Anna sat in the rocking chair, not rocking, and staring out the window, not seeing. She was oblivious to the streaks on the glass or the tumbleweed rolling along the lawn. She didn’t feel the hands brushing her hair nor did she feel any need to push them away.
“Anna, honey, you’re gonna look a sight when you finally come out of this room. What are people gonna say? I mean, my goodness…” But Anna didn’t hear a word as her mother continued fussing and she didn’t sense her grandmother’s presence, standing behind Anna, leaning on the door jamb.
Anna’s mother heard a throat clear, and after seeing her own mother’s head jerk toward the door, she took it as her cue to leave them alone. Anna’s mother went out the door and down the hall, clucking her tongue and shaking her head.
Grandma took the few steps she needed to cross the room and sat on the window seat, directly in front of Anna’s unseeing eyes. After one deep breath, Grandma spoke quietly. “Sugar, you can’t stay in this room forever. I know it hurts, but—“
“What makes you think you know how it hurts?” Anna spoke with very little emotion, but her eyes, which finally turned to her grandmother, were full of pain.
Grandma didn’t speak for a moment. Lord, just give me the words, she prayed. “I’ve lived a lot of years, my dear. Do you think these wrinkles don’t come with a price? Look at me, when I’m talking to you, Sugar. It might shock you to know that your Grandpa Hank was not my first husband.” Pause. No sound from Anna, who had gone back to looking out the window.
Grandma continued. “My first husband, Tom, died in an accident and left me with three little ones and another on the way. I had to raise them kids and run the store or none of us was gonna eat. The good Lord smiled on me a few years later and sent your Grandpa Hank who took us in and loved me and loved those kids and things got a might easier. But for a long time it was hard. And it hurt. And trust me, child, I spent a lot of nights yelling at Tom for leaving me and screaming at God for taking him. And I hurt, just like you do now.”
Anna looked at Grandma and quickly looked away. “But you don’t hate God.”
“No. I never hated God. I just had to let Him do most of the loving for a while.”
For the first time, Anna let a measure of emotion creep into her voice. “How can I love when I just feel empty?” Her voice softened to a whisper. “He let my baby die. He knew how much we wanted that child. I don’t think I could ever love a God like that.”
Grandma carefully knelt down on the hardwood floor next to the rocking chair and took Anna’s hand in hers. “I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers. I just trust that God does. What I do know is that you have a good man out there who wants to love you through this. You have a family here that wants to love you through this. And you have a God that wants to love you through this. Sugar, let us do the loving for awhile.”
Like a levee not able to withstand a flood, something inside Anna broke and the tears began to fall, silently at first, then harder. Grandma gathered Anna in her arms and cried with her, like she had years before when little Anna had scraped her knee. But Grandma knew that skin mends quicker than broken hearts and silently she thanked the Lord for the pain she’d endured in her own life. She could now be grateful for every tear and all the pain so that she had the wisdom to endure this moment. For herself and her beloved granddaughter.
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