been a few local people that could make it. He deserved better than that. This wasn’t a time for her selfish controlling ways. 

Upon arriving at the house, Edward let Sharon out of the car as near the front door as possible and then parked. Jason and Boo were outside salting a path for them to get on to the porch. Edward escorted Sharon into the house and then the living room. His parents were seated watching the cabinet style color television in the bay window area. His mother looked up with his surprised look on her face. She had not expected to see Sharon tonight, but was glad she had come. 

“How was the showing, dear?” she asked. ”I hope everything was alright with the weather conditions. It’s just terrible outside.” 

Edward interrupted his mother. This was a first for that. “The showing was cancelled. We’re unsure about the funeral. Her mother is unable to get out of the house as trees have fallen on the driveway.” 

“How terrible! Did you get to see your father at all?” Liz asked. 

“Yes, I did. But it was not good, not good at all.” With that, Sharon broke into tears. She had held it in long enough. 

Liz stood up and crossed the room to embrace her. “Would you like a nice cup of hot tea? How do you drink it?” 

Sharon followed her into the kitchen, the hot tea and conversation with a woman that would listen was just what she needed at that moment in time. Liz provided a shoulder to lean on and Sharon truly appreciated it. 

****************************************************************** 

After a while the younger boys had gone off to bed and things settled down. Edward made ready a hot bath in the clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom. They didn’t have any bubble bath since the house was filled with males, but he did the best he could to lay out a towel and all he thought she might need. Sharon was pleased to be able to sit back and relax as the hot water enveloped her. Her concerns seemed to drift away, as her tense body calmed. Tomorrow she thought I will be there for my daddy, even if nobody else can make it. He needs someone there to be with him. Perhaps the Pastor that will come would allow her to sing Amazing Grace. Her father would like that. There in the tub she sat and planned what she would do to make the best of things. Laying back, she dreamed of the day when she and Edward might make this house their very own. Then she would be able to take a hot bath in this wonderful tub whenever she wanted to. 

At that moment she heard the pitter patter of footsteps coming down the hall. She glanced at the doorknob to see that she had secured it. She hoped that Boo did not need to get in. He was the youngest and might need to use the restroom. Quickly, she stood up and wrapped herself in a towel so that she could get the door. Suddenly, the door popped open and in stepped Boo smiling from ear to ear. 

“Hey! What are you doing in here? I gotta pee.” His childlike demeanor, caused Sharon to laugh out loud as she quickly double checked she had covered herself. He was definitely all boy. 

Watching the young man step to the commode, she turned her head and laughed inside. 

Thank you, God, for this joy in my life. I needed to laugh. 

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That night she and Edward sat up and talked for hours. He wanted to know more about how she felt about all that was happening. He told her about when his father had been ill in the Ohio State Hospital in Columbus. Sharon had never heard the story in such depth before and listened as she sat cradled in his arms on the couch in the sitting room. It was hard losing a father. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before. Almost dozing off in the warmth of his arms, they decided they could both use some sleep. Edward found the blankets and a pillow and kissed Sharon goodnight, right before heading up to his room at the top of the stairs. 

Sharon lay there for hours on end with things rotating in and out of her head. She was still quite angry that her mother had cancelled the whole thing, but she was trying to understand. Perhaps another hot bath would calm her down and allow her to drift off to sleep. She walked up the stairs, tiptoeing all the while trying not to awaken anyone and then stopped. The door to Edward’s room was opened and she could see him sound asleep in his warm bed. Her mind made a quick decision to go in and rest in his arms instead of taking a bath. She had almost fallen asleep in his arms earlier. perhaps it would work now. Walking in, she slipped into his bed ever so quietly and rolled over next to him. Edward woke and embraced her. She did not leave his arms until dawn. 

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Sharon and Edward loaded up in his father’s four-wheel truck the next morning. His brothers and he had loaded the back-end with bags of salt and some snow for extra weight for traction. The studded snow tires were an added insurance for safety. It was their best chance at getting to town. Icy spots in the roads at the bends and near fields slowed them up quite a bit, but at last they showed up at the Funeral Home to find an empty lot. They went to the door, and the same man for the night previous ask if they could follow the hearse. It would be pulling out of the garage in a moment. They did as they were asked and followed along behind the long black vehicle. Sharon wept and scooted over to be as close to Edward as she could. She needed to be held so badly. She felt alone but was thankful that Edward had been there so she could get to the funeral. As they pulled around the military section of the Cemetery, Sharon to look to see where her father would be laid to rest. There was a large Oak tree over her head and this spawned her memory to wonder how her mother and brothers were doing at home with the tree situation they were in. 

Pastor Garrett started the message with the Lord’s prayer and a few verses from the Bible and then ask Sharon to sing. She stepped toward the casket and lay her hand on top of its flowerless wooden surface. The wood was cold as ice. The bare place where the flowers would have been caused her to sob fleetingly. Her heart wanted to see him just once more but knew that would not be allowed. The lid had been sealed. Tears began streaming down her face as she began to sing the song that they had shared not so long ago in the hospital room, Amazing Grace. The words came out of her mouth in honor of her father’s love for the song, but she didn’t really understand what the words meant, at least not yet. Someday, she would understand them better than most. His Amazing Grace was yet to come. 

CHAPTER 5

Spring blossoms bloomed and graduation day was drawing near. Sharon’s mother was trying to withstand all that was going on. Her younger child had four more years to go before completing high school and the other two had college to complete. How was she going to manage raising the kids? She had been a child in a single parent home herself, and to be in that position was something that she was unprepared for. She’d never worked and finding a job would be a hard task.

Sharon and Edward continued to date. Weenie and Dwayne were beginning to get serious and were talking of marriage one day. Sharon was happy for them and secretly hoped that perhaps the Christmas after graduation she would get an engagement ring herself.

Sharon had met Edward’s grandparents from his father’s side. His grandfather was a stoic man who liked to watch game shows and solve crossword puzzles. Alice was a soft edged woman, full of love for all. She loved to hug Sharon as soon as she entered the door. Sharon soon learned that Alice was a woman of God and attended a Methodist Church on a regular basis. She had heard of people who exuded in the light of Jesus. But she had never met one in real life. Alice was the real thing. Each meal that the couple ate at that home was made with such love and care. Grace was said prior to dining, just like at her house, and that made her feel more comfortable. At times when she and Edward went to visit, she was able to meet other family members as well. Each one of them was kind to her. She could not believe it. Her family was alright, but they had their issues. It was nice to be in a home where everyone treated each other with respect.

School went on as usual. Classes such as physics and Spanish III were beginning to get harder, but Sharon could handle it. She and Weenie had worked out a way to study the vocabulary words for their college prep classes. Those classes were hard. Sharon was glad to have a friend to help. Working as a team, the girls were going to master their senior year and move on to college. They’d both already begun to investigate schools in the state. The option they really liked was the regional campus in their area. It would be the best way to attend school while being close to home and the men they loved.

One night while studying, Sharon looked at Weenie and ask her a personal question. Her monthly cycle was late, and she wondered if hers had ever been. Sharon was hoping that it was the stress of her father’s death, but also had a secret that she shared with only one other person.

“Girl. Why are you asking me this? Did you?… Did you and Edward? Oh my gosh. I cannot believe what I’m hearing. We took an oath to God and to each other. You’ve got to be kidding me. “Colleen was angry and was showing it.

Sharon started to cry. She really needed a listening ear.

Does he know this? Does he know you’re late? Weenie’s questions were understandable.

“Yes, we’ve talked about it.” Sharon’s face turned downward and looked at the ground. “Help me Weenie. I don’t know what to do.”

“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We will call Planned Parenthood and schedule you a pregnancy test. There is no sense in you getting all upset about something that is probably just stress.”

Sharon had mixed emotions about doing this. She would prefer to pretend it was her nerves and not something else. Weenie picked up the phone and dialed the number. The rabbit test had to be done right away.

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The follow up call was made on the payphone in the entrance way of the school. Weenie and she planned to ask to go to the restroom at the same time and meet there at 11:00 o’clock. That way the lunch rush would not be using the phone. Sharon took the quarter she had reserved in her pocket and dropped it in. Dialing the number she began to shake, as Colleen held her hand. The time to hear the results was nigh. What had she done? In an hour of need, she hadn’t only violated her promise to God, but now she could be pregnant out of wedlock. The phone rang at the other end and a lady picked it up.

“Hello.”

“Yes, hello. My name is Sharon Gardner. I need to know the results of my test please.” Sharon held her breath and thought that the lady would tell her pregnant or not pregnant. But instead her response was positive.” What does that mean please? I don’t know what positive means. Am I pregnant or not?”

Sharon glanced at her friend, who had a look on her face that she recognized. Weenie knew what positive meant even before the voice on the phone explained it.

“Yes, positive means that you’re pregnant. Congratulations.”

The word resounded in her ears, pregnant. Weenie didn’t make her say the words aloud. They stood in the foyer to the school holding one another. What was she going to do? Her mother was going to kill her! She walked into the bathroom and threw up.

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Telling Edward was the easy part. He too loved children and wanted a whole houseful of them one day. He greeted the news with enthusiasm, as did his family. His grandma Alice, was so excited that she, even jumped up from her rocking chair. Her love of God did not allow any emotions, but gladness. Later that same day, at Sharon’s house, it did not go so well. Her mother had a lot on her plate, and now this. She responded to the news with a completely opposite approach. She didn’t want her daughter to be a single mom, ever. She knew they were young and hadn’t landed good jobs. Nor did they have insurance. She told them what she considered was the right thing, to abort the child. They had made their bed and they would need to lie in it. Her plan was to take Sharon to the bank and have her withdraw her babysitting money. That was what was to be done. That or her daughter would find herself picking up things on the front lawn and moving out. She wouldn’t welcome her in the house if the procedure wasn’t done. That was her final word.

Edward and Sharon went round and round in conversation about what to do. They were only 17 and had not graduated from high school. Neither one wanted to stand up to her mother. She was so controlling, and they knew that she meant what she said. His income at his job was not much at all, and they wouldn’t even be able to afford an apartment let alone food. Looking back the young couple realized they had made a mistake that night. Sharon should have never entered his room for comfort. They were in a real mess. Now what?

Afraid to look to the church, Sharon prayed for someone to step in and come to their rescue. Perhaps she could find a home for unwed mothers and move there while Edward saved some money. Time, was of the essence. She knew her mother wasn’t happy with her living under her roof with child. What was she going to do?

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“May I help you?” ask the lady behind the counter.

Sharon knew in her heart that this woman wasn’t the one that would come to her rescue. This young woman was an employee who saw women coming into their establishment daily. She wouldn’t be the type to be a heroine and stop her. If she did, her job could be on the line. Sharon stood and watched as the receptionist wrote her name in the appointment book. Sharon breathed in the stale air and seemed to sense death all about her. Looking about the room, she wondered if anyone there knew her. She hoped not. It was bad enough to have been sent to this place, but she didn’t want others to know. As she took the seat in the waiting room, she glanced around to see other women reading magazines, awaiting their turn to walk through the door into the back. What was exactly going to happen in there? Fear entered her heart, but she knew she had no choice. She had been told to come here. If she did not go through it, her mother would toss her into the streets. She was still in high school and unable to provide for herself, let alone a new baby. Sharon looked up at the other women in the small waiting area. She wondered what their stories were. She wondered if anyone else, there had been forced into coming by someone they loved like she had. The looks on their faces didn’t reveal their secrets or their reasons to the where, when, or whys in their lives. Sharon thought back to the countless times, she’d heard someone from the pulpits talk about how abortion was murder. She wondered how her mother could even think to ask her to believe one thing and do another. She had sinned against God by having premarital sex, but this was too much. Her thoughts turned to Edward, her true love. Where was he now? Did he feel the same way? She thought about her loved one who had brought her to the clinic and wondered if he would come back to rescue her. She envisioned him as a Knight on a white steed, riding in to save her, the damsel in distress. She let out a sigh. Time passed. Nobody was coming. There was no white horse or a Knight. There wasn’t even a friend who cared enough to help her. She was on her own. Head down, she felt more lost than ever. Nobody cared. She had messed up and had to pay the price. She was a sinner, and she knew it. She didn’t even think to pray. She simply wept inside and wrapped her arms around herself as to attempt to comfort her body from the emotional pain. The door to the back creeped open, and interrupted her train of thought. Sharon lift her head and looked to see the receptionist holding someone’s paperwork. Another name was about to be called.

“Sharon come on back. We’re ready for you now.”

The sound of her own name being called out made her shudder. As she rose to the call her knees began to buckle under the weight of her shame. She stood up and walked through the opened door.

Entering such a sterile environment was not familiar to Sharon. She’d never had an exam, let alone ever been in a room for a procedure such as this. As she glanced around the room, she saw machines and instruments that she had never witnessed. She had no idea what they were but knew what they were going to be used for.

“OK dear, get undressed. Put on this gown and the doctor will be in soon.” The receptionist voice was sweet, almost too sweet. It was one of those drawn out voices; a covered in warm, gooey, honey kind of voice. How could she do this day in and day out? Was she the sheep in wolfs clothing that Sharon had learned about in classes at church?

“Yes, ma’am.” Her well taught manners kicked in. She didn’t know the lady’s last name, so ma’am seemed most appropriate. The unbuttoning her blouse triggered memories of Edward’s gentle touch, maneuvering the buttons that night. The Pearl tone finish had felt the warmth of his hands. That was not the case this time. Her mind became caught up in the act of reflection as she continued to undress and put on the gown. The light floral print made with cotton fabric made her skin react with a rash of small goosebumps.  Finding her seat on the table was the next thing to do. She sat down and looked at the stirrups at the end of the table. A brief smile glanced over her face as she thought what they looked like; horse stirrups, her friend Sherry had put on to the horses at her home. How she wished she was there at this moment. She would watch the horses run with the wind, causing their coarse manes to soar in the air behind them. The resounding sound of their majestic hooves, hitting the ground would help her mind escape from the situation she was in. Any place would be better than this. She wanted to run like the wind and escape the room. She wanted to get out of there quick. But where was she to go?

The physician entered the room. “I need you to lie back. Place your feet in these stirrups here at the end of the table.”

Sharon did as she was told. Her mother had trained her well on how to follow directions.

“Now slide down to where your bottom is at the end of the table. Keep sliding. OK, good. Stop.”

The crinkle of the paper, coupled with the sounds of her feet hitting the icy cold hard metal of the stirrups made Sharon cringe. These things were nothing like the warm soft leather stirrups she was accustomed to at her friends. Her mind attempted to wander back to her friend’s house. The image was not there.

“You’ll feel a cold instrument as I place it into your vagina. It’s opening and you may feel a bit uncomfortable,” The doctor began.

His touch was not of one of love she had grown accustomed to with Edward. Sharon lay still as she felt the cold metal within her.

“God be with me, I need you,” She prayed in a hushed voice.

Her body trembled as she lay with her feet up, allowing this stranger to touch her in a way that nobody ever had. It was so impersonal. The nurse nearby glanced at her and seemed to sneer. Her judgment of one so young being here was apparent.

“It’s opening and you’ll feel pressure.” he continued.

Small cramps began to occur in her abdomen. This ushered in a fear that rose up inside Sharon’s body and took her breath away. It was as if she was back at school, in gym class and had been hit in the gut by a dodgeball during the game. It was a kind of hit that took you down and made you clutch your stomach as you tried to inhale.

God, I cannot breathe. Are you here with me? I need you.

The pleading of the young woman was internal and thus inaudible to the medical staff in the room. She looked up and saw a scissor shape tool about to enter her body.

God is he going to cut my baby up inside of me?He is going to cut it into little pieces! God help me! Her internal thoughts grasped trying to figure out how to talk to God as her friends had.

Tears rolled down her face as she recalled her mother’s words,” Take care of it now or you’ll find your things on the front lawn. You’ll not be welcome here anymore.”

Daddy, I need you. Why did you have to die and leave me to deal with her?You would have helped me. Thoughts raced in her mind as she fought back the idea of what was occurring to her. No, not just her. It was happening to them.

A sudden feeling of something being placed in her body that seemed to grab and pinch her  insides was next. What was going on? Was the baby still alive? Could she still save it?

God, it’s me again. I’m alone here. I need you to be with me. What are they doing, Lord? Please help me to understand. Her plea was sincere and out of love for the wee being that had been designed by God’s hand in her womb.

It was then in that moment of silence that Sharon heard God’s wee voice whisper in her head.” Ask them to stop.”

Sharon hesitated. Was that God? Had he spoken to her? She had never heard him before.

More instruments entered her personal space. She was afraid of what her earthly mother would do if she returned home, still carrying a child in her womb. Another tool was followed by more tools. The cramping worsened. Sounds began to fill the air. A machine that had set idle come to life. A suction sound filled the air.

She hesitated again and then aloud she asked, “Please stop. I want to keep my baby.” She wanted to scream the words, but it came out in a mere whisper. The physician had not even heard her over the machine.

Again, she said, “Please stop!”

The doctor looked up from where he was performing the procedure and frowned. “I’m sorry. It’s too late. I need to finish the procedure.”

Those awful words resounded in her head over and over again. It was too late.

The procedure continued as again and again her body was invaded by a tool that was sucking the life of her child out. It was sucking her own life out of her as well. It was near unbearable. Her soul cried out to him in despair as she did not understand.

Their baby was dead. Edward’s baby, her baby was dead. She had killed it. If only she had been stronger and said to stop sooner. If only she had stood up to her mother and said no. Now it was too late for those things. The pain within her rose up and her stomach was in knots. The emotional pain coupled with the physical procedure that she’d had to endure was too much to bear. Something trickled between her legs and she hoped it was her own blood. She wanted to roll over in a ball and die. She lay there trying to understand why her mother had told her that she had to abort the child. She loved their child, the child they’d made on that night. They hadn’t meant to fall into one another’s arms, but it happened, and now this. God had given him that child as a gift. Could her mom not see that? Her thoughts drifted off to again to him. Where was Edward? Was he out driving around the city? Was he in the outer office trying to get to her? Could he feel her pain? Did he know that it was too late? Oh God, I killed this child. The child that we wanted. She didn’t know where he was. She prayed he was OK, and that God was with him. She lay back hoping it would soon be over then for a moment it all stopped.

“Doctor, we need you to come immediately. There’s a young woman in need.” an entering nurse stated.

Talk of another girl who was hemorrhaging in an adjacent room began to spill over into the room where Sharon lay. The hushed voices in the hallway announced the details.

“I’ll be right there.” the doctor responded. The doctor left and Sharon was alone for a short time. It began to sink in that she could have the same fate as the girl next door.

“Please God. Let me hemorrhage like the girl next door. Save her Lord and let me die. I’ve killed our child. Let me go home to be with him.”

Her prayer was one filled with love and honesty. She reflected upon the time when she’d been told by her mother that she had made her bed, and now she must lie in it.

“Lord, let this be my deathbed. I’m not needed here now as much as there. He needs me Lord, my child needs his mother.”

Her prayer was interrupted by the return of the Doctor who busied himself with the completion of what had begun. Sharon lay and listen to her heart beating, knowing that the heartbeat of her child was no more. She could overhear talk in the other rooms about the young lady.  She quickly said a prayer for her. “Please God, let her live, let me die in her place.” Her prayer to join her child in Heaven was not answered. As far as her prayers for the other lady, she never heard of the outcome. She may have died. She may have survived. Sharon never found out.

Throughout the car ride home, she lay in the back seat in a fetal position. This position seemed to be the only one she was comfortable in. Perhaps it was because in that tight little ball she felt as if someone were holding her. Perhaps it was just the natural thing to do.

“Where do you wanna go? Do you want me to take you to your house? he asked.

“No, not my house. I can’t stand to look my mother in the eye. I’d like to go to your house. Your mother and Colleen will be there.”

His mother, Liz, was the woman who was excited about the upcoming child. She wanted to be a Grandma.  Her reaction had been the one Sharon had hoped for from her mother, but that wasn’t meant to be. Sharon needed to be comforted and her mother wasn’t the one to do it. Her mother had never been very good at that. Why would she be good at it now? If she went there, she would be asked a barrage of questions. That she couldn’t handle. Her mind switched gears as it was a coping mechanism, she had used a lot. She hoped that Edward’s brother was off work by now. That would mean that he was able to pick Colleen up and bring her to Edward’s house. Colleen knew what was transpiring today. She had been with her through it all.

Sharon lay back and listened to the sounds of the road. Cars and trucks rushed to and fro heading to places unannounced to Sharon. She thought about her brothers and the games they had played in the car on family trips. She smiled as she recalled playing the game where she and her siblings imitated the drivers they passed. Laughter would fill the car as they made faces and moved their hands. She wondered if those days were gone forever. She wasn’t a little girl anymore.

“We can listen to the radio if you like.” asked Edward.

“The radio would be nice. Thank you.”

Singing along to the songs on the radio took her mind off things. Sharon smiled as she recalled their first trip in his car; the one where she hadn’t known about the band Kiss. That seemed as if it were a moment ago, but now things were so different. She was a murderer.

Edward sat in the front seat pondering what to do next. He loved Sharon so and knew that in his heart he wanted the baby so much. But they were young.  He didn’t make much money. Could they find a way to make it work? He would never know. He loved hearing Sharon singing, as he had at her father’s grave side, but he hoped one day to listen to her voice, rejoicing for the Lord rather than the sad tearful voice he had heard thus far. She was becoming the love of his life. He wanted to be there for her and felt as if he had failed her.

The trip was long, and the music seemed to lull Sharon into a more welcome state of mind, at least for a while.

On the radio, a new tune rang out. The lyrics spoke of an expectant mother and how having a baby revealed the love of her man. Having my baby. What a wonderful way to tell me how much you love me.https://www.youtube.com/embed/umrzGr_etQw?feature=oembed

Sharon’s sobs turned into wales of anguish. Her true love turned the radio off. Neither one of them could tolerate listening to that song. The silence was deafening.

CHAPTER 6

The final few months of her senior year were filled with joy and laughter, as well as tears. Not solely because of friendship lost, but for other reasons as well. Rumors had begun to circulate.

“Did you hear that Sharon had an abortion?”

“Yes, I can’t believe it. She doesn’t seem the type.”

“Well, she must be. They said she did it.”

Sharon wanted to hide. Her love for Edward and their need to draw close and comfort one another had turned their lives into a living hell. Not only was she living with the pain in the losses. Now she had to deal with all of this. How had the rumors begun?

Sharon soon learned that one of her friends mothers worked for the local health Department and was in charge of files. While filing the paperwork from the abortion clinic, she had come upon a familiar name and read the file. She then went home to ask her daughter about what she had read. Needless to say, the word was out. It was not only out it was spreading like fire. Even though nobody at the clinic on the day of her procedure had known her, it was no longer a secret. Her friend had deceived her in gossip, telling all. A trust that was once strong was now broken. A new ache filled her body.

“Lord, I know that I’ve done wrong. When will this all end? What is the purpose for all of this? Even my friends treat me differently now. I just want to be loved. Do you love me, Lord? Does anyone?

Sharon rode home on the school bus that day in silence. Her head was down and she pretended to be ill. The hour long ride seemed like four. Disembarking from the bus, she saw more trouble ahead. Her mother was standing in the driveway with the leather belt behind her back. Trouble was on its way and she knew it.

A phone call from a friend of a friend to Sharon’s mother had been made. They told her that rumors were all over the area. Her mother was furious and living with her became all but something to bear. Her mother would not listen to her as she tried to explain that Edward was her first and only. She had never even kissed another man, let alone been with them in that way. She had been raised to believe to save herself for her wedding night. She had saved herself for that special man. She needed to feel loved and her mother wouldn’t listen. Accusations of having slept with other men were slung at her. The sting of her mother’s words lingered more than the pain from the belt. She came to preferring stings of the belt over the lashing from her mother’s tongue. Sharon’s eldest brother was at College. And her little brother was too young to comprehend what was even going on. Mother was in charge and everyone knew it.

Sharon couldn’t wait until graduation. She was going to get out of there. She and Edward would get a place and she would never go back. She hated her mother almost as much as she hated herself. The looks and glances at school were enough. But then to come home to glares and name calling was even worse. She pressed on. That was all she could do.

The final weeks of her senior year crept by. She and Edward were talking of marriage. They hoped to be married in the winter. It would be in February to be exact. The date of Valentine’s Day sounded good. It was to be picture perfect. They would have it at the church where Sharon had always attended. Edward’s family had not had a home church. Thus, the choice of the location was simple. She pictured herself in a white gown as she walked down the aisle, toward the hand carved wooden Jesus. It was the most beautiful part of the church. Yes, the handmade stations of the cross were beautiful, but Jesus with his arms open wide, was her favorite. He would welcome her as she walked down the aisle to be with Edward.

It was soon early June and graduation day was upon them. Due to circumstances out of their hands, Edwards and Sharon’s graduations were on the same day, at the same time. Neither could attend the others ceremonies. Their schooling was over, the new phase of their lives was about to begin. A party was planned at both homes. Sharon’s family was to be coming to her house after the ceremony at the school. Her plan was to attend the ceremony, fill her obligations at the party and then head out to Edward’s house. She wanted to be with him all day but knew it couldn’t happen. Not today. She put on her white gown and high heels and went downstairs. During the quiet ride to the school, she thought about the process of the ceremony and how she would need to return her gown afterward. They would need to get all the pictures before then. If they didn’t, she wouldn’t have a photo in her graduation regalia. Upon arriving at the school she found friends to get photos with. Poses and smiles were everywhere. Her closest friend Colleen came running to her. The smile on her face revealed a love for Sharon that would make any friend proud.

“Come on prude. Let’s get inside. We need to get in the lineup,” her dear friend reminded her.

Sharon smiled back and chuckled. Weenie could always make her smile.

“OK.” she stated.” Let’s go.”

Goodbyes were said to family members as they exited the front of the building. Walking inside the school, Sharon glanced to the left. The payphone on the wall had been where she had made the call to Planned Parenthood when she and Colleen had gotten out of that class one day, months back. She had been there when the rabbit test had come back positive. Her friend saw the look on her face.

“Honey, I know you’re hurting but we need to move on. Soon we’ll be out of school and things will change. It’s going to be OK.” She smiled as she spoke.

Sharon smiled back. She walked on to the back of the building and got into line.

The ceremony was the norm. There was the prayer, speakers, and then the procession that went on and on. Her class was the largest ever at Blair High School, where there were over 500 names to be read. Sharon watched as the procession of graduates approached the podium, her mind began to wander. She dreamed of what her life would be like in 10 years. She envisioned a white house with a picket fence, three kids, and of course, a dog. She loved dogs. The American Dream would suffice. She smiled as she envisioned their wedding. It would be simple yet elegant. She was in love and wanted nothing more than to marry Edward and give him a child to bear his name. After today she would be one step closer. Today she officially became a member of the adult world. She was about to become a graduate.

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Having graduated, Sharon was ready for adult life and all that came with it. She found a new job working at one of the local hospitals in the kitchen. She also bought a 1967 Firebird off an older gentleman. He had bought it for his grandson who then didn’t want it. Sharon was thrilled to be out of school and working. She began to buy items that she and Edward would need for their lives. She added things to her ever-growing collection as often as she could. Keeping records in her diary she wrote down what she had as well as what they would need. Looking through the Sears catalog became a favorite pastime. It was like being a kid at Christmas all over again. She jotted down ideas for her list as well as ideas for their wedding.

Sharon wanted to be a mother and a wife more than anything.  Plans to go to college had been put to the side for now. Wedding plans had begun. Weenie would be her maid of honor. Sherie would be her bridesmaid. Edward’s oldest brother would be their best man and her brother an usher. Sharon had wanted her little brother to be the ring bearer. But her mother had stepped in and said no. She said that he was too old for the job. Thus, Edward’s cousin would walk down the aisle alone. Her flower girl dress was a pale blue, made by Grandma Alice. Sharon loved how this elderly woman was becoming a part of her life. She was always so tender and caring. Sharon needed that. She soaked that in, attempting to fill the void left from her childhood without hugs and attention.

The selection for the church did not come as easily as the couple had hoped. Edward would have to convert to her faith in order to marry at her church. Plus, the rumors of the dirty deed had pretty much shut those doors. They needed to look elsewhere and at first that was a tough pill to swallow.

