Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ZENITH (04/21/16)
- TITLE: Thank You, Jesus
By LeslieJean Anderson
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“Michael, darling – I missed you!”
As she kissed his forehead, he smiled and mumbled, “Ah ish-oo-doo.”
Lauren looked up at the male nurse standing behind the wheelchair. “Do you have his lunch ready, James?” He nodded and left the room.
Lauren pushed the wheelchair up to the table.
“Ah-shaw-oo-en-TEE-BEE, nah-nah,” he said.
Lauren laughed as she took the tray from James and said, “I know, Michael – that’s why I have that job. So you can see your mama on TV while she works.”
Lauren carefully spooned some mashed potatoes into his open mouth. While he chewed, his eyes began to blink rapidly. Lauren watched intently. “He wants some milk, James,” she said. There had been a time after the accident when Michael was totally mute, so they had created a blinking code.
“Um-m-m-m,” he said as James handed her a covered cup of milk.
Holding the straw in Michael’s mouth, she looked around. The living room of their home was full of donated medical equipment, several television sets attached to the walls and an oversized picture of Christ.
“I’ll feed Michael, James. You can begin preparing his meds.”
Turning her attention back to Michael, Lauren smiled with satisfaction. Everything was on schedule.
“Thank you, Jesus,” she whispered.
Five years before this, they’d had a very different schedule. But in just one devastating second their comfortable world had exploded. Michael’s father, distracted by his cell phone, had backed out of the garage too fast and caused a terrible accident, leaving ten-year-old Michael with a cracked skull and the father with a total nervous breakdown. Lauren found both of them in the hospital when she’d come home from a trip.
Michael survived and began to improve, but his father got worse. On the day of the accident he was at the zenith of his brilliant career with a prestigious university. But a crushing sense of shame and guilt for the accident drove him to take his own life a year later, on the first anniversary of that sad day.
Lauren and Michael were alone then, with only a partial settlement from a life insurance company that had resisted paying in full. So Lauren had to go to work.
To everyone’s surprise the formerly quiet mother began working at a local TV station where she took every opportunity to get in front of the cameras. Weather, ads, and interviews – she would volunteer for anything on camera and pull it off.
“I want Michael to watch me while I’m working,” she would say.
On camera she would sneak code words into her speech that only Michael understood, which caused him to laugh out loud. This kept him entertained and strengthened the bond between mother and son.
Soon their story began to get some publicity and Lauren was asked to give speeches about recovering from traumatic life events. To the surprise of her audience she would describe a breakdown as bad as her husband’s after he died.
“I would crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees every morning, dehydrated and weak from crying all night. One morning, completely unable to rise to my feet, I rolled over on my back, ready to die that day. I understood my husband’s despair in that moment.”
“But from my position on the floor, I could clearly see my childhood picture of Jesus on the wall. I cried out to Him to give me the strength to get up and live. I wanted to be there for Michael.”
“Suddenly I heard His voice speaking to me. 'Lauren, you can do all things through Me. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. Reach out your hands.'"
"I reached up towards the picture from my place on the floor, and the next thing I knew I was on my feet getting dressed. I don’t remember getting up.”
“Every morning since has been just like that. I reach out to Him and it is His Will and His strength energizing me all day long. He is my lifeblood and my breath. All I had to do was ask.”
Lauren always brought Michael along for these talks, and at the end she would hold the microphone while he bounced his legs and bellow energetically to a roar of applause,
“Hank oo, hank oo, hank oo Sheshush!”
Fiction but inspired by true stories.
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