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TITLE: Perfect Plans Ch 2
By Libby East
02/09/06
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Joanna and Alyssa laid on Alyssa’s bed and stared at the ceiling. “I think Sid likes you.” Alyssa told her best friend.

“Eewe!” Joanna made a face. “I think you’re crazy.” She threw a pillow at her friend.

“He does.” The redhead caught the pillow before it hit her face and insisted. “I bet you’ll get married.”

Joanna made a face. “Hey that reminds me. You know how God has our future planned out?”

“Like we talked about in Sunday school?”

“Yeah, so what do you think is in your future?”

Alyssa thought about that. “I don’t know about God’s plan, but I want to be a teacher.”

Joanna closed her eyes and tried to picture her own future. She couldn’t picture anything. “I don’t know what I want to be but I know God had a plan and I’m glad that I don’t have to have it all planned out right now.”

Alyssa didn’t enjoy the serious tone the conversation had taken. She threw the pillow back into the air. Joanna caught it and the two exploded into a fit of laughter.


Leslie and Tom sat side by side in the booth with Chris and Jeremy across the table from them. The waitress had just brought them their drinks and was waiting for their orders. Chris and Jeremy both ordered steaks and Tom ordered Chicken. Leslie ordered a burger. When the waitress was gone, Tom asked. “So Leslie, are you in school?”

“I go to the community college.” She took a sip of her diet coke. “I graduate in May.”

“What’s your major?” Tom studied her face and thanked God for allowing them to spend time together.

“Well, I don’t really have one.” She answered. My associate’s degree will just be in general studies.”

“What do you want to do when you graduate? This question came from Chris. He was following the conversation closely and was highly amused at the interest he saw in his friend’s face.

“Well, I really don’t know. Eventually I want to be a mom but who knows when that’ll happen. I’m just trusting God for my future and trying not to worry.” The waitress returned with their food and the foursome dug in. “So, what are your majors? Leslie asked between bites.

Jeremy was the first to answer. “I’m a junior from Texas and my major is business administration.”

“Oh yeah?” Leslie was surprised that he was from so far away. Southern was a great school but hardly the kind to attract students from across the country. “What brought you to Southern from Texas?”

“My high school girlfriend got a softball scholarship and I just tagged along.”

“Wow, what’s her name?”

“We broke up our first semester here.”

“I’m sorry, that must have been tough for you.”

“It was. I learned a lot about relying on God though.”

“That’s what’s good about heartaches, they always teach us something.”

Tom watched this exchange and felt his heart flip flop. Leslie’s compassion for Jeremy was amazing. He saw God’s sprit all through her. If he allowed himself he could really fall for her. What am I thinking? I just met her. He thought. God help me keep you timing.

Tom forced himself to pay attention. To the conversation around him just in time to hear Chris tell Leslie that his major was premed.

“Wow, that’s ambitious.”

“Well my mom and Dad are both doctors. It runs in the family I guess.”

Leslie turned her attention to Tom, eyebrows raised and a grin on her face. Tom didn’t know what to say. He felt frozen under her gaze and for a moment he forgot the question.

“What about you? What’s your major?”

Tom felt rescued. “Music.” It was one word and Leslie wondered at the quiet way he said it. Talk was light between the others throughout lunch but Tom was silent. When the check was paid the foursome left and Leslie gave directions to her house.

When Tom pulled into her driveway Leslie noticed that her parents’ car wasn’t there yet. Uneasiness fell on her but she brushed it off. They probably just went to lunch and aren’t back yet. She figured it was only 1:45 and they would probably be home any minute. She bid her friends good bye and walked toward the door. Just as she was about to unlock it, Tom jumped out of the car and headed toward her.

“Can I call you sometime?” he said in a quiet rushed tone.

“Sure.” She dug in her purse and found a pen but no paper. “I don’t have any paper. I can get some inside.” She said not sure if she should invite him in while she found some.

“That’s okay.” He held out his hand. “You can write it here.” She did so and turned back to the door. She was surprised that he was interested in her and that she was interested in him. Usually the guys who wanted to date her did not interest her at all but Tom, he was a special guy. However, it was up to him to call her and given her luck with guys he probably wouldn’t.

When she got inside she notice a flashing light on the answering machine. “Maybe mom and dad decided to go shopping or something and they called to let me know where they are” she said to herself. She pushed the play button and a man’s voce came on.