She felt like she was being shunned from her own church. Between that, the name calling by her mother, and the rumor mill Sharon’s self-esteem took a plummet. In her heart she believed that all of this was happening to them because she had murdered their child. She thought she didn’t deserve a wedding in a church, let alone happiness.  Hatred toward her childhood role models began to grow and fester in her soul. The Devil had found a place to plant his seeds and he was working to get her. He was getting into her life little by little. Her thoughts and her actions were turning into ones for his glory and not of God’s.

Next, he planted the fear of being able to conceive.  Sharon had read that some women who had abortions could no longer become pregnant. This became a topic of which she could not let loose; she was obsessed with the fact that she had aborted and may never be able to have children. She read everything she could get her hands on. The brochures and pamphlets revealed more horrors which added to her fears. She began to cling more and more to Edward. She needed to fill the void and relinquish the pain. She needed love.

Dreaming of a baby, Sharon talked to his mother, Liz, about their family heritage. On her side, her mother had died early in life during childbirth. Liz had to help raise the children in her place. In her family she had one sister and the rest were boys. On the paternal side of the family there were a lot of boys. Girls were quite uncommon. Praying for a boy Sharon began to make embroidered quilts and crochet blankets with a boy in mind. She even got special things to place in her hope chest which she fashioned out of her father’s old military trunk. Being obsessed with being able to conceive she worked on something most every night. Her embroidered quilt had eight blocks. Each block had a baby animal on it. The fabric was a pale yellow just in case. Each stitch was done with love. She was going to have a child one day and swaddle it in this blanket! She couldn’t wait!

Soon, the news came that Sharon was expecting again. Her mind was at ease, and for a brief time the Devil was losing his foothold on her being damaged goods. The news brought joy to Edward, and as for the others in her life the reaction was pretty much the same. Sharon’s mother was not happy. But this time the couple stood their ground and told her Sharon would carry this child to term.  The wedding was in a couple of months, and Sharon would be out of the house before she even began to show. Luanne was not going to win this time. There would be no repeat trip to Cleveland.

Life was looking up! Weenie was getting married as well! She had recently become engaged to Edward’s brother and her plans for a big wedding at a local cathedral were coming along. Sharon was going to be in her wedding as well. She would be her matron of honor. It was even more perfect than Sharon had ever imagined it would be! She and Weenie would be sisters for life! Maybe her dear friend could be the Godmother for her child!

Edward and Sharon had begun taking prewedding classes at the Methodist Church where they would say their vows.  The pastor showed true concern at the classes, but the plans moved forward. They talked about many things including that each member of a couple needs to give one hundred percent all the time. Fifty-fifty wasn’t enough.  If they did that then their whole soul, heart, and mind wouldn’t be in the marriage.  Valentine’s Day was not available, but he did have January 28 open. That date was better given the situation. The date was set.

Filling the hope chest Sharon kept busy and time passed. Soon, it was time for Christmas. By now, she was a couple of months into her pregnancy. Morning sickness hadn’t grabbed hold of her and thus she was quite happy making things and shopping at secondhand stores for items they would need. A stuffed animal was her mock baby for now. God had blessed them once again. This would surely be her last Christmas at home. 1978 would be the year she would become his bride. She rehearsed writing the name Mrs. Sharon Ann Gibbs as she talked the child in her womb.

“Your name with be Matthew if a boy and Angela Marie if a girl.” She smiled as she spoke their names aloud. Matthew Bryant Gibbs, Angela Marie Gibbs, over and over again. This child would grow to be an adult. He or she would be surrounded with love of a family. Her mother would not win this time. The seed in her womb would grow and come into the world after they were married. She just knew it.

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Christmas Day began like all others, except for the fact that her father was not there. Sharon awoke to search for her stocking. They were always hidden in the house someplace. This was a tradition at her childhood home. Stockings came first. All three had to be found before anything else could happen. This was the only time, in addition to birthdays, that clothes and toys were received.  Sharon looked forward to getting some winter wear as her birthday clothes were out of season. Once the stockings were found, the opening of the gifts began. Mother had always taken a great deal of time making sure they got all kinds of things. Gifts were distributed to each person and the tearing of paper commenced. It was like no other day all year long at her house. Christmas was a special day. The celebration of Jesus’ birth was a day filled with wonderful memories.

“Here, Minnie Moose. This one’s for you.” her younger brother stated.

Anxiously Sharon opened it to find a striped waterproof beach bag.

“Well, that was supposed to be for you to go on picnics at the beach. But I guess now it will be a diaper bag.” The hurtful words flowed from her mother’s mouth, even on this one day that was sacred.

“Thank you, I like the colorful design.” Sharon retorted.

It was just like all the other Christmas’ in the past, except that her mother seemed to define most of her gifts.

Well, that was supposed to be for you to wear this winter. But now that’s out of the picture,” she remarked about a dress. “It won’t fit you. You’re going to be big and fat like that family you’re marrying into.”

Sharon tried to smile and hold onto Christmas for her family. Yet, inside her mother’s words were crushing her soul. She was glad when it was time to go to Grandma’s house. Maybe there, it would be better.

The car was loaded with packages and food. She was off to eat lunch and dinner at her grandparent’s house in Ashland. Upon arrival, she could see the lights on the tree in the living room. Entering the house, Sharon could smell the familiar smell of Christmas at grandmas. She soaked in it as she moved on. As she walked into the living room her cousins greeted her as she glanced at the vintage lights and decorations on the tree. Sharon admired the special balls that she had always favored. Their vintage appearance was something she had always loved. Grandma’s tree was special. There was no other tree like it in the world. To the left, the long dining room table was set, as usual, with the special antique dishes her grandma had collected over the years. Her grandparents loved to collect antiques and set quite a fancy table every year. Then they filled it with food enough for a mass gathering. A ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, and more filled two tables set end to end. They were so long that they stretched into the living room. Above the table, hanging in the arch between the living room and dining room was the mistletoe. If Edward had been there, she surely would have tried out its magic.  But he wasn’t. He was with his family and later would be at their new rental setting things up.

It was soon time for lunch. Sharon looked and noted the empty chair where her father had always been seated. An empty plate drew tears to her eyes, but she brushed them aside and went on. Sharon sat at the children’s table at the end. She loved that little table. Grandma had always placed chocolate milk there for the kids. She loved that tradition. Chocolate milk was such a special treat! Prayers were said and soon the food was being passed around the tables. Uncle Bill stood and carried the relish tray around to serve it. It was always huge! There was no way it could be passed person to person. The children wouldn’t have been able to lift it. As the tray approached her, Sharon eyed the olives. The black ones were her favorite. She always made sure to take some of each item. She wanted to be sure to have things to dip in the salt in her own private crystal salt dipper. Even though the salt was a bit much on the damp carrots she dipped them anyway. She loved that tradition. As she ate, she thought of the wee one growing inside of her. She was eating to nourish the baby as well. She smiled. She and Edward would be married soon.  January was not far away, and the invitations were ordered and ready to go.

Conversation at the little table centered around her uncle’s farm. They would get to visit it today! She loved going there! Maybe she could see the horses! Dinner was complete and then they had pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. Afterward, it was time for the men to retire into the living room to rest while the ladies washed up the dishes. Sharon picked up dishes to carry into the kitchen. That was her job. Grandma had always worried about her getting cut with a knife and forbid her to wash. While balancing a pile of dishes ever so carefully, she walked into the doorway to overhear their conversation.

“Did you hear she’s pregnant?” the older pompous aunt stated.

“Yes, and she is so young! I heard they’re to be married soon. The poor thing! She lost her father and now this!” replied her younger sibling. Sharon was surprised to hear this from her. She was the one who had lost two babies to stillbirth! How could she judge?

“They’ll probably end up on welfare and live in government housing.” The eldest aunt chuckled. She continued to dry the dishes as she spoke. “How in the world will they even pay for the baby’s food and doctor bills? Does he even have a job?”

Listening to them reminded her of her talk with her mother months earlier. You’re what! Pregnant! Well then Missy you need to take care of that. Those venomous words took their sting once again. She hoped to find Grandpa there, he was always a lot of fun. She smiled as she remembered the Christmas where he came down the tall staircase in his new red flannel pajamas with the rear flap dangling open.  Grandpa looked up to see her reading their cards. He didn’t walk over and ask her to go for a walk as he usually did. Today was different. She wasn’t Grandpa’s little girl anymore.  She was pregnant and unwed, a sinner. She felt the scorn. Christmas Day was filled with hatred and hushed words for what she had done. She wasn’t the good girl that everybody wanted. She couldn’t wait to get out of there. She just wanted to be with Edward.

The car ride home that night was quieter than usual. The family didn’t talk much at all. Her mother and eldest brother were in the front seat, and Sharon rode in the back with her little brother. She liked him, although at times he had picked on her growing up. She knew that he was sad that she was expecting a baby. This saddened her. Nobody seemed to understand. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the seat to rest.

Soon, the familiar road of home appeared, and Sharon’s thoughts turned to wanting to call Edward. Could he come and get her? What was his Christmas like? Did he get her anything? She’d not gotten her gift from him yet!

As the family car pulled into the driveway Sharon’s heart leapt for joy! Edward’s car was there. He got out of the car and asked her to come set up their future home. He’d been moving his things into the small rental on the other side of town. Sharon quickly assisted with the unpacking of the items and placed some into his car. The time spent with negative people with negative attitudes was almost over! Her new life was about to begin!

With not much left of the day the young lovers sped off to have some alone time. Their new home was coming together quite nicely. His parents had given them his double bed and dresser. His grandparents had given them a small black and white television on a wire stand. Sharon’s hope chest was there, with its sundry of things she’d collected. Inside were not only the baby’s things but things for their home as well. There were a couple of pans she had gotten free from opening savings accounts, items she’d gotten for graduation, and a few linens. Sharon watched as Edward carried in the mirror for above their dresser. She helped him set it in place. Their dresser! She wondered which drawers would be for her things. He would have to share the space as she wasn’t allowed to have any furniture from her house. Mom wanted all of it to stay there. As the evening spent on they had a small bite of food and opened their gifts. She got a medallion with St. Francis of Assisi. He was her favorite saint. It was on a long silver chain. He placed it around her neck.

“You’re the most spiritual person I know. I admire your faith.” His words were tender. They embraced. It was Christmas!

Once home sleep didn’t come easily. Sharon tossed and turned in her bed for over an hour. Thoughts were racing through her head as she processed the day. Around eleven, the pain began. She was cramping and losing blood. She got down the stairs to tell her mother. She needed help and she knew it.  Her mother’s onslaught of yelling began the moment she awoke her. “You shouldn’t have done this! You’re hemorrhaging, get in the car!”

“Please call Edward. I need him!” Sharon pleaded.

“I’m not calling him. He’s the reason you’re in this mess!”

“Then can I call his mother? She works at the hospital and will let him know.”

“No! You’re not calling his family at all! Do you understand? Now, get in that car!”

Once again, Sharon lay in the backseat of a car bleeding. Her emotional state this time was not much better than before. She knew she was losing the baby. The baby she had privately named Matthew. She wanted to cry, but her pain was too deep. She endured the name-calling and verbal torture and tried to lay still hoping to get to the hospital in time.  They pulled into the entrance for emergencies.

“We need a gurney! We have a young woman who is hemorrhaging. Get moving people!” This voice was a welcome sound. Help was there!

“You get her out of my sight! I want this to end now!” Her mother yelled as the medical staff looked on.

“Move the patient in here. Lady, you need to stay out here for a bit. We’ll update you soon.”

Thank you thought Sharon. Sharon lay on the gurney going in and out of consciousness. She was glad to know that the verbal assault would not be the last words she would hear.  She asked the man in the room if they could call Edward, but her request was unheard. Droves of people began running into the room.  An intravenous drip was started, and meds were being injected into it. Sharon wondered if the baby was okay but figured she’s lost it. Blood was exiting from her body; she could feel it gushing as it were warm and thick. Was his wee body exiting her womb? The bright lights in the ER blinded her, and she closed her eyes as she listened to all of the commotion. Then she passed out.

It was the day after Christmas. She awoke to a friendly face, her doctor.  He was a good Christian man. She’d been going to him for a short while. He knew of her history with the abortion.

“Good morning. I want you to know that your baby is okay. You’ve lost a lot of blood. But you might still carry the baby to full term.”
Sharon smiled and prayed that could be true. “I’ve lost so much blood. I’m afraid it may have hurt him. It might keep him from forming correctly.”

“We’ll keep am eye on things and see what happens. God has a plan He is in control.”

Sharon watched as he exited the room and knew he was right. God was in control. He would save her baby, and he would live. Her thoughts turned to Edward. She wanted to call him. She didn’t know how. Their new home didn’t have a phone yet. They hadn’t even had time to call the installers. She hoped she would see someone who knew her future mother-in-law. They could help her. They would tell her, and she would get ahold of him. But the sandman came again, and she fell asleep dreaming of their baby.

Sharon woke and knew she needed to get ahold of Edward. He didn’t even know where she was. She asked one of the ladies cleaning rooms if she had seen Liz. They promised to get a message to her. Sharon was glad. Before long, Liz appeared in her room.

“Are you okay? Is the baby…”

“I’m okay. The doctor says I’ve lost a lot of blood. The baby is all right and I might be able to carry to term.”

“I got ahold of Edward. He’s on his way.”

“Thank you so much! I wanted to call but my mother wouldn’t let me.”

“I know Honey. It’ll be okay. You rest, and I’ll be back later to check on you.” Liz left after hugging Sharon. She worked in surgery and needed to get back to her cleaning. Sharon smiled as she exited the room. Edward was on his way. All would be fine.

Before long. Edward arrived, and they held one another knowing that another child might not make it to see the light of day. They talked for hours. He reassured her that one day they would have a family. She so wanted to believe him. She didn’t think she would ever be able to give him the number of children he wanted. She ached inside and turned on the television to get her mind on something else.

Soon, it was time to go home and her mother came to pick her up. Once again, she was the girl laying in the back seat headed home. Yet, this time she still had the baby in her womb.  She was weak from blood loss and needed to get more rest.  Edward was at their future home getting things settled in. She knew she had no business helping him now.  Her job was to rest so she and the baby could pull out if this. She spent most of the day in her room. It was quiet and private there.  By evening, she fell asleep early and went into a dream state. She wished she could dream she was flying like when she was younger. Instead, tonight her dreams were interrupted with severe cramping.  She woke to find blood in her bed. This time was worse than before. She went next door to awaken her brother. He ran downstairs to get their mother.

“What!” screamed her mother.

Sharon could hear the screaming begin. It was like a horrid DeJa’Vu happening all over again.

“Oh my! You’re bleeding all over the carpet. Get into that car!”

Sharon looked up and prayed she could make it to the car. Her vision began to swell and then she was out.

This ER trip had the outcome she’d feared on the first one. The baby didn’t make it. Sharon wept as the news was broken to her. She watched as the hospital staff told her family. She listened as her mother began screaming about the bill she was accumulating. Her daughter was costing her a fortune. She knew she’d be staying overnight again. She’d have to have a procedure called a D&C. This would ensure the womb was cleaned out completely. She wouldn’t get an infection that way. She rolled over and sighed. Her mother was right. She was a harlot. How could she have thought that God would give a woman like her a baby to love? Tears ran down her face as she sobbed aloud. She just needed to be loved and love somebody. Why was this happening?

Then she remembered the abortion. Fear entered her heart. The devil had planted yet another seed. She would never have a child. God had taken her baby so near Christmas that it had to mean something! She would be barren. Every baby she would have would die. Had something been messed up in her body when she had the abortion?

Oh, God. I did it again. I’ve sinned and I’m paying the price. I may never have a baby again. Can you forgive me?

CHAPTER 7

The wedding was going to be a simple one. The couple borrowed five hundred dollars from a bank to afford the ceremony. Sharon’s mother wanted nothing to do with it, and his family couldn’t afford to help. They were on their own. They made plans to be married in the little country church around the corner from his house; the one where they had been taking the prewedding classes. She loved the location. The white steepled church overlooked a valley with its stained-glass windows sparkling in the light of day.  The men would dress in the upstairs. The women in the basement. There were rooms set off for classes that they would use. The church was small, but it had history, and it would work. God was in all churches, not just the one she’d grown up in.

Sharon’s mom had found a dress on a clearance rack on her bus route in a nearby small town. It was a white gown with a lace bodice. It didn’t have a long train or anything extravagant but was within their budget. Sharon was glad to see she had taken some interest in the event. The dress was purchased, and arrangements were made for the owner of the shop to come dress her that day. The one hundred fifty dollars was a big chunk of their budget, but they could do it!

Flowers were going to be minimal. Her flowers were going to be made in a special way. Inside the bouquet would be a corsage to wear on their honeymoon. That way, she could toss the bouquet and keep the middle. The girls would have small bouquets that would then be used as decoration on the cake table.  Their mothers would receive a rose at the end of the ceremony. Light blue and white were chosen as their colors.

The cake was to have three tiers. Under those would be a fountain with blue water in it. A friend’s mother had agreed to bake it. This was a true blessing. The mints were handmade by herself and her friend, Sheri. They’d be frozen until they needed them. Decorations would be put up after the rehearsal. Pictures would be taken by Weenies father; he loved photography. Sharon hugged him and thanked him over and over. She was so grateful for his help. A group of ladies at the church would serve the coffee and punch.  It wasn’t much, but it would be enough.

Things were coming together quite nicely. It was going to be a wonderful day!

The great blizzard of 1978 hit with a vengeance on Thursday, January 26th. Sharon had been at work when news broke of its coming. They were expecting up to 30 inches of snow and high-speed winds. Her low riding Firebird got her home, but she was not sure how she would get back out. The wedding rehearsal was to be Friday night. The wedding was on Saturday. What would they do now? Hopefully, it would all blow over.

truck driver was in this truck not far from wedding site

Friday morning revealed the outcome of the night previous. Snow was piled so high that people could barely get out of their houses, let alone drive on the roads. Sharon ran downstairs and jumped into her car anyway. She was going to get ready for the rehearsal. Forgetting that the Firebird rode low she attempted to back into the section of the driveway that had blown free and clear. It was there that the tires began to spin. She was not going anyplace. In frustration she clenched her right fist and threw a jab at the dashboard. It split! This made her even angrier. Now, she had all this to deal with! When was it going to STOP!

“I’m so mad at you God! This is the weekend of our wedding! Why God? Why now?” She sat in the quiet solace of that cold car for a while. Her mother was in the house and she did not want to go back in there. Feeling beaten, she walked back inside and called Edward. “What do we do now?” she asked him.

“Well, we’re going to have to get ahold of the Pastor. He can tell us how things are at the church. If we can’t get in the ceremony may have to be rescheduled.” He spoke the simple truth. He was always the levelheaded one. She was glad he could calm her down. She had been quite emotional, and she knew it. He kept her balanced. She hung up the phone as he had asked and dialed the Pastor’s number.

“Hello, Pastor. This is Sharon. Our wedding is to be this weekend. Can you tell me what it is like there?” Trying to remain calm she held back tears.

“I’m sorry to tell you the church is snowed in. I had to get here on my snowmobile. The roads out here are all blocked.” His voice was caring and sympathetic.

Sharon continued, “What should we do now? Can Edward and I get in on snowmobiles?  We don’t really need the wedding we planned. We just want to say our vows.  We truly only need you, us, and God.”

Pastor did not speak for a moment. Sharon thought the phone connection had been lost.

Then he spoke again, “I’m sorry. There’s no way to get in here. I’m looking at my appointment book. Can we reschedule for next week at the same time? Would that work for you?”

Another week! Sharon held her temper and silenced the scream wanting to burst out from within. She counted to ten and then used her trained polite voice to respond. “That would be fine. I understand. Can you please call Esther and the ladies’ group to let them know?” She wanted to be sure the organist and servers didn’t go out in the bad elements.

“Yes, I’ll call them. I daresay you have calls to make yourself. I’d best let you get to it.”

With that, the conversation was ended. After calling Edward to update him with the new circumstances she hung up and went to get the invitation list. She needed to get busy! Not only did she have to call every person on the list, she also needed to call to reschedule everything else. She closed her eyes and saw the greatness of the task ahead of her.

“Please, phone don’t die on me too.”

The remainder of the day was spent recreating the wedding she had already designed.  All elements had to be updated and postponed for one week. Alice, Edward’s grandmother took over the job of calling their side of the family. As for the rest, it was on Sharon’s list to do. It seemed as if she had one hundred calls to make. Everything but the flowers seemed to shift forward all right. Flowers created a problem of their own; the trucks couldn’t get through.  The highways were closed, and they were unable to get in the region at all. Transportation was at a deadlock. She would have to accept what they could do. That would be the best outcome. It was that or no flowers at all. Anger began to fester in her soul. She wanted to yell at the florist but held back knowing this was not their fault. There was a blizzard. The compromise ended up being the same price. That was a good thing! She put the wedding into God’s hands. Flowers were the least of her worries. Her father had been buried without them. She could handle having a wedding without them if she had to. They would not be the most important aspect of the day.

The only other snafu would be getting the day off work. She worked at the hospital and was scheduled for every other weekend. She had to call to get the time off. Luckily, she and Edward hadn’t planned an extensive honeymoon. That would have made it even harder to get the time off. Calling to ask for the day off was not as easy a task as she thought it might be. Her boss was not happy at all. At first, her boss remained strong and reminded her that she was a recent hire. She was expected to be there every other weekend to work. Sharon agreed that she had signed on for that, but this was different. It was her wedding! In the end the lady gave in and gave her the approximate weekend off.  She would do this only once as an exception to the rule and she would need to work the full week following. Sharon agreed and let out a sigh. She had accomplished redoing the entire wedding and get the day off to attend it herself all in one day. Thank goodness they had planned something small.

January 28, 1978, found Sharon seated on her bed, looking out the window at the sun rising over the snow. The glistening sparkles on the snow didn’t feel as they usually did.  Today, she was angry with the world. The glistening seemed to make it only worse. God had unleashed this storm as to punish her. She felt it in her heart. Even her mother for the last twenty-four hours had been telling her that God was sending her a sign. He was telling her to stop the wedding and go to study to be a nurse as she had always wanted for her. Sharon didn’t want to believe this, but maybe her mother was right. Perhaps in his own way God was letting her know that he didn’t love her anymore. He was angry with her just as her mother was. Sharon picked up a pillow from her bed and held it close to her heart. She ached to be with Edward. She wondered where he was and what he was doing. Hoping that he was up she snuck downstairs to use the phone in the kitchen. Perhaps there, she would not awaken the sleeping giant in the other room. She needed to be alone with her thoughts to talk to her husband to be. Interference on this day – her supposed to be wedding day – was not acceptable.

“Morning, sleepyhead. Did I wake you?” Sharon could hear Edward slurping a cup of coffee on the other end of the line.

“No, I’ve been up for a while and am bored to death. I don’t have anything to do here. Our house is empty and I’m thinking about walking to my grandparent’s to be with them. I want to be sure they are all right. I can shovel the driveway and the sidewalk while there.”

Sharon was proud to have fallen in love with such a caring man. “I think that’s a great idea!”

He continued, “Well, I best get walking over there. I called Grandma and she’s expecting me soon. I’ll call you when I get there. That way you’ll know I arrived safely.”

“All right. Be safe and remember to call me. I love you.”

“I love you too. We’ll talk soon.”

As she hung up the phone, Sharon thought about his walking in the snow to check on his family. An idea came into her mind. Perhaps she could walk there also and surprise him. The home he was walking to was about halfway between she and their rental. A thrill of joy entered her heart. Perhaps there was a way to be together on what would have been their wedding day. She quickly picked up the phone and dialed Edward’s grandparents’ number.

“Please answer! Please let her phone line be working!” Then all at once she heard a hushed whisper on the other end of the line.  Then a familiar voice spoke.

“Hello.” It was Alice!

“Grandma, Edward is starting out right now to shovel your driveway, and I wondered if it is okay for me to come there and surprise him? Would you mind that? I would love to have lunch with him,” she began.

“Well, how are you going to get here? It’s bad out!” Her voice revealed concern for her safety and well-being.

I’ll walk! I used to walk that far all of the time to visit my girlfriend, Sheri. I can do it!”

“On one condition. You need to ask your mother if it is okay. I don’t want you walking here without her knowing.”

One condition, oh my. That was one big condition.

“Let me go ask. I’ll be right back.” Sharon lay down the receiver and walked down the hallway to her mother’s bedroom. She was awake and so she spoke to her.

“Mom. Edward is walking to his grandparent’s house to shovel the driveway. I want to walk there to see him. May I go there for lunch and come back before nightfall?” Her phrasing was done carefully as to get a response in the appositive.

Luanne’s voice was still raspy as she had just awoken. “You’ll need to wear your father’s old military snow boots and heavy clothing. Dress in layers. I’ll give you my permission for lunch, no more. Then hightail it right back here. I don’t want you out in the dark in this stuff.”

Sharon was shocked that her mother would let her go. Perhaps she knew how badly she felt about the cancelled wedding plans. She needed to see her fiancé. Sharon was not going to wait and give her a chance to change her mind. After speaking with Alice, she quickly ran to the garage to find her father’s boots and then upstairs to dress. Soon enough, she was headed out the door and to the road. She was on her way!

As she walked, she realized how bad things truly were. The piles of snow were like small hills at the intersections of the main road on which she trod.  Having to climb some of them she prayed that she wouldn’t sink in and be buried alive. She had taken on quite a task. This was not like it had been walking to her friend’s house. She considered turning around and going back. But her thoughts of what would have been their special day prodded her forward. She wanted to be with him.

“Hey! What are you doing out in this stuff!” Sharon looked up to see a pair of men in a truck with a plow headed down Middle Bellville Road. “You crazy or something?”

“I’m walking to town to be with my fiancé. We were to be married today.”

“Wow! Now that’s one we hadn’t heard yet! Enough said. You can hop in with us and we can take you part of the way. Where are you headed?”

Sharon sized up the men and thought that they seemed to be okay. “Are you sure? I need to go out past the cemetery and up the hill to get there.” Sharon replied.

“I’m sure’” said the man on the driver’s side. You’re not going to make it there on your own. We have a plow if we need to use it. Now get in. There’s no way I’m going to let you walk in this stuff. Larry, move over and let the little lady in.”

Sharon walked to the passenger side of the truck and said a little prayer. She so wanted to see Edward and knew she was wearing out walking in the deep snow. It was even harder to walk through than the sand at the beach where she had gone on family vacations.

“God, help me get to grandma’s house safely.”

She heaved her weary body into the truck and sat next to Larry as they readied themselves to move on. Mick, the driver, was a tall man with red hair. His friend Larry had a smile that could light up any room. Sharon sat back and got to know them better. It was nice to be in the warmth of the truck. Her fingers began to thaw out a bit. The conversation in the truck revealed that the men had been quite busy that day. Mostly, they’d been cleaning out parking lots and driveways. People needed them cleared to get out for medical emergencies. Some just needed medicines or to get somewhere with electricity for their needs. They told her of one lady who lived on a big hill near her uncle’s house. She had to be taken out of her home by snowmobile to reach the ambulance on the road. She was in critical condition. The men seemed worried about her making it. Sharon glanced at the wristwatch on Larry’s arm. It was past noon. She was late for lunch with Edward. She felt bad that grandma was probably worried but rode as far as she could with the men who had stopped to help her. Sitting there, she thought back to all the conversations she’d had about not hitchhiking. She thought about keeping this part of the trip from her mother, and maybe even Edward. Sharon looked out the window to see piles of snow along them; some so high it made a manmade tunnel of sorts. The ability to see the homes was obstructed.

“Well, this is about as far as we can take you. You have just less than a mile to get there now. You should be fine. Best of luck with your wedding plans!” Mick’s words were kind and thoughtful.

“Thank you so much! I’m excited to see Edward! I’ll never forget your kindness.” Sharon replied as she slid out of the truck. “You guys be careful out there! I hope we don’t get any more snow!”

“Me too. I think we have plenty of that stuff for a while!” Mick laughed as he responded.

The men smiled as Sharon shut the door. She stepped back and allowed enough room for them to pull off safely.

