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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Lucy in the Sky
By Marilee Alvey


Most would say that my cousin was trouble from the very beginning. No doubt on one level they’d be right. The story goes that the nuns crossed my aunt’s legs until the overdue doctor could arrive. I remember my aunt commenting that, if she had to do it again, she’d have pushed Lucy out so fast the nuns would need a catcher’s mitt, no matter what the instructions. Although the doctor that delivered her said that she’d eventually catch up, the pediatrician gravely shook his head no. These days she would have been a lawsuit, but not back then, in the Fifties. Although Lucy’s parents struggled to believe the best, their hopes were eventually blown away like dandelion seeds across the Midwest’s parched summer fields. Cerebral Palsy would forever be known to us as “Lucy.”

At two years old, Lucy could only toddle in a circle, walking on pointed toes turning inward. At the Chicago Shriner’s Hospital, the doctors cut her Achilles tendons and fashioned an accordion pleat down the back of her heels. Though I was only nine at the time, I remember playing with the brown paper strip displaying the concept gingerly, gazing at the tiny display on which our hopes rested. Two years old and casts on both legs. That’s a tough assignment…for the child and the parents. It was only the beginning.

Lucy’s brothers and sisters continued to grew like yeast rolls put out to rise on a summer day. Cheerleading, proms, sports, awards all came their way, but not so with my cousin, Lucy. One summer we went camping and, due to her uneven gait, Lucy fell into the campfire. The resultant burns on her face and arms were painful and difficult to treat, especially in one who didn’t have the mental capacity to fully understand.

Several years later, Lucy had mastered learning to ride a bicycle. It was a great victory and so liberating for her. She often enjoyed going for a ride on her bike, alone. Her brother and sisters had now left home, and, now, in a small way, if only for a little while, she could, too. For Lucy, however, each silver lining had a cloud not far behind it. One day she was riding her bicycle…and got hit by a bus. She broke some bones and recovered, but never rode her bike again. A few years after her bicycle accident, she had a bad fall down some concrete steps. Epilepsy was now added to her grocery list of challenges.

Lucy now lives in a group home. She used to have a sweet tooth and enjoyed chocolate, but now she has diabetes so her diet has had to be strictly monitored. She walks poorly, with a cane. She has tremors because she now suffers from Parkinson’s, as well.

Does time fly….or crawl? Can a lifetime on Earth seem like we’re already walking in Eternity? The Bible tells us that, as believers, we already are. I think that, to Lucy, it must seem she is…but she resides in a gated community where others flourish in plain sight while she is restricted.

As Christians, we are told that our trials build character. However, the rest of the story lies in the next world, not our current “lab school” where we receive our daily training. The Holy Spirit whispers to me that Lucy will be a spiritual giant in the next life. I pray that he confides the same to her. Pure rapture will bubble out of my throat when I first see her running toward me, healthy, strong and whole. Just imagining this reunion is electifying.

Lucy was never sent as a bad seed, a DNA reject, some technical failure. Those dandelion seeds of hope that failed to grow were never meant to bloom here. The hope for Lucy, as for all of us, lies in the future. Most of us seek it here on Earth, but Lucy daily reminds us of where our hope truly lies. She is the seed of Promise that God has vowed will bloom, radiantly, in the light of Forever.

For now, I sit quietly beside her on the couch. She gently pats my hand.

“I love you, cousin,” she quietly says, pauses, then repeats her blessing, again and again.

“I love you, too, Lucy,” I answer, willing myself to be weighed down, for only a moment, by unbearable limitations she has faced for fifty years before I depart for sunshine and the door.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rita Horten05/29/08
This story is so beautifully written. It is so timely as well. I have a 4 year-old grandson who is battling Leukemia. Your comments about Lucy's future and our hope truly encouraged me today. Thank you for the wisdom and compassion you shared in this touching story. We all must look to the eternal hope promised us, which is far greater than the struggles of this life. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/29/08
The devotionsl thoughts here are excellently illustrated by your cousin, Lucy's, life.
Shirley McClay 05/29/08
Beautiful. Both the story and sweet Lucy.
Beckie Stewart05/29/08
You had me crying for sure. Tender story.
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
This is a beautiful tribute to Lucy. I look forward to meeting her "in the sky" too.
Joanne Sher 05/30/08
LOVE the title, and the wonderful descriptions. I was riveted from beginning to end. Love the devotional feel of this too. Wonderful.
Laury Hubrich 06/01/08
Wonderful writing about a wonderful person. Thanks for sharing!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/05/08
This is such a touching story, Marilee. The dandelion seed analagoy is just perfect, especially this line: "Those dandelion seeds of hope that failed to grow were never meant to bloom here." I hope you get this published where families of special needs children can read and be blessed by it.
Peter Stone06/08/08
Heart breaking yet also joyfully liberating story. Though I can in no way compare myself to Lucy's sufferings, I too give little attention to my handicaps, knowing that they are only temporary.