“Hello, this is regal medical center and I have been given this number as the residence of John and Carla Lawrence. There’s been an accident and someone needs to come to the emergency room right away.” The voice was gone.

Leslie tried to make sense of the message did they say her parents were in an accident? Or that someone else had and her parents needed to come to the hospital? “Joanna!” the thought scared Leslie to death. what if something had happened to her sister? She picked up the phone and tried her dad’s cell phone number. If her sister had been in an accident her parents would need to know. Maybe they already did and that’s why they weren’t home.

On the third ring a woman answered. “John Lawrence’s phone, who’s speaking please?”

Who was she? And why did she have her dad’s phone? She swallowed hard. “I’m his daughter, Leslie. Who are you?” she asked bluntly.

“I’m Kristin from Regal Medical Center. Sweetie, I hate to tell you this, but your parents have been in an accident. You need to come the hospital.”

Leslie dropped the phone. Were they okay? They had to be right? Where was Jo going this afternoon? She had to talk to her. She sank to the floor and closed her eyes. Joanna’s at Alyssa’s house. That’s it. Where’s the number? She reached for the church directory and found the number. As she dialed she prayed. “Please God let it be minor.”

“Hello?” It was Marcy.

“Hey this is Leslie Lawrence is my sister there?” Leslie tried to hide there fear from her voice.

“Yes, Joanna’s here. Hold on I’ll –“

“No!” Leslie stopped her. “There’s been an accident. Mom and Dad are at the hospital. I’m on my way the meet them. Can you keep Joanna until I know what’s going on?”

“Of course. Are you okay?” Marcy was worried about Leslie having to deal with this alone.

“I’m scared. The hospital didn’t say how bad it is and what if –“ She let the sentence hang and tried not to sob into the phone.

“I’ll tell David what’s going on and then I’ll come get you and we’ll go together.” Marcy offered.

“Please don’t tell Jo. I don’t want her to worry.”

“I won’t give me ten minutes okay?”

“Okay”

Leslie hung up the phone and then stared at it. They would be okay. They had to be right? It was probably just minor injuries and the nurse had answered Dad’s phone because they were working on them and he couldn’t right? Yes, that had to be it. She would go down there and visit and Joanna would go on to choir and then she’d pick her up and tell her what happened. They’d go back to visit together. Everything would be crazy for a while but they’d be okay right?

The doorbell rang. Leslie forced herself to walk to answer it.

“Your ready sweetie?” It was Marcy.

Leslie nodded and the two headed to the hospital. The women walked to the information desk and Leslie addressed the blond woman behind it. “I think my parents are her, John and Carla Lawrence.”

“Okay let me check.” The woman typed on her computer and then met Leslie’s gaze. “You may have seat and doctor will be out in a minute.”

Leslie tried not to read too much into the kindness she saw on the other woman’s face. Then panic punched her in the stomach. If the doctor was coming to talk to her that meant that her parents were seriously hurt. The emotions swirling in her heart surfaced as rebellion. “I don’t want to see a doctor. I want to see my parents.” Leslie was fighting with all she had to hold her tears at bay.

“The doctor wants to talk to you first and then you can see them.” The receptionist kept her voice calm and compassionate.

Marcy slipped her arm around Leslie’s shoulders and gently lead her to a near by chair. “It’s gonna be okay.” Marcy said. “Whatever happens God is with you.” Leslie nodded unable to speak. A million thoughts ran through her head. What if it was serious? She would have to take care of Joanna alone. How would Joanna handle the news? How would Leslie tell her? How would they provide for themselves?

The door to the exam area opened and a tall man with a gray beard and wire glasses came out. “Lawrence family.” Leslie and Marcy stood and he led them to a small room. It was empty save for four chairs and a lamp. “Have a seat.” Leslie was confused. “I just want to see my parents.” She said.

“Your parents have been in an accident.” The doctor explained. “Their injuries were too sever. We did all we could bet they didn’t’ make it. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t understand.” Leslie closed her eyes and tried to remember how to breathe. “You mean they’re gone?” the doctor nodded and a low moan escaped from deep inside her throat. Marcy had her arms around Leslie and was praying out loud for her. When she was finished she asked, “Can we see them?”