Watching the truck pull off into the distance she began to walk again. She was sweating from being in the truck. The heat had been turned up on high to keep the front window clear. Thankful to be warm again, she marched on. Soon the sign for Dale Avenue was in sight! She was almost there! Nearing the end of her trip, she saw an outline of a figure in the driveway. It was Edward! Wanting to run into his arms she picked up her feet as quickly as she could. Her father’s military boots were heavy, but her toes were warm inside. By now they seemed to weigh a ton!

“Edward! Edward!” She yelled as she walked as fast as she could. Her mind filled with the vision of him running to her like in some romantic film.

Edward glanced up to see her walking toward him. His look revealed a look of surprise and concern.

“What are you doing here? Did you walk the entire way?” His face showed worry and not what she had envisioned while getting there.

This was not at all what she had expected. Her smile turned to a flat line.

“Well, I walked most of it, then some kind gentlemen gave me a ride for a while. They brought me up to the ice cream stand around the corner.” Sharon wanted to be truthful with him. “I wanted to be with you today.”

Edward walked toward her and took her in his arms. “I’m glad you’re safe. Thank God you’re all right. Let’s get you inside where it’s warm and dry. Grandma will be pleased to see you.”

Sharon walked toward the white house and saw Alice looking out the window. A big smile was on her face as she watched the young couple walk hand in hand up the driveway. She opened the door and welcomed both with a warm hug.

“Come on into the kitchen and get those boots off your feet. “I’ll get you some slippers to wear while you’re here. You must be frozen to the core.”

“I’m okay grandma. Though a cup of hot tea would be nice.” Sharon sat at the table and watched as Alice brought her teapot to the table. She then grabbed some milk from the refrigerator. Sharon poured a cup and placed her hands onto the warm mug. Then she added some milk like always. Taking a sip, she asked the Lord to one day let her be like this woman she loved with all her heart.

“How are you doing?  I’m so sorry all of this has happened. I was so looking forward to seeing you in your wedding gown today.” Alice’s voice was soft and comforting.

“I’m okay. Thank you for letting me come here today to be with Edward.  Sharon glanced at the clock and realized that if the storm had not come, she would be walking down the aisle to become Mrs. Edward Gibbs. Her mind wandered to seeing herself surrounded by family and friends as she let out a sigh. One more week. Just one more week.

CHAPTER 8

All members of the bridal party were able to make it to the rehearsal a week later. The roads to the church remained lined with majestic tunnels on either side. Sharon stood near the pulpit and watched as her mother sashayed down the aisle with a scornful look on her face. Could she not even pretend to be happy for her? She looked away. As she reflected on her recent past she sighed. Her father wouldn’t be there to escort her down the aisle. Her mother was still suffering in her own way. Sharon watched as her younger brother sat next to their mother awaiting what was to come.

Liz, Edward’s mother entered next. She’d planned the rehearsal dinner and had been working at her home to prepare it. She looked tired yet ready for the day to come. She’d always wanted a daughter and now she would be getting one.

“All right, we need to take our places so we can get started.” The Pastor spoke as to begin the evening’s events. “Ladies, you need to go downstairs to wait for your call to come up. Gentlemen, go next door into my office area and I will call you when we are ready.”

Sharon gave Edward a quick kiss and headed down the stairs with her friends. Tomorrow would be their wedding day! Their special day was finally here! Tomorrow at this time she would be his wife.

Going over the lines made the day seem more real than ever. Edward and his groomsmen laughed as he stumbled over a few of the lines and grew a tad nervous. They seemed to tease him about it the remainder of the night.

The rehearsal dinner was nice, simplistic yet enough. Crockpots filled with various sandwich fillings lined the counter as did chips and other munchies. Homemade pie with ice cream was there for those who desired it. Edward and Sharon visited with all who came. All of the family members were from his side of the family as Luanne had decided to go home and not come. Not even her brothers were able to come. But the happy couple made the best of it and enjoyed the evening. Something like that was not going to ruin things.

That night they had their final kiss as an engaged couple.  Sharon thought about how their next kiss would be following their vows. Their first kiss as a married couple!

That night, driving home, Sharon rehearsed her vows in her head again and again. She wanted the day to be perfect and she didn’t want to mess it up. Pulling into the driveway, she placed her car over to the side and got out. Taking a brief moment she looked up into the stars above.  Never again would she drive home to this house. The one her parents had built.  Sharon smiled and gathered her things from the car. She entered the house and prayed that all would go well on their wedding day. Little did she know that her special day would be filled with more challenges and disappointments.

Morning came quickly, and following a bowl of cereal, Sharon was off to get her hair done. Carefully placing her veil next to her on the seat she began to drive to the salon. The roads seemed a little bit clearer than they had the last few days. She was glad to see the parking lot had been cleared. After parking the car, she got ahold of her veil and walked in. Millie was there to greet her.

“Congratulations!” Millie greeted her as she entered. “Well, it’s your big day! Let me get a look at that veil so we can figure out what to do with that long, thick head of hair.”

Sharon trusted her completely and let her design as she wished to. Their conversation focused on the blizzard and the week previous in preparation for the wedding. Soon, her hair was styled and they tried on the veil. Looking into the mirror both women smiled. She looked like a princess!

“Now, what about your nails? Do you know what you want to do with them?”

Sharon looked at her hands and spoke the truth. “I really don’t have money for a manicure.”

“Honey, you know they will take pictures of your hands with the new rings, right?  You want your hands to look beautiful in the pictures, don’t ya?” Millie’s face softened as she looked into Sharon’s eyes.

“I would… Maybe my friend Weenie can do them for me.”

“Nonsense, I have an idea! I can give you a manicure as a wedding gift. You have time?”

Sharon’s heart leapt for joy! She had the time. Now to choose the color she wanted!

The ceremony was not until two. She had lots of things to do. Millie saw the look on her face.

“Give me fifteen minutes honey. That’s all I need!”

Sharon watched as Millie completed every step of the manicure. She’d never had one before. Relaxing as Millie massaged her hands she lay back and relaxed. It was the perfect gift! She appreciated it so! When done the two embraced and Sharon wondered if she would be able to come here again after she was married. Millie had always been so good to her.

With her hair and nails done, she needed to get started on her list. She wanted to pick up a couple of things for their honeymoon. As of yet, they weren’t sure how much money they would have to go someplace. She hoped they would get some with their gifts. She had packed a bag just in case. She wanted to wear her corsage somewhere special.

Pulling into the driveway at her house she was greeted by Weenie and Sheri. She grabbed her shopping bag from the car and hugged them. The three giggled and ran into the house to get her things. She needed to finish packing and get moving. She didn’t want to be late. The three ladies were going to drive to the church together. Sharon was going to be leaving in Edward’s car. She didn’t need hers.

The girls stopped along the way to hang up signs to help people find the church. They all chuckled as they climbed mountains of snow to get to the phone poles. Weenie and Sheri lobbed snowballs at Sharon while she dodged them to save her hairdo.  Climbing in and out of the car to hang signs, they made sure Sharon was laying down in the back seat as they passed Edward’s house.  They didn’t want them seeing each other on their wedding day! That would mean bad luck, they’d already had enough of that.

Pulling into the church they went straight to the basement through a side door.  They would change there. The lady who was to dress Sharon had already arrived with the gown. Weenie and Sharon helped take care of the bride first. They did her makeup and helped her got into her underskirt to help her prepare for her walk down the aisle. Then they did their own makeup and got dressed.

People were beginning to arrive for the ceremony upstairs.  Sharon could hear the men above her in the Pastor’s area shuffling about. She wondered what Edward was up to but stayed away from the stairs as to not catch a glimpse of him. Edward’s mother and grandmother stopped in to wish her all the best and chatted a bit. Hugs and kisses were exchanged.  Soon, the flower girl arrived in her dress. She looked so cute in her updo. She was just like a little lady.  Sharon’s mom was the next to arrive in the room. Sharon was shocked to see her mother’s dress was almost exactly like the ones her bridesmaids were wearing.  She smiled and greeted her mother all the while answering questions as to who this young lady was. Was she her sister?  Introducing her as her mother Sharon stepped out of the room to catch her breath.  Turning around, she saw her mother watching her.

“Can we talk?” Her mother looked at her and motioned to a private room nearby.

“Yeah, let me tell the girls where we are, and I’ll be in.” Sharon hoped she was in for hugs and kisses like a moment ago.

Entering the room, she found her mother standing there with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face. There was no joy to be found in her expression.

“Sharon, I want you to know that if you complete your vows today, you’re on your own. I will not help you pay for college. I will not give you money for anything. If you have kids, I will not watch them or care for them. I raised you and your brothers; I will not raise your kids. I suspect you and Edward will end up living in government housing. You’ve made your bed and you will lie in it. I’m here today as your mother. But after this you are on your own. Do you understand?”

Sharon’s mascara was running down her face as she looked into her mother’s eyes. “I understand completely. Don’t worry. I will never ask you for one thing.”

“Good. Then we understand one another. I’ll be upstairs waiting on you to decide.”

With that, her mother walked off and up the stairs. Sharon watched her as she went. She was going to marry Edward. Even if it meant her mother no longer being in her life. Her mother’s threats were not going to work. She loved him more than life itself. She was not going to back down.

“Sharon, where are you?” A concerned voice startled Sharon from her thoughts.

Walking out of the room Sharon saw her friend. “What.. What happened?” Sharon wiped her tears and looked up to see Sheri’s face. She could see there was something else she needed to tell her.

“It’s your great grandma. She fell on the step coming into the church. They think she has broken her hip!” Sheri’s voice was filled with concern. “Your uncle is with her. They are loading her into his car as we speak. She is asking for you.”

“Where is the car at?” Sharon needed to know how to get to her.

“They are pulling around to the basement door. Here, let me help you with your gown.”

Sharon and her bridesmaids walked to the side door of the basement and went out. Sharon could see her great grandmother in the back seat through the rolled down window.

Her grandma spoke, “I’m so sorry. I wanted to stay but I just can’t”

Sharon could hear the pain in her voice and asked her uncle to rush her to the hospital. She watched the car pull out and turn to go down the hill and fell into Sheri’s arms. Weenie rushed inside to get a box of tissues.  She came back and wiped her face. Her makeup was ruined.

******************************************************************

From above, the sound of Hester at the organ wafted down into the space below.  Sharon so wanted to speak with Edward about her day thus far. Keeping her promise not to see the groom prior to the wedding she sent her maid of honor upstairs to see how things were going. People were seated and the commotion surrounding her grandmother’s fall had subsided.  The lady who had dressed her came to her aid in helping redo her makeup.

“I’ve never seen anyone so committed to take her vows. You really love him, don’t you?”
Sharon responded that she did. She was going forward with her day. She’d dealt with many things before and she had this handled. As the music proceeded it was near time for the bridal march. They needed to get in position.  Without her father at her side she walked to the bottom of the steps and prepared her thoughts.  She needed to put the past in its place and move on.

The lady who had dressed her spoke once more. “I want to wish you and Edward the best in your lives together.” Stepping back she took one last look at the bride. Touching her face to fix her makeup one last time she smiled. “There, you’re ready. You really are a gorgeous bride.”

Sharon thanked her one last time and turned to climb the stairs to her future. She was sure of herself. She was about to be married. They would live happily ever after and she just knew it.

Walking into the church Sharon looked up to see Edward smiling at her.  He looked at her and winked as if to say I love you. The wedding march began to swell as those in attendance arose from their seats.  Sharon hoped she had remembered to call everyone and scanned the gathered to see who had made it.  Glancing to the right she could see Liz already weeping with tissue in hand. Beside her was Edward’s grandma Alice beaming from ear to ear. On the left sat her mother alongside her little brother. Her face was stern to Sharon, yet those gathered would have seen her as not being that way at all. How she looked in public mattered to her greatly and thus she didn’t let anyone suspect her conversation or her feelings. Her daughter was headed down the aisle. She was not going to get her way. Sharon focused on Edward and moved forward to his side. He was the one she was there for.

The ceremony lasted only a brief time, but the couple knew God was there with them. Facing forward the couple heard the reading and the message. The reading was from Corinthians 1:13 and addressed letting love be the guide for their marriage.

The Pastor spoke to the gathered to remind them that faith, hope, and love were all of a part of a means to an end. Marriage without those would not stand the test of time. Looking at Edward Sharon knew she would always love this man no matter what the future held for them. She was about to take an oath before God, and that oath would be taken seriously. Stating their vows, the young couple meant every word. Staring into each other’s eyes the words were said and the rings were placed onto their fingers. The long-awaited first kiss as a married couple was tender and sweet as Edward brushed his lips against hers.

“I love you’” he said to his new bride.

“I love you, too,” Sharon replied. ‘I always will.”

As the couple turned to face the people in attendance a round of applause went up in the church. Facing them as man and wife, Sharon felt a warm glow come over her. She was now Mrs. Edward Gibbs. Their moment had come and gone, but the vows would last them a lifetime. The couple proceeded to the front pews and picked up a single rose for each mother.  Turning to her mother, Sharon held hands with Edward as she handed a rose to her mother first. Luanne smiled as to look good in front of her family and accepted it. Sharon lingered for a moment hoping to get a hug. Edward squeezed her hand to let her know to move on. Then, turning to the other side the couple crossed the aisle. Edward shared his flower with Liz that was attempting to hold back tears. Embracing her son, she whispered something private and then hugged Sharon as well.

“Welcome to the family, dear. I’m so glad that God has blessed me with such a wonderful daughter.”

Following hugs from Edward’s father and grandparents, the processional continued ending with a reception line in the basement. Congratulations were everywhere and Sharon smiled as she enjoyed hug after hug. It was her wedding day; she was enjoying every moment.

Cutting the cake, the young couple crossed arms and fed one another.  The cake and mints, along with punch and coffee served to be nice refreshments for all gathered. It was not elaborate, it was simple, yet good enough. Sharon watched as Sheri and Weenie served the cake to their guests. The young ladies spoke to and laughed with each one. Memories were being created.

A table filled with gifts awaited the happy couple. They stood together opening each one.  Everything they got, they needed. They didn’t have much and there had been no bridal shower.  Some people gathered and talked. Others watched them open each gift. Sharon ripped open each package and then neatly folded some of the prettiest papers to line their dresser drawers. She wanted to keep as many pieces of the day as she could.

She headed to the backroom to change into her outfit for their honeymoon. Weenie assisted her by removing the corsage built into her flowers and pinned it on her.

“You’re absolutely glowing! I’ve never seen you so happy in all the time I’ve known you.” Weenie and Sharon embraced.

“I’m so happy! I feel like I’m dancing on cloud nine.” Sharon’s eyebrows raised up a bit to reveal the twinkle in her eyes.”

“You guys have fun! Have you decided where you are going yet?”

“We got enough money to go out for dinner and then spend one night in Columbus.”

“That sounds nice. Don’t you do anything I wouldn’t do!” Weenie squealed and smiled at her friend. She was always so silly.

Sharon looked out from behind the curtain around the room to see people gathering to toss rice at them. Smiling at Edward she said, “Well Mr. Gibbs. Are you ready for what lies ahead?”

Holding hands, the couple ran out into a steady stream of rice toward their destiny. Tossing the bouquet Sharon looked back long enough to see her younger cousin holding it. Getting into the car she took one last glance at the building they had just come from. This church would always be a special place for them. Hearing the car engine start up Sharon placed her seatbelt across her lap. It seemed like only yesterday they had been on their first date. Now, they were man and wife. Sharon waved good-byes and then then turned to look at her husband.

“You wanna listen to some music? How about KISS?” Edward teased his new bride and leaned in to kiss her lips. Sharon giggled inside and then kissed him back. Kisses were going to be extra special from now on.

Pulling out of the parking area, the car moved forward into the snowy surroundings and their future. Their future as man and wife.

CHAPTER 9

Their honeymoon consisted of one night in Columbus, where they went out to dinner and shopping for some jeans for Edward. The couple had been so glad to find some money while opening gifts. Alice had given them a lasagna pan with fifty dollars in it. Without that they would have had their first night at home in their rental.

Upon arriving home, the next day, they went to visit her great grandma in the hospital and took her the flowers from the wedding to decorate her room. She was glad to see them and greeted them the best she could. The couple listened as she explained what happened during her trip to the ER. Sharon apologized to her grandma and hugged her tight. She so wished she hadn’t been hurt. Her grandma would have to endure a lot of pain and major surgery. She was the one who had wanted to be there. The newlywed bride was beginning to think her life was cursed. She hadn’t had such bad luck before the abortion. Was God punishing her?

While sharing leftover cake and mints with the patient, Sharon’s thoughts began to fester in her mind. Why was God letting these things happen to people in her life and was she the cause of their misery? She believed that she truly was. Their new life together had just begun, and Sharon really believed she was cursed or hexed. Walking down the hall to the chapel the young bride knelt down, “God, please help my great grandma heal. She fell because of me. She wouldn’t have been there if not for my wedding. I ask you to help her, Lord. She needs you. She had nothing to do with my sins. God, don’t blame her. If need be, take it out on me; not her.”

Great grandma’s health went downhill after the fall. She was released from the hospital to a nursing home where she resided for therapy. Then eventually she moved in with her daughter so that she could help with her daily needs. Sharon and Edward continued to live in the rental for a while and then bought a mobile home in a trailer park near her old school.

By their first Christmas Sharon was expecting again. Sharon made handmade ornaments for the tree and wrapped gifts for underneath. Christmas Eve came with a special gift. Knowing how much Sharon loved Christmas Edward had a rocking chair delivered to the house while at his families. Sharon was thrilled to find it when they returned home that night. On it was a note saying it was from Santa. But Sharon knew better.

Sheri and her mother had a baby shower for Sharon at Luanne’s house. The mother daughter’s relationship was quite strained and they hadn’t talked much at all. Sharon being there was nice, but complicated.  Weenie and Dwayne had married by now and their marriage was not doing well at all. Sharon’s hopes of her being the child’s Godmother were all but a wash. Weenie had been so in love and yet their being married seemed to fail so fast.

Life went on. By spring, Sharon was in the delivery room ready to give birth.  She had made it this time! Edward suited up and came into the delivery room. He was not so sure about needles but stayed with her and saw their son come into the world. Joy was theirs! They had a child as Sharon had dreamed of. Calling her great grandmother, she described the child down to his ten fingers and toes. They were going to name him Michael. Her grandmother seemed pleased and Sharon wanted to show her the baby. She would after they had gone home.  Liz and Alice came as well as others. They all wanted to see the baby. Sharon was learning to nurse him and take care of him in classes they offered at the hospital. She stayed a couple of days and then it was time to go home. While riding home, the couple spoke of what they needed for their son. He would need so many things. Edward then told her that her mother was coming over with a pizza for dinner. She wanted to see the baby. She hadn’t seen him yet. Luanne came and shared dinner with them and then announced to them some bad news. Her great grandmother had passed away.  She had been in the hospital while Sharon was. Sharon told her mother that she had just spoken to her about the baby. Why hadn’t anyone told her? She was just down the hall on the same floor! She could have showed her the baby! It was too late now. Upset, Sharon checked on the baby. He was asleep. Soon after, Sharon fed him. She had eaten the pizza and didn’t know it would upset his stomach. In no time, he was crying. Being a new mother Sharon didn’t know what she was doing wrong. She was upset as was the baby and this was their first night at home. It was not a restful one. The next morning Sharon called Edward’s grandma to ask if she could watch the baby while she went to the showing.  The Devil’s grip drove in deeper as she now thought she was not a good mother and that she had something to do with her grandmother’s death. She had been well until the fall at the church. His hold went in deeper and deeper and she felt more jinxed than ever.

Their second child came almost five years later. This time Sharon’s health was not good. She had toxemia and was hospitalized on complete bed rest for the sake of herself and her child. Laying in the hospital bed Sharon was tormented by severe headaches. She couldn’t even stand the light that came in the window and lay there holding her head praying to be able to sleep. Following induced labor that lasted two days, their son was born on Easter Sunday. He was healthy and Sharon took this as a sign from God that things were going to change. She had lost a child on Christmas and now had a child on Easter. The day of the resurrection. It had to mean something!

She went back to church. She sat there with her children and found people staring at her when they cried. She was trying! She grabbed a bottle as soon as she could but it took a while to calm him down. Week after week this would happen. So, she got up and walked out. Her mind kept on telling her she was not worthy to be there. It was as if they knew what she had done. Seeds of doubt flourished. She wasn’t good enough anymore. She had murdered and was doomed to Hell. Why even try? Her life was proof of it. Everyone she loved died or had bad things happen. Weenie was gone. She left after they divorced and moved out of state. Sheri came around from time to time but their lives had changed. She was alone most days while Edward was working to support them. She was without God as well. Going to church was not going to do her any good. She had made her bed and she was lying in it. She was done trying.

Time passed. Sharon and her mother lost touch as she raised the kids with little help from anyone. By now, they had bought an old farm house on a main road and she and Michael sat and counted cars as they passed by.  Baby Joe grew to school age in that house. The boys loved riding their Big Wheels in the back yard and Sharon loved to watch them enjoying life. She and Edward had two sons. She loved them with all her heart but didn’t have the passion she once did. Deciding to go back to school she and Edward worked to pay her tuition bills as she got her degree. She wanted to be out with adults and hopefully find a way to make a difference in their lives. Perhaps, if she worked as well he could be home more. She felt bad that he had to work so many hours. His dreams had been put to the side, he had become the breadwinner.  Working became his way of life. Even on the weekends he would go in to do extra work to feed his family. His commitment shone for all to see. Sharon’s studies at school became a means to help her psychological needs. She soaked in the academic world and the philosophical conversations there. Earning her bachelor’s degree she then went out into the world to find employment. Teaching was her goal as it always had been. She began as a member of a research team and then substitute taught for a while. Moving into the country the family had more land for the boys to play and more opportunities for Sharon to share her love of children. Becoming a member of the baseball board she met a man who would hire her for her first teaching job. He was in another district than where they lived at the time but soon moved to the one where the boys attended. Having seen her work running the concession stand he knew of her dedication to the district. Then, while she was tutoring a child in a room adjacent to his office he learned of her ability to reach this special needs child. He asked her to join the staff in the upcoming year to be a special needs teacher. She agreed. She then went back to school to get her master’s degree. Working, studying, helping with ball, and being a mom kept her quite busy and she really didn’t have time to think of much else. That was what she had needed. She kept busy and moved on.

Pets were a major part of the family. Not only dogs but gerbils, birds and more filled their home. At one point her mother had told her she had a zoo. But Sharon laughed it off and got more. She wanted the boys to learn how to care and love for animals. She hoped it would help them become better parents one day. They helped to raise baby rabbits, an orphaned squirrel and even a baby raccoon. These were responsibilities and not jobs like when she was a child. There was a difference. She didn’t force them to work. She didn’t enforce rules like when to be at the table or not eat. She didn’t make them mow the lawn. She wanted them to be kids while they could. She wanted them to feel loved.

Learning to take stats at their ball games she kept books for their teams and later for them. She placed those among their belongings for them to look back over. Ball was a major theme with the family. Mike played basketball for a while. Joe took to football and even played a short stint in college until being hurt and coming home.

Edward taught the boys the manly things of life. He worked with them on fixing things around the house and repairing cars. He wanted them to know how to take care of things when they were adults. They built a deck on their home. They built a shed down back. They even helped from time to time paint cars and the mower. Both parents did as they could to help them grow into fine men.

When Michael began to prepare to go off to college Sharon began to realize that he would soon be moving on into his own life. He moved to a university three hours away. She wept on the day he moved out. Her whole life had been focused on loving their boys. Now, the first one was leaving the nest. The upcoming years would be different. Edward too was struggling. He’d spent so much time working to support them that he hadn’t taken the time to truly be with them and now it was over. He asked Sharon if they could adopt but she was not ready for that. Working with special needs kids all day at school and with what they’d been through in the past she just couldn’t do it.  For both, being a parent had taken precedence and now that was coming to a close. There life as about to change.  They had to be ready.

CHAPTER 10

Having a new sister in law she began getting to know her. The two would sit and discuss all kinds of things. Kay had a different way of looking at the world of Spiritualism and God. She told Sharon of a place where you could go to church and have readings done for free. The people who attended there would speak to the dead and tell their family members about what they said. It was one way to talk to them and hear what was going on. You could also get warnings about things in life as well. Sharon’s thoughts turned to her children in heaven. She’d always wondered about what happened to the ones she hadn’t carried to term. Especially the one that she had aborted.  She’d always wanted to know if they were all right. She had harbored their grief for so long. Maybe now was the time to know the answers.

“I think we should go there one night. It could be a lady’s night out. I could ask some friends to go along. Their church has a dinner and then the service is after that. We could all meet here and go together. How does next week sound?”

It sounded good to Sharon. Perhaps she could get some answers.

“Okay, so I’ll call some friends and we can meet up here around four to go down. We’ll go for the dinner and then for a reading.” stated Kay.

Sharon noted the exact time and date in her pocket calendar. She wanted to hear from Matthew as well as the baby she had miscarried. She had hidden that ache for years but it was time to heal.

Walking into the church that night, Sharon looked about, wondering what might happen. She had been thinking a lot about hearing from her children on the other side of the veil since their talk. She asked the group to sit closer to the front hoping it would help her cause. As the service began the choir sang some old hymns and read a passage from a book written by an elder of their church. The church was named after her. Sharon looked around the room and noticed a large framed picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. She smiled. Perhaps this was a church she could attend. She didn’t feel so judged here.

Soon the members of the church who would give the readings stepped to the front in robes. They explained that they would come to each person in the room and ask permission to give them a reading. The recipient then could accept or decline the message. Sharon looked around the room and felt an uneasiness in the pit of her stomach. What if her babies weren’t okay? What if they told her some bad news? Maybe she didn’t want a reading after all. Listening to readings other people got in the room Sharon decided not to take a reading. She would say no when they came to her. She had lived with their deaths but having to bear anything new would be horrible.

“I am coming next to the lady in the rose colored top here in the front row.”  The lady was speaking to Sharon.

“Yes?” Sharon double checked the color of her top and looked up.

“Would you like a message?”

“Yes.” Sharon gave the response that she hadn’t wanted to. She had talked herself out of that.

You’re sure that you want to open this door?” The person in front of her seemed to know she was tense and afraid. Could she read her mind?

“Yes. I would like a message please.” Sharon’s voice was stronger this time. She needed to know where the babies were and if they were okay. She was going to take the risk.

The lady continued, “Your spirit guide is showing me that something in your past literally reached in and yanked your heart out of your body. Do you know of what I am speaking?”

“Yes, I do.” Sharon’s body was quaking now as she recalled the room from so long ago where her heart was ripped out of her chest. The day she had wanted to go to be with God and her child in Heaven. She looked at the members of her group and hoped this lady would not reveal her secret.

“There is a Mathew Bryant here tonight. He wants you to know he is well. You’ll be with him one day if you make the right choices. That’s all I have for you tonight.”

Sharon’s thoughts raced almost as quickly as she did to get outside to process what just happened away from everyone there. That is all! What does that mean? If I make the right choices? What was she talking about? How could she know the name of the child that I lost? How did she know that my heart was ripped out of my chest that day in Cleveland? Her thoughts continued to ramble in her head as she paced the outer edge of the church trying not to throw up in their flower bed. She sat down on a bench and began to weep into the palms of her hands. Matthew was okay. She knew that much. But what about the other one? Why does she think I can join him one day? I’m going to burn in hell for what I did! She needed to know more.

The Devil had planted yet another seed. Sharon fell into his trap of attending the church as often as she could. She needed to know more about the message she had been given.  Week after week, she went back to hear simple things about her life but nothing about the children she had lost.

After months she decided to join classes there that focused on healings and psychic phenomena. Psychic trumpets were placed onto the ground and pencil and paper were placed out for the spirits to write with. That would prove they could move things on the Earthly realm.  Sitting in a dark, dank, musty room she watched others have Civil War soldiers and other dead come into their bodies and speak forth messages to the living. She never cared for the smell of the room. But the enticement of meeting her children lured her back for four years. In that time, Sharon learned how to listen to her spirit guides and do as they asked her.  She lay hands on people and could feel their ailments in her body. She then would pray for them asking for healing through their spirit guides. She stated things to many that even their closest friends may not have known.  Her dreams became surreal. They were intense and foretelling of things in the future. Some were coming true! Airplane crashes and loved ones deaths were being seen in those dreams. She even saw the death of her grandmother ahead of when it happened. In the dream she was in a car accident and died there. In real life she was given a medicine she was allergic to that killed her. Sharon thought God was talking to her in parables. She didn’t think otherwise. Her dreams and visions continued. She tried to warn people what she had dreamt of. But they laughed at her and told her she was being taken in by the Devil.  She could not see that side of the issue. The people at this church treated her kindly. They welcomed her and did not judge her. Besides, there was a picture of Jesus in the church. They sang gospel songs. They seemed more Christian to her than others.

