Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)
TITLE: Fingerprints of Love
By Francy Judge
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Last Wednesday, My parents and I maneuvered through New York City traffic, over congested bridges until the flat lands began to dip and rise into a beautiful mountain backdrop and we reached my brother-in-law’s dairy farm. In the six hour trip, my mind traveled faster than the car we drove as it raced with thoughts about my sister’s condition hooked up to a respirator in the hospital. Will she be alright? What will she look like? Can she communicate? What is double pneumonia? Are we too late?
We headed to the hospital first and were warned, but still shocked, to see her life controlled by a machine. She was heavily sedated and wouldn’t know we were there. I wanted to pray for her and tell her I loved her, but the words stayed locked in my throat.
My sister’s husband and his mother greeted us on their driveway along with their friendly black lab and the cat with extra toes. Everyone wore the “I don’t know what to say” grin. Inside, we were greeted by two more cats, and a disappointed nephew who had hoped his cousins would be with us.
“When’s Mom coming home?” My eight year-old nephew’s words turned my tears on again.
Forcing a natural smile, I hugged him and said, “Hopefully soon. She has to get healthy again.” I brought him back to the TV to ask about Sonic the Hedgehog. My kids would be thrilled at my sudden interest in video games instead of shouting the usual “off!”
The next day, before navigating rollercoaster roads back to the hospital, while my nephew was in school, my parents and I cleaned and organized my sister’s house. It may have been a messy house, but it was full of my sister’s heart, her life.
Every toy picked up was a present she chose for her son.
Every picture book put away was a story she read while they snuggled.
Every pill bottle gathered was her hope to soothe many years of back pain.
Every collectible polished was a treasure she couldn’t resist buying.
Every wall displayed her son’s artwork and her pride in him.
Every frame I dusted held the beauty she saw:
...A sunny yellow tulip blooming by the barn.
...Her son driving a tractor from his father’s lap, rose trimmed clouds above.
...Her husband’s gentle embrace at their wedding.
...Her son and nephews cuddling kittens by the farm.
...Her son’s smile while feeding a greedy calf.
One flower drawing lifted from scattered papers was partly colored waiting for her hands to return.
My sister’s home was full of her fingerprints, but empty without her laugh.
When the cleaning was finished, I prayed to the Lord: “Please heal my sister so she can come home soon, spread her clutter, and fill all the clean, empty spaces with her love once again.
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