Ann noticed the silence immediately. A silence that screams WARNING, WARNING! The universal language of … the silence of children.
One rule was clear in the house, “When mom is taking a shower, there is to be ‘No Throwing!’” – especially during ball season with two pitchers in the family. Even Nerf balls can become ‘weapons of mass destruction!’
She sensed something wrong … both kids were in their rooms with the door shut. Uh oh, the catastrophe must be in the living room, she thought, expecting a smashed lampshade or two.
But at first glance, Ann couldn’t assimilate what lay before her eyes – rejecting the unbelievable.
Her beautiful carved set of four wooden palm trees lay in pieces on the couch. A hand carved palm for each of them. The place they stood for two years was now conspicuously empty. They were the last gift Charles carved for her before cancer took him away. Her Oasis.
He had worked diligently to finish them. Even as he became bedridden, it drove him to hold on, to complete each piece. God let him, and only then would he let go.
And there her heart lay – in pieces.
She said nothing as she sat down next to this brokenness. This is what her life has felt like the past two years – broken. The palms somehow managed to make her feel whole, like they were still all together – her Oasis.
She knew the kids were waiting ... and listening for the anger they were expecting. They’re probably scared – their hearts must be breaking,
Trying to keep her voice steady, and tenderly as she could, Ann called to her children. The tears she tried to hide gently flowed as she gathered them in her arms. No longer afraid, they buried their shame in the crook of their mom’s neck.
“It’s alright – it’s ok kids,” she murmured softly. “I’ll figure something out. Just go back to your rooms for awhile, ok? I love you.”
Mumbling, “I love you.” back to mom, they hurried off.
Looking down at the broken palms, Ann thought of the Valentines Day card already prepared for tomorrow. Valentines had always been a sweet, simple celebration for her and Charles – the cards she still bought were normally placed among the trees in her Oasis.
Kneeling by the couch, she gathered the pieces in her arms and buried her face in the smooth, cool wood he so lovingly touched. He felt close – out of reach close. A mournful sigh filled the small space – tears of longing fell.
Moments passed ...,
the whisper of her name ...,
Light breaking through ...,
Fresh breezes of Hope stirred within her spirit. Pain eased its selfish grip, love bathed her soul as rain.
Her precious Savior, Who had suffered so, touched her heart, her soul, her spirit. She turned to Him – He had been waiting. He filled her now with new desire to breathe, to feel, to live. She leaned into the Presence of her loving God. He felt closer than life beating within her heart. A sigh of freedom released to open space – cleansing tears fell. She was Home – her Oasis. She embraced this healing, clinging to these moments.
Ann looked at the broken palms before her with new eyes; “There’s work to be done - tomorrow is Valentines Day!”
Stroking the smooth, cool wood she now had a plan!
“The kids are going to like this,” she smiled, as she gathered the broken pieces.
Steven and Michelle woke to new picture frames adorned suspiciously with wooden palm leaves. Each propped a large chocolate heart accompanied by a huge Valentines Day card. Their latest baseball and softball pictures incased in the frames.
The Valentines Day card? Lovingly placed in a Memory Box handcrafted by her many years ago.
And the conspicuously empty space that once held her Oasis, now displayed a vacation family photo of a crazy acting dad refusing to cooperate encased in a new frame adorned with wooden palm leaves; carved by love – for love.
A perfect gift of past, present and future.
A sigh of peace filled a lonely heart. “Thank You ... thank You ... Happy Valentines Day ... to me!”