Learning more, Sharon discussed her dreams and visions in the classes she attended. She was told that when she saw things like death to not share that. She was to only share things that were positive.  Sharon was confused by this, she was being given things to warn the, to possibly save them. She wanted to tell people if they were headed into danger. But then they did just ridicule her. Or, like with her grandma, her mom was angry she didn’t tell her. Either way seemed wrong.

As time continued Sharon would awaken in a kind of stupor as she witnessed dark beings in their home and about her. She tried to talk to them but had no response given. Lights in the house and other phenomena was occurring often. Friends and family members begged her to stop but the addiction enveloped her soul. She thought she was doing good for people and wanted to serve God in this capacity. She was able to tell people things they needed to hear from their spirit guides as well as heal them by laying of hands. They had approached her and told her so. She was working for her Lord, or at least she thought she was.

Then one night, at a meeting at the church, Sharon heard a wee voice speak to her.  It was the same voice that had spoken to her years previous in Cleveland. “Ask them if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

What?  Sharon thought. Of course they do, they have his picture hanging on the wall.

The voice repeated in her head, “Ask them if they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

Sharon continued to listen to the back and forths of the meeting but didn’t ask the question as she was to do. That was a silly question to ask her peers. Who was that in her head anyway?

A man, who had been recording the meeting onto a tape, shifted his weight in his chair and looked at Sharon. Sharon was wondering who he was as she had never seen him there before.  Standing from his seated position the man spoke. “I have a question for you folks. Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”

Sharon felt her body arch in response to the question being asked.

One of her teachers, one of the members of the church, responded. “No sir. We do not believe that one man could wash away the sins of the World. We believe he was a prophet sent to lead us but not our Savior.”

Sharon gasped for air and about fell off of her chair. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. All those years she’d thought she had been serving him and his people to only find out she wasn’t.  They did not believe in Jesus as their redeemer. She gained her composure and began to walk out of the room. As she did, she glanced over to the man who had asked the question. He smiled at her and nodded his head as an affirmation of his response to what had just occurred. Gathering her thoughts she walked out of the Spiritualist Church never to return.

The drive home was one wherein she processed how dim witted she had been. Over and over again she revisited all who had been a part of the deceit. Sharon prayed aloud and asked God to aid those people the same way he had helped her. She also asked him to forgive her for being so naïve. Had she unknowingly led people to believe as she had?

She never went back nor contacted anyone who had befriended her there. How could she have been so stupid?

CHAPTER 11

Depression began to sink into Sharon’s body. Most days she didn’t want to get out of bed let alone go to work. Her children were grown, and she had no reason to live anymore. Edward was busy taking care of his parents as his father was now unable to walk and bedridden. Liz had her hands full working and taking care of him. Sharon felt alone and without hope for her future.  She had been having aches in her stomach and at times would double over in pain but didn’t say anything. They had enough on their plates as it was. They would make her see a doctor. She really didn’t care if she did or not.

Months passed and her health worsened. One night, she awoke in so much pain that she could barely breathe. Her stomach appeared to have doubled in size, and the pain was ever increasing.  Waking Edward up, she asked him to take her to the hospital. He did so immediately.

The diagnosis was not good. Sharon had pancreatitis. A gallstone had broken loose and gotten stuck in her bile duct. The doctors talked to the couple about what would happen next. She would be given medicines through an IV for a few days. Then they would revisit the condition and see if she got better or not. Hopefully, they would see an improvement.

Days passed as Sharon’s condition worsened. She could overhear the doctors talking to her family in the hallway. “I’m sorry to say that she is not getting better. By now her numbers should be down, but they’re not. Some do not pull out of this and others do. We need to continue to monitor her situation and see what happens. The next few days will be critical.”

Sharon attempted to sit up to hear what was going on in the hallway but someone pulled the door shut. When it opened her mother came into view and came to stand beside her.

“You know I love you. I want you to know that.” Her mother’s voice was soft and tender.

Sharon had never heard her utter those words before. Most days, those words would have been welcome. But today, they were a bit scary. Was she going to die? Was it time for her to go to Hell? She hugged her when she leaned in and pressed against her body. Then she watched as she left the room.

Edward came in next. He looked as if he had been crying. His eyes were bloodshot and he tried to conceal it. “We need to talk. The doctor says you should be improving by now, but you aren’t. “His voice was quiet and at times he took a breath to avoid crying.

“I know. I could hear you guys in the hallway. I am feeling weaker each day and I’ve been weighing myself with the scale on the bed. I’ve been losing a lot of weight. I hardly have the strength to get to the bathroom anymore.” Sharon was honest with her husband of twenty-five years. She knew anything less would be wrong.

“What are we going to do? You have some choices you know. You can stay here or go to the Cleveland Clinic. You can be taken by ambulance if you like.” That suggestion was one that Sharon had hoped to hear.

She thought back to when she had pinched the skin on top of her hand, and it stayed there. That meant, she was dehydrated. Here, at this local hospital they would unhook her IV from time to time to give her meds. That was not helping. She wondered if in Cleveland they would have better tools of the trade to help her. “I agree, I want to be transferred there. I think it would be for the best.”

“I’ll tell the nurses at the desk so they can get you a bed there. I’m sure they will try. It may take a few days, but I agree with that decision.” Walking off Sharon knew he was struggling with it all. His kind heart was showing.

The next morning Sharon lay her head back onto her pillow to rest and attempt to sleep. She had asked for no visitors as she had been up all-night having problems with her bowels and was barely able to get there in time. She knew that if she had visitors it could be an accident waiting to happen. She needed to rest and heal. Her hands were becoming more and more thin. She was dehydrating and the IV was not keeping up. At times it was unhooked for hours. Not allowed to have anything by mouth since entering she felt weaker and weaker. She was dying and knew it. As she fell into a deep sleep she had something happen that she had never experienced before, not even while going to the Spiritualist Church. She could feel her body rising from her bed. She was now levitating going up toward the ceiling. She could see her physical body there below her. She felt no pain, no grief, and the immense love that wrapped about her reminded her of the way she had felt when she held her sons for the first time. This feeling was of a pure love, like none other. Greater in intensity and as pure a love as ever was. As she drifted there, she began to see a movie in her head. One that revealed her life thus far. In the film she could see herself and her eldest brother watching cartoons on TV. She could not only hear the sounds but could also smell the food cooking in the kitchen of her early childhood home. She watched this movie for a time and then moved into another area. Here she saw family members standing in a sort of receiving line in a valley near a lake. She saw her grandmas and her father reaching out to her and then it was gone!

Next, there was a voice asking her if she was ready to come home. Sharon responded that she had hoped to stay a while longer. She wanted to meet who would marry her sons and her future grandchildren. In a flash, she was back in the room hovering over her body. She floated there for a while and saw her mother entering the room with her younger brother, now an adult. As her body hovered there for a moment Sharon could see her mother attempting to awaken her.

“Hey! You gonna wake up and talk to us? Your brother came to see you! Wake up!”

Her soul suddenly dropped back to join the body on the bed. Pain and suffering returned and the immense love she had felt was gone. She lay there trying to get that feeling back but could not. She opened her eyes.

“There she is. It is about time! Sit up and talk to your brother.”

Sharon sat up and attempted to figure out what happened and listen to her brother at the same time. But, her mind couldn’t wrap itself around both. Lord. What was that? Was that you? Who was I talking to? At that moment Sharon reconnected with God.

Lord, I need your help. I am dying. I want to stay here long enough to meet my son’s wives and my future grandchildren.  I need to go where a specialist can help me. Can you help me get transferred to Cleveland Clinic? Lord, can you help me?

Her prayer was not so much for her but for her family. She wanted to be there for them. Listening to her mother ramble on about some social event she had been to she drifted back to sleep.

Later, that same day, Sharon awoke to the sound of her things being packed up to go. The worker had the television on watching a show about Michael Jackson’s home Neverland. She watched and relaxed back a bit in the bed.

“Hey, sleepyhead. About time you woke up. We went downstairs to get a bite to eat while you slept. We need you to get ready to take a little ride in an ambulance. Dad’s on his way from work.  He should be here any minute.” Her eldest son spoke. The look in his hazel blue eyes conveyed one of hope. “Julie wants to meet you, but we’ll wait until you feel better to do so. We’ve been dating a few months and I know you are anxious to get to know her.”

“That will be fine honey. God will allow time for us to do so. I know that in my heart now.” Leaning forward to give them both a hug she let out a sigh of relief. Time could heal all wounds, and hopefully that was all she needed this time.

About that time Edward entered the room with his cousin. His face showed concern, but his voice uttered nothing but words of love. “Happy twenty- fifth anniversary! I can’t believe that we were on our honeymoon that long ago.” He held a bouquet of flowers in a vase in his hands.

Sharon looked up and smiled. “I know. It seems like it was only yesterday.  The flowers are lovely. Did you know I’m being moved to Cleveland?”

Edward stated he had. A smile came over his face as he handed the bouquet to his cousin. “Thank you Jesus!”

“Okay you Jesus Freak!  You about dropped that high dollar vase of yours. Watch it!” his cousin teased him as he knew they always used their money wisely.

Edward leaned in and hugged Sharon knowing that the Clinic was their best option.

Sharon smiled and watched the staff member load things onto the cart to go to the truck.

“We’ll follow you and stay until you get settled in.” stated Edward.

The sons said their words of love and walked with their mother alongside her gurney on the way to the ambulance. She was on the way to a place where God was going to help her. Holding their hands, one on each side of the gurney, Sharon smiled. Bear hugs were given and then she was near to being on her way. The men were to follow, and Sharon knew that they would do just that.

“Mom, we have to stay to work tomorrow but dad has strict instructions that he is to keep us informed.”

“I understand. I’ll see you soon. I’ll be just fine.” She reassured them.

She had never ridden in an ambulance and hoped that it would not be too bumpy. Her bowels were still in an uproar and there was no bathroom to use. She feared that a mess might be made. Being lifted into the chariot that awaited her she waved her goodbyes and closed her eyes.

The ride to Cleveland Clinic took just over an hour. Sharon was tightly strapped to the gurney and uncomfortable. She tried to rest but was unable. Vitals being taken, and calls being made to the clinic Sharon’s mind remained busy. The roads were slick, and she hoped that Edward and his cousin were safely following them. Perhaps they would take it slow and not worry about her. Upon arrival she was taken to a room on an upper floor and placed into bed. Nurses and staff ran into the room to take her stats. Two IVs were placed piggyback style into her arm in the attempt to rehydrate her.  Sharon looked up to see the two nurses working on her and thought she was in a dream. The male nurse had a shaved head and scars and stitches across his forehead. He looked like Frankenstein. The female nurse had retro style glasses encrusted with jewels of some sort. Her hair was up in a beehive hairdo and reminded Sharon of Betty Boop. Sharon blinked her eyes. Was she seeing things? Was her mind playing tricks on her?

“Man, oh man! That was one wild ride!” Sharon looked up to see a familiar face enter the room.  His cousin had arrived. “Edward wants me to tell you he’s parking the car and will be up soon. The roads were bad and that ambulance you were in was flying!  You guys were going 70 miles an hour on those slick roads. We could barely keep up with the thing.”

Sharon was watching the image his story created in her mind. She saw the men hurrying along as her husband raced to keep up. He hated to drive over the speed limit. He was probably not happy. She was glad they were okay.

“Do you mind if I ask you a stupid question. Can you describe my nurses that were just in here to me?” I think I’m losing my mind. They look a little out of the norm to me.” She was hoping he would describe what she just witnessed.

“Well, they don’t seem like typical nurses to me. I overheard a conversation at the nurse’s desk that the guy is just back from being in a bad accident. That’s why his head is shaved, and he has scars.” he answered.

Sharon was glad to hear that he had seen the same things she had. Her mind was intact after all. At that moment, a team of doctors entered her room and began to ask a multitude of questions. Their immediate response to her situation was to send her for some tests to be sure what was going on inside of her. Sharon said good-bye to her visitor and told him to be sure to let Edward know that she would be right back. Being wheeled down the hallway, she saw the elevator door open as Edward stepped out. In his hands he was carrying her flowers from earlier in the day.

“I’m headed for some tests and will be right back,” she explained quickly.

Edward stepped over and kissed her softly on the lips. Her body tingled just like when they’d first kissed on their wedding day. She smiled as she was wheeled off.

“I’ll see you in a little bit!” Edward stated.

By the time she returned to the room, the two men were deep in conversation about who could take turns sitting with Sharon. Most family members had to work, and with the distance to the hospital from their home, coupled with weather conditions, it would be difficult. Sharon would most likely not get a lot of company. Sharon knew she was there for healing and desired the time to rest. She suggested that her being alone to do so was fine. She didn’t want anybody getting into an accident or worse just to visit. She had a roommate and the television to watch. She could keep in touch on the hospital phone and keep the family abreast of her condition. The men agreed that might be for the best and decided they needed to get back on the road to get home. Driving conditions were still not good. Edward needed to get up early for work. Sharon watched as the pair walked off, talking to one another. She knew Edward would not be back for days. His company did not have sick days. His vacation time was limited, and she may need him home with her later on. They would also need to be able to pay the bills that would be coming. Turning on the television she watched the evening news and fell asleep.

Waking in the morning light she saw the male nurse return. He was on watch for the day. He needed to take her vitals and ask how she was feeling. The IVs had surely helped.  She was feeling a bit better already. She looked at the IV drip and saw she still had two bags flowing but the rate was slower. The nurse stayed busy taking care of her and took her weight. She had dropped ten pounds since this all began. She watched as he showed her how to use the scale on the bed. It would be something to do to entertain herself.

Soon, the doctor who had been assigned to do her gallbladder surgery entered the room to discuss her case with her.  He stated that the gallbladder would need to be removed or she may one day go through all of this again. But, first, she would need to regain her strength.  This would take time. She could expect to be in the hospital another week or so to heal from the pancreatitis.  She would then return a few weeks later for the surgery.  As she and the doctor wrapped up their conversation the nurse busied himself with her new orders. The potassium placed into her IV burned like fire as it traveled up her arm.  She didn’t complain. She was getting real help here. She watched as the doctor left the room.

“How did you get Dr. Steele? The nurse asked.

“Dr. Steele? I had never met him until today. Why do you ask?” Sharon replied.

“Don’t you know who he is? He is the top gastroenterologist in the state. In fact, he’s in the top ten in the United States. I work here and I can’t even get him if I request him. You must have done something special for him to be on your case.”

Sharon was baffled. She wasn’t sure how she had been blessed with this man as her doctor. Then she remembered having prayed for God to send her who could help her. “I did pray and ask God to send me who I needed. I guess he answered my prayer.”

She then watched as the nurse exited the room shaking his head. She could tell he didn’t believe her. But, she knew it was the truth and offered up a prayer of Thanksgiving.

A week passed, and Sharon was cleared to go home for a while prior to her surgery. She had been on a clear liquid diet for two days now and kept it down with no pain. Her first meal had been a popsicle. It tasted odd, they explained that was due to the meds she was on. Everything she tried tasted that way and was hoping things would taste normal again one day. Sharon played with the scales on her bed one last time and found she had lost fifteen pounds. She joked with the staff that she had invented a new diet plan. She would call it the IV diet. The staff laughed and told her that some people had tried that. Sharon thought the mannerism would be quite risky and extreme to say the least.  But, she needed some levity in her life and continued to make the jokes, The IV diet was a possible book and talk show topic!

Edward walked into the room to find her talking of her plans for the book and talk show circuit. It was nice to hear her laughing again. He helped pack her things and drove her back to their hometown. He hoped she would heal in time for her surgery. He would help take care of things around the house as much as he could. She had been gone quite a while as it was. Her healing from the entire ordeal would take much longer.

Sharon spent her time at home reflecting on what had happened in the hospitals. She was mostly focused on the day she seemed to die and the state she had entered into. When she and Edward discussed it he thought it was to do with the medicines she was on. But, then in addition to that how had she gotten the best doctor in the state to help her? Could God still love her after all that she had done? Why didn’t he just let her die that fiery death she was doomed to? Sharon prayed to thank him for all he had done. Without God by her side, she surely would have perished.

CHAPTER 12

Years passed and Sharon settled back into her routines of work and studies. While reading a book, Edward crossed the room to answer the phone. Sharon watched as the look on his face turned into emotional pain. She listened and knew someone had died, but who? As he hung up the phone he dropped into a nearby chair and began to weep incessantly. Sharon got up her emotional strength to cross the room to hold him.

“What happened? Talk to me.” Sharon pleaded.

“My cousin is dead. He has been for a while. They think he must have had a heart attack in his chair last night. They found him there this morning.” His words were slurred and intermittent with tears.

“I’m so sorry. The last time I saw him was when he was at the clinic with you.” Sharon thought back to when he had taunted them with the words Jesus Freaks. Her mind shifted to where he was for all eternity. Had he gone through what she had? Did he see his family in the meadow? She hoped he had. Life was not a given, nor eternal life either. She had learned that each day could be your last.  Now, she was witnessing it with Edward’s cousin and best friend. She watched as her loved one reeled over the loss. They’d grown up together and were close as brothers. Then he moved out of state and the distance made things harder to spend time together. Edward was mad at himself for not going to see him. Now, it was too late. Experiencing this triggered in Sharon the desire to return to the Lord. She wanted to find answers to what she had experienced and why God still loved her. In her mind it was time to reopen that door she had closed so long ago. It could not wait. Her soul was on the line. This was a reminder for her.

Sharon began to look for a Bible Study group in the area and found one for post abortive people. Men or women could come. She called the local office and signed up immediately. She needed to get things right with God and hoped this was the right place to do so.

Her weekly Bible study would be with two other ladies. One lived with the regret of three abortions and now lived with a special needs child. The other lady knew her Bible well. She was the leader of the group. She’d never lost a child in any form but her kind demeanor made her a great source of knowledge and hope. Each week, the class discussed how God would forgive your sins if only you asked. Sharon could not accept this. For so long she had believed she was doomed to Hell for what she had done. Time after time the ladies in the group asked her to give herself to the Lord. But she refused.  She did not feel worthy and would not budge. Anger began to rear its ugly head again and Sharon thought about leaving the class. The thing that kept her there was knowing that she would have a funeral service for her child at the end. The thought of having that service with flowers and prayers fueled her hope for the future. Perhaps, then she could put it into the past forever. She needed to heal. Sharon looked through the materials on how to plan the service. She had never even known him but wanted to do this right. Emotions stirred within her and she attempted to sweep them to the side. She focused on simple things like baby blue carnations in his honor. Edward and Sharon opened up and talked about the topic more than they had for years. He had suffered as well. He had been holding it in and being strong for her. He told her he had always wished that he had come in and took her out of that place so long ago. He felt as if he had failed her and failed as a father. Nearly thirty years had passed since they had taken that drive to the abortion clinic in Cleveland, yet neither had healed. Would they ever? Sharon could see the pain in his face and asked if he would like to be a part of the ceremony. It was time to put it behind them. The ceremony was brief and the poem Sharon selected was read by the class instructor. Sharon glanced down at the bulletin and read his name over and over. Matthew Bryant Gibbs, their son was being memorialized.  Tears rolled down her face as Edward took her hand in his.

“He’s in Heaven you know. He’s just fine. My Grandma Alice is probably with him every day hugging him and loving on him.” Edward spoke the truth and she knew it.

“I know he is. But, will I ever get to meet him? I killed our son.”

The leader of the group walked over and placed her hand on the grieving mother’s shoulder. “You can if you give your life to the Lord. Would you like me to lead you in the prayer of salvation?”

Edward looked into Sharon’s eyes as if to ask her to pray with him.

“Yes, we would like to do that. What do we say?”

https://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/  This organization helps many. Seek their assistance on this website.

https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/   This  organization helps those post abortive to heal.  Men and women can call for help and classes.


CHAPTER 13

Following their prayer of salvation, the couple began going to church with one of the Bible Study members. Sitting in the new place fear entered Sharon’s heart that she wouldn’t be welcome here.  The voices in her head kept telling her to sit quietly and face forward as not to draw attention to herself. Sharon watched as the people in the sanctuary raised their hands in praise and sang along with the praise team. People even shouted AMEN at times and stood when doing so. This was all new to Sharon as she was accustomed to a more passive style of worship. She looked at Edward and took his hand. She was going to have to get used to all of this. The service ended, and the people began coming around asking them if they had a home church. Edward greeted them and told them they were seeking a church while Sharon backed up in fear, they possibly all knew why they were there at the church with the lady they sat with. They may know she helped at that place. She didn’t want to be treated with disrespect or that they would know of her past.

As time passed Sharon was able to utter an occasional Amen in response to the sermon. She was getting more accustomed to the ways of this church. She asked about joining the praise team and was anxious to begin after a year of attendance. She and Edward were in a church and her feelings of being doomed to Hell were beginning to subside. She had lived with that fear for so many years it was going to take time.

Nearly one year into their attending the Pastor asked for male volunteers for a mission’s trip to Mexico to build a church plant. Edward’s eyes lit up as he heard them ask. He had wanted to get to know some of the men on a more personal level and hoped this would be a chance to do so. He truly missed his cousin and wanted to meet a new person to befriend. He wrote his name on the sign-up sheet and took the information packet. He and Sharon discussed it on the way home and decided it would be a good way for him to use his God given talents to help others in a new way.

Edward prepared for the trip by getting his passport and some shots. He also looked at his tools to figure out what to take along. In a couple of months he was off on his trip. This would be the first of his many mission trips in his life. He would travel out of the country as well as in the United States.  Sharon longed to go with him but wasn’t always able. Many were planned for construction and men. She also had problems getting off work. She and Edward began to pray for her to get a chance to go serve as he was. She continued to blame herself for problems in their lives. She knew God had forgiven her, but forgiving herself was a whole other thing.

In December of 2010 Edward got a phone call asking him to join a missions trip to Haiti. Dwayne’s new wife had called to ask. She explained that part of the group would be medical and the other part construction. She knew he had experience with such things and hoped he could go. Edward listened and then spoke it over with Sharon. He would be gone for about a week. The couple discussed the financial and personal ramifications of said trip. He knew that she would not be able to go once again. Her lost wages for time off would prevent it.  The couple did agree that he should go anyway. It was what was best for all. He was to go. Sharon would stay home and take care of things there. Teams were made. Meetings were attended. Sharon reflected back to watching the news of the earthquake in that country and praying for the people. She had asked God then if she would be able to go to assist one day.  Then she realized she could do her own small part. She went to the meetings and listened as they spoke about their needs. Then she went shopping to get things to send along. She also helped them pack just prior to the trip. She prayed as the team left to go.

Edward was gone for almost seven days as had been planned. While there, she was unable to hear from him. The only call was from a volunteer at the church who had been in contact with them and let the families know. This was not unusual. International calls were not often made when he was there. Sharon had heard that some had shared pictures through social media but she wasn’t a part of one of those sites yet. Edward knew his wife’s heart. He took lots of pictures and videos for her to see when he got home. He attempted to capture the culture and the people the best he could. He came home with hand made gifts and other items he had purchased to help the people make an income. He also told her stories of what he had experienced including the tent cities. Sharon sat and soaked it all in. She loved the stories of how the people used old steel drums to make art. She also looked at the pictures of the school he had taken for her. Being able to experience Haiti secondhand was a wonderful gift.

He also told her of how the people lined up for dental and medical help. The group was saddened when they knew the one baby was not going to make it. This saddened Sharon as it reminded her of their losses in the past. He told of the many children at the orphanage and how sponsorships from people helped to clothe and feed them. Sharon admired his work there. She especially loved the pictures of the children. So many needs, yet they seemed so happy! In some of the photos the children were doing karate kicks. He laughed as he told her that they loved to do that. She wished in her heart that she could have seen it for herself. She was jealous and knew that was wrong. She wanted to hug those children and love on them in person. For now, it was not meant to be.

Time passed and Edward signed up for emails from those needing help in Haiti. One group was asking for help to set up an internet-based university in the mountains above Port Au Prince. Sharon read the email and all that it entailed. They needed a cook and a seamstress. In her heart she wanted to believe that this trip was made for her but doubt once again trickled into her mind and made her think she would be unable to go. Would this one work? She prayed so. That night she spoke to Edward about the posting. They decided she should write to them and ask about it. So, she did. The lady, Kris, who spoke to her was very excited that both of them could come help build the school.  The conversation as to how Edward could lead up the team was one topic of matter. Sharon could not believe that she could go. Edward had been telling her that she would serve the Lord one day in that capacity of which thus far she had only dreamed. Now, it was becoming a reality. They would be in Haiti about six days. Joy filled her heart as she knew she could go and fulfill her desire to help the people. She and Edward would be traveling there as a team. How wonderful!

CHAPTER 14

One of Sharon’s roles was to make curtains for the new school.  She was also to make what was called Haitian screens or door curtains for in the doorways. Not knowing the sizes she looked online for the school site. Someone there had posted videos of the rooms that were to be made into classrooms.  From these, she attempted to guess the size of the windows to make some bright and colorful curtains. She wanted this school to look happier than the ones Edward had taken pictures of.  Preparation was underway for the upcoming trip. She sewed, shopped for fabrics, and found curtain rods that would fit into her luggage. She made the door curtains and hemmed those to match a standard door in her home. The window curtains she would hem while there. She wanted to be sure those would fit properly. The width was an easy thing. They could be wider and then scrunched up. But the length, needed to be right. A shower curtain was purchased but the rod would not fit into luggage. The school would have a shower for those staying there on future mission trips. They were going to make a small kitchen and bedroom as well for that purpose. She shopped at garage sales for small pans, sheets, and more. She was in heaven! She was going to Haiti!

As time drew nearer to go, she packed their bags. She learned that they could each take two bags weighing up to 50 pounds each. They could also take one carry on.  The tools were heavy, and they were distributed among them to balance the weight. Kris had sent a list of things to take, water bottles, flashlights, own bedding, and personal items. Breakfast items would not be provided, and snacks needed to be taken as well. Sharon also found two small battery-operated fans to pack in case of extreme heat. The bags were heavy and what they had would have to suffice. Their back packs helped with personal items and some clothing.

While on the plane the couple had to fill out paperwork to enter Haiti. Sharon kept busy completing the forms and listening to the Creole language being spoken by a few near them.  She loved the sound of it. Edward was busy making lists and sketching out ideas for their projects at hand. While he worked one man spoke to Sharon about how he had come from Haiti to America to live. He was now going home to visit his family.  Sharon wondered if he had been in Haiti and if he had lost any loved ones during the horrific event. As they prepared to land Sharon could see the large island from the plane. She wondered if she was seeing the Dominican Republic side or the Haitian side. It really didn’t matter. She was there.

Their first day in Haiti was a full one.  After disembarking the plane, they rushed to a bus that would take them to where they would pick up their luggage.  They would also need to complete paperwork there prior to entering the country. The heat in the building was intense. People were stuffed in there like sardines in a can awaiting their turn to do the paperwork. The line was slow moving.  Kris, who had been on the plane from Miami, stepped out of the line long enough to find other team members who had arrived earlier on another flight.  Sharon could see her hugging people in the distance as she spoke to each one. The drivers and workers grabbed their luggage from the primitive turnstyle. They had placed large yellow ribbons onto each one to make them easy to spot. That and they would know if someone else attempted to walk off with them. Sharon watched as they loaded their bags onto carts to take to the van. Edward looked at Sharon and noticed her pale skin was turning red and she was perspiring greatly. The heat was extreme and both prayed as they exited the building it would be cooler where they were to be working. As they exited the building the heat continued to envelop them as men attempted to get their carry ons and take them to the van. They wanted to make some money. Kris, yelled out to hold onto all bags and keep moving. They might take the bags and we didn’t have time to deal with that.

Sharon watched as Edward pressed back the crowd repeating, “No merci. No thank you.”

