As a child Jenna was sweet and eager to please. Music was something she was drawn to and by eighteen years old, she had three guitars to prove it. At twenty years old Jenna seemed as if she was becoming the responsible woman her parents had raised her to be. She wanted to be independent. When she found a room mate and wanted to move into an apartment, her parents reluctantly let her go.
Though she had a decent job, Jenna wasn’t a disciplined saver. Dana helped her daughter work out a budget, and for two months things seemed to be going good. Then six weeks before Christmas, they got a call that turned their world upside down.
Jenna’s abandoned car was found one hundred miles from home, the back seat packed with stolen property. Because the title was still in her parents name, police notified them that the car had been impounded. Making the trip into the city, Dana and Jack paid the impound fees, filed a missing person report, and in their numbness drove home separately with fearful thoughts terrifying their minds.
They went to Jenna’s apartment searching for clues. Most of her clothes were still hanging in the closet. Two guitars hung neatly from their hooks. Dana’s stomach churned as another layer of fear clawed at her insides. Oh, God, please don’t let her be dead. Please let her be safe. These pleadings were made repeatedly over the next few days.
Then early one morning the phone rang. “Mrs. Johnson? This is Sara, Jenna’s room mate. She just emailed me and I thought you’d want to know. She said she’s safe, but wouldn’t tell me who she’s with or where she’s staying--only that she’s having a good time in the city. She said her cell phone has been shut off. Guess she wasn’t paying the bill.” Sara heard tears in Dana’s voice as they ended their conversation. “I know how worried you’ve been. I’ll let you know if she contacts me again. I told her if she didn‘t send rent money, I‘d have to find a new room mate. Maybe that will prompt her to come back.”
“Thank you dear.” Dana’s hands shook as she dialed Jack’s work phone. Thank you, Lord--for letting us know she’s still breathing.
“Hi sweetheart, what’s up?” Dana’s voice quivered as she shared what she had just learned, and together they prayed for their daughter. “I don’t understand what’s happening here,” Dana’s throat grew tight and her voice cracked as tears spilled down her cheeks.
“Honey, I think we need to consider that Jenna may be involved with drugs. That would explain the stolen stuff and her irrational behavior and why she hasn’t contacted us. She doesn’t want to deal with our disapproval or advice. Obviously there’s a side of Jenna we don’t know. But at least now we know she’s alive.” Jack knew he had to stay strong for Dana and he assured her that Jenna would be home by the holidays.
Thanksgiving came and went. They missed their daughter. They ached to hear her voice and wrap their arms around her. One evening as they prayed, fear provoked Dana to question Jack as she pounded on his chest. “What‘s happened to her? Why is she doing this? Who’s with her?” Dana sobbed like a child as she wilted in Jack’s strong embrace.
Just five days until Christmas Dana thought as she listlessly decorated the tree. She felt no joy for the season. Her hopes of Jenna coming home for the holidays had faded away. Conflicting emotions gnawed at her shattered heart. Hurt. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Emptiness. Exhaustion.
The antique hall clock chimed six times as Jack entered the kitchen. “How’s the best cook in town?” he asked trying to be cheerful. Dana’s blank stare said she couldn’t be cheered up.
“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes,” she said softly, giving Jack a quick kiss.
Mentally she replayed his arguments. Jenna is an adult and by choice is keeping her distance from us. But "why" she screamed silently?
Dana curled close to Jack under the cozy quilt. God,doesn’t she understand that we want her back so we can help her? Dear God, please, please bring our daughter home for Christmas. The velvety sky was strewn with gemstones that danced near the sliver of moon. Dana stared misty eyed into the night waiting for God to answer.
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