Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thanksgiving of My Soul (Short Story)

If you have just picked up my blog, this post continues from yesterday when I started a story. Please click on the yesterday's link for the story beginning (Whetting the creative juices)

That night I called my husband. Waiting for him to answer, I rehearsed what I'd say. Please, God! Please! How would he respond? We hadn't yet sorted out our problems but how could we do that long distance? Maybe we needed to do that in person.

"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Ya know, I was thinking for coming home soon after." Counting on my fingers all the reasons we should be together, I waited. Say something! "How soon? How can you be well-rested? It's only been a few months?" My heart sank. He didn't want me back.

Why did he insist on saying I was "recovering?" We. Were. Separated.

"It's been six months and I'm ready to go back...to work on things."


I wanted to shake him. It's not my fault that we lost the twins! I did the best I could to carry them. That was six weeks of my life, too. My family couldn't even come to visit me. I missed their strength. You always seemed so tired and aloof. I needed you. I needed them. So. Much.

That evening I found my mother sorting clothes in the basement. "Mom, I need to go back to my husband."

Mom dropped a soiled shirt into the basket. She pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, and sat down on the step. "Is that what you want?"

"Yeah, I do."

"We'll miss you, Lou, but I do think you're right."

Suddenly I doubted myself and how things would go. "Mom, He didn't seem anxious for me to come."

She looked over at me before getting up to work on the laundry again, "Of all my children, you adapt the best to whatever life throws at you." Mom picked up a pair of my father's worn blue jeans and smoothed them between her hands, "Your dad and I never spent much time apart. Just talk. Honey, you'll be fine."

Somehow her faith in me gave me the confidence I needed to visualize our life together again.

The next morning I found an email from my husband, You're so right, sweetheart. Come quickly. I can't wait to be together again. I DO need you. I stood like a lovesick schoolgirl gazing out the window without seeing a single snowflake in its path.

Then doubts assailed me. Could I give up the peace I'd found at home? The quiet talks my mother and I shared while cleaning up, or taking walks in the neighborhood each evening had poured strength in me. Hanging out with my brothers and sisters and their families renewed my passion for life. Emotionally, I'd recovered. Physically, I'd recovered from losing the twins, too. Mom's good cooking and finding time to slow down had healed me. Being with my family changed both my outlook and my health. But was it enough to send me back to heal my marriage?

As we prepared Thanksgiving dinner that snowy day, it felt like old times. Our voices mingled together. We laughed. We sang. My father made funny faces and pretended he couldn't wait to eat. He sampled a tiny bit of everything. A deep sense of gratefulness stole over me. The holiday had become more than traditional trappings. Like the snow outside, it blanketed me in folds of familiar warmth.

Lifting the top off the roasting pan, my mother smiled. "How does my turkey smell?"


"Move over! Candied yams coming through!" My sister, Brenda, pushed me to the side. "Grab a hot pad!"

My niece popped into the steamy kitchen. She tapped me on the shoulder. "Aunty Lou, What is your specialty meal?"

"Nothing as delicious as what we have right here on the table."

In the short lull before dinner, God filled me with words. "Be back soon!" I dashed to my childhood bedroom and sat down at the desk. I began to type as fast as I could. An extraordinary love letter and poem emerged that Thanksgiving Day. Our dining room served as an impromptu stage, "My dear family..." As I poured my gratitude out to them, they listened with uncharacteristic seriousness. Though my voice trembled, my heart never wavered.

"Oh sweetheart," Mom dabbed her eyes. Dad cleared his throat. "Come here!" Brenda wrapped me in a bear hug. Everyone else just smiled. Real big. The party broke up soon after. "Here, hold this. Be careful! Don't bend the poem," my sister-in-law grumbled to my little brother as she zipped up a boot.

I believe God chose that snow-covered window in my bedroom to draw me to Him as he replayed a beautiful video clip of seasons passing in my mind. It was a replay of my beautiful life at home. Later, in a steamy kitchen, He revealed how solid and comfortable we'd grown around each other. Because of them, I could face the future with confidence.

To this day, I see the poetry I wrote among the cherished possessions found within their homes. When Peter and I come to visit, we invariably all share a meal together. I'm so glad that I followed my mother's wisdom and didn't give up.

When I look back on that Thanksgiving celebration, I can see God's hand in it. He swept me past the surface traditions and penetrated my heart with gratitude. Somehow I felt Through His perfect timing, God wove an unforgettable family memory I shall always remember as "the Thanksgiving of my soul."

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