She began stating the same and pressed her way toward the parking lot.  She watched as the anxious group reached out to them asking them to hire them. They just wanted to earn a tip. Sharon remembered back to when Edward had told her about the Haitian men helping on his last project. They made one dollar an hour. Very little. Yet there that was good money.  She understood that even a two dollar tip would be good money. Her mind was lost in this thought.

Then, suddenly her mind was jolted back into reality. One of the men had gotten ahold of a team bag. He walked alongside the drivers while heated words were exchanged. Yet the stranger held tight to the bag and continued to walk with them. Kris tried to talk to the man and tell him they had help. Her grasp of the Creole language seemed fluent.

The van in the parking lot was not too far from the luggage area. The hired Haitian men loaded the bags into the van. The man who had joined them helped but was not asked to do so. Kris remained by him keeping an eye on their things. The back of the van full the men strapped the rest on top. Sharon began to get worried about her camera and fished in the bottom of her carry on to find it. When she did, she relaxed and began to take photos.  Being told having it out was unsafe she placed it back into her bag and sat quietly. Deciding to sit next to a student they were building the school for Sharon rode along looking out the window at her first glimpses of Haiti. Tent cities near the airport were large and packed with people. She had never seen that many at any campground before. Ramshackle tin homes and tents were everywhere. Portable potties were intermingled here and there but there was nowhere she could see to wash their hands or bathe. Water seemed to not be available even to drink. People walked in the streets or got onto tap-taps, highly ornate trucks, that transport people like the buses in America. Along the roads she could see ladies balancing huge baskets on their heads as they walked, vending their wares. Edward looked at her and smiled. She was finally witnessing what he had told her about. At one of the stop signs Sharon saw a young man press his face against the window of the van near her. He peered in seeming to know blancs were inside. He was inquisitive.

“Is he in need of money?” Sharon asked the young man seated next to her.

“Yes, ma’am but don’t give him any. That not good idea.” His grasp of the English language was quite good. “If you give money many people come round the van. We need to go.”

Sharon watched as the young man went back into the crowd. He needed money but she wasn’t going to be the one to help him. Her soft heart ached and she looked up at Edward. He had heard their conversation and knew what she was thinking. After nearly thirty years of marriage he was good at that.

The city of Port Au Prince was unlike the big cities in the states. The buildings were small, no larger than two stories high. Damage from the quake was apparent as many buildings were nothing but ruins. Others were being used but appeared to be unstable. Small flea-market-type vendors lined the streets and sold various wares. They reminded Sharon of mini garage sales as some sold old shoes and clothes. Motorcycles seemed to be more commonplace than cars. Taxi motos hauled people and Sharon thought some might fall off of them.

As they headed up into the mountains, they traveled on sinuous pot-hole ridden roads surrounded by concrete walls and gates. The diversity of the homes was amazing. At one point they drove past the president’s home with its large gates and white walls. In the next, small homes with tin roofs and no doors. Both had major damage and the people seemed to live in them as they had no choice.

Ken, a member of the team shared how things looked differently when he lived there in the seventies. He had come as a doctor to serve the people. It was quite interesting to listen to him speak about the way of life there then. Kris also explained things to the team as they drove on up toward their destination. The downtown area had hotels where she had stayed but they were nothing like back home. Here and there, armed guards stood at the gates to buildings, reminding her to never walk alone.  The drive was quite long, and Sharon lifted up a quick prayer that she would not get car sick.  She was glad when the student in the van mentioned they were almost there.

Upon arriving at the location, the team could see students in the streets waving to them. The van passed that area and went on up the hill to where they would be staying. The student in the van told them that the local people were excited for their arrival.  The team waved at the people and watched as they were greeted by the return of the same.

The guesthouse sat atop a hill overlooking the valley below. It seemed rather large from the outside. As everyone disembarked from the van, the men began unloading the luggage and tools. They took it into a locked hallway type garage attached to the house. Sharon watched and noticed old luggage along the sides of the room. Edward explained to her that people often came with two bags and returned with one. They left their clothing and other things behind for the people. Thus, they didn’t need the bags. The team would sort things out here to take to the job just below their location.

The first room entered in this building was that garage of sorts. There was no car and no moto.  The next room was the dining room. Two wooden tables were there with chairs set up along them. Beverages were there awaiting the team. Sharon was glad as her mouth was parched. A cool glass of something was most welcome.

The next room to enter was the kitchen. The food cooking on the stove smelled good. A young Haitian man smiled as they entered the space. Sharon wondered if he was their cook and returned the smile. The aroma of the food made her stomach growl. The young man looked at her and giggled.

“Hello. My name is Sharon.” Sharon walked toward him and shook his hand. His warm smile coupled with a firm handshake reassured her he was a kind soul. “I am going to be helping you with the cooking.”

A look of concern came over his face as he clambered into the house to find someone. Sharon angled her body to the side and prepared to leave the room.

“Hello. My name is Lander.” Sharon saw a tall, lean man enter the room. “My friend Makeson does not speak English but I can help you.”

“I wanted to let him know I’ll be helping in the kitchen. Please tell him my name is Sharon.”

Lander did as ask. The man in the kitchen turned to her and nodded as if to let her know he understood. Looking around the kitchen she was glad to see they had some modern-day conveniences. There was a sink with running water, a stove, and a refrigerator. Next to the sink were some eggs and produce. She assumed those were from the local markets.

She smiled to them both and walked into the living room space beyond. It had a chair, a couch, a lamp, and an entertainment center without the tv. She went to find the ladies room. It was down the hallway. There was one for the men as well. Next, she found where she would sleep. She would be sleeping in a room with the ladies at the front of the house. Edward and the men would be in a room at the back. Unpacking needed to be done. She placed her things into a single drawer in a dresser and hung a few things into the small closet. She also placed her toothbrush in the bathroom making sure to have a bottle of water to use when rinsing it off. Her trip to Haiti was a reality, and she was loving it!

Dinner that night was wonderful! Local produce had been prepared and the juices were amazing! Nobody seemed to know what the one juice was, but all drank it with gusto! Rice and beans with chicken legs was their first meal. Fresh mangoes were their dessert. It was all so fresh and delicious!

Leaving the table, Sharon walked to the terrace and saw Edward speaking with the men about materials needed for construction. They were going to buy things in the morning and get started right away. Not wanting to interrupt she walked to the corner and leaned against the wall that enveloped the terrace. From here, the view was tremendous. From one side she could see the mountains in the distance and a wee bit of the ocean. Homes were scattered here and there as if God had cast them out from his own hands. Sharon could see no roads to those homes, just walkways. She wondered if the people who lived there had to walk everywhere, they went.

To the side she could see the school building, their work site. The maroon pink walls seemed to welcome her to Haiti. She stood and snapped photos of the village below. People were always active. Women were putting out or gathering laundry on the rooftops of the larger homes. The one lone basketball hoop with one ball was keeping the children in the neighborhood occupied.

Lander and I in front of the school

People were walking everywhere. Dogs, goats, and chickens ran about the road below. A wee kid bleated and jumped at his momma doe. Sharon saw such destruction from the perch of hers.  Buildings were in shambles, being held up by sticks or less.  Metal roofs with holes made her wonder if their belongings inside got wet when it rained.

“God, how can this be? People at home would be up in arms with these conditions.” She knew in the US they would be begging the government to save them. Garbage along the roads and their broken down homes didn’t seem to affect the Haitians at all. She stood in awe of the beauty of the people she had come to serve. She was amazed by their temperament in the midst of it all.

Preparation for bed included being sure they had water in the bathroom for toothbrushing. They could not use the water from the sink. It was not safe. Towels were laid out in the room. One towel per person for the week. Items the team members had brought for breakfast were laid out on the dining room table. As she entered the kitchen Sharon noticed the leftovers from dinner had been placed into two bowls. The contents seemed to have been scraped off in no order. She wondered why this had been done. Was the cook going to throw it out when there were hungry people in the streets? She hoped not.

The first night’s rest did not come easily for Sharon. The camping cot was not comfortable, and the local people sat just outside her window in the light talking and having fun into the wee hours of the morning. Light from a security lamp lit up the room as well. She was used to the darkness of their country home. About four in the morning the roosters began to crow and awoke her.  She gave up and got out of bed.

Feeling her way in the dark, she was able to find the kitchen light switch and turned it on. There, in the kitchen she saw the bowls of scraps were gone. She looked and could not find anyplace they had been thrown out. She was glad. The cook must have taken it home for his dinner or for someone else.

Knowing she was to cook lunch that day, she wanted to get to know the layout of the kitchen and began looking about for what she would need. The refrigerator was small, apartment sized, but did have a freezer above it. Inside, in the lower drawers she found produce and fruits. In the freezer there was a large bowl filled with frozen water. She hoped the water had come from the large water bottle next to the fridge. The large water bottle was seated in a metal holder that the Haitians called a tipper. You literally had to tip it over to get water from it. It was quite an ingenious design! Sharon played with it and figured out how to use it. All water for cooking and eating had to come from these bottles. Water to wash the dishes could come from the faucet but bleach had to be added for safety purposes.

The stove was fueled with propane and matches set on the ledge of a screenless window nearby. She wanted to heat some water to rewash some dishes as where they had been stacked overnight was now covered with ants. She dug in the cupboard below and found a pot. Attempting to light the stove she found them to be quite fragile and broke a few before getting the stove to light.  She was preparing water to wash dishes and wash down the kitchen counters.

To her left on the countertop there was a coffee maker. Above the coffeepot were three small cupboards. She opened the first one. Inside she found four plastic plates, a few china cups, and some plastic things she thought were baskets.  In the next two she found nothing. The cupboard above the stove had a few old tea bags and half used cookie mix packet.  She wiped the area down with soapy water with some bleach she found under the sink and tossed out some broken eggs covered with ants on the counter. As she did, she wondered if the Haitian cook would be upset. She hated tossing them out but knew if they were used people could get sick. At home, there would have been no question. But here, it was another matter. Here, she felt guilty wasting anything at all. The remembrance of being a child and her mother telling her to eat what she had taken popped into her head. She was always told of the starving children in Africa. She shook it off. She’d done what was right to keep the team safe.

Sharon now began looking for things to cook and something to serve them on. On top of the refrigerator she found some dry milk mix, coffee, sugar, and some condiments. She wondered if they had put them there to keep the ants out. She then looked under the counter and found some onions, potatoes, carrots, and other produce tossed into a heap. She decided not to use those as she wasn’t sure if they would be needed for a meal during the week. Soon, she was preparing a hot breakfast to ready for their first day of work.  Scrambled eggs as well as pan toast were prepared. Having no electric toaster, she had opted to brown the bread in a pan on the stove butter side down like for a grilled cheese sandwich. Coffee was also ready for when the team awoke. Edward loved his coffee. Mixing some powered milk, she prepared a small container of creamer and placed some sugar next to the pot.

As the first team member awoke Sharon looked out the window to see two cows looking back at her. She watched as the farmer came to each one feeding them some dried corn by hand. She chuckled quietly as she watched him dine on some of the corn as well. She wondered how his teeth had tolerated this over the years and saw him look up at her and smile. She smiled back. She had her answer. Chicken’s scampered near the man’s feet hoping to glean any of the residuals dropped. The rooster got underfoot and was kicked aside. Looking to her right she saw a large brightly painted building. It was painted with all of the primary colors and had some murals on it with children in them. She watched this place, quiet and still in the morning hours and wondered what it was for. Sipping her beverage she looked up at the sky and said a quick prayer for their day ahead. Day was upon them. They had much to do and much to learn.

CHAPTER 15

The first day was like most, according to the returning volunteers. The men spent the morning getting supplies, figuring things out and getting their momentum started. The women cut out screens for the windows and cleaned up old dried paint from the pretty tile floors and walls in the bathrooms.

Around noon, lunch was prepared by a trio of ladies, and Sharon was glad for the help. Megs had brought along some pudding mix and using the dry milk quickly whipped up a dessert.  Jewels prepared the pasta noodles Kris had brought along with the packaged seasonings. Sharon cleaned fresh mangoes, vegetables, and avocados for side dishes. It was going to be a feast! As they were cooking Sharon saw Jewels looking next door. By now, sounds of laughter and children playing had filled the air in the space next door. Sharon watched them play as she prepped the food.

“Jewels, you’ve been here before. Can you tell me about the place next door?” Sharon asked.

Jewels looked up from stirring the pot on the stove and replied, “I have never been inside the gate, but I know it’s an orphanage. They take in boys and girls it seems.”

Sharon continued to prep the food and watched what seemed to be near one hundred children in the courtyard of the building. She wondered about their circumstances and if they ever left the confinements of the walls. How in the world did the owners manage to feed all those kids? The bills must be enormous!

“Hello,” a voice came from behind her. She turned to see the tall, thin Lander behind her.

“Hello, Lander. Would you like something to eat?” Her question was natural to her. She had asked so many friends of her sons that same question over the years. Not hearing an answer, she looked at him standing there pondering what to say.

“Let me rephrase that. Are you hungry?” She thought he had possibly not understood.

“I am asked to tell you that the team will be here to eat soon.” His voice was firm yet questioning at the same time.

“Thank you. Are you hungry? We have plenty to eat.”

“Yes, Miss Sharon. But my job is to bring you the message. I am hungry but now I no eat. I wait until later.” Lander stated.

“Here, I am going to make you a plate. Would you like to eat it on the veranda?” Sharon was not going to take no for an answer. Lander was thin. In her mind he needed food. Lander watched as the lady from the United States piled a little of each food onto a plate. She poured him a Coca-Cola and handed it to him.

“Come on. I can carry some of this to the table for you. You sit and eat lunch. The others will be here soon to eat with you.”

The two walked a short distance to the veranda and sat the food onto a table there. Sharon looked toward the school to see Edward and the team walking up the hill. She waved to them and saw Edward return with a wave as well. They were there together. She was quite happy.

The remaining days in Haiti were spent working and getting to know the locals. The team wanted to finish their tasks so they could go to the Baptist Haiti Mission nearby for lunch on Saturday. They had ice cream and hamburgers there. Building beds in the guestroom and desks in the classrooms they all kept busy. Students who were going to go to school there began coming to assist.

Dressed in their Sunday best the students worked alongside the US volunteers into the night.

Joy filled the air as they built and then painted the furniture for their school. Sharon tried her best to make sure they all had water and snacks while they worked. Each one made sure to wash their hands in the sink in the restroom before they ate. For them, it wasn’t just a routine. It was a way of life to keep bacteria out of their bodies to stay healthy. More so than in the US they made sure to let Sharon know that they could not just eat foods with hands unwashed. Haiti had so many issues not present in the states. Many were hungry as they had traveled over an hour to the site. Riding on tap taps or walking they would do the same journey each time they came to school. Working alongside them she learned of the hope the school brought to them. They had been given an opportunity to earn a degree and pull their families out of poverty. The education would provide for their futures.  Their dreams would also help to provide for their nation. Sharon watched as they worked beside the men and women. They had never seen power tools and had to be shown how to use them. They had never even seen the small battery operated fans that Sharon had brought along. Each one took turns feeling the cool breeze created by the fans and watched as they turned round and round. Sharon told them not to stick their fingers inside. It might hurt. They listened and did as she asked. Sharon had also brought along a toy. A simple magnet game where you could drag the pieces of metal to make hair and a mustache on a drawn figure. They were amazed with it and played with it one by one. The look in their eyes was amazing to her. They were students who had earned a scholarship to attend the school. They all spoke English and yet such simple things amazed them so. She knew in her heart that their lives had been quite limited with material things and thus experiences of the world. The students took time to talk to her and tell her of their dreams. One even wanted to one day be the president of the nation.

Sharon and Lander spent more time together than the others. He had been hired by Kris as a security person for the school. He had the responsibility of watching the gate and walking people up to where they stayed on the hill. His English was good enough to help with that job. He could explain things and help all of whom needed it. Edward was glad to see this young man escorting his wife up to cook each meal from the site. He could see she was making a friend.

One day, while walking up the hill a young woman with a toddler approached the duo.  The young boy approached Sharon and asked a question. He gestured with his hands, but Sharon still did not understand. She looked to Lander to assist.

“He wants to know if you have a ball.”

Sharon now understood what the motioning hands had meant. He had been making a ball with his gestures. “Tell him I only brought things for the school. I’m sorry but I don’t have any balls with me.”

Lander translated to the toddler in Creole.  His eyes began to darken and look sad. The mother of the child nodded her head as if to thank her for her kindness.

“Lander, please tell this mother that her child has the most beautiful eyes! He is absolutely gorgeous.” Sharon requested.

Watching the face of the mother she smiled and hoped the mother would do the same in return. Yet, instead of a smile the young mother spoke to Lander. Sharon wished she could understand.

“What did she say, Lander?”

“She say she want to know if you want to have him.”

“What? I do not understand what you are trying to tell me.” Sharon thought she had heard correctly but wasn’t sure.

Lander repeated the phrase using different words to get the meaning across. “She want to know if you want to take him home with you.”

Sharon looked into the eyes of the young mother and wanted to weep. This woman was not being mean like those in the states who would jokingly ask someone to take their child off their hands. She was asking to let her child live a good life.

Standing there attempting to process what had just happened Sharon asked Lander to tell her that she did not have the paperwork. She could not take him home as even to get the paperwork she was too old. He was lovely but she just couldn’t. Sharon’s heart was melting inside. How could she have killed her child in a land with so much? Here now, she was with a lady with so little and yet loved her child enough to give him up.

Sharon walked on up the hill a short stretch by herself. She needed to walk and fight back the tears forming. They wanted to pour forth. Wanting to go inside she realized that she needed to wait on Lander to unlock the large gate. He had the keys to the building. Glancing back down the mountain road she saw the mother take her child’s hand and walk on. She could not save him and it pained her.

Turning to her side she saw Lander approach her with keys in hand. “You okay, Sharon?” He seemed to know his new friend was hurting. He touched her arm gently as she looked into his brown eyes. “You are not like others.”

“What do you mean? Sharon words were harsher than usual. Her thoughts were lost on what had just transpired. Lander unlocked the gate and pulled it back for them to enter.

While walking into the kitchen Lander spoke once again. “It is your heart. You have a big heart.”

Growing angry Sharon answered him, “Everyone here serving your country has a huge heart. You don’t know who I am. I have done some horrible things in my life.” Sharon’s low self esteem had become vocal. In some ways, she hoped he would not understand her English.

“No, you are special! Nobody ever come here ask me if I hungry! Nobody ever make me food to eat. You are special!” Lander’s voice was rising in the expectation that she would listen and understand.

Sharon stopped walking to the refrigerator to take the food out to prep lunch. “You mean, nobody ever offered you food to eat when they had plenty for themselves?” She asked in return.

“No, you are first one. I thank you.” He stepped in and hugged her slightly, as not to offend her. He could sense she was upset. The desolation of this country was wearing on her. She was in a sort of culture shock.  “The light of God comes from you, Sharon. You are special. Not like others.”

Sharon wanted to run and hide. He had no clue who she was. No clue as to her past. Removing the ice chunk from the freezer she asked if he could pound some loose for the drinks. While he did so, she left the room. She ran to the bedroom and cast herself onto the bed and murmured her sobs in the pillow. His words kept on repeating in her head. You are special. The light of God shines from you.

There was no way that was possible.

That night as they ate dinner Sharon could hear singing from underneath where they satAsking what she was hearing the group told her that the local church was underneath that building. The local people were there having church service. Finishing up her food Sharon walked to the terrace and attempted to hear more of the rejoicing. A guitar was being played and then it stopped. They must have been having the readings and prayer time. Walking back into the kitchen area she thought about the people of this place. So much love for God, and they had so little. She had much to process from her time here thus far. Yet, she had so much more to learn.

Each morning was greeted by the farmer sharing his corn with the cows and the chickens at his feet. Breakfast was eaten and then they headed down the hill to work. The students came each day to work. Some days there were new faces along with the ones she recognized. As they painted with the water thin paint they talked and learned of one another’s lives. The students had many questions about America. None had been there but had learned about it through various sources. They told Sharon how there were movie theaters prior to the earthquake. They no longer existed. Other things such as the local store was the same way. Now, a lady ran a small shop out of her home where they could get a few things. That and the small stands were what they had to choose from. Questions were asked that made Sharon think about her lifestyle back home.

“Have you ever been to a Walmart? They say you can buy anything you need in that one store. Is that true?”

“I have been to one. They are quite large. You can buy a lot of things there. Not everything you might need, but most of it.”

“Is it true there are stores for dogs in America? Do people really buy clothes and sunglasses for them?”

Sharon thought about this one. She’d never thought about how much money she spent on her pets in this fashion. She had noticed only the Americans and others who lived here had pets. Most could not afford them. “Yes, there are stores like that. They are very big. You can take your dog in the store with you.”

The students wanted to hear more about that. They laughed and talked about dogs in dresses with glasses and more. Sharon joined in the laughter but inside felt a bit ashamed she had shopped like that. Here, they barely had food. No wonder God has said that those who are rich have a harder time getting into Heaven.

“I hear that you have table after table filled with food at the churches. So much food you cannot eat it all. Is that true?”

“Yes, they are called carry-ins or potlucks. People each bring food and put it onto the table. Then, they all eat what they like. Other places have them as well.” Sharon pictured in her mind some of the food being thrown out at the end but chose not to tell them that.

Walking up the hill that day she saw a dog that seemed to have mange. Lander told her not to touch it. It was sick. Thoughts of her nieces back home entered her mind. They would have had a fit if they saw this dog. They would have found it help. But here, was there a place to even take it for medical assistance? Sharon doubted it and then would they have the money to do so?

Lunch that day was to have rice as a main component. Sharon had feared that. She had even read how to make it prior to their coming. Edward being a garbage man would never eat it. When she did fix it, she had a rice cooker to do so for her. Entering the kitchen Makeson was there to help. He would hopefully make the rice! But that plan didn’t happen. He began making the chicken legs as Sharon attempted to figure out how to make rice. She placed water into a pan with some salt and added too much rice. Makeson was watching and began to laugh. Lander came over and asked her if she knew what she was doing. She admitted that she didn’t. Lander told Makeson and they laughed and laughed.

“Hey! Back home I have a machine to make it! I can’t help it!” Sharon began to laugh as well.

In the end Makeson helped by placing some of the rice into another pan. When lunchtime came Kris and the others saw a multitude of rice ready to be eaten. They had cooked it all and not wasted one bit. Telling the story, they laughed as they knew they would have plenty to eat the remainder of the week. Sharon was glad to have lots of extras to feed Makeson and Lander as well.  Laughter seemed to be the theme of this day. The levity was something they all enjoyed as they ate and went back to work.

That night as the work drew to a close Sharon stood on the veranda overlooking the basketball area. The single ball and hoop were being well used. Children from the area gathered there and she enjoyed watching them and wondered if they had an extra ball someplace if this one went flat. Lander walked up to her side to ask her a favor.

“You write down words to Amazing Grace for me? I like that song.” He requested.

“Yes, I can. Let me find a piece of paper and a pencil.” Sharon walked into the office area they had just built and found what she needed. Taking pencil in hand she wrote the words in English for Lander. Then she handed the paper to him.

“Can you sing for me? I can hear the words and learn to say them.” He smiled as he asked.

“Yes, I can do that.” She stood beside him and sang the words helping him to follow along. Other students gathered around to listen as well.

Later that night as the project came to a close and work was done they all decided to christen the new school. A small speech was given. Prayers were said. Then, they closed with the singing of Amazing Grace in both languages one at a time.  Sharon sang out with pride. She had come to this country to help them. Yet, in the end they had helped her as well. She thought back to her singing the same song at her father’s grave and smiled. She was healing.

Their final day in Haiti was met with anticipation. They were going up the mountain to the Baptist Haiti Mission for lunch. Here they would also be able to shop. Edward asked Lander and a couple of the students to join them. He especially wanted Lander to go to walk alongside Sharon as she bought souvenirs and trinkets to take home. He knew she had brought along Christmas money to buy from the vendors and support them. He didn’t want her to be alone with cash in the streets of Haiti. He, himself was going to meet with some people to tie up some loose ends on the project. Lander walked along the street with Sharon as she shopped for several things. Her favorites were the metal sculptures Edward had told her about. Other tourists seemed to be enthralled with the paintings. Sharon watched as the vendors hawked the tourists hoping to get them to buy their wares.  They seemed so desperate to make a sale. After having shopped the pair entered into the dining area.

The lunch menu here was similar to in the states. They served a wide assortment of foods including salads, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. Sharon was glad she didn’t have to cook today. She sat back in the booth and loosened her shoes to relax.  Lander approached the empty bench opposite of hers.

“May I sit here?” Lander asked.

“Yes! Please do.” Sharon moved her shopping bags aside and searched for the necklace she had bought for him. Once she found it she held it up for him to see. “I would like to thank you for all you’ve done for me this week. I’m proud to call you my friend. I would like to offer this to you as a token of our friendship.” She walked around the table and placed it around his neck. Lander’s eyes began to well up with tears.

“Why you love me so much? I nobody special. I do not understand.”  Lander glanced down at his food on the table that was cooling off.

“Lander, I think you are very special. I’m honored to know you. You kept me safe all week. Edward and I are thankful for that.”

“You owe me nothing. Kris pay me to keep people safe. I do my job to honor God.”

“Lander, this was a gift to me from one of the vendors. It cost me nothing. I would like you to have it as a reminder of our time together. This gift given to me, now I pass along to you. The heart on the chain represents your love for people. You have a good heart. Wear it to remind yourself of that fact. One day God will use you in a big way.”

The day passed as they exchanged information about one another. Sharon had recently joined a social media site and let him know how to find her on it. She knew that he would have access to the computers at the school. She had seen a good heart in that young man and he in her. Yet, neither seemed to see it in themselves. They would learn that the Lord had plans to raise them to a new level of servitude for his glory.

The team left early the next morning from the site. They needed to get to the airport to catch their flights. Lander came to see them off.

“I not forget you, Sharon.” His eyes showed sadness with her leaving.

“I left some food on the table for you. We did not use everything we brought along. Look on the dining room table. It is all there.” Sharon smiled as she looked at him. “You have taught me so much this week. I will never forget you or your country.”

Hugging there in the moonlight the friends bonded even more. Sharon did not want to leave but knew she must. Her time in Haiti was complete.

Edward stepped in and shook Lander’s hand. “Thank you for taking care of my wife. I hope we will see each other again one day.”

“It honor sir. I hope see you again too.”

“Time will tell. God has a plan for us.”

With that the team loaded into the van to leave. The school was built and there seemed no apparent reason for the construction crew to return.

Sharon thought it was the end of her serving the people of Haiti. But God had other plans. She and Lander would have new beginnings. One door had closed, but others were about to open.

CHAPTER 16

Over the next few months Sharon sent emails and looked for Lander on social media. Concerns welled up in her heart and she prayed he had enough to eat.

After a while she received a note. She quickly responded and asked if he could set up a Facebook account for them to chat. Here she could send photos and notes as well. In time, both had set up accounts and were able to converse with one another on a regular basis. Lander wanted to practice his English in the hopes of passing a translator’s test. Sharon wanted to know more about he and his country.

One day, in a private chat, Lander revealed a need in their country.

Lander: I want you to know that the baby house next door needs help.

                Sharon: Is everything okay?

                Lander: Yes, but they need volunteers to help with the babies.

                Sharon: I can volunteer there?

                Lander: You can apply on the computer. They have an application you can fill out.

That was all she needed to hear. She immediately opened a new window on her computer and searched for God’s Littlest Angels in Haiti. She found how to volunteer.

Lander: You find it?

                Sharon: Yes, I did! I will look it over and talk to Edward when he gets home.

                Lander: You come see me again?

                Sharon: I hope so, Lander. I need one of your bear hugs!

Sharon signed off that day with a new dream. She may be able to return to see Lander and the school she had helped build. She also wanted to help at the school she had seen but not gotten into while there.  Could it be that God was opening another door for her?

Reading over the information she saw that all volunteers would need to come stay at least two weeks. She thought back to how hard it had been when Edward was gone for a week. She wondered if he would be okay with her gone that long. She couldn’t wait until he got home so they could discuss it! She wanted to go back!

