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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)

TITLE: Second Chance at Love
By Joanne Malley


Second Chance at Love

It was daybreak; the presence of sunlight teased my eyes open.

I sought more rest, but past memories choked me like a never-ending vine. It constricted me with its force and strangled me with reminders of my foolish mistakes. I succumbed to the painful grip of guilt through the enormity of my failure as a mother.

I managed to expel a long release of cleansing sobs, as I lay broken amidst my damaging thoughts. Despite my body’s mechanism to purge the pain, I knew my Father was the only way to true healing.

My life of high society stole precious years from my daughter Emily’s life, as her wish for a devoted mother was never granted. Her innocent, empty heart often searched for my love, but it was Pearl, our nanny, who filled the void in my ever-constant absence. Sadly, I allowed her to take my place.

I shook off the nagging thoughts and got out of bed.

It was Mother’s Day.

I separated myself from this celebration of honor. There was no place for me in this holiday. However, since Emily became a mother just two years ago out of wedlock, I decided to visit the one who has shown me the meaning of unconditional, maternal love.

I was so proud of her.

The place where she now resided was far, but the warm, sunny weather would make my journey pleasant. I inhaled the hope and the promise of the new day.

I couldn’t break free from thoughts of the past. According to the Lord, this is a place I should not visit. With His help, I tried to focus on where I was going instead. After all, it was Mother’s Day and my mind should be on her.

My drive offered much time to think. A trembling finger caught my tears as they traveled down my cheeks. I thought of our estrangement for ten years since the time she was eighteen. I was thankful for our recent reconciliation, just two short years ago, when my precious granddaughter Lila was born.

Emily and I had both become believers during that time, and forgiveness slowly released me of the guilt that strangled me, and Emily from her pain and sadness. We both paid an exorbitant price, but I reaped the rewards of forgiveness and the love of the Lord.

I finally arrived at her place, and my car crept up the long gravel laden road. I listened to the loud noise the stones made beneath the tires. It made me think of her heart being crushed each time I failed to recognize her need for me. A sudden excruciating pain stabbed me repeatedly—a pain that only the Lord could take away.

Her new place was special. As I approached the gate, the guard greeted me and waved me through.

I cracked a fake smile.

I was finally there and parked the car, but there was no door from where Emily would stand to greet me.

With white roses in hand, her favorite, I approached her with a heart that bled a mother’s deep remorse. I tried to force a smile, but instead, tears were all I could offer.

I knelt down and touched the carved marble stone that marked her place of rest since after the fatal crash. Her new home was under a pink Cherry Blossom tree in full bloom. The grounds that surrounded her extravagant grave were privately tended. The fragrant flowers were luscious and spoke the beauty of her name. I gently traced it…“Emily Marie Pendleton.”

I felt weak. I found support on the stone bench nearby.

Sadness encircled me.

After a few moments, I leaned forward as my finger met with the inscription. They were special words from my heart to hers…

Rest precious daughter
In heaven we’ll meet,
Our hands intertwined
With a love oh, so sweet.

For what we have missed
We’ll be given ten-fold,
My love will be forever
Your heart I’ll behold.

My darling Lila was by my side, her eyes open wide, searching for the love of her grandma. I saw right through them to my daughter’s lifelong, heartfelt wish with vivid clarity. The vision caused another stab to my heart.

I picked up Lila and held her close. I laid a kiss on Emily’s stone as we turned and walked away.

For now, I have the honor to offer motherly affection to Lila. In exchange, she and the Lord offer me healing through a second chance at love.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dixie Phillips05/09/05
Powerful plot! You've shown great skill!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/12/05
Wonderfully written - great twist. Had my full attention the whole way through.
Awesome job!
Blessings, Lynda
Sally Hanan05/12/05
Nice job and good twist at the end.
Tammy Johnson05/13/05
Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. The set up to the "reveal" was very effective. I liked it alot.
Val Clark05/14/05
Well written, good twist at the end, loved this phrase..
'...my car crept up the long gravel laden road. I listened to the loud noise the stones made beneath the tires. It made me think of her heart being crushed each time...' Am wondering tho if the neglecting socialite mother is wearing a bit thin?
Suzanne R05/14/05
A lovely epitaph on the gravestone, too. Well done.
Deborah Porter 05/16/05
Jo, wonderful entry and the lack of a placing doesn't actually tell the whole story. You actually placed 10th overall, so were just a fraction off the Editors' Choice list. Well done. With love, Deb
Debbie OConnor05/16/05
An excellent entry, Jo. Boy, you know how to wring a heart out though! Beautiful, descriptive writing.