“Of course. They’re all cleaned up.” He stood and led them to an exam room where the couple’s bodies lay. Leslie felt as though she were going to collapse right on the spot. She stood for a long moment staring at first one body and then the next. Then in one swift movement she ran to her father. She held his hand. It was cold and stiff. She wanted nothing more than to crawl up and lay her head on his chest to feel his arms around her one last time.

“Daddy, I love you.” She whispered. Oh God, how am I gong to survive this?

I AM WITH YOU

She released his hand and went to her mother. She held her hand and thought of all the times the her mom had given her advice. She squeezed her eyes shut and when she opened them she said, “I love you mom.” She turned to Marcy and said, “What happens now?”

Marcy helped Leslie make the proper arrangements with the funeral home and then the two of them set off to give Joanna the news. Marcy called David and asked him to meet them at the Lawrence home with Joanna. When Marcy and Leslie arrived David wasn’t there so once they were inside Marcy led Leslie in a prayer. “Father, we come to you with broken hearts and ask for your comfort and peace. You promise to walk with us even through the valleys and this is one of those time. You also promise to work everything together for the good of those of us that love you. So we know that even this time of sorrow will be used for your glory. We pray for Joanna that you would help her understand all of this and we ask that you would give us the words to explain it to her. Comfort her and give her peace. We pray for Leslie that you would give her wisdom and show her the plans that you have for both of them. We pray this in you name - amen.”

Leslie felt a little better after the prayer but she still felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her parents were gone and that meant that she was in charge of her sister. Her parents had their will rewritten a few months ago.

____________________________________________________________
“Leslie, we have something important to discuss with you.” Her parents had come into the living room one night after Joanna had gone to be. Her dad had begun the conversation. Leslie put her book down and gave them her full attention. ”Your mother and I need to rewrite our will.”

“Are you dying?” Leslie had made a joke about it. John tried not to laugh.

“No silly.” He swallowed. “We wrote our old one just after you were born and so much has changed since then.”

“Okay.” Leslie wondered what this all had to do with her.

“We want to make sure you girls are taken care of.” Carla said. “You’re the easy one. You’re old enough to be independent. Your tuition of course will be covered and living expenses but Joanna . . .We’ll need someone to take care of her.” All of this was so hard for Carla. He didn’t like the thought of leaving her children behind. She fought tears as she thought about the prospects.

John picked up where his wife left off. “We know it’s a big responsibility but we wondered if you would take care of you sister.”

“Treat her like we do.” Carla interjected.

“You don’t have to decide tonight but think about it and let us know.” John said and then the three of them prayed before turning in.

Though Leslie didn’t think her parents would be dying anytime soon there was no question about how she would answer her parents request. She couldn’t bare the thought of someone else raising her baby sister. Of course she would do it. When she told her parents sot he next morning they were relieved, thrilled in fact.

Now, the though of raising Joanna was terrifying. David and Joanna came in and Joanna’s eyes showed that she know something was wrong.

“Why did Alyssa get to go to choir and I didn’t?” she asked but there was no heat in her voice, just confusion.

“Jo, sit down.” Leslie swallowed. “I have some sad news.”

“Where’s mom and dad?” now Joanna was near panic.

“There’s been an accident.” Leslie fought tears as she watched her sister take in the information. “They didn’t make it.”

“I don’t understand.” Puddles formed in the child’s eyes and she fought to stay in control.

“They’re gone sweetheart.” Marcy tried now but Joanna shook her head.

“I don’t understand.” She repeated. She wouldn’t accept the words that were playing in her head.

“Jo, come here.” Leslie patted her lap as she would do when her sister way younger and would cry over hurt animals and skinned knees. Joanna came willingly and let herself be rocked by her big sister. They stayed that way for a while. Marcy and David prayed silently for the girls and both adults had tears spilling down their cheeks as they watched the scene play out in front of them. There was no doubt that Leslie could take care of her sister with ease.

“Jo, look at me.” Leslie urged and the younger girl obeyed. “I know we’re sad. We want them back, but they’re in heaven. God is taking good care of them and I’m gonna take care of you. Okay?”

Joanna nodded but her heart still hurt. “I didn’t want them to die.” Leslie’s heart broke again at seeing her sister so upset.

“Me neither.” Leslie said and suddenly she was out of words. Th truth was there was nothing left to say. Their parents were dead and the viewing was tomorrow nigh, the funeral the next day and after that it would be just the two of them.
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