Time passed and the application was sent in. Edward told her to apply and then stay as her heart led her to. She needed to ask God and let him guide her. Sharon was surprised when she prayed, and God asked her to stay for one month. Being off all summer long she decided to spend most of her summer vacation there. Edward seemed concerned about her safety and asked Lander to meet her every day at the gate and escort her wherever she needed to go in the village outside the gates. If she left the confines of the orphanage, she needed him there or she could not go.  Lander agreed and soon all the paperwork was complete, and she was accepted to serve. Sharon would be spending the month of July high in the mountains of Haiti, rocking babies. She was going back!

The following months found Lander and Sharon talking more than ever.  By now Lander had begun calling her mom, and she called him her Haitian son. It was as if God had hand picked this young man just for her. She felt as if he was one who was chosen to help her heal. For Lander, the relationship stemmed from a need for his education of the English language as well as needs of the heart. The two bonded over her lessons for him in English and her lessons from him on Creole. They both shared the language of Spanish as well. Sharon had been an exchange student in her youth and spoke some Spanish. Lander knew some from living next door to the Dominican Republic. Language studies were intermingled with conversations about faith and their lives.

Soon June was upon them and Sharon was busy packing to go. Lander had asked for a Bible in English and Sharon got him one. She also packed food for her friend as she knew he was without it for days at a time. Buying clothes at secondhand stores she packed things for him to wear. She also packed clothes for herself that she would leave there for the people. Getting ready this time was different. She knew where she was going and had a friend waiting on her there. She couldn’t wait!

The day to leave came and Edward drove her to the Detroit airport to fly out. On the way up he reminded her of the safety rules he wanted her to follow. A female American in the streets alone might not be good. Lander needed to be with her as they had agreed. Sharon smiled as she knew she would see Lander soon. Dropping her off at the gate outside the airport Edward walked around to her side of the truck. He helped her with her bags and watched as she checked them in. Each weighed fifty pounds and her backpack was heavy as well. She had packed it with food for Lander’s family. Canned foods and rice were among them. Kissing her on the lips he began to think about how long she would be gone as did she.

“Do you have your passport?”

“Yes, it’s right here in my lanyard with the envelope to hold my papers”

“You call me as soon as you get into Miami. In fact, call me before your flight takes off. I will feel better if you do.”

“Okay. I will.”

“Remember our phone does not have the international calling on it. Once you leave Miami shut your phone off. Don’t leave it on while there as you will get messages etc.”

“Okay.” Edward knew Sharon was new to a cell phone. But she was glad she had one.

“I love you and I will miss you.” The two embraced and held the hug for a short time.

Sharon responded. “I love you too.” She had never been away from him this long.

“You’d best go. The security lines can be quite long.” He looked at her and turned to walk to his side of the truck. Getting in he waved one last time and drove off. Sharon was sad yet happy at the same time. She was going to Haiti but would not be with Edward this time.

The plane rides were uneventful. She flew from Detroit to Miami where she had a layover. Making sure to call Edward and charge her phone her mind stayed occupied. Being blessed to be on a large plane into Haiti she was given a blanket and snacks. Being ready to disembark she noticed others stuffing the blankets and snacks into their bags to take to the people.

“Can we take these blankets?” Sharon asked the stewardess on the plane.

“Yes, people have before, take what you can carry.”

“Thank you. Sharon’s back was hurting from the weight of the bag on her back but she stuffed as much as she could while the stewardess helped her gather more of the snacks that had not been opened.”

“They’ll just be thrown out. Here I found some more.”

Being almost the last one off the plane the pair searched for any food to take so it would not be wasted. Sharon knew Lander and the students at the school would enjoy them.

How blessed we Americans are that we simply throw food out that hasn’t even been opened.

In her mind she knew the laws made such a thing happen, but it was sad that others did not take it along.

Reaching the end of the aisle anther stewardess handed her two bags of food she had gathered up hoping someone would take it to the people. Sharon took them and thanked her. She had quite a load to carry and was unsure how she would manage her bags.

Looking back one last time at the plane Sharon saw waste everywhere. How sad, she thought.

Arriving outside the gate from the luggage area Sharon looked for her driver hoping to find him as soon as possible. She had been having problems with her bags but knew not to hire someone to help. Finally, she did ask one young man to help her find her driver while she waited with the bags. Coming back, he had brought along the driver carrying a sign with her name and Sharon tipped him.

“You Sharon Gibb?” his accent was strong, but she could understand him.

“Yes, I am.”  She put out her hand and shook his.

“I am Luberman. I’ll be your driver. Follow me.”

Taking ahold of her luggage the man began to hurry away. Following him she picked up her pace to not lose him. He loaded her luggage into the back of a two-seat truck. Both then got into the truck and took their rightful places. He turned on the radio as Haitian music filled the air. Looking out the windows she could see that the tent cities had decreased in size somewhat. That was good! It would be about an hour to get to the site. She hoped to see Lander when she arrived.

“Would you like something to eat? I have some snacks from the plane!” Sharon offered.

“Yes, thank you.” The driver took some snacks and ate freely as they drove along. “These are very good!”

Sharon continued to look out the windows.

“Do you know Lander? He is my friend. He lives next door to the orphanage in the basement of the church.” Sharon explained.

“Yes, I do. How do you know him?”

As the drive continued, they spoke of her first visit to Haiti. She told the driver that she hoped to see him on the way to the orphanage near the school. She also asked if he was there if they could stop for a moment so she could let him know she was there. The driver agreed to do so. Speaking about how he got the job working at the orphanage and how long he had been there time passed.

Once up into the mountains above Port Au Prince some things began to look familiar. Looking to her right she saw the school where she had met Lander. She looked closer hoping to see him standing there. His tall, thin silhouette came into view. He was near the front gates. Sharon’s heart leapt for joy inside her body as she watched him run to her side of the truck. Taking hold of the door handle he swung it open and she hopped out. The two embraced. It was one of the tightest hugs she had ever gotten in her life.

“You’re here!” Lander’s words spewed forth.

“Yes, son, I am. Now step back and let me look at you.” Sharon eyed him up and down. He looked thinner than he had the previous summer.

Lander stepped in for another hug, “I miss you mom Sharon.”

“Here, Lander. I have some food for you from the plane.” She handed him the two bags. “I have more for you. We can talk later. I need to get up the hill and unpack. Can we meet later tonight in front of the church building where I stayed last time?”

“Yes, thank you for the food. I’ll eat some now.”

The driver motioned to Sharon that they needed to get to the top of the hill and unpack her things.  She looked at Lander and listened as he spoke.

“I love you mom Sharon. I see you soon. We have a month to talk.”

Getting back into the truck they headed to the top of the hill. The gate was opened and inside they went. Sharon looked to the side to see the cows and chickens still there. She thought about the man with the corn who came every morning. She was in Haiti! She would be there a while.

Stepping out of the truck into the familiar play area of the orphanage, Sharon could see children of all sizes running toward her. Bending down to receive their hugs she heard the metal gate clank shut behind them. So many wanted her to hold them. Feeling like a magnet she reached out to touch as many as she could.  Little arms were reaching up from everywhere. Choosing to sit down in a chair, Sharon soon had a child in her lap. Others stood nearby and pointed at her shirt. The words cat and lion were being uttered aloud. Looking at her t-shirt she realized she had on a shirt with a picture of a cougar on it. That animal was her school’s mascot. Sounds such as meows and roars could be heard as well. All were so happy to get attention and so was Sharon.

The tour of the building where Sharon would be working began with the social living area. Here would be the location she would write home. Sharon saw people using a WIFI connection and hoped to write Edward soon.

Walking on, she entered the kitchen and the dining room area. The food smelled wonderful. She watched as they placed American burgers and hot dogs into the buns alongside a potato and beet salad. She’d not eaten since morning and her stomach was beginning to growl.

Next, she went up the stairs into the NICU. Babies were everywhere! Some were so small that incubators were still their homes. Others lay in wooden layettes looking up at the ceiling.

Her tour guide explained that her job would be to assist with four children ranging in age from infant to potty trained or about age three. Sharon listened intently as she gazed at all the brown eyes looking back at her.

The third floor, or the patio, was the largest area Sharon had seen thus far. Here, little jumper seats and a plastic plane were suspended from the ceiling. Swings, wooden rockers, and toys were everywhere. It was here Sharon would bring one baby at a time to bond with them.

Walking back downstairs she could see the table was being set and joined in to help by placing two ice cubes in each glass. Forty-four people would be dining here tonight. Soon, the evening prayer was said, and people got in line. The sandwiches and salad as well as fresh cut fruit were displayed for all to help themselves. Sharon dug in but tried not to take too much. She was famished but didn’t want anyone to go hungry.

Dinner conversation centered around who was who. Some people were staff and lived at the orphanage. Others were volunteers who had been there minutes, like Sharon, up to weeks. One young lady had arrived on Friday and would be there two weeks. Others had lived there nine years.

Following dinner, Sharon borrowed a laptop and sent a quick note home. The note stated that she had arrived safely and that she needed to unpack. Knowing her family back home knew she was okay she moved onto the next task at hand.

Moving in was easy. Her things had been taken upstairs and placed into her room. She was to have a bottom bunk bed and she was glad for that. Her experience with the cot the year previous had not been her favorite, and this stay would be for a much longer time. She also found two empty drawers in a dresser and room in the closet. Rifling through her things she sorted them into piles of what was for Lander and the orphanage. She cleaned up and went downstairs to see the toddlers. They were now in a long line being washed off and changed into their pajamas for bedtime. The children seemed used to this routine as the nannies did their jobs. Seeing how well things were going she decided not to interrupt and went upstairs. Looking out across the buildings in her view she spotted Lander sweeping the veranda on the school. Waving har arms and calling his name she caught his attention. Pointing to the gate he understood and soon began climbing the hill to meet her. Loading up the things she had brought him she went out and asked for the gate to be opened. She explained to the person there that she would stay just outside the gate and not leave the area. She wanted to meet with her friend. Lander came and they hugged once more. Sharon asked him to sit as she had things for him. Holding up the clothes and other items the two shared their likes and dislikes. They also spoke of the food from the plane and that it had already been eaten by him and the students. Sharon was glad that they had something to eat. Talking until the sun began to set she realized she needed to get back inside the gated area. It would not be safe to be there after dark. Saying goodbyes they spoke of their upcoming time together. Lander gathered up his gifts and went into the building with his room while she went back inside the gate.

Going back up to sit on the veranda, just outside her room, Sharon looked at the sky. The familiar view was welcoming to her soul. Heat lightning was speeding across the heavens and Sharon grabbed her camera in an attempt to capture the beauty of it all. The hum of the breeze and the sounds of Creole being spoken in the houses below, Sharon relaxed and soaked it all in. She was back in Haiti! God had given her the opportunity to come back!

CHAPTER 17

Having slept well, Sharon awoke to have breakfast and type into her journal. Never had she taken along a means to journal in this way, but did so for this month of time.  An hour passed quickly and soon it was time to check on the babies that needed her help upstairs.  Heading up to the patio with water bottle in hand she began looking at what she had to work with. She found lots of toys and dress up clothes as well as teaching materials.  Books, crayons, and more lined shelves and filled cupboards. 

Glad to see she had plenty to work with she settled in to read the four bios of the children she would be working with.  She wanted to learn as much as possible about the four little angels God had placed into her care. 

  1. Daniel – This eight-month-old came to us about two months ago.  His legs are scarred from scabies. Rubbing lotion on them will help. He loves attention and needs to strengthen his legs and arms. Help him learn to crawl and sit up without assistance. If you can, feed him some extra food to help him gain weight. He had been malnourished. 
  2. Emiline – She is fairly new to us. She just arrived a couple weeks ago from an orphanage that was closed by the Haitian government.  Help her to acclimatize to her new surroundings.  The scars on her legs are from rat bites at the old location. Help keep an eye on these, they are healing. She is in need of love and maternal attention. 
  3. Louna – She needs to strengthen her neck so she can sit up. Also work with her tracking your finger. She has medical needs. Be aware of her food intake and do not keep her away from the NICU too long. Ask the nannies about her feeding schedule. 
  4. Joe Jean – He has family awaiting his adoption.  Work on English with him. Also, check in his special bin for things his family has sent for him. In there is a photo book of his family. Help him learn their names. 

Taking the information cards Sharon placed them with her things as not to lose them.   After reading it all and looking for things to help with various needs, Sharon decided to go get Louna first.   Heading down the stairs to the NICU she met a young lady headed up to the patio with one of her assigned children.  The two smiled in passing as Sharon noticed the eyes of the child.  The dark brown irises contrasted with the white sclera reminded her of the child she had met last summer.  With those thoughts in mind she moved toward the NICU. 

“Bonjour, I need Louna please.”  Her Creole was not all she had hoped it would be. 

“Louna doctor” replied the nanny on staff. 

“Merci,” replied Sharon. She said a quick prayer for the baby and went back upstairs to reread her cards and choose a new child to work with. 

Deciding on Emiline Sharon went to the room and asked the nannies for her.  

“Bonjour, Emiline is here?” she inquired. 

A nanny on staff looked up and nodded in the affirmative. She then walked off among the cribs in the room and soon returned with a little girl in her arms. Sharon smiled and reached for the girl who was clinging to the blouse of her nanny. Emiline’s eyes and actions revealed she was quite afraid.  Sharon thought back to the information and realized that this child was one who had just arrived from the closed orphanage. Taking a step back, Sharon leaned over and spoke to the child in a small voice. She then worked with the nanny to help in the trade off of the child from her arms into Sharon’s.  The little one resisted and squirmed. 

Sharon began to sing to the child in a sweet voice. “Emiline, dear Emiline, the prettiest girl in the world. Emiline, sweet Emiline, you’re God’s little girl.” 

Soon, the wee one began to let go of the nanny and came to Sharon. As she did, she grasped hold of her top and nuzzled into her neck for safety. She clung to her as she had the nanny. 

“God, help me to know what to do with this little one to help her transition from the closed orphanage to here.” Sharon’s prayer was soft and tender. “Help her to know your love Lord. She needs you so!” 

Sharon held tight to the child as she climbed the stairs to the patio. She had never had a child cling so tight to her. Her sons, now in adulthood, hadn’t ever grasped to her like that even when they were ill.  Taking a deep breath she unlocked the gate onto the patio and stepped out in search of a rocking chair. Finding one, she stepped across the tiled floor and sat down.  The Haitian made wooden rocker fit her perfectly.  Emiline shifted her weight yet remained with hands clinging to her top. Singing songs of love, she sat and rocked the child for hours.  Desiring to look over the child to check her rat bites would not happen today. Her grip was tight, and Sharon was not going to pry her loose. 

“God, use your love to fill her voids. Let her know to trust me. I will not hurt her in any way.”  Sitting there, rocking, Sharon lifted up prayers.  Sharon knew she was a mere human and could not provide all this child needed. God needed to help. 

Following lunch, Sharon went upstairs to find her next child. Louna might be out all day and she needed to see each child. She had been with Emiline quite some time. When she had drifted to sleep, Sharon had taken her to her crib just prior to lunch. She hoped to check back in on her if time allowed. 

She decided to look for Joe Jean. He was more active and loved to play ball. After rocking most all morning this seemed like a good change of pace. Taking advantage of the opportunity Joe Jean and Sharon ran around on the patio kicking a ball.  Joe Jean laughed and kicked it over and over as Sharon smiled at his ways.  Giggling and tickling enticed more giggles and Sharon loved every minute spent with this loving child. The family who was adopting him was in for a lot of fun!  Sharon hoped whoever they were they would have enough energy to keep up with him. 

After an hour or so, Joe Jean was ready for his afternoon nap and Sharon took him downstairs to do so. She returned to the patio and wrote into his and Emiline’s notebooks what had transpired that morning. Taking the time to read some of those notebooks she got to know each one a bit better. Talking to the other volunteers they told her of how Emiline had come to GLA. She was in a truckload of children who were being taken to various locations for care. The government had closed that other orphanage for many reasons. Babies and toddlers had been bitten by rats and a few had died because of it. They were also living in squalid conditions that were unfit. The truck had pulled up outside the gate and dropped off some and then left to take more to other well-run places in the area.  The children were brought in that day and placed into rooms and cribs where they could. Many were frightened and malnourished. With no paperwork many would be there until young adults. They didn’t know their ages, or anything. Without birth records they might not be able to be adopted. Time passed and Sharon went down to see if some of the children were awake yet. Going in to find Daniel she noticed his name on the bed. The small child lay in his bed, drinking what appeared to be red juice from a bottle.  As soon as he saw Sharon, he dropped the bottle and smiled at her. It was as if he knew she was there to get him.  Picking up the child, Sharon held him close and hugged him.  He was such an adorable little thing, Sharon loved him already. 

“Bonjour, Daniel! You want to go with me?” Her question was one she hoped the nannies in the room could understand. 

“Oui, yes,”, the shorter statured nanny replied.  

Climbing the steps Sharon watched as he sipped on his bottle and cooed at her. His body was fuller than she had imagined from reading his file. She was glad to see malnourishment was not getting ahold of him. 

“So, little man. What would you like to do first?” Looking around she found a small rocking horse on the far side of the patio underneath an overhang. “You want to ride the horsey?” 

Daniel sat on the rocking horse and began rocking back and forth. His little body seemed to want to rock too far to the back. She watched he did not tip over. She could understand why they wanted her to work on his strength.  Realizing, this was the child they wanted to have eat more, she carried him downstairs to the kitchen and asked the staff for something to feed him. They gave her some mashed potatoes. Walking into the dining area she took the child and sat him in a highchair.  Daniel dove in and ate all that she would offer him.  Repositioning him so he could see the television she watched as he had no interest at all. It was as if he had never seen one before. She changed the channel to a children’s program and his response was the same. While there she met a new staff member working with a child with a disability. She was a retired nurse from the states who lived there to assist with the children. Talking to her and getting to know her Bo they heard the doorbell on the gate ring. One of the kitchen staff ran to open the gate. Within moments, Sharon noticed people coming into the room with a small infant.  

The woman carrying her approached the ladies who had been conversing, “Are you Sharon?” 

“Yes, I am. Who is this little lady?” Sharon gestured at the baby wondering if it was Louna. 

“This is Louna. She was at the doctor in town this morning.” 

Sharon smiled and looked into the wee baby’s eyes.  “I’d heard she might be back soon. Do you want me to take her now?” 

“In a little bit. I’m going to take her upstairs and have them feed her. Give us, say, an half hour or so.” She smiled as she replied. 

Sharon and Daniel followed Louna upstairs into the NICU. They watched as the lady explained to the staff, she would be there in half an hour or so to get Louna. They were to feed her. She also updated them on the doctor’s visit and new orders. Watching as the lady opened a cupboard nearby Sharon saw formula and medical supplies being stored there. They had so much for those who needed it. Watching for a bit more she decided to take Daniel back up onto the patio. 

“Louna is back!” she announced as she unlocked the gate to enter the space where other volunteers were playing with children. “She is being fed right now. Man, is she a tiny thing!” 

Volunteers were glad to hear she was back. Placing Daniel into a Bumbo seat to strengthen his legs Sharon and her peers conversed. With rattle in hand, she played with Daniel and learned more about this place high in the mountains.  After a half an hour or so, she walked down to check on Louna. She was fast asleep. The nannies told her she needed her rest. Sharon understood. Taking Daniel to his bed she went back up to write in his journal and read about he and Louna. Her first day had been a busy one. She had met all but one of her little angels. In time she would meet them all. 

************************************************************************** 

Being an early morning riser Sharon awoke and headed into get a shower. Being allowed to shower every other day she wanted to get in ahead of the others and then go type in her journal.  Knowing it needed to be military style she gathered her things and readied herself. She planned to get in, get wet, lather up, and rinse. The water would be cold, so, she knew she would need to hurry.  Turning on the water she flinched as the cold water ran down her back.  Being sure to preserve the precious commodity she turned off the water and lathered up. She was thankful for the warm air to keep it somewhat comfortable. Turning the faucet back on she stepped under the shower head ready to quickly rinse. But, there was no water! Sharon reached down and turned the faucet off and on again but no water.  

“Oh man! I forgot! The electricity is not on until 7:00!” Thoughts raced around in her head and she attempted to figure out how to rinse. 

Pulling back the shower curtain she found a bucket sitting there, but it was empty.  Nothing there! Looking to her right the toilet bowl was full of yellow water and paper. They had to follow the rule of If its yellow, let it mellow. If its brown, flush it down.  That water choice was most definitely a huge NO! Looking around the room she considered the toilet tank water, then saw the cups of water for brushing teeth. Quickly, yet carefully, she slid across the room to get two of them. Then she tiptoed back into the shower and poured them all over her body. Stepping back and forth she finally emptied each and every cup with a name on it. Yet, she still needed more! Looking to the sink she said a quick prayer and turned on the faucet. Water enough to fill her cups gushed forth. It must have been what had been in the pipes!  Praising God for each and every drop she finished rinsing, toweled dry, and dressed. Inside her soul she wanted to break out laughing but knew if she did she would awaken the entire place. Slipping into the lounge area Sharon entered things in her journal. Wait till she told Edward this one! Relaxing there she could hear some of the children getting up for the day. 

As soon as the power was on she headed downstairs to wash the cups and put new water in them from the tipper bottle in the kitchen. She then made herself some oatmeal and ate a fresh banana. It was much tastier than in Ohio. It had ripened on the tree, she loved the fresh fruits here in this tropical place. Giving up her seat to others coming down to eat Sharon decided to walk into the area where the toddlers were getting ready for the day. Here, she assisted with the morning routine. Outfits from the bin were handed to her and she helped dress each one. She slid on the tops and dresses as their little hands went up in the air.  It was amazing to watch the children line up and behave so well. In the end, their little shoes were placed onto their feet. The nannies did this part as they seemed to know which shoes fit who. 

Leaving that area Sharon walked up to the balcony area overlooking the school below. She could see Lander there sweeping the patio preparing for his day as well.  Waving her arms and yelling his name as before the two were able to meet outside the gate and talk for a half an hour or so. He was anxious to hear how things had been going. The two exchanged stories about the past two days. Lander laughed quite hard when she told him what had happened in the shower that morn.  Asking Lander about the food she had brought he told her the family had eaten it all already. She understood and wished she could have brought more.  Talk of their plans for the upcoming month went on until the sound of vehicles approaching came into earshot. 

Looking up the pair could see two vans approaching GLA. Both were loaded with people. Speaking to them just inside the gate they learned that they were from a church in the states there to assist with construction on the new site up higher in the mountains.  Saying good-bye to Lander Sharon watched as teens and adults piled out of the vans. The older children began running to greet them as the group greeted them with hugs and handshakes.  Sharon moved on back to her room as she watched the love fest in the courtyard. She was glad to see each child had someone to love on. They needed that!  This place was quite magical. It seemed to draw people with loving hearts here to serve.  This was truly a place that only God could have created. 

**************************************************************** 

Louna was in the NICU in her crib, arms raised in the air almost asking Sharon to pick her up.  She looked as if she had been crying a little, so Sharon picked her up and rocked her in her arms.  

“It’s okay little one.” Sharon sang a lullaby to her as she rocked her to and fro calming her down. 

Finding a nanny she motioned with her free arm to the upstairs. A nanny looked toward her, and she then asked if she could take her upstairs. The nanny agreed.  Finding a rocker on the patio, Sharon lay the wee one across her lap. Then, just like any new mother she began looking her over counting fingers and toes.  

Sharon spoke, “Look at those beautiful eyes of yours! Aren’t you the prettiest little thing!” 

The wee infant responded with a huge smile. Sharon had never seen such a young baby smile like that! 

“Wow! Did you guys see her smile!” she stated to the other volunteers. She smiled at the child hoping to get another smile in response. 

A red haired volunteer, named Kristen, walked over to Sharon and spoke, “Did they tell you she is eight months old?” 

“No, her age wasn’t on my information sheet. She is so tiny! She looks to be about two months old at the most!” Sharon was shocked! 

“Yeah, my sister and I have been helping with her since we arrived about three weeks ago. She is what they call a miracle baby. She weighed about two pounds when she was born. They didn’t expect her to make it.  She has surprised everyone, but she’s still not well.” 

“What’s wrong with her? Is there anything we can do to help?” 

Hearing the group coming up the stairway Kristen held her pointer finger to her lips. “We’ll talk more later. Right now, let’s help them find babies to love on.” She then stood up and helped direct people to find little ones one floor below. Taking the list with her they went down to find their assigned little ones. Walking back with infants in tow the patio space filled with sounds of laughter and baby talk.  Kristen and her sister Kelli inflated a bouncy house for the children to play in. Smiles were everywhere! 

A visiting adult approached Sharon; she was still rocking Louna. “What is the name of this little one?”  

“Her name is Louna. She’s eight months old,” Sharon replied. 

“Eight months old? Look how tiny she is!” The lady bent over and placed a hand on Louna’s wee foot. “May we pray for her?” 

Sharon looked up to see the assemblage on the patio walk toward she and Louna. The laying of hands and prayer lasted for a while.  Louna remained calm and quiet except for her big smiles, which at times made the people smile in return. Sharon hoped that all the prayers would come true. This little one really needed them. 

CHAPTER 18

Days passed as Sharon got to know her four little angels and the other volunteers.  The large group that had come stayed a while and worked up in the mountains at the new site. They were on the patio only a few times and then stayed at the construction zone . Kristen, was there daily, as was her sister Kelli and the three worked with the babies daily. They were staying for two months and were a great help with getting to know the staff as well as the little ones.  Leah and Elise, teen friends, came and stayed for two weeks. They were best friends and their love for one another showed.  There was also a mother-daughter team from France. Carole, the mother on the team, was a neonatal nurse back home. Her knowledge of English helped the other team members learn more about each child’s medical needs.  One topic that came up was the children’s distended belly buttons.  Leah, as well as others wanted to know why they stuck out so far. Discussions surrounding the types of births with midwives in Haiti, surfaced and led to more questions. Talking on through the days and nights the team members learned of things such as Scabies, AIDS, and dry scalps. Sharon listened and asked as many questions as she could. She, as well as the rest of the team, wanted to learn as much as possible about the children they were there to serve. Sharon was also glad she was there to help her if Louna would need her. 

Every day, Sharon worked with her four little angels and helped them to learn and to grow strong. Emiline continued to cling tight to her but was getting more and more trusting over time.  Massaging lotion onto her arms and legs Sharon would sing to her and calm her soul. At times, Emiline would get down to play with the other children, but then something would startle her, and she would need held and comforted. Daniel began to get strength in his back legs.  Sitting in the Bumbo Seat was helping. He also loved the swings for fun. By now, Sharon would enter the nursery area and his eyes would light up and reach for her. She loved the attention as well. She was soaking it all in. Joe Jean was the ball player. Sharon had discovered a blue ball on the patio was his favorite. The pair would run around playing ball and then sit and read his books in his special basket. Practicing English was a major focus with him.  Louna, the miracle child, held her ground and did not return to the doctor the remainder of the week.  Sharon fed her and held her as much as she could. Since the visitors had lay hands on her she seemed a bit better. Sharon was glad for that. 

Facebook time and emails home told of Sharon’s goings ons and asked for prayers for Louna.  It also told of her first Sunday service at the Orphanage. Services had been held on the patio and were quite nice. Edward was glad all was going well and asked about Lander. Sharon assured him that he was watching over her if she left the gated area and that he had been busy studying for his senior exams.  The tests were coming up next week and he needed to focus on those right now. Edward reported back that all was well at home, but he had burned some bacon when he fell asleep while it was cooking. He’d had to air out the house and it still had somewhat of a burnt smell.  Sharon was sorry she had not been there to cook for him. But, he would get by.  He worked such long hours and was probably exhausted. She asked God to watch over him and placed it in his hands. 

******************************************************************* 

Sharon and Lander spent time walking in the community in the evenings. He and his friends went door to door to ask if they had a home church. He would then ask them to attend his church on Sunday. This Sunday was going to be a special one. People were going to be baptized.  

“Lander, may I come with some of the volunteers this Sunday to witness the baptisms firsthand?” Sharon asked. 

“Yes, I would love for you to come.” Lander replied. 

“Will I be able to meet your family there?” Sharon asked. 

“My brother and my baby sister will be there. You will be able to meet them.” 

Sharon smiled. She had heard about Lander’s family in their chats but had never met them.  “How wonderful! I look forward to it!” 

