Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)
TITLE: It’s All How You Look At It
By Marlene Bonney
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It is Autumn, his favorite season, and I worship God with him, the awesome kaleidoscope of shapes and manifold splashes of colors looking back at me against the vast azure horizon. I wonder at the hundreds of years it took for these majestic trees to develop into what they are before me today, and momentarily forget the real reason I am here.
A bright dart of crimson jumps across my vision, a redbird cavorting with his mate on the oak’s branches nearest me, eventually melding into the dense quilt of colors until I cannot distinguish its outlines. A light breeze wafts through the ocean of dangling leaves, reminding me of the mobile hanging in the corner of his bedroom. I smile, reminiscing at the painstaking effort he had put into the school science project.
And I ponder, for the umpteenth time, when it had all begun and why I had failed to notice his penchant for perfection turning into something far darker. I look down, then, the spell of the beckoning view broken, continuing my self-appointed task. Unshed tears gather at the corners of my eyes, and I brush them away with my forearms, their unwanted presence as mettlesome as the sporadic flies buzzing around me. I arise and walk back to the car to gather up the final touches for this annual pilgrimage, returning back to the designated spot to finish this memorial to my son, Jeremy. His father having deserted us before he was born, it had been a struggle to make ends meet, but I was never lonely, Jeremy consuming my world with his crooked little grin and his mischievous eyes capturing my heart early on.
I allow my thoughts to drift spasmodically over our years together, my son and I, through birthday parties and grade school homework and high school sports events and eventually, graduation launching into a prestigious college scholarship. Things changed more significantly then, I remember, our necessary separation forcing us both to grow apart even as the miles stretching between us multiplied.
Ever studious, Jeremy quickly adapted to academia like a duck to water. He had found his niche, it seemed, and his penchant for pessimism and dejection over his lack in social settings hung back in the shadows like a self-contained impending storm. In spite of that, he met a girl. Jessica is very sweet and serious about her studies and isn’t into the partying scene so many co-eds are noted for. She is an incurable optimist, animated and possessed with everything that my son was not. Not surprisingly, they complimented and balanced each other.
Ultimately, Jeremy sabotaged their relationship with an increasing instability of moods and volatile temper. Understandably, Jessica backed off, confused and alarmed by his erratic and jealous behavior. It was as if Jeremy felt undeserving of the good things God brought to him . . .
I tried, oh how I tried, to convince him to see a psychologist or counselor. He was fine, he said—it was the rest of the world that was all messed up, which included Jessica and me, of course. Oh, the unrevealed secrets of mental illness, an enigma for thousands upon thousands in today’s society, as misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mysterious as the unacknowledged miracles that occur all around us!
I sigh as I plant the last flower arrangement beside the roughhewn cross, all that is left of my son, Jeremy. Unexpectedly and suddenly, a blanket of pure warmth envelopes my soul as surely as God Himself is soothing my tortured thoughts. Memories flood over me like a blessed mantle loomed together with gossamer fringe threads, each one a smile, a good deed, or a happy event my son provided me during his too-short life. And, like illusive cobwebs, each one sticks to the other like a solved crossword puzzle.
I see Jeremy’s life through different lenses now and a new possibility rises within me as I picture him standing here in his favorite spot. His face is lifted toward heaven, his arms outstretched and up to his heavenly Father and he is smilingly at peace. He walks forward two steps, unaware, and his foot slips on the dewy grass, plunging him into the abyss below even while his soul rises to meet his Maker.
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