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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Walk (07/20/06)

TITLE: Six Years--Thirty Steps--One Heart
By Jan Ackerson
07/22/06


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I grip my father’s arm and wait for the doors to open. He knows, I think, that my extra squeeze on his tuxedo jacket means both I love you and don’t let me fall. The church smells of roses and wax, and I know that Rob is waiting for me, only thirty steps away. I know because I’ve practiced this walk and counted the steps, noting that I’ll plant my cane on the floor twice for each ribbon-bedecked pew. Some of Rob’s family and friends have traveled many miles for this day, and they have not yet had an opportunity to meet me, his unsteady fiancée. Will they whisper as I walk slowly toward their golden boy?

I close my eyes for just a moment. Thank You, my Father, for this man who sees me. Just me. Only me.

The music swells, the church doors swing open, and I am gliding, floating—pulled gently toward Rob by the cord of love that binds us together. For the first time since the accident, I am not conscious of the careful placement of each foot, each step.

To my left, I see the doctor who has known me now for six years…

“Jessica, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. I’ll be perfectly honest—I don’t know if you’ll ever walk again. Your injury is severe, and life-altering. You’re going to have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Do you think you can do that?”

A few steps more—Angela is smiling at me with glistening eyes. Angela, the physical therapist who I hated as much as I loved…

“I know you despise this orthotic device, Jessica. It’s bulky and uncomfortable, and you can’t wear cute clothes with it. Deal with it, darlin’. Now let’s try that again—I think today’s the day you’ll push yourself up to a standing position. Work those canes, Biceps Girl!”

Near the middle of the church now, and I seek out Kerri, my college roommate. There she is, leaning into her husband and winking at me. She’s wearing the same shade of blue that she wore to the homecoming dance…

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jessica, of course you’re going to go. I’ll put your wheelchair in my car, and you can use that if you want to, or I can prop you up against the wall. But you’re not moping in the dorm room all night, when there are cute guys out there just waiting to meet…me! And I won’t go without you, Miss Pity Pants…”

I count off three more paces. Rob is just a few steps away from me now, his face pale but full of joy. He shifts on his feet, ready to move into place and transfer my hand to his own strong arm. But first, I glance over at Roy and Patsy, worship leaders for my tiny congregation…

“Will you sing with the praise team, Jessica? Please say yes…no one cares about the braces and canes. If it takes you a bit longer to walk up the platform, well, we have a few more moments to prepare our hearts for worship. Use your gift, Jessie.”

I reach the front of the church, and there is one more memory I must confront before I leave my parents and cling to this man. I remember my mother before the accident…

“Dance with me, Sunshine!” We link arms and perform silly swing dances in the kitchen, a chubby mom and a gawky high school student. Performing this occasional little ritual dissipates our tiffs and celebrates my teenage triumphs.

As she leans in for her hug, I hum a few notes of “In the Mood” into her ear, and waggle my behind ever so slightly. She is holding me up in her embrace, so I raise my index finger in a jazzy, circular motion in time to the melody. We are dancing again, my mother and I, and when she releases me I turn to see that Rob is holding back laughter. He gives me a thumbs-up sign, and I take my father’s arm for the remaining two steps that will bring me to Rob’s side.

For the rest of the ceremony, my spirit skips, leaps, dances. Rob and I run together into the presence of the Father…

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

_______

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)


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This article has been read 1453 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Vest07/27/06
This is soo sweet. I love the way you give us a little of the story at a time by using the people she is seeing as she walks down the aisle, the memories, the emotion, it really works. I do find myself curious as to the nature of the accident. But that word limit gets in the way, I guess. All in all, a great love story.
Celeste High07/27/06
This is a beautiful love story and I enjoyed the way you captured the spirit of the day through glimpses of the people she has shared the experiences of her life with. Most excellent job.
Teri Wilson07/27/06
This is excellent. Loved the bible verse at the end.
Karen Ward07/27/06
Great title, and the snippets of information conveyed so much, great work.
Jen Davis07/27/06
Beautiful. A very heartfelt story with wonderful descriptive writing. I love the use of scripture which fits so perfectly. Excellent job!
Marilyn Schnepp 07/29/06
Nicely done. So glad you focused on the wedding day instead of through the long, long, days of pain and suffering. I've read so many sick, ill and heartfelt stories lately that it was a welcome relief to read a change of pace. You wrote the ills and sickness part as secondary and the Happy Strides forward you accented! Thank you...I loved it.
Rita Garcia07/30/06
WOW! WOW! WOW! I love the way you placed me right in the church, the smell of roses and burning candles. Then told me the story during the walk down the asile. I hope this one wins!!
Lori Othouse 07/31/06
Yes, so sweet! I loved how every person and memory was a part of her journey to her husband and her happiness, how they all celebrated her truimphs with her. Excellent entry, beautifully told!
Lynda Lee Schab 08/01/06
Few challenge pieces have actually made me tear up but this one did. Wonderfully and beautifully written - truly a masterful entry, from the title to the closing
verse. A contender for sure!
Joanne Sher 08/01/06
Oh - this is absolutely WONDERFUL. I could not stop reading from the beginning to end. This was written as a TRUE master. And your closing verse is absolutely PERFECT. This was a true blessing to me!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz08/01/06
Beautifuly done. I too loved the way you focused on the positive aspects. Great job.
terri tiffany08/02/06
This was really good! I got tears in my eyes reading it but especially the part with her mom!! Great job of pulling the emotions!
Brenda Craig08/02/06
This beautiful story reminded me of the hall of faith scriptures, with her walking down a path of victorious accomplishments to a wonderous reward. Wonderful story telling.
Jessica Schmit08/02/06
I haven't read the hints yet, but I do believe that this wonderful story is true (or will be coming true in the next year or so, how are those diet brownies comming?LOL) Goregous story, glad I was able to read it.
Rita Garcia08/03/06
Congratulations Jan, this was one of my favorites this week, I am so happy to see it in the winners circle!!
Trina Courtenay08/03/06
Jan, looks like you've gone and done it again...another one of my favorites and it has placed 5th in EC.

Congratulations!
Stephen Paynter08/03/06
Great story-telling. Great writing. A sweet romance. This "unlucky" woman is so "lucky" to be surrounded by such a crowd of loving friends and family. It rings very true. You have created such a real person, and with so few words. Masterful!
Edy T Johnson 08/03/06
In this arena of consummate storytellers, you, dear Jan, shine. I cannot wait to have the faithwriter book with this entry in my hot little hands!
Venice Kichura08/03/06
This is beautiful, Jan! Congatulations on a well-deserved win! I'm sure I know where you got your inspiration....Excellent job as always!
Sherry Wendling08/04/06
Jan, congratulations! Yes, many of us are so privileged to know how close to home this beautiful story is for you. What a grand hallelujah you have presented, a fitting tribute to a beloved overcomer, to a whole family of overcomers!

It's so satisfying to drop into FW for a visit and find your excellence shining here once again on the EC honor roll!
Tisha Martin08/04/06
Oh. . . how beautiful . . . takes my breath away. You snagged me into such a wonderful piece, I hardly know what to say! a BIG congratulations!!