Sunday morning came and Sharon attended church on the patio first. She knew that was a requirement of volunteers at the orphanage. She also wanted to attend there as to be able to understand the readings. After having attended those she went to the little church under the place where she had slept that previous summer. She had hoped to be able to see that church and join in their worship. Today was to be that day. She hoped she would be able to sing along in her mind with some of the hymns. Walking down the slanted walkway followed by a group of invited volunteers she saw Lander at the door. He was waiting to greet them. 

“Good morning, Mom Sharon. I show you all where to sit. Come with me.” He motioned to the inside as the girls giggled at his having called Sharon mom. 

Lander and I at church

Walking into the chapel Sharon saw several people dressed in common clothes seated to the far side and assumed they were the choir. A small wooden pulpit was at the front of the church.  Music was playing on a CD player at the front. In front of the pulpit was what appeared to be a trough for watering animals. It was off white, and half filled with water.  

“Today we’ll have baptisms. We’ll also have two people join our church as members.” Lander explained to those in attendance. 

The group of visitors began taking out their cameras to take pictures of the water trough. They were excited to witness such an event as was Sharon. 

‘Here, you each take a songbook. I will help you if you need me to.” Lander offered. 

Sharon looked into her Haitian son’s eyes and smiled. She was proud he was using his English to help others. “Are your brother and sister here?” she asked. 

Yes, you want them to sit with you? He watched to see her head nod in the affirmative. “I’ll go get them. You sit here. I’ll be right back.” 

Sharon watched as Lander walked toward the back of the building. Then he came back with a young girl about eight years old.  He was holding her hand. “This is my little sister. My brother is in class. He is not able to sit with us today.” 

“Hi. My name is Sharon. You want to sit next to me in church today?” The little girl looked up and smiled. Sitting down, she slid over next to her as close as she could. She saw the American’s journal and pencil and motioned for it, wanting to draw. Sharon handed her both and watched as the little one scribbled in her book. Sitting still and watching Lander find people seats, Sharon watched the Pastor approach the CD player and place in a new CD. Soon Chris Tomlin’s song filled the space.  

“Pastor Colbert will be speaking soon.” Lander spoke to the sisters as well as the other guests in the chapel.  Finding a seat on the other side of his American mom Lander reached over and took her hand. So many times, they had shared stories of what transpired in their home churches. Now, Sharon was going to witness it first-hand.  They looked at one another and smiled. This was going to be their first church service together. It was a special day. 

Looking up, Sharon noticed two people had come out of a room adjacent to the front in white gowns. After walking to the front of the room, they sat and faced the pulpit.  The baptismal font was half filled with water, and their eyes gazed at it briefly.  Lander’s little sister looked up at those dressed in white, smiled, and returned to her drawings.  

The service opened with reports from various groups. Even the children stated openly about their recent happenings. Hymns were sung in French and then Pastor Colbert welcomed the visitors. The message followed the singing of Happy Birthday to one of the adult members. Lander explained to all that this was a weekly custom at church.  

The reading was from Ephesians 2:1-10. Sharon read along in her English Bible King James Version to understand. 

  1. And you he made alive, that were dead in trespass and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of power of the air, the spirit now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just like the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us in Jesus Christ 8 For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that none of yourselves; it is a gift from God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast,  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

Watching Pastor Colbert, Sharon smiled as she read the passage that reminded her, she had been saved. God was not going to let her burn in hell as she had once, thought. God had made her alive even though she had once walked in tremendous sin.  Sitting there, reading the passage over and over, she felt the love of Christ settle upon her soul. Warmth emerged and a feeling of being hugged enveloped her body. Sharon looked at Lander and his little sister seated on either side of her and smiled. God had been so good to her all these years, yet she had failed to recognize it. Her sins, all of them, had been washed white as snow, and yet she’d been too caught up in her mindset to notice. All she had to do was ask for his forgiveness.  

With the message complete, it was time to baptize and welcome the new members.  The first person stepped into the tub as the tourists in the building snapped photos.  

“You want picture Mom?” Lander asked. 

“No. I just want to savor in the moment with you.  I’ll get one from someone else later.” looking at the notebook Sharon noticed his sister had drawn a full-fledged butterfly on the page. 

“That’s so pretty, sweetheart. Lander, can you tell her how pretty that is?” 

Lander did as ask, and his sister acknowledged the compliment. 

As the person sat back in the tub a voice began to sing, Amazing Grace in French. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” 

Sharon’s face melted into an entanglement of emotions. Memories of having sung that song at her father’s graveside entered her head. She relived that moment with Edward in her mind’s eye and began to weep. God was revealing to her how much she had grown since that time in her life. The butterfly, a symbol of metamorphosis, coupled with the song was a message from God. She reached over and held the hand of the little girl tightly. Sharon was in awe of God’s timing. 

“Mom, you, all right?” Lander asked. 

“Yeah, I’m good. It’s just all so beautiful.” 

Then in silent prayer, she spoke to her father in heaven. Thank you God for loving me. I was lost, but now I’m found. 

***************************************************** 

The service ended and the group went to GLA to eat their lunch. Massive dishes with grilled chicken and sides filled the counters. Coca- Cola and Sprite bottles were set on the table for those in attendance to share. Glasses and plate service were ready for the feast. Prayers were offered up, and the guest all began to dine. 

Dave, a staff member who was from Australia noticed Sharon writing in her journal again. 

“You write in that a lot. What are you putting down in there?” he asked. “What do you plan to do with it?” 

Sharon explained that one day she hoped to write a book about her thirty days spent there with them. She noted all kinds of things like what the meals entailed and so on. 

Dave then asked, “Could you read some of it aloud to us?” 

Sharon paused as thus far, only she had known what lie in the pages of her journal. It combined with what she had typed was personal. Yet, she obliged his request and humbled herself. As she read, those at the table listened intently. They seemed to truly enjoy her words, and this surprised Sharon. For years now, people had been telling her to write a book.  Perhaps, she needed to listen to them and believe in herself more. 

CHAPTER 19

Following lunch part of the group dispersed to go sightseeing, and Sharon decided to use her day off to get on Facebook and talk with Edward. It was just what she needed. Each one told each other of the happenings of the week and messages from the church they attended. Posting photos on Facebook, Sharon began to lose track of time. Hours had passed and it was near three o’clock. Standing up she crossed the room to refill her water bottle from the jug in the kitchen. Her thoughts quickly turned at the call of her name.

“Sharon, come quick! The baby girl you have been helping with has taken a turn for the worst!”

Looking up Sharon saw the nanny just above her on the steps. Calling to Elise, who was seated near her on the computer, she asked her to shut down her PC as soon as the pictures had uploaded. She agreed. Sharon started up the stairs. Elise called out well wishes to all.

Walking into the NICU, Sharon saw the staff nurse by Louna’s side. Her little body lay in the observation area and she was not moving as she usually had been.

“She’s not doing well. We need your help with the feedings today. You’ll need to feed her with a syringe. She’s too weak to suckle the bottle. Is that okay?” the nurse ask.

“Yes, I will. But honestly, I have never fed a baby with a syringe before. You’ll need to explain to me how to do it.”

Little Louna

“She’ll need to be fed every two hours. She’s losing weight and she cannot survive that. She is so tiny already. You’ll need to press the formula in the syringe into her mouth alongside her cheek. This way she’ll swallow it. If you place it onto her tongue, she’ll just push it out.” The nurse’s explanation was complete as she needed to make sure Sharon understood.

“Do you want me to feed her right now? I can try.” Sharon’s voice was trembling.

“Yes, take her up to the patio where it’s quiet. Feed her the two ounces in this cup and then hold her upright for as long as you can. Any jarring of her body may cause her to throw it back up.”

“I understand.” Taking Louna and the necessities, Sharon headed up the stairs to the patio area. She sat down and began to feed the baby as she had been asked to. At first, she struggled with trying to get the formula to stay in her mouth, but then, with practice, she did better. Sitting as still as she could, she began to hear singing from below her on the balconies.

“How’s she doing? The neonatal nurse from France had heard and come to assist.

“She’s eaten some, but I can’t tell how much of it she spit up.” Sharon was concerned.

“That happens,” Carole reassured her. “Did you squirt the formula into the back of the mouth between her gums and cheek?”

“Yes, I did.” Sharon paused. “By the way do you know where that singing is coming from? Are they having another church service?”

“No, the nannies are singing to ask God to be with Louna. Many of them are on their knees in prayer,” Carole explained. “Can I get you anything?”

Sharon looked at her new friend and smiled, “No, I’m fine. But will you pray with me?”

The two sat and lay hands on the wee one digesting the meal. While lifting her up in prayer, Sharon began to recall her past and all it had entailed. Could God be placing her into another position where a child would die? If so, then why?

“Please God, be with us. Lessen her pain as she needs you so. I understand that she is your child Lord. Have I not lost enough already? Please help me get through this, her hour of need.  Help me to grow as your will unfolds. I need you beside me.”

Carole took Sharon’s hand to comfort her.  She’d seen this issue with other babies she’d helped in her job. He knew Sharon was not going to like the outcome. A miracle needed to come, and soon.

For the remainder of that Sunday Sharon fed the babe taking only a break for her supper and to walk into the rooms to check on her other three little angels. At one point, she lifted Emiline from her crib and held her tight. The children here had been through so much and yet were so resilient. Sharon was amazed by it all.

Sunset came, and the nannies told Sharon to get some sleep. Walking just outside the gate, she looked for Lander. She needed a friend to talk to. She found him sitting adjacent to the ramped walkway to the church.

“Hello! I’m so glad to see you!” We’re having a prayer meeting. Would you like to come?”

“Yes, I would. Can I ask that you pray for a baby I am helping with? Her name is Louna and she’s not doing very well.  Her voice relayed sadness and concern.

“I’m so sorry. I heard today that one of the babies was ill. I didn’t know she was on your list to care for.”

“Yes, she is. Can you ask others to pray for her?” she pleaded.

“Yes, I will. The service will begin in about ten minutes. Can you come then?”

Yes. I’ll be back. I’d like to get my journal to make some notes from today. Then I’ll return.”

Lander hugged his friend tightly and could tell she was holding back tears.

“God has a plan, Sharon. It will be okay. God is with you. You must trust in his will.”

**********************************************************************

Walking into the service Sharon noticed she was a tad late. Not wanting to interrupt she went to the back of the church and took a seat.  She opened her journal and began talking to God.

“God,” she whispered. I need to hear from you.” sitting quietly she attempted to connect with his wee voice. Then, she began to hear him and took pencil in hand to write down what he had to say:

Dearest Daughter,

Through your pain I am molding you back into the woman I designed you to be —- a woman who lives a life of servitude. Your gift for language, which you have questioned in the past, is now, and was even then, being used to glorify God. Language emits communication, communication is the means through which God’s love is shared. Communication comes through spoken words as well as the heart. Love emanates from you, dear one. Your intentions are pure, yet at times, they are confused. I can accept that. Actions stemming from love are good. You learned so many years ago from a lady named Alice, whom I placed in your life. Back then, you asked to be like her. You asked to be filled with God’s light. This has been done. The gift has been opened and has just begun to be revealed to you. You are a light, a beacon. In the past, your anger darkened my light, and the darkness enveloped you and yours. I forgive you. You knew not what you did. You knew not of those things, but now you do. You have changed. My will has been done. As you prepare for the days ahead, know I am with you. Your heart is full but must be prepared for things yet to come. Your future is bright, Sharon. I love you my child. I always have. Your trials saddened me, but I never left your side. Where do you go from here? Go forth to love and serve the Lord, your God. Use your gifting to dance, sing, pray, lay hands, heal, prophesy, and more. But do it all for my glory alone.

Sharon sat back on the bench and fanned herself as sweat began to bead up on her face. The Haitian church was not air conditioned like at home.  In fact, there was no electricity in the room for even a fan. Yet she wanted to stay. Looking around the room, she realized people were still with their heads lowered in prayer. So, she continued to talk to God.

“God, thank you for loving me and forgiving me. Lord, why am I the one who was placed with Louna? There are so many volunteers, I am not the one who knows best how to care for her. I don’t understand.  Please talk to me again. I’m not qualified for the task you have placed before me.”

Lifting her pencil once more Sharon wrote the words that flowed into her mind.

Sharon, dear one. Children are a gift from God. I welcome all of my children back into my arms at various stages of their lives. I placed Louna with you because of your love for children. You are the one who will love her and be with her in her final days. She will come home to be with me. But, for now, you need to love her to the best of your ability. You will be her final Earthly mother.

Sharon looked at what she had just written and realized God was not punishing her. In fact, he was honoring her pure heart by allowing her to be with his child in her last days. Getting down on her knees, she thanked God for helping her see things through his eyes. She had been chosen by God to be with Louna and was honored.

https://www.glahaiti.org/      Here is a link to the webpage of GLA in Haiti.
God’s Littlest Angels

CHAPTER 20

Two days came and went. Sharon’s primary focus was on caring for Louna as her little body grew weaker and weaker. Lander was taking his tests and she was on her own for a while.  She did not leave the confines of the gated area for days. Filling her time in the mornings with preparing scrambled eggs and other foods for the staff and volunteers she kept her mind occupied in ways to serve the Lord. Sending messages home to her church family she asked that they pray for Louna’s pain to be lessened.  This too aided her in doing what she could for the wee one. By now, Louna was unable to keep down her formula and an IV drip was being placed in her arm. Sharon held down her hands as the staff attempted to find a miniscule vein. Having no success Carole was summoned to assist.  Looking up at Sharon she eased the IV into the small arm and smiled. Those in the room celebrated with laughter and hugs. The Iv line was taped down. Now they needed to immobilize her other arm so she would not pull it out. Louna fussed and cried as this meant she was no longer able to suck her thumb. Sharon looked at the wee one and felt bad for her. She wanted to suck her thumb to ease her pain.

Carole was the first to speak, “Sharon, she cannot have her thumb. She needs to reserve her strength to heal.”

“I know. It’s just so sad.” She watched as the nurse removed her wee diaper and saw the pustules forming on her body.”

“I need to tell you that she has AIDS. Her mother has AIDS as well. When she was carrying her, Louna contracted the disease. Upon birth, they could have given her medicine to help but they chose not to. The children born in this country with AIDS do not make it. The medicine is very expensive.  By the time they realized she was a fighter and began giving her the meds it was too late.  In the United States or most developed countries she would have had a chance. But here. it’s different. The government nor the people have the means to help.” Carole knew Sharon was trying to grasp what was happening and hoped her explanation would help.

“Thank you for explaining this to me. I think God had a plan for you to be here at this time. We are all blessed someone with your expertise is here to help her. Louna needs you now.” Sharon pushed a smile into being. Her heart was aching, and she knew her time with Louna was limited. God was with her. Carole was with her.  Everything was going to be alright.

Sharon spent part of the day with Louna holding her hand and talking to her. She could see the pain in her face and lay hands on her hoping to relinquish it. She was unable to hold her now as the IV drip was fragile.  But she did what she could when the wee one was awake. Watching her fidget attempting to suck her thumb bothered Sharon and she would at times bless the situation and go upstairs to be with the other little angels she was assigned to.

That night, walking out onto the patio Sharon decided to share with the other volunteers what God had told her. She read aloud his words from her journal stating that he was going to bring this little girl home to him.  The four girls listened intently as Sharon read. She wondered if they believed her. Talking to God was kind of out there.

Trying to coax Sharon into thinking of other matters the girls came up with the idea to play a game three truths, one lie. Laughter filled the room as Leah began and told her truths and untruths about herself.  It was nice to be away from the pain of Louna and be in the respite of friends.  The young women she had been spending her time with had now become dear friends. All of them had grown closer to one another with each passing day. She was glad to have friends to share in her life here in Haiti.  Sharon sat back in her chair and attempted to let go and let God.  The volunteers plan of getting her mind off things was working. She was grateful.

Sleep came easily that night. It was as if God had sent Jack Frost to hush her mind and help her dream. His pixie dust was just what she needed. Following breakfast Sharon climbed the stairs to check on Louna. She was fearing the worst. Looking into the NICU Sharon saw another child in the bed with Louna’s name on it. Looking left to right she could not find the child anywhere. Not knowing what to think she walked out onto the small veranda off the NICU to find the nannies there in conversation.

“Louna okay?” Sharon spoke with a strong inflection at the end of her phrase wanting them to know she was asking a question.

The nanny in front looked up and stated, “Louna die.”

The language barrier stepped in and reared its ugly head. Sharon had so many questions but was unable to convey them. The nanny told her what she could. Louna had been taken to the hospital and died during the night. That was all she knew.  There had been a telephone call and not much more. Sharon looked around to find Emiline. She was on her bed fast asleep.  Her little body drawing in deep breaths was a relief to Sharon; and the desire to hold her filled her body to the core. Walking up the stairs to the patio Sharons sobs turned into crying. She wanted to be someplace that the children would not see her wiping her tears away. She walked to the closest room, Carole’s room and asked if she could come inside. Here, she told the neonatal nurse what had happened. It took a while for her to calm down as the salty tears that flowed consistently burned her eyes and face.  Sharon knew Louna was with God. She also knew she was no longer in pain. She just needed time to grasp it all.

Heading back to the patio was not easy. She wanted to hold a child in her arms and receive the comfort. She went in search of one to do so. She wanted to hold a healthy one who she could sing to and enliven her spirit. Walking into where Emiline slept she noticed the child was awake and reaching for her. Taking her into her arms she caressed the dear one and snuggled against her soaking in the life within her. Emiline cooed and seemed to understand. Holding her close she climbed the stairs and went in search of a hairbrush and barrettes to do her hair.

“Thank you, Jesus, for your gift of this child.” Sharon continued to fix her hair and rub lotion onto her wee body. It not only soothed the child but helped her to heal from the morning’s occurrence.

An announcement was made to all staff that Louna had passed at 3:00 in the morning at the hospital. Her death was peaceful, and a staff member was with her when she died. Sharon asked what would happen next. The staff member explained that her real mother would be contacted. She would be given the choice if she wanted her child’s remains or not. She would then be buried by her mother or the orphanage.

News came back later that day that in fact the mother did not want her body. A small cemetery in the distance would be her place of rest.  Sharon asked if she could pray over her. The response was yes. Someone would come to get her when it was time.

Sharon and Emiline continued to play and enjoy the day. Soon, a staff member came to get her. Sharon followed her, holding on to Emiline. She didn’t really know what to expect. The trio walked on down the hallway, past the NICU to a door that was opened and all three stepped in. There inside the room was a storage area filled with diapers and supplies. Among them on the floor was a cardboard box.  The staff member pointed at it and told Sharon Louna was there awaiting to be buried. She then left the room after letting Sharon know she could take as long as she needed to. When she was finished, she could leave and close the door behind her.  A man would be coming later in the day to take her to the cemetery for burial. Sharon watched as she left and went over to the box. It was not anything special. In fact, it was a box that had been used to hold cookies used at the site. Sharon knew that was her casket. The idea of her being buried in such a manner took a bit to settle in. Here in this country she was not to get all the bells and whistles as in America. No showing. No flowers draped on the casket. Not even a casket as she had grown accustomed to in her culture. Just a wee box. Kneeling down beside the box she noticed it had been taped shut. Unable to see her once more, Sharon held onto Emiline and wept.  She had to think of this as a closed casket ceremony back home. Holding back tears and wanting to vomit she raised up a prayer for the wee one and those who loved her. She had made such an impact on her life in the short amount of time she had known her.  “Thank you, Lord, for letting me love this child. Thank you for allowing me to love her and to serve you in this capacity. I know that she is in your arms and is whole again. Amen.”

Emiline and I

Holding Emiline close she continued to say her goodbyes. She recalled that only days previous this child had smiled the biggest smile she had ever witnessed. She thought of the people who had lay hands on her wee body and lifted her up in prayer. The desire to see the baby’s face once more tugged at her heart and she fought back the temptation again and again to open the box and do so. It was just like when they had buried her father years ago. She longed to see him one more time. But even then it was not possible. She turned and placed her hand onto the doorknob. Glancing back, she had one last thing to say, “I love you Louna. I always will. Thank you for being a part of my life. I will never forget you.”

Later that evening as the group was enjoying their dinner Sharon noticed one of the men on staff carrying the cardboard box down the staircase. She stood up quietly and left the table. Walking behind him silently she watched him from afar as he loaded the box into a truck. Peering around the corner of the house she saw him handle the box with love and respect placing it on the front seat on the passenger side.  He then made sure she had a shovel and other needs. Starting up the truck he tooted the horn so someone would open the gate. Sharon watched as Louna and the man disappeared from sight. She stated a quick prayer and then went back in.  She needed to move on yet again.

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God’s Littlest Angels

CHAPTER 21

Lander’s family in their home.

The remainder of the time in Haiti was spent loving on the three angels and an additional baby new to GLA.  Spending time with her new friends, and Lander, the time passed quickly.  Sharon did get to meet Lander’s family. She and the other volunteers ventured down one day into the area below the orphanage to visit them. They had each brought some small toys and wanted to give them to children in the area who had none. Being welcomed into their home the group met his parents, his brother and the sister they had met at church. Taking photos, the group hugged one another and talked with the aid of Lander’s translations. His mother requested pictures of her family and each of her children. She had none and hoped that Sharon could get them to the family in some way.  The toys were quite welcomed. Mere dollar store items were like a treasure to the children who took them outside to play with. Friends from other homes came and shared in the joy. Watching them play the group sat outside as they conversed for a time. One lady complimented their feet, saying how pretty they were. Sharon looked about and realized the Americans feet had always worn shoes and were not toughened by life as the Haitians were. When being introduced to the people she also began to realize that people were not as old as she would have guessed. Time had been hard on them. Malnourishment coupled with lack of medical care they aged much quicker. The one thing that seemed to be of major difference was their teeth.  They were well kept and without black or rotten areas. Sharon pondered on that and realized that most everything they ate was from the gardens and trees. They did not eat things like sweets or junk food like Americans do. They couldn’t afford it. She thought about those things and more as the time passed. The girls joked they felt like they were on the Oprah Winfrey show interviewing the people of Haiti. Their homes were very simple. They had no running water, in fact no water access at all. Their furniture consisted of old burlap potato sacks they had stuffed inside one another to sit upon. They had no beds, no blankets or sheets, few clothes, and very few dishes.  There were no restrooms, no fans, and no lights. The blessed ones had a place to store food if they had any to store. At times days would pass with no food.  Fetching water was a long hike into the mountains to retrieve it and carry it back. Street vendors nearby sold pop at one dollar a bottle, an hour’s wages. One day wages could buy a pop for each member of the family if they were blessed with a job. They were few and far between. The earthquake had changed life in many ways. One man told of how he had been going to the school to get his child when the quake hit. He never saw his child again. He was buried in the rubble. Schools there are not free. It costs around one hundred dollars a year tuition for the little ones, each. They also need their uniforms and supplies. Very few could afford to go. Lander had been a lucky one. His siblings not so much. They couldn’t afford to send them all. Time spent with the families taught all who were welcomed a great deal. The visitors were truly blessed to be born where they were. 

Visit with Haitians

At the orphanage the children were blessed to have so much more than all else outside the gates. Sponsorships from varied nations aided them in having what some Haitians called the American good life. Joe Jean had his favorite ball and other things to play with. Sharon saw in him a lot of the same ways as her sons had. They loved ball. Being one to go to live in America Sharon knew he would be fine. He would relish in a culture where sports were a part of everyday life.  He had a family that would be taking him to ball games and would teach him to bat and pitch. Sharon knew when she left he would be fine; well fed with a roof over his head and electricity to light his way. He would be blessed. The pictures of his family they had shared told a story of his world to come. He would be fine. 

Daniel had been her cuddly little man. She knew she would miss his big smiles when she entered the room to get him. She would also miss swinging him in the airplane swing and his rolling around on top of a big exercise ball on the patio. He and Sharon had created a sort of amusement park ride out of it. He would love it when she would lay him on top of the ball belly down and roll it to and fro. His giggles filled the air with joy.  She loved when he played in the plastic pool as well. He would splash and kick quite a lot. The volunteers had to watch he didn’t drink the water. It could make him sick. Sharon knew he did not have a family to go home to yet. But she prayed he would. Some of the children were there for a time. Their families needed help for some reason and then would come and get them when able to. She prayed it would be soon for this bundle of joy. 

Emiline, her favorite, had grown quite fond of Sharon as well.  She no longer clung to her and would go to others now. Sharon and the volunteers had watched her come out of her shell into the world of play. She loved the bouncy house and would at times get a little too excited and throw balls at the other kids. Yet, in time this behavior could be remedied by simple instruction. Sharon was glad to see her bonding with the others. Joking she was going to take that one home in her suitcase Sharon dealt with the fact she would be leaving soon.  She didn’t want to leave her behind. She had no chance at being adopted. She had no paperwork.  Sharon longed for her to have a family to love her.  She would grow up in the system. A good system – a great place- but just not in a family. Sharon had the hardest time leaving her. She had been there when she needed a child to love. She was the one who had helped her heal from the loss of Louna. She was special in so many ways. Sharon knew in her heart that God had planned that all had occurred from before she had even arrived. She was blessed. 

The children who had come from the closed orphanage healed well. The rat bites had left scars on some of them, but for the most part were healed. Their emotional scars healed as well. Twins that had arrived while she was there each had six fingers on their hands. Sharon learned from Carole that this happened in other parts of the world as well. They had the means to operate there. Here in Haiti they would have them, most likely, for life. Sharon enjoyed movie days, pinata breakings, dances, birthdays and more. GLA was home to so much joy. She had been a part of it for thirty days. But, it was time to go home. 

Calling Edward on the international phone Sharon reminded him of her flight plans.  

“Edward, my flight will get in late at night. Can you meet me at the baggage pick up area?” 

“Yeah, I’ll park just outside where you parked when I got back from Mexico last time. Call me when you land. I’ll know to pull around then.” 

“I’ll call you when I get into Miami and then again when I land in Detroit.  You can plan accordingly.” 

“Sounds great! That will help me know if your flight is on time. I’ve missed you so much! You need me to bring anything to you?” 

“I’d love to see Cali dog but that would be a really long ride for her. I can wait until I get home to see her. We’ve had two dogs here at the orphanage. They have helped me with missing her. Well I better get off this line. It’s the one they use for adoption paperwork and contacts. I miss you!  I’ll call you again soon!” 

“Love you. Watch your stuff in the airport.” 

“I will.” 

Sharon hung up the phone glad she was going home to be with her family. She was craving a hot shower and a good long soak in the tub. She had cravings for some of her favorite foods as well.  Looking up to the roof above where they slept, she saw the sisters watching the sunset. They would be going home soon as well. They had all been missing the best friends who had gone home a short time ago. Even if their friendships continued, they would not be the same as they had here. Smiling as she watched some Haitian young men join them, she walked into the room to complete her packing.  Her final night was about to transpire. Taking one last walk outside the gate she met Lander and his little brother. Taking a walk to the local shop she bought each of them a pop and they talked until she had to go to bed. 

“Mom, I like to travel with you to the airport in the morning. I ask driver and he say okay.” Lander was having a hard time with her leaving and there was an air of sadness in his voice. 

“You are more than welcome to ride with me. I will enjoy the extra time with you.” Sharon replied. She took a look at him and revisited when they had met not so long ago. God had given her a son to replace the one she had aborted. One to love and to cherish for life. 

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 Loading up to go good-byes were said and hugs were doled out. Lander slid to the middle of the front seat and Sharon climbed in on the passenger side. Her things had been loaded into the back of the truck and they were ready to set out. Looking over the area Sharon reflected upon how she had come there thirty days ago with fresh eyes. It was then a mere building where she had come to help those God had led her to. Now, it was much more. It was a place filled with family and friends who had led her through a maze of wonderment. A maze including her finding God and healing from her past. It was a home away from her home in America that she would never forget.   

Driving along on the road the man behind the wheel conversed with the pair about how they knew one another. Sharon pulled out her last bag of M&Ms and doled them out into each open hand. Tossing them into their mouths they crunched on them and savored the chocolate.  Lander told Sharon how he hoped to get his translator’s license soon after hearing from his high school about his test results. He hoped to translate for those in medical need in Haiti. He wanted to help his people.  

Sharon talked about returning home and turning her journals into a book about her thirty days in Haiti. She was also hoping to help her friends by speaking at churches and luncheons about Haiti and their needs. 

