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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)

By Lillian Rhoades



The battle between consciousness and the slow, deliberate drip of mind altering drugs lasts slightly longer than the blink of an eye, long enough for a whisper; He hideth my life in the depths of His love, before awareness slips behind the curtain, and darkness falls without permission.

For the next six hours, while the tide of life ebbs and flows through countless tubes and complex machines, through the depths of His mercy, and dangerously near to shores solely guarded by the Creator, surgeons lean over her body, fully draped except for the large, exposed chest cavity.

Hours later, when the lowest wattage of recognition lights the divide between the known and the unknown, shadows appear somewhere in the dimness. And, then a voice:

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, Hon. Take care of yourself,” Lila remembers saying. Then, too tired for words, she welcomes the darkness that falls once more.

Who could imagine that at 2:00 a.m. one Monday morning, she would awake with a sharp pain that not only took her breath away, but her desire to ignore it.

“Gastritis,” says the Emergency Room physician, despite pain that would not let go.

How wrong you are, Lila thinks, remembering what she’d learned many years ago in Nursing School and tapping into decades of nursing experience. She spends the rest of the day in bed, but not before making an appointment to see her doctor the next day. Sometime before her appointment, the pain becomes a part of history, but not the doctor’s findings. They would forever shape her future.

You must see a cardiologist right away. You’ve had a heart attack.

Though startled by how right she was, she’s also relieved. Confirmation closes the door to speculation and forces her to focus on acceptance.

A year has passed since the day she first felt the ominous signs of pending danger. Settled in a beach chair, Lila thinks about the swelling tide of events that sent her life adrift without a compass. Her legs, stretched out towards the incoming waves, are a constant reminder of life’s sneak attacks.

We've harvested the veins from your legs and replanted them as grafts to your heart, the doctor explains.

Where had she heard vestiges of that simile? All flesh is grass…like the flower of the field (Isa. 40:6).

Her scars testify to the fragile, transient nature of life. Someday, those scars and her supplanted veins will wither like grass. For some reason, the idea does not trigger the expected thrill at the thought of heaven and the joys that awaits all Christians. For that, she's ashamed.

Adjusting her chair, Lila leans back, lifts her eyes towards the heavens, and thinks about how her life has changed. Eat this not that had become a daily ritual along with a series of “must take” medications.

Nothing would ever be the same. A recalcitrant teardrop escapes and trickles down her face, and she quickly brushes it away before someone notices.

Cry Baby. Unlike many others, you’re still alive.

Gratitude blankets her thoughts, and under its weight, the force of tears recedes. Self-pity always manages to be the first to slip in when life takes unwanted turns. This time she vows to lock out the interloper, and writes an oath in the sand, deliberately leaving out the extra “t.”

An atitude of gratitude, always.

Unsightly scars, diet changes, and a few pills are a real bargain in exchange for a new lease on life.

A bargain for life, she chuckles, not quite sure if it’s a pun, a metaphor, or none of the above.

The chuckle releases a valve to emotions so long suppressed, and with a gut squeezing sigh that resembles the irregular gasp after a good cry, she closes her eyes. The “aw uck” song of the seagulls is the last thing she remembers.

When she awakes, high tide has come and gone. Gathering up her belongings along with memories of the smell of the ocean, and the muted sounds of waves playing on the shore, Lila treks back to her car and heads for home.

Although the waves will soon wash away her vow, right now, the future beckons, and she'll always be grateful for one more chance to answer the call.

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This article has been read 715 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Norma-Anne Hough01/13/11
Loads of different emotions fill this story.
I like the way the scriptures are brought through and the writer held my attention until the end.
Good read.
I am glad it worked out well.
Laury Hubrich 01/15/11
I felt like I was sitting on the beach with this woman as she shared her memories. Nicely written. Well done!
Brenda Rice 01/15/11
Nice writing. I had my toes reaching for the waves,too. Good job.
Noel Mitaxa 01/16/11
Very descriptive and evocative work.
diana kay01/17/11
so very interesting phrases and ideas here. I got a little lost in the chronology of events and the present tense also threw me a little. was she on the operating table ? was she on the beach? was she dreaming?
maybe all of them at the same time.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/20/11
As a former nurse with a chronic health problem, I could really relate to your MC. Congratulations on your EC.
Henry Clemmons01/20/11
Lillian, Lillian, how did I miss this. Great job and congratulations!!! Very well done.
Kim Hamlin01/21/11
Congratulations Lillian!
Tracy Nunes 01/25/11
I could relate to so much of what you wrote but that's the beauty of your article. I believe a lot of people would see themselves in your words. Congratulations!