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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: In Thy Tender Care
By Carole Robishaw


They were walking down the street, fighting the wind, arm in arm. Amanda began humming again. Gretchen tolerated it for several minutes and finally she couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“You’re doing it again. Stop it!” she demanded.

“Stop what? I’m not doing anything.”

“Yes, you are, you’re humming again, that same stupid tune. I’ve told you I don’t ever want to hear it again.”

“Gretch, I can’t help it, it just comes without my even being aware of it. It’s that time of year.”

“You think I don’t know what time of year it is? You think I could forget that, ever? That I’m not aware of it, every day. That I will ever be about to think of anything else?” Her face was red, but only some of it was from the wind.

“Oh Gretch, you’ve got to stop. You’ve got to let it go. I miss you so much.”

“Miss me? What are you talking about, you see me every day, I haven’t gone anywhere.”

“Yes, you have! The Gretchen I’ve known all my life is gone and I miss her, I miss the laughter, the smiles, the best friend I ever had in the world. I want her back.”

They both stopped and stood facing each other.

“You think I enjoy living my life with this memory? Never being able to think of anything else. Going through the pain, over and over again, till I just want to scream.”

“Yes, I do. If you don’t, why don’t you just give it up. Let it go. It’s been three years now, it’s time for you to move on with your life. To let my Gretchen be here with me again.”

“Yeah, right, just let it go. Forget the sound of those squealing brakes, the screams as the car hit us. The sight of Robbie as he was thrown into the air. My son, my adorable 3 year old baby boy. Just forget it all, like that.” She snapped her fingers. “I thought you understood. You’re my sister, but you’ve always been my best friend, too, how can you not understand that I can’t let go, that I have to remember. If I don’t who will? Not that fool I’m married to, he talks the same way you do. Robbie, oh Robbie, my baby. He would have been six this year. I would probably be buying him a bicycle for Christmas, instead of cringing every time I hear that song.”

They were both quiet as they continued walking, remembering that night three years ago. The church group was out caroling, singing as they walked. It was cold, and rainy, and that car came out of nowhere, plowing into the whole group.

“That song, I can’t stop it in my head,” Gretchen cried out. “Away in a Manger. He loved that song, that’s why we were singing it. Then the car hit him, I can’t, oh Amanda, I just can’t stop it playing in my head. They said it was an accident, wet roads, leaves, no time to stop. But my life stopped that night. I can’t go on, I can’t move forward. I can’t just forget him.” She gasped, trying to catch her breath against the wind and the pain of memories.

Amanda put her arms around her. “I do know, Gretchen, I loved him too. I miss him almost as much as you do. But I choose to remember the happy times. His laughter, his smile, running around the house with that towel tied around his neck pretending he was a super hero. I miss all that, too. But I want to remember the beautiful little boy, not the broken body left on the road. That’s what you need to do, too. Gretch, let’s remember him as he lived, not how he died. Sing it with me, please. Let God melt those icicles and rewarm your heart. He’s been waiting for you to come back to Him. Please, Gretch. Sing it with me, the last stanza, what we were singing when it happened.”

Amanda’s voice rang out, loud and clear, and slowly, very hesitantly, Gretchen joined in. By the last line they were both crying so hard it was impossible to understand the words.

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

“Oh Lord, I’ve been so lonely, please, Lord, help me remember his laughter.”

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This article has been read 627 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/10/08
Oh, how sad!

I felt that her change of heart came rather suddenly--maybe reduce the introductory material, and give the mother a more gradually softening heart. This would help your readers to relate to her better.

My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones at Christmas time!
Marlene Austin10/10/08
Very touching story. What a difficult scenario. Nice job. :)
Anne Linington10/11/08
Thanks for your story- another one including "Away in a manger". Well told and makes a good point about the need to move on from the evident tragedy, and we all reach it at different times.
Joy Faire Stewart10/15/08
Very good writing showing the mother's anguish, my heart broke for her. This is one of my favorite carols.
Leah Nichols 10/15/08
That was a perfect line to end on. Amazing job painting the picture - nice work!
Patrick Whalen10/15/08
You bring across the emotions here very well. The characterizations were very real.
Karlene Jacobsen10/15/08
My heart breaks for the mom here. The seemingly sudden change of attitude at the end may prove more believable if it was shown that her layers of emotional protection had been disintegrating already.

This is otherwise an excellent piece.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/15/08
One of the saddest things in the world must be to lose a child. You presented a very good picture of the little boy, and the last verse of that carol was just the right ending.
Lyn Churchyard10/15/08
You showed the emotions of the mother very well. I'm glad she had such a good friend. No mother should have to bury her child. Sad but wonderful story. Well done.
Norma-Anne Hough10/16/08
Sad and beautiful. So glad the mother's heart melted. How sad for the families that lose loved ones at this time of the year.