The Port Au Prince airport came into view all too quickly. Sharon stepped out of the truck and let Lander slide by her to assist with her luggage in the back. He hopped into the back and toted her suitcases onto the sidewalk. Here, the two hugged and said their final goodbyes.  They did not know if they would ever see one another again but had the internet and social media to keep in touch.  

Holding back tears, Sharon turned to walk into the line awaiting security checks and ticketing. Turning to glance back she watched Lander climb into the truck and then the truck pulled away. She watched as far as she could and then focused on her task at hand.  

Once being checked in, she headed upstairs to a café to get some food. Ordering a yogurt with honey, a breakfast sandwich, and a decaf she found a table to wait for her readied order. Sipping on her hot cup of coffee she leaned back and relished in the pleasure of fast food. She’d been craving a yogurt for quite some time. 

“Bonjour, do you mind If I sit here?” A deep male voice shattered her fast-food moment as she looked up. Seeing a man who seemed to be an American she motioned to the seat across from her and he sat down. Relishing in yet another sip of her hot beverage he spoke once more.  

“Hi, my name is Michael. How long have you been in Haiti?” he asked. 

“About a month.” As she stated it the words sank in that her time was done. It had gone by so quickly. “And you?” 

“I live here now. I run an orphanage up in the mountains. I’m headed home to drum up some funding to feed the people. We serve the locals lunch daily and our numbers are growing .” 

“That’s quite an undertaking. How do you get all that food into Haiti? It’s an island for goodness sake. There’s just not a lot here for the people to eat. The land is so poor….Oh I’m sorry. You know all that.” 

“God has blessed us richly. I have friends who bring things in by plane. Trucks in the area help as well.” he continued. 

“The people here are amazing! I’ve been here only a short time and have been molded immensely. I can’t imagine living here,” Sharon added. 

The conversation continued with what Haiti had taught them. Sharon asked if they had water issues at his location. It seemed to be a norm.  Soon, the two were laughing about her shower story and tales about the kids in the pool. Time passed and soon the servant of God needed to board his plane.  

“You may think this odd, but have you considered writing a book about your stay here? I just had a feeling that I needed to say that to you.” He had a puzzled look on his face. “Anyway, enjoy your flight and your shower with hot water enough to rinse!” He chuckled and walked away into his future. 

He went down the stairs into one of the two boarding areas and was gone.  Sharon pulled out her journal and reread the entry from the night in the church prayer meeting. Part of the message seemed to jump off the page at her. 

Your gift for language, which you have questioned in the past, is now, and was even then, being used to glorify God. Language emits communication. Communication comes through spoken words as well as the heart. Love emanates from you, dear one….. The gift has been opened and has just begun to be revealed to you. You are a light, a beacon. 

Did God want her to share her stories from Haiti with the world? She had thought about writing one but was it his will? Sharon sat and pondered what had just occurred. Taking her things downstairs she then reopened her journal and began to write. She wanted the people to know how Haiti had shaped her and molded her into the woman she had become. She had been so lost, and yet here in this poverty stricken world she had grown so much. 

CHAPTER 22

As I type in this chapter it will be greatly modified, mostly all new, from the original book as to lend itself to the additional chapters I will be adding.

It also explains that my real name is Pam. I chose to use a fictional name for many reasons. Some of which are explained in this chapter. I will continue to use the fictional name throughout the story as not to confuse my readers. As for the pen name I used when originally writing this book it is fictional as well. Phoebe is a name meaning pure love. Siylor is a combination of my maiden and present last names. Phoebe Siylor was my pen name. You can still find the original book online at Amazon although paper copies are mostly gone. My reason for placing it online.

These additional chapters will allow me to let my readers know how God has continued to work in my life. Enjoy!

Chapter 22 –

The flight into Miami was one a plane much smaller than had taken her to Haiti. Sitting back she watched as the island disappeared from view. Reflecting upon the living conditions there she thought about how she would soon be back in an environment she was familiar with. One that she had taken for granted in the past. Disembarking the plane she got her bag with fragile pottery from the bin above her seat and walked into the terminal. Bright lights and stores adorned with ads came into her sight. Diamonds and jewels were amongst the items sold in the first store. She had never been one who had collected such things since having hocked some jewelry to feed her son years ago. she kept moving. She walked along to her next gate glancing at the stores and people shopping in them. Her new eyes were now being used in her homeland. A land filled with riches and opportunities abundant. Heading into the ladies room she smiled at the clean, almost sterile, room that had running water enough for all. No more letting yellow mellow. She laughed inside as she remembered the day when the abundant number of visitors were there and the power had gone out. Unable to flush the toilets, three total at the site, they filled rather quickly. The reminder of the stench they had endured to serve their God was fleeting yet brought to her mind a new appreciation of her homelands blessings. Walking over to wash her hands she let the warm water run over them and rinsed off her face and arms. It felt good to be able to use warm water again. She couldn’t wait to get a shower at home. Heading back into the terminal she found a wall unit and began to charge her phone. It was completely dead and it would take a while for her to be able to call Edward. Thinking of him there waiting in their home brought a burst of excitement to her soul. She would see him again in a matter of hours. Calling him when able they spoke and time passed until soon she could board her flight to Detroit. Living in Ohio, this airport seemed to cost far less than others for international flights. They used it even though the drive was much farther as to save money and be able to do more. That night as Edward came to pick her up they embraced and conversed all the way home. A quick stop for a burger and fries just off the highway served as their late night meal and fed their bodies and souls for the trip ahead. They were together again. God had blessed them richly with all Sharon had learned. Now she just needed to take the time to write it all down and share it with his people.

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Beginning to write on her laptop Sharon used her notes from her days in Haiti to tell the story. Soon, she began to understand that the story was not complete without starting at the beginning.  Speaking with Edward about how to handle the book they talked about the repercussions of letting what happened when they were teens out into the public.  Speaking to her sister-in-law Sharon was warned to not write it. She was a teacher and could lose her job over taking such a political topic on. Others who knew of their past seemed to fear what might happen as well. Then, there was their sons. They would find out.  How would they handle it? They knew that their mother’s relationship with her mom had never been good, but why was not ever discussed. Her mother would be a victim of the writing and possibly quite angry with the couple for writing of the past. She had wanted it to stay buried. Considering many options Sharon decided to create a pen name for herself and change the names of the people in the story. Her spouses middle name would be used. Her name, the name of the main character was hardest to choose. Edward and she decided to take their camper and go on a weekend trip to get out into nature and let her think. He loved to read and she would have the time to write in her journal. Setting up next to a stream the couple bask in the sounds of the gurgling water rippling by.

“Lord, I need to name my primary character. I have come up with some ideas but none of them seem right. You know I don’t want to use my real name, Pam. Do you have any ideas for me?” Sharon sat back in her fabric sling style lawn chair and looked toward the creek. In a few moments she saw a heron land on a fallen tree and look up at her. She watched it for a bit and then the name Sharon came into her head. Smiling she stated the name aloud. Edward put down his book and looked at her.

“Did you say something to me?” he asked.

“Not really. But, I think I have an idea for my main character. See that heron perched in the fallen tree? I saw it and the name Sharon came into my head.”

“Whatever you think. I like it.” He went back to his book.

heron wading

The author of the book took note in her journal. Now she could begin writing. She had asked her friends and some of her family if they wanted to use their real names or not. Weenie wanted her real name, Colleen. She was at the end of her life dying with cancer. She thought it would be a nice way to carry on her name. Lander decided to use his real name as well. He was honored to be in the book. Others chose as they wanted. Now, where to begin? Sharon toyed with several intros and decided to begin the tale when she was a teen. Prior to that seemed to not have much standing on her goals for it. Writing as often as she could she began to create the setting and problem in the story. Writing parts of the book were quite difficult as it forced her to reread things over and over to get them right. Some days the words flowed onto the page as if they were directly from God. Other days she struggled, those were the tough days she wrote about. The chapter about the abortion itself was the hardest. She would have to stop and go cry, come back and write more. But, what she learned was that it was quite healing. The more she read and retyped that passage the easier it became. She was healing. As a teacher she had heard of a topic called bibliotherapy. She had used that when a child in her classroom’s mom died. Reading about another child going through the same circumstances helped him talk about his feelings. Yet, she had never thought about doing that for herself. She began looking for books that others had written about being post abortive and found a couple. She read them, being careful as not to let them taint her words nor her story line. But, she knew that possibly her words could help someone else as the writing was helping her. Talking to her brother’s wife she was in favor of the book. She was one who had asked her to write for years. She had hoped it would be a children’s book, but understood she needed to get this out of the way first. She told her she had spoken with her mother about the topic of the book, yet not that I was writing one. She was afraid of that box being opened as was Sharon. Her brothers had not been told about the book either.  Writing and rewriting the story it began to take shape. Sharon was enjoying putting the words together, especially about her friend Weenie. She wanted her to be remembered fondly.

Weenie, Maxx her sock monkey chemo buddy , and I

Attempting to find a publisher was a challenge. She had hoped to find a Christian company to work with her. Yet, the topic of the abortion seemed to turn most off. They did not want to handle that topic. Finding one publisher who was interested Sharon spoke to them a few times to get their take on what they wanted. They were drawn to the part of the book about the Spiritualist Church. They wanted her to elevate that section to a more predominant standing. They also wanted her to focus on the elements of the faith. Their readership was interested in the New Age topic and they wanted to favor that market. Sharon didn’t know what to do. She needed time, she needed to discuss it with Edward. Conversations about what to do followed. Sharon nor Edward wanted to glorify anything but God. It was not about selling multiple copies or making money. It was about helping someone who was in their shoes. Somebody who had suffered the pain and the loss of a child. A child lost to abortion, a child lost due to no choice of their own. Yes, they had sinned by being together out of wedlock. Yes, it was their fault as well. But, that price was far too high. Deciding not to go with that publisher Sharon looked on to find someone else to publish.

Finding a company who did partial funding to publish a book Sharon called them and told them of her book. They liked the story line but asked that the actual act of her becoming pregnant be subtle and not bolden to read. It had to be put in a way that the reader could understand yet not experience anything in detail. There also needed to be a reason, not just something typically done. Sharon had to design something to befit their Christian standards and then they would look at it. She agreed to do so.

Going back to her book, she changed the circumstances from one of passion and the need to feel loved to one wherein she clung to her love following the death of her father.  The circumstances of how her father had died would maintain their integrity. Yet the timing was shifted to much earlier in their lives. Her father had died after she had married and had her sons, not in high school like the story would now state.  Redoing that section took time. She placed into the story that her mother had been left alone to deal with the timing of things. When, in reality she had not.  Having mixed emotions about that she told herself that it was the story that mattered. It was about her finding God after the plain of such a loss and she moved on.

My book

The writing took near a year, and the publishing process with revisions and updates took a bit longer. By 2014 the book was due to come out in print. She longed to get her first shipment of books to sell that summer. School was winding down, and she looked forward to going to her grandson’s baseball games and spending more time with them. Asking family members to go to the game the night following the student’s last day at work they decided to go together. Edward stayed home as his work hours did not allow him the privilege’s of going to a weekday game. Her brother-in-law would drive. Sitting in the back seat of the car Sharon felt uncomfortable all the way to the game. The belt that went up around her chest was cutting her in the neck and needed to be adjusted. The game went well and all enjoyed the festivities of summer vacation coming into being. Following the game the trio loaded into the vehicle and began the road home. Sharon reached back to fix her belt and was unable to do so without unhooking it. Doing so, she stretched it out some and reattached it. It still felt odd. Struggling to make it comfortable she looked to the side and saw a car approaching going too fast. Calling out to the driver that they were not going to stop she tried to brace herself for what was about to occur. Metal on metal and an impact occurred, then the vehicle began to roll over and over. While rolling the tools in the back of the SUV began flying through the air and hitting the back of Sharon’s head. Holding on, knowing that her belt was not correctly holding her she could feel the pain in her head and in her body. Then they stopped rolling. Her sister- in-law Kay was crying out in pain. She was on the floor under the glove box pinned. The driver was hanging by his seat belts as the SUV was on its side, his side up.  Sharon was lying against the door in a fetal position crumpled up and could see parts of the inside of the door were gone. The air bags had gone off, but the occupants were in dire need of help. Searching for her cell phone she threw items that had landed from the back to the side. Finding it she began calling 911. She stopped. Firefighters were already there. The accident had occurred within a block of their department. Engines were on their way as well. Kay needed to be taken out of the vehicle first. They feared that she was hurt badly as her screams and wails filled the air repeatedly. The driver was having a hard time breathing and he would be taken out next. Sharon seemed to have the least amount of visual injuries and would have to wait. Attempting to get Kay out of the front they broke the windshield to take her out that way. Having problems they decided to take off the entire roof. Tossing in blankets the firefighters asked Sharon to cover herself in case of glass and other things that would be scattered in their midst, the other two had been covered due to the window. Closing her eyes and covering her ears she prayed in her mind in an attempt to block it all out. She stayed like that while her family members were extricated and taken in an ambulance. She was next. They had to figure out how to lift her out of the vehicle. They did not want her to crawl out of the back as her body was twisted in such as way they were unsure about her back. Eventually, they got her out and onto a board and strapped her on. An ambulance was coming. The small town only had so many transports and they needed to wait for one to return to take her. Sharon’s back was in pain. She continued to pray as the man took her vitals. Her blood pressure was good.

“Your blood pressure is great! That’s a good sign! How did you do that?” he asked as he laughed a bit. He knew that some levity may help the situation a bit.

“I’ve been praying. Maybe that helped.” Sharon responded. She did not like being on the flat board strapped down but was dealing with it.

“You are a Christian?”
“Yes, I am.”

“Me too. Prayer can help. I am headed out on a missions trip soon. My church is headed to Haiti to do some construction work.” the paramedic stated.

“Have you been before?” Sharon learned that this would be his first trip. She then told him of her book that was going on the market in a few weeks. The two conversed for a while but then Sharon began throwing up a lot. Keeping nothing down and then dry heaving she attempted to stay calm. Ending up at the local hospital her daughter-in-law Julie came to be with them all. The driver had been sent on to Columbus to a trauma center. He was having trouble breathing and his heart was out of rhythm. Kay had been sent as well. Sharon had to wait for them to return to go herself. The pain in her head, neck, and back was getting worse and worse. They gave her something for the pain. Soon, she was loaded into a returned squad and sent on. In Columbus a team of trauma doctors ordered tests and looked her over. She had thrown up repeatedly the entire trip. Assuming it was the pain meds they dismissed her from the ER.  The driver had been admitted overnight and the ladies were free to go home. Having called Edward Julie sat with them until he came. She then explained all that had happened and what to do when they got home. Sharon was not to sleep. They needed to keep an eye on her and be watch her closely. Edward called their youngest son in the hopes he could come sit with her as well. He knew he would be concerned and want to be there. Loading the ladies up in the car the three headed home. Julie went home herself. All had been up the entire night and were exhausted. Taking Kay home Edward then took Sharon to their house. Finding their son there waiting he went to the town where the accident had taken place to get their personal belongings. Sharon was yet in pain and quite nauseous; she had thrown up  all the way home.  Her son stayed with her and watched over her as the doctors had asked them to. She was alive. They had God to thank for that. Yet, things didn’t seem quite right. Something was amiss.

CHAPTER 23

Having told her boss at work she had been in an accident they told her she could come in another day to close down her room. She was glad and said she would let them know when she felt up to it. Time passed and she completed her work and was ready to enjoy the summer off and heal. As time passed she went to physical therapies and more. She was trying to get back strength and regain what she could of her mind’s focus. Sharon continued to have headaches and other symptoms. Taking meds to assist she went on attempting to live life as usual.

Her communication with Lander continued as she learned of his father’s death. The government had come in shortly after and removed his brother from their home and placed him in an orphanage. Lander was distraught. He was trying to work and earn a fair wage to feed them. Talking to Sharon the two discussed their faith and ways to cope with the challenges in their lives. They would overcome. Life had its ups and downs.

Finding out about the book, her eldest brother called her.

“I would like to pay you the amount the publisher has offered you and more. I don’t want this book to be published.”

Sharon was shocked. Her brother wanted to pay her off. “The book is not about making money. It is for a cause. We hope to save someone the pain that we went through.”

“Well, then maybe I can write a book about you and tell lies. Would you like that/”

“You can write one if you like. I did not tell lies. I even put it as fictional and used fake names and a pen name to protect us all. I am not doing this to be mean.”

“You are going to kill mom, just like you killed our dad,” he stated.

“What are you talking about?” Sharon was baffled.

(Remember he had died later in life and not as stated in the earlier chapters of the book.)

“You know what you did!”

“I don’t get what you are saying!” Sharon was now deeply pained and confused.

“You were in on that scheme with our aunt and embezzled Grandpa’s money. Daddy fought them in court and you took sides with her. Daddy was never right after that and you know it. You basically killed him!”

Sharon was crushed. How could he think such a thing? She loved their father. She had never understood why he didn’t stand up for her in her hour of need but she loved him.

“I never was in on anything like that! Daddy asked me to stay away from the courts when he was dealing with it all and I did as asked. I never even went over there!”

“Well, you know the truth, that’s all I have to say. Now, this book is going to kill mom. Do you want to kill her too?”

Ready to throw up Sharon decided she would prove her case. She was going to go to the courthouse and fight for what she knew was the truth.

“I didn’t do that. I will prove it to you. God knows the truth. He knows my heart. That is what matters most.”

“So, it is okay to kill her in the name of God!”

“I have to go.” Sharon hung up and doubled over in pain. She couldn’t handle being accused of killing her father. She had already killed their child. Calling her boss she told him she needed some time off for a family issue. He agreed and let her come in to prepare for a substitute teacher.

The next morning, Sharon went to the court house to ask for the records from the proceedings. She leafed though them to find documentation of who had testified and more. Sending pictures of them to her brother she hoped to end this all. But, it didn’t. He sent back a message saying that the papers proved nothing.

Driving to her mother’s house she was let in. She then asked her mother why her brother had the notion she had killed daddy.

“Who told you?” Her voice was filled with anger and contempt.

At that moment Sharon had her answer. Her mother had told him.

“I went to the courthouse this morning and looked in the records. I have pictures of who testified and who came each day.” Sharon attempted to defend herself.

“You can do that?” Her mother replied.

“Yes, it is a matter of public record.”

The conversation continued with Sharon asking questions and her mother doing the same. Heading home she thought of what other papers she might have been able to view that would have helped her prove her innocence. The thought of her family believing such a story was unreal! Going back to the courthouse the next day she found the paperwork out on the counter ready to be viewed. She had not called.

“Hello. I am here to view the court proceedings from Mr. Gibbs.”

“Oh, you must be the one who called. Is the young man with you?”

“I didn’t call. But, I would like to see them if I may. The person who called can see them if they come.”

This time Sharon had the lady make copies of certain pages. She then left knowing that her brother and mom would probably be there soon. She took the copies home to reread at her own leisure. The whole fiasco coupled with the remnants of the accident were taking a toll on here. She was unable to sleep and her mind was spinning with the idea of things going on. Had she lied to her family members? Was that why they looked at her as they did at a recent funeral? She didn’t know.

In time things settled down. Talk of a law suit died off and Sharon relaxed a bit. Yet, for her she went on living not knowing if she had family or not. She decided to let go and let God. It was more important to her that he knew she had done nothing wrong as far as that was concerned. The Devil had attempted once more to get her down and have her stop serving God. She wasn’t giving in. She was going to make a difference somehow or he would have stopped attacking her. She took him on full speed ahead.

When the book came out, Sharon was invited to be a guest author at a Pro-Life convention in Kentucky. It was here that she noticed the high number of Catholics in attendance. They seemed to be the predominant religion in attendance. She was Protestant at the time and it bothered her that more were not there on that side of the faith. Here she learned more about the cause. Listening to one lady speak of how she had survived being aborted Sharon thought about her child once more. This lady, now expecting, told of the event and how it affected her life. Sharon also heard others speak about being post abortive and the healings they had come through. Men and women shared from their hearts and she soaked it all in.

Later that summer while at a Christian music event she gave copies of her book away and toured a van equipped with technology wherein the expectant mother could see her child through an ultrasound. This van and others were being used near abortions clinics to offer a free view at the fetus. It was a tool for the cause.  While at this event Sharon passed out her business cards and sold more books. A few people came to her and opened up telling her their stories. One of them was a young man, maybe twenty. He had been in the same situation as Sharon and Edward. His girlfriend was pregnant out of wedlock. She was going to abort their child. He wanted to raise it. So, he fought. He hired an attorney and took her to court. In time the baby was born and through a DNA test he discovered it was not his. The baby then went to another home. Sharon listened as the man went through the pain of what had happened to him.  She told him she was sorry that it wasn’t his. Yet, his major focus was that he had saved that child. He was not feeling sorry for himself. He was not mad at the world. He was glad the child had lived.

Stories would begin to come to her in this manner. Women who had never even told their spouses or families would open up to her and divulge their deepest secrets. Sharon would watch as their faces would turn to pain and sadness as they wished they could go back and change it. Talking to them she knew what they had been through. Some had chosen it themselves. Others had felt forced or coerced. But all of the stories were filled with pain.

Returning to work that fall, Sharon attempted to get as much done ahead of time as possible. Her fatigue and headaches had changed her life and she was unsure of she would be able to handle the job anymore. Months passed and she began to be more and more tired. In addition, her eyesight began failing ever so slightly. It came in steps. At first, for a few minutes a day her eyesight was blurrier than normal. She attempted to rest them but the workload of teaching and grading papers in the evening was daunting. She began tossing papers into a basket to grade on the weekends and took breaks while at work with her eyes closed in a dark room. She even stopped eating lunch with her peers to relax in this manner. Weekends became a time to sleep. Sleeping most days away she began to get farther and farther behind. Her eyesight was gradually worsening. It went into a phase of hours a day of blurred vision and then all day long. Having gone to eye doctors they ran a gamete of tests to find nothing wrong with her eyes. They were fine. Sharon was baffled and exhausted. Her hope was to make it through the school year and get to the next summer. She wanted to teach.

Time passed and the challenges of life and work wore on her. She was not as patient as she had been before the accident. Things could tip her off and she was angry at times and could not control her outbursts. Work was now more difficult than ever. She spent her planning times under her desk in a dark room trying to get her mind under control. Hiding there she hoped nobody would need her to do anything and could calm her body down. Wanting to take time off Edward told her to just keep trying. It would get better. But it didn’t. In the end Sharon had a nervous breakdown at work and was hospitalized. While there they ran more tests and scanned her brain. Nothing was found. Being unable to complete the school year she resigned to stay home and rest. She couldn’t handle it.

The next few months were spent going to see specialists of all kinds. The Superintendent of the school system recommended that she may have to look into disability. He had once had another staff member do so. Seeking advice Sharon called the state teacher’s facility for an appointment.  She needed to know what her options were.

In time, Sharon would discover that she had a mild brain injury. The accident had caused damage to the nerves attaching her brain to the eyes. The easiest way to describe it, they told her was that her eyes were like that of an infant’s. They did not track as they were supposed to. She had been putting stress onto them attempting to work.

Hiring a driver, Sharon went to specialists near Akron three times a week. Here she went through more therapies that lasted about three hours each time. When home, she had tasks to do as well. As time passed Sharon learned that she would never teach again. Her eyes could not function as they needed to for her to work. Asking them if she could work even part time they said no. This was a tough blow for her. She loved teaching and could not fathom not being able to do so.

As the disability claim went forward Sharon saw all kinds of specialists across the state. She tried rose colored glasses, tinted glasses, and more. Nothing worked. Her eye sight would be this way for the remainder of her days.

Running out of sick days at work she was given the option to be fired or resign. She resigned. She would not be able to retire. She could not get any income. She was done. Edward supported her and put her on his insurance plan at work. At least she had that.

The disability claim never came into fruition. A brain injury is quite hard to prove. Lawyers tried to no avail. This took over a year to settle. Sharon was broken hearted. She had lost her career. Attempting other small jobs she failed. She couldn’t do it. She had to accept it. Edward had to be the bread winner and there was nothing they could do about it. Her retirement plan from teaching did eventually kick in but it was nothing near what she had made. Sharon started to go back to her old way of thinking. The good old feeling sorry for herself. Then, God told her to stop it and get back to work. Enough of the pity party. She picked herself up and began again.

CHAPTER 24

Time passed and soon she began looking at ways to serve God with her knowledge base. The sales of her book had all but dropped off as she was no longer able to venture out to speak and sell them. She was unable to drive much distance at all. Finding an organization called Silent No More she spoke with them about their ministry. She learned that they assisted post abortive men and women seeking help. She decided that this might be something she could do from home. Taking on the job of a state rep Sharon was able to answer the phone and talk to people in her part of the state to help them. She would refer them to a local pregnancy center with a class, like she had taken or to a church. Doing this she felt a part of the healing team. Calls came to her and she would listen as mostly women would ask for help. https://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/Index.aspx

Taking time to listen to those in need Sharon decided to do more. She signed up to speak at the March in Washington D.C. Her testimony would be given at the base of the steps of the Supreme Court alongside the festivities. Edward decided to go along and watched from afar as Sharon spoke that day. Being approached by people who had lost a child to abortion Sharon listened as some had never even told their families or spouses. One man told her how his wife had aborted three pregnancies without his knowing. Now, she was unable to conceive and the pain of it all was taking a toll on him. Listening to other testimonies she heard of women being driven to the clinic with a gun pointed at them. Men spoke of their losses as did siblings and grandmothers. In an odd way, it was nice to know she was not alone. Yet, she wished all of them had never had to go through what they did.

Following the march Edward and Sharon decided to travel to Israel and Italy. Their faith had grown but the desire to see the places in the Bible was strong. Going there they saw so many things. Sharon loved to sit in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and pray. With two weeks in Jerusalem area the couple visited all they could. Their faith grew stronger and they healed even more.

After a brief jaunt to Rome and Vatican City the urge to join the Catholic Church grew. Standing near the Pietà Sharon witnessed firsthand the marble statue of Mary holding Jesus and smiled. Mary could be her mother! She needed the love of a mother and had found it.

RCIA classes began and both attended. Confession was taken seriously and all sins were absolved. Joining the church near Easter they could now partake of holy communion. Sharon also joined the pro life group and marched with them when possible.

She regretted her abortion and always would. Yet, the healing presence of God in her life truly brought her into redemption. She no longer thought she would burn in Hell. She no longer sought out readings to speak to her lost child. She knew he was safe in Heaven with her father.

The torment that she had lived through was becoming a testimony for good. God had raised her up out of the pits of darkness into his light. She had been lost but, now was found. She had been molded and shaped like clay in God’s own hands to become a new creature. He had been molding Sharon for decades into one who served him with all her heart. She was healed.

© 2021 Healing from loss of a child • Powered by MT Writer

#1MinFiction – 21 October 2020

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“I am so mad at you! I told you not to sit under that stinky feet playground area with our food! That kid peed all over our food and my coat!”

“How was I supposed to know that would happen?”

“Well, if you ever spent time helping me raise the kids you would know things like that. I am starving! Is there a food place around here that we can eat at while you get my coat dry cleaned?”

Crimson Creative Challenge #102 CCC#102

“WOW! It has been kind of quiet lately. The people seem to be staying indoors and not coming out of their homes very much. When they do, their faces are weird looking. I can’t see their smiles as they wander up and find me here hidden in the rushes. I loved seeing their smiles as I wiggled by tail to and fro. I miss that. I have been rehearsing my dance and wish they would come out to see me.

My wife took off and flew to a shopping mall nearby to strut her stuff but came back quacking not many are there either. I don’t get it. Then, she took off to the movie theater to find popcorn residuals and found none. Now she is headed out to find some food scraps in a restaurant parking lot. Not sure she will find any. What’s up people?

My pond is getting nasty, I am lonely, and nobody seems to care. I need attention! I want to see children squeal with glee as they find me hidden here. I want to see the mother of those children tell them to speak quietly not to scare me. I need to do my wiggle dance for an audience!

I used to quack people up as they watched me stick me head down in the water to eat. They loved the fact that my tail end would stick up and swim around. I still do that, but nobody laughs! Come out and see me! Walk near my pond and visit my family. Get out of that house and come into nature. I miss you.”