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Saturday, May 3, 2014
A Family for Easter
"I'm sorry, I ... " Diane ran for the back of the store, feeling another onset of nausea. With each round of vomiting, her anger flared anew. She washed her face and returned to the pharmacy counter.
The customer she had been assisting was nowhere in sight. Good thing Diane didn’t work on commission. Quitting time neared but not soon enough for her.
Climbing the steps to her grandmother’s apartment, Diana choked back conflicting emotions. She and Grandma had never got along, but what would she have done if Grandma hadn’t let Diane and her six-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, live with her until the baby came? When Diane stormed out of her house after fighting with Tony, she had nowhere else to go. Her husband was arrogant and self-centered. The only thing she gained from their last attempt to stay together was this unwanted pregnancy.
She entered the living room and sprawled into an overstuffed chair to rest her weary feet and aching back. Mackenzie and Grandma’s voices drifted from the kitchen. Diane was thankful tomorrow was her day off work.
When she awoke the next morning, the small apartment was quiet. A note stuck on the table said her grandmother and Mackenzie were visiting a neighbor.
Diane added her own note and went for a walk. The baby kicked. The thought of two children to rear alone unsettled her mind and quickened her step.
Apartment houses blended into a neighborhood of nice brick homes then changed to rundown tenements. Her legs pumped. She sagged against a stop sign and spotted a beautiful old church with stained glass windows and open-wide double doors.
Diane crossed the street and entered. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, a man stepped out of the shadows near the front. “May I help you? Most call me Pastor Bob.”
Diane rubbed her back. “My name is Diane Miller. May I sit and rest awhile?”
“By all means.” The pastor pointed to a nearby pew. He disappeared through a side door and reappeared with a pillow. “This might help.” He indicated the side door again. “I’ll be in my office if you need anything. Stay as long as you like.”
High above the platform, ivy outlined a magnificent picture of Jesus leading sheep. An open Bible spread out on a table before the podium. The quiet of the chapel cradled Diane like an oasis in the desert.
After sitting for awhile, she stepped to the Bible turned to the gospel of John. Without touching the book, she read several verses.
Behind her, the deep voice of Pastor Bob startled her. “Do you have a Bible of your own?”
Her answer slipped out in a whisper. “No, Sir.”
He held out a Bible. The black leather cracked around the sides and one page stuck out at an odd angle. The pastor touched it with reverence. “Would you accept this from our church as a gift?”
She nodded as she took his offering. “Thank you.” The last time she’d read a Bible was the white children’s Bible her father gave her as a child. She thought she remembered selling it in a garage sale.
Pastor Bob tipped on his toes and held his hands behind his back. “Do you attend church anywhere, Diane?”
She stared at her protruding tummy. “No, not since I was a child.”
“You’d be welcome to worship with us tomorrow. It’s Easter Sunday.”
She’d never even thought to buy Mackenzie an Easter basket. What kind of mother was she? “I have no way to get here.” Heat burned her cheeks. “I don’t usually walk so far, and I have a daughter.”
The pastor took one step toward her. “My wife and I would pick you and your daughter up if you’d give me your address.”
Diane stared at him. “You would do that for a stranger?”
“You’re not a stranger to God.”
Before Diane refused a ride home and left the church, she gave her address. That night, she lay awake and read in her new worn Bible.
The next morning Pastor Bob along with his wife and two children picked up Diane and her daughter. Mackenzie bounced with excitement at the new adventure.
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The words read by a Sunday school teacher pierced Diane’s bitterness and sparked her remembrance of childhood teaching. After class, Pastor Bob preached using the same Bible reference. His words haunted her.
When the service ended, the pastor’s wife, Nicole, made her way over to Diane. “Come have Easter dinner at our house.”
Her invitation seemed genuine, and Diane accepted. Watching the family of four interact in a loving manner whetted Diane’s appetite to be part of a family.
Since Diane’s dad died when she was eight, she’d had no family. Her mother pulled away from her sullen daughter finding merriment among friends. Diane fell for Tony in high school and raced to make a life with him only to be disappointed with marriage and the parenting scene with no help from a selfish husband. She opened up to her new friend while the girls played. “I wish I had a family like yours.”
Nicole patted Diane’s knee. “We have a lovely family, but it wasn’t always that way. God brought Bob and I back together when our children were babies.”
Diane’s eyes widened. “You separated?”
Nicole nodded and told her story not unlike Diane’s own.
Before the afternoon ended, Diane bowed her head and gave her heart to Jesus.
Mackenzie and her new friend came hand in hand as Nicole and Diane raised their heads. “Mom, why are you crying?” Mackenzie’s chubby fingers brushed her mother’s cheeks.
“Because I’m happy.” A rush of love for her daughter left her tingling. She clutched her belly. Mackenzie and this baby were her family. A small cottage loomed in her mind with a man she’d promised to love, honor and obey, but then left. “How about we call Daddy and invite him to church next Sunday?”
Mackenzie jumped up and down. “Can we? And Grandma, too.”
Diane nodded. “And Grandma, too.”
God gave her new life and a family for Easter. She would need His help to keep them together.
I hope you enjoyed my short story. Spring and Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day are all times of reflection. I wish you joy, peace, love, and most of all, Jesus.