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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Like Living in a Goldfish Bowl (11/07/13)

TITLE: Living in a Fish Bowl
By Cynthia G. Peoples


It’s November 24th, 2002. It’s dark and very cold outside and my fifteen year old daughter and I are sitting on the front steps of our home. We’re shaking as we listen to the sounds coming from the back of the house…thump, thump, thump…then hear the crunch of gravel as the coroner pushes the gurney down the back steps, over the rough driveway and we watch helplessly as my husband’s body is loaded into the waiting black van.

I put my arms around my daughter and hugged her tightly to my own trembling body. “It’s okay,” I cried, “Everything’s going to be okay, because God will take care of us.”

“I know, mom” she replied, as she laid her head on my shoulder and we held onto each other rocking gently back and forth as we sobbed.

Three days later, the day before Thanksgiving, we once again held onto each other as they lowered the mahogany colored casket into the deep, dark hole. “This is it, he’s gone and never coming back,” I thought, as the grave diggers began covering the grave with dark, red clay. “How in the world am I going to survive without him?”

The next several years were like living through one long nightmare. Everywhere I looked, there he was….sitting on the front porch in his wheel chair so pale you could literally see the blue veins flowing under his thin skin….lying in the hospital bed that sat in our living room while squeezing my hand as he struggled to take his last breath ….standing at the kitchen stove fixing some potato soup….lying on the bathroom floor where he had fallen and couldn’t get up…. in our bed with my arms around his frail body…..and sitting in our backyard saying:

“Hon, I’m not going to make it and it’s not going to be long now. And the only thing I know to tell you to help you get through this is to stay as close to God as you are right now.”

Well, instead of turning to God to help me through that horrific, devastating, tragedy, I turned away from Him. I began to constantly make bad choices concerning jobs, relationships, living arrangements, and was unable to make any type of rational decision. I continued to function on the outside but was dying on the inside.

I was like a lonely goldfish swimming around and around in a small bowl but never getting anywhere. I’d try to swim in one direction and then sink. I’d go another direction and it wouldn’t work either so I’d turn around and swim back. I moved out of my house eight times in less than 2 years trying to run away from the memories, from myself, and from God.

I even contemplated suicide several times. But by the grace of God I did not follow through with such an irrational, selfish idea. But I did begin to isolate myself from others and was drowning in a pool of self-pity little by little, slowly but surely and didn’t see any way out. I had no plans, no purpose, and no hope.

“Why Lord,” I cried, “Why did you take him away from me! You knew what my life would be like without him.” I then remembered a conversation I’d had with my husband just a few months after he’d been diagnosed with the stomach cancer that eventually took his life.

“I don’t understand,” he had said, “We have each other, we have a good life, a good business, and we are both happier than we’ve ever been before. So, why now and what did I do to deserve this?”

“I don’t understand either,” I replied, “But that’s what faith is. It’s believing no matter what, that God is in control, we are in His hands, and He knows what’s best for us.”

And God is faithful even when we’re not. He will never leave us or forsake us…..He will never fail us and He always knows what’s best for us even when we don’t understand why some things may happen.

God is the giver and taker of life….the creator of all things….and has a unique plan for each and every one of us. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

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This article has been read 363 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Gayle Smith11/14/13
This is a complete and agonizing piece of masterful writing. I breathed and emoted with your main character. I too watch my beloved fade slowly away - mot to cancer but to the ravages of a weakened immune system. We need His strength because we are helpless without Him. Thank you for this . . .
C D Swanson 11/14/13
My heart was ripped asunder reading the MC's pain and I just wanted to hug her tightly.

This writing was masterful, powerful, and held a significant and important message.

God will never leave us nor forsake us, who knows why things happen...and it is agonizing to lose a loved one, especially through a major illness all too soon.
But as your ending sums up so eloquently, we have to trust in Him and turn to Him in all ways.

If this is a true story, "My sincere and deepest heartfelt sympathy"

God bless you~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/16/13
Your opening was outstanding. I felt the suspense and you drew me into the story right away. You revealed the conflict in a way that pretty much anyone could relate to.

Try to avoid words like very, instead of saying very cold, pick one adjective that would get the meaning across like frigid or freezing. Make every word count. If you haven't checked out Jan's Writing Basics on the message board, I'd urge you to. She has wonderful advice for all levels of writers.

You did hit the topic. It wasn't meant to be taken literally so I'm not sure if you needed the fish analogy, but it worked in this case. You gave a good description of grief and God is always there watching us. I'm not sure if people who have died watch over us too, but I know I like to think that Mom is looking out for us and knows how wonderful her grandchildren are. You made me stop and think and pray about that and a good devotion or inspirational story is meant to do just that.
Nancy Bucca11/18/13
A very interesting take on the topic. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to being haunted by those constant ghosts of the past, whether it be a departed loved one or something tragedy they'd much rather forget. Nice work on this story. It captures the imagination and then the heart.
C D Swanson 11/24/13
Congrats! God bless~