Stephanie entered the world a beautiful, petite six pound three ounce doll, with dark brown strands that narrowed into points to frame her face and big brown eyes. She was perfect; all fingers and toes were accounted for, the only thing missing was her instruction manual.
On the last night of my hospital stay, I awoke to a room spilling over with relatives, and my husband carrying in a massive rectangular birthday cake, grinning from ear to ear. With all the excitement, I had forgotten Stephanie was born on my birthday. For the rest of my life, I knew I would never experience the overwhelming joy and happiness I felt on that birthday.
Suddenly God turned the page and Stephanie was two and a half years old, running out of the preschool with her colored papers.
“No more school,” Stephanie muttered as she shook her head.
Despite the missing instruction manual, we had survived potty training, most of the terrible two’s, and were awaiting the coming attractions of the inquisitive three’s, and the independent four’s.
“Don’t you like school, Steph? You get to play with all your friends, right?”
“Yeah, but no more naptime, ok?”
That day I was not up to an array of two-year-old questions as we headed across the lake to visit my grandmother diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Stephanie was the first grandchild and my grandmother adored her.
We entered the darkened, solemn hospital room filled with relatives, and all eyes lit up as Stephanie bounced in gleaming. Kisses were exchanged around the room and my grandmother opened her eyes and motioned to Stephanie to come closer. I leaned Stephanie over the bed rail to give her great-grandmother a kiss. Her weary eyes filled with life again as she smiled an adoring smile.
“Can I sing to you maw-maw?”
“Yes baby, that would be nice,” she uttered in a weak tone.
“The itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout,” Stephanie sang away with animation as God turned the page.
“I’m not going to anymore dances,” Stephanie said, as her eyes swelled with tears.
“How come, what happened?” I replied, as we drove home at midnight from the lock in dance.
“No one wanted to dance with me, I’m just ugly.”
“You’re beautiful, they will next time,” I said smiling with mother’s intuition.
“But mom, I hate my short hair and my face is gross with pimples everywhere.”
“Don’t worry so much, you’re just a freshman. Just try to enjoy your high school years. They will fly by, trust me.”
“But mom you just don’t understand...,” as God turned the page to the next chapter.
The next five years had an adverse affect on my hair and sleep patterns. I began turning gray as I waited up on the weekends for the magic curfew hour. Steph would arrive home at the allotted time, but failed to cross the threshold for another hour.
Looking out my bedroom curtains at the steaming car windows, I developed a new symptom: heart palpitations.
After a respectable length of time of pacing, I would bolt out the front door and proceed to tap on the car window.
Stephanie always exited the car with daggers in her eyes, and then would hightail up to her room proclaiming the often heard, “I hate this family!”
“My friends don’t have a stupid curfew. It’s not fair,” as she slammed her door and God turned the page.
At this time God introduced me to the missing instruction manual which provided comfort and inner peace during the difficult nights.
I must admit, as far as teenage years go, God had blessed us. Stephanie graduated from high school with a 4.0 in the top ten of her class, then a 3.9 with honors from LSU, and by summer a Master’s degree.
My baby girl had matured into a beautiful young adult that I love with all my heart.
As the chapters unfolded, I watched her grow spiritually as well. She discovered that God was in the driver’s seat and as a passenger, unaware of the destination, it was important to relinquish control and just have faith.
I chuckle as I ponder at one of her light bulb moments: “You know mom, the only time you can ever change a boy is when he is in diapers.”
As I reflect on the cherished memories we were blessed with, I lovingly wait in anticipation for the next chapter, as God turns the page.
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