TITLE: Yesterday - The book 6/23/14
By Rachel Jamerson
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What little girl hasn’t read the fairy tale of Cinderella and Prince Charming without secretly Imagining herself in the coveted role of Cinderella? Oh for that precious time when life was a mystery and anything seemed possible. We all have dreams; they keep us moving through life. Dreams embody our hope for the future our deepest desires, our faith in tomorrow. I once saw a poster on the wall at an elementary school that read; “Hold onto your dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” Dreams by Langston Hughes.
Yesterday I dreamed of tomorrow the joy and excitement of who I would be, and how I would change my world. Yesterday I was young and vibrant ready to claw my way through whatever might stand in my pathway. I was a survivor, nothing could stop me from reaching my goals, or so I thought.
I picked up my laptop from the desk, stuffed it in the case and grabbed a book from the counter. Once again I was on my way to the hospital. It was Christmas Eve and there was so much left to do. A turkey was soaking in the fridge, I needed to pick up the ingredients for an apple cake. My head was spinning.
The gate slammed behind me as I stumbled across the patio toward my car. “What is it with me these days,” I wondered out loud, “ I stumble around like I might be intoxicated!” It was a two hour ride to the hospital, plenty of time to remind myself of what I should be doing.
“Really am I going to spend Christmas in the hospital this year? This makes at least seven times this year I have spent the day in an emergency room.” I realized I was mumbling to myself. “Maybe I am losing it,” I snapped and settled down for the long ride.
James had been ill for a long time, and he wasn’t a good patient. He was angry, disagreeable, argumentative and impossible to deal with. The last ten years had been a series of doctor’s and ER visits, hospital stays, and several surgeries. It had become the norm around our house and my ability to cope as well as my attitude was deteriorating.
As the car sped along the highway, my mind began to wander. It had been thirty years since he experienced his first hospital stay. He was so frightened. He actually cried. Since then it has been one thing after another. I don’t know why he has suffered so in his life both physically and emotionally. It seemed every time he got on his feet something else would happen.
In the past he has gone through many phases of coping with his illness. At first he insisted God was going to heal him. Then he progressed to blaming someone else for not being healed. Saying God was using his suffering to affect the life or lives of others around him.
The daily struggle with his attitude and negative behavior wore me out physically, emotionally and spiritually. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of my dreams, settled into the role of full time caregiver and shifted into survival mode.
When I arrived at the hospital he had been taken to ICU, and for some reason no one called to tell me. Once again I began the all too familiar routine of attempting to calm him while the staff worked to relieve his symptoms. He fought our efforts for a long time which was not unusual. Finally he appeared to go to sleep, and the nurse was able to place the breathing machine. Later I was told he had been medicated to keep him calm. The medical staff busied themselves with the usual routine and I settled back to wait. Nothing struck me as being different this time.
Hours later a nurse entered the room and removed the breathing apparatus from his face.
“What’s wrong I asked?”
“It’s not working,” snapped the nurse.
“What do you mean,” I asked, realizing for the first time something was very wrong.
“There is nothing else we can do for him.” Her voice was cold and matter of fact.
All of a sudden I felt like I was being sucked into a vacuum. He was going to die! I would not have been any more distressed if he had suddenly died of an unexpected heart attack.
The next three days are a blur I seemed to retreat into a catatonic state. Slowly my mind accepted the fact that he wasn’t going to make it, but for some reason I just could not get my head around the fact.
Three days later I was standing over him looking directly into his face when I saw the blood began to drain away and his skin become pale. I knew he was gone. At that moment I experienced something that can only be described as spiritual. My legs became weak, and I felt something being ripped from within my body. I collapsed into the arms of a relative and sobbed un-controllably. He was gone, but part of me went with him. The next few months were the worst I have ever lived through. It seemed my life ended with his and I no longer knew who I was.
A few weeks after the funeral we experienced a heavy snowfall. I wandered outside feeling lost and alone. An eerie silence lingered over the landscape as snowflakes drifted softly to the ground. Only the sound of my footsteps could be heard as the snow crunched beneath my feet. There was a time I loved to be outside during a snow storm, but that day my heart felt as empty as the landscape.
The sky was grey no sign of life anywhere. All the evidence of yesterday’s activity mysteriously disappeared under a blanket of brilliant white. The broken toy gun left lying by the gate, a pile of small pieces of wood discarded from the last shop project, even the pathway -- all vanished overnight. It seemed as though nature itself was attempting to erase the evidence of yesterday’s pain and disappointment. In that moment the world stood still, God was silent, and I felt so alone.
Just over the snow-filled horizon a short distance from where I stood, is a small family cemetery. Inside the enclosure stand several gnarled old oak trees, silhouetted against a darkening sky. Underneath one of those ancient oaks stands a fresh gravestone bearing the name of my lifetime partner. I have been there many times over the years. It is a peaceful place, sitting serenely on the hill overlooking Hidden Valley. The valley below is bordered by a bubbling mountain stream with the skeletal remains of last year’s hedgerow marking its pathway. James pulled tobacco in those fields and played in the cool water of the stream on hot summer days. He loved deeply, lived life fiercely and longed for acceptance and affirmation.
Our life together spanned fifty-two years during which time we both struggled never finding peace in our relationship. I would fill many, many pages of journal notes and prayers over those years.
Leaving the beauty and sadness of that winter wonderland, I returned home and began rambling through those journals. As I relived the anguish recorded on those pages, God began to reveal ...His plan.
End of First chapter
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