Louisa finished tying the ribbons and pushed the little parcel aside. He heart ached, her head ached, and her eyes ached from crying. She loved little Marcie, and would not spoil her day or take away her joy, but oh! she envied her so much. She thought of the last study with the ladies – they were studying the women of the Old Testament – and her tears flowed again. It seemed that everything was building, coming together to accuse her. She was barren.
Thirteen years ago she and Joe had started their journey as husband and wife. They had so many plans, such high hopes. They had built their home and furnished it anticipating the patter of little feet, children’s voices. But the rooms were empty. On the few occasions when they heard the patter of little feet, the ring of childish voices, it was only for an hour or two. Then they went away. They belonged to other mothers, other fathers.
In the early days they had prayed, and laughed and expected. Of course it would happen. One day. They were normal people. It would happen. Then came the days of questioning, visits to the doctors, the clinics. There were the tests, so many tests, so many inconclusive results.
There were the counseling sessions, talking, talking until she had exhausted all the questions in her mind. Every coherent thought was gone. Joe had held her tight and comforted her with his strength, his patience. She knew the pain was in his heart as well, but she had no strength to give to him, her hope was dead.
They rescheduled their plans, reorganized their home to make a hospice for disadvantaged youngsters, children who needed special care. To so many little ones Louisa became “Auntie Weesa”, and Joe was “Nunky Joe.” Their lives were busy and their home was full, but the pain remained. Today, the study on Hannah and Marcie’s baby shower had brought it strongly back. How she longed for her own child to fill her arms.
Standing by the table with the little card as yet unwritten, she did not hear Joe come in. She felt his arms circle her. He put his chin on her shoulder and asked gently, “Bad today, huh?” She nodded and turned to his embrace, snuggling her head to his chest, drawing comfort from his love, his understanding. Gradually realization came. She drew back. “What has happened, Joe? Shouldn’t you still be at work?”
Joe’s face crinkled. “I asked the boss for the week off. We have no children for a few days and you need a break. I’ll get things done at home and after the shower this evening we’ll head for the hills. Like that?”
Behind his laughter his eyes were sad. Louisa felt a surge of compassion for this strong, gentle man. “Yes,” she nodded, adding with sudden resolve, “We’ll dig for diamonds, sieve for silver, go for gold. We’ll just be us and let the world go by. Thank you, Joe.” She kissed him lightly on the nose. Joe grinned and gathered her in a tight embrace before going into the kitchen. “You write your card. I’ll make coffee.”
The evening was a huge success, the ladies sharing Marcie’s happiness and excitement. Mothers forgot the nappies, the wet burps, the late nights; remembered the softness, the first smiles, the baby talk – the fulfillment. Louisa entered in, thinking of the week ahead.
How kind Joe was. He had walked with her through the deserted streets of her desire; together they had tried the empty cisterns of the world. Together they had sought the mercy of the Lord. It was Joe’s idea to bring the needy children to their home. He had given her the only kind of motherhood it was in his power to give. She remembered so many of the arriving faces, streaked with tears, closed with fear, tight with rebellion. She remembered the days and nights of caring, loving, healing hurts and building relationships. She thought of the same little faces, smiling farewells, secure in the knowledge that they would return – would be welcome to return, that they had a home with Nunky Joe and Auntie Weesa. Suddenly she knew that God had given her motherhood – a different, but not a second-rate motherhood. At last her heart was satisfied. She was ready for her week away. A week with Joe, only precious Joe.
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