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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Losing Hope
By Maxx .


I was losing Hope.

She lay under crinkled hospital linens, eyes hollow and closed, slipping into another realm. Drops inside IV tubes seemed to count down her remaining moments, sand in some sort of obscene hourglass.

Nothing more could be done. My wife was leaving me, leaving us, and the impending loss became a palpable weight across my chest.

I sat on the bed, in the curve of her waist, the bones of her hip protruding, and held the hand which once caressed away my anger as I struggled against fitful sleep. I wrestled with the God who’d afflict my soul-mate and leave our children motherless. I wanted nothing to do with him.

She’d seen me through the turmoil that battered my faith. She prayed without ceasing, for me, the girls, and our futures.

I stroked her cheek, sunken and prematurely cold. The corner of her mouth flickered, perhaps a final throb of pain surfacing despite the medication. Or the last vestige of a smile from some distant shore.

Where are you now? Come back. Don’t go.

A tear coursed hot from beneath my sodden lashes becoming lost in unshaven whiskers.

I’d promised God to move mountains for him if he’d bring a cure … asked him to take me instead … explained that a father is an income, while a mother is life.

When my prayers dissolved into barter sessions, she’d hold me and we’d cry together. The healing power of her love bathed me.

I’d rather you healed yourself.

Twenty years of marriage laid waste by a shattering malignancy. It was over, cut short. Hopeless.

The door of the room inched open in a slow, faltering arc. Juvenile fingers gripped the frame, ushered forward by a nurse with trembling hands. Charity and Peg edged past wilting flowers, eyes pulled wide and steeped in moisture. At 12 and 8 they were old enough to understand but still young enough to scar.

I reached for them. “Time to say goodbye. Mommy will be leaving us soon.”

Peg wiped her nose on her sleeve. “Is she … does it hurt, Daddy?”

I stroked the tangles of her un-brushed hair. “No, princess. The doctors gave her medicine.” I nodded to the dripping tubes. “She’ll never have to feel pain again.”

She sat on my lap, leaning back against my chest. “Can I touch her?”

“That would be good.” I said. “You both can.”

Charity smoothed the blanket. “Dad, we need to pray.” Her voice was even and calm. The tilt of her head, the angle of her chin, the cadence of her voice … all so much like her mother. For an instant I was lost in a memory … our wedding day, laughter and dreams.

I swallowed, trying not to choke. “I think she’d like it.”

“Not to make Mom happy.” She blinked and looked at me. “To keep us strong. There’s a promise beyond, Mom showed me in the Bible.”

Peg stared at the machines and monitors as they flashed and beeped in an ever decreasing rhythm. “We get to see Mom again after this.” In her voice a peaceful certainty.

I shuddered, my lungs involuntarily gasping. A simple realization dawned behind the curtains of grief encircling me. I wasn’t losing Hope at all. Instead, I was trusting her to the assurance of death and resurrection.

We held hands, a circle of four, and renewed our acceptance of Divine grace.

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This article has been read 1492 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jessica Schmit05/11/06
WOW! This brought tears to my eyes. Powerful story. Very well written.
Debbie OConnor05/11/06
Oh...this was sad and beautiful. The child ministering to her father with such believable faith. Great work. The writing is outstanding.
Trina Courtenay05/11/06
What a beautiful but sad story. Sometimes it takes a child to see what we can not. They are young but sometimes wiser than ourselves. Thank you for reminding me.
Purity Snowe05/12/06
Oh wow ... Oh wow... One of my favorites so far. This will win something. The hope of the mother for her family, the hope of the daughter being so much like mom, the hope of the family seeing the mother again and the hope of them all in the promise of a new life. Bravo Bravo. Winner!
Crista Darr05/12/06
"Drops inside IV tubes seemed to count down her remaining moments, sand in some sort of obscene hourglass." - Wow! Superb writing. Enjoy the winners' circle.
Birdie Courtright05/13/06
Ok, tears running down my cheeks, gasping for breath...one of the best, definitely.
Lynda Schultz 05/13/06
I was transported back to the ICU where my mother died. Beautifully done description and feelings brought to life. Good job.
janet rubin05/14/06
Absolutely beautiful. This is the very best hope of all! A winner, I think.
Linda Watson Owen05/14/06
I started out trying to keep track of the special phrases that are particularly effective. There were too many, coming too solidly one upon another for me to even be able to start to list! You are such an observer, a poet, a wonderful weaver of words...the arc of light, wilting flowers, weight on the chest, all descriptive both physically and symbolically. You put me 'right there' and I'm still hurting. Heartwrenchingly and beautifully bittersweet. No surprise, you're truly a master!
Brandi Roberts05/14/06
Reminded me of my cousin who lost her life to cancer back in 96... she left two young ones and a husband behind as well. This touched me.
Cassie Memmer05/14/06
You have very beautifully reminded us that death is not the end and that we should actually "rejoice." You have touched our hearts, made us to feel loss, helplessness, hope, and love. You've definitely connected with the reader. Superb!
T. F. Chezum05/14/06
WOW. A very emotional and well written story. Excellent.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/14/06
Beautiful story. Well done.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/15/06
You captured the broken heart of a family here. Great job. Well written.
Rita Garcia05/15/06
A masterpiece written by divine inspiration from the Master.
Sandra Petersen 05/15/06
I hope this isn't a true story, is it? You've painted the picture of a husband unable to stop his loved one's passage across the divide so well, I wondered. Beautiful, awesome description and a strong emotional pull! Definitely one of the top stories of the week!
Val Clark05/16/06
Sure pulls on the heartstrings but.... just kidding! Great work! Yeggy
James Clem 05/16/06
Very Real! (too much so)
Charity's dialogue shows a maturity of faith - dad's in good hands. Even with the Assurance of resurrection, the pain of loss is still vivid.
Shari Armstrong 05/16/06
I knew someone would name there character Hope and hoped it wouldn't ring cliche -it didn't. Well done -as always.
Carla Feagans05/17/06
Beautifully, masterfully done. Bravo!

This was an amazing story told so lovingly and with such mastery. A winner for sure.
Jessica Schmit05/18/06
Well Maxx, I was almost right. two excellent poets above you. You should be proud!
Sue Goodreau05/18/06
Okay-- I'm bawling like a baby here. Besides being wonderfully written and sensitive, I liked your honesty. When we go through these gut-wrenching times, I think, as Christians, that we are afraid to admit that we have these feelings. We pray and barter and beg, and when nothing changes, we can become angry with God and feel forgotten and betrayed. I applaud your bravery for writing about this. And thank you for your ending, reminding us that God is our Hope. I'm sure we've all witnessed what can happen to people that haven't taken the last step and instead turn away and stay away from God. Great job!

I don't envy you as a judge this week-- the entries are remarkable!
Donnah Cole05/18/06
I cried...
Venice Kichura05/19/06
Congrats, Maxx, on another well-deserved win! You're truly a Master!
Karen Treharne05/20/06
This was a joy to read, Maxx, as is all of your work. You also brought tears to my eyes. Your words are powerful and your message is clear. Congratulations and may God continue to bless your writing for His glory. I always look forward to reading your articles.
Beth Muehlhausen05/22/06
emotional...hopeful...not enough adjectives for this one. :-)
Patricia Trimarchi05/24/06
Maxx,A beautiful piece...Thankyou.Above all,God bless you for finding my piece worthy of your kind critique...Having read this as well as some of your other works, I am encouraged not to throw in the towel...Thankyou so much for your ecouragement to me, a beginner, from such a fine writer, as evidenced by what you've done here.You too, have worlds to conquer!