Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD (08/03/17)
- TITLE: Plan J
By Phillip Cimei
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That was five years ago. Sleepless nights followed. Guilt. Tears. Resentment. Who or what was to blame? This was our baby girl. Had we become passionless, complacent, lackadaisical in the trust God placed in our hands. No! Maybe her four older brothers treated her too much like a fifth. I mean, she was as tough or even tougher than any boy— beat up a first-grade boy her first day of kindergarten, gave a girl a swirly (hair wash in the toilet). Tip of the iceberg. Do we start over? What now?
The visits tailed off. No more calls. No contact. She grew further apart, and she eventually was alone with her choice. Sexuality consumed spirituality. Her gay ties replaced family ties. Giving in to her lifestyle would have been easy. Not an option. God will have a plan.
Sometimes, God’s plan brings us to our knees. Jim’s catastrophic announcement was a crippling blow, he said “I’ve got cancer.” I collapsed in tears.
“What did the doctor say?” I whimpered. His strong arms tried to comfort, but his normal strong spirit caved. He laid my head on his trembling shoulder, “This is it.” Sobs preempted fervent prayer.
Was this God’s plan to rattle her cage? The only message received back from her friends, “She said, ‘Oh’ and then changed the subject.” Eighteen years of parental love and we get an “Oh.” Back to the drawing board.
Our prodigal daughter’s spiritual homecoming drew bleaker as Jim’s eternal homecoming drew nearer. His last, “I love you,” to me, was followed by, “Let Kelly know.” She never showed up for the funeral.
One day, months after the funeral, the doorbell rang. I lumbered to the door. My spirit was as slow to respond as my empty heart. The corners of my mouth had a forlorn droop. There standing at the door was Kelly. Her reserved countenance chilled the air—as did her stone-cold face. The greeting was strained. But the Holy Spirit seemed to be tugging at my heart, drowning out the Devil whispering, “Show contempt,” in my ear. I invited her in.
I took a deep breath as my fluttering heart raced with anxiety. And pain. I felt sick to my stomach. “We missed you at the funeral,” I said— knowing I would get a lame excuse.
Kelly, arms bent, palms facing up, scrunched up her shoulders. And with a look that telegraphed the same facial expression I had seen dozens of times while she was growing up, proclaimed, “Busted.” But this was not just a hand in the cookie jar. She realized her callousness. Her composure softened. Mine did also.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I said, “Your daddy loved you so much Kelly. Some of his last words to me were, I wish we had a chance to start over.” I grabbed her now trembling hands and led her to the couch. The cushions sank as we sat down—as did my heart. “Why are you here Kelly?”
She wiped her runny nose with the back of her hand and her teary eyes with the corner of her Gay Pride t-shirt. “I went to my friend’s funeral today. As I was walking to the grave site, I passed by Dad’s grave.” She sighed deeply.
Kelly looked at me, her head wagging the tail of guilt, she looked down, took in another gasp of air—I suppose she thought that would give her strength—and said, “I noticed the inscription that was on the headstone—Where there is love, there is hope. Never give up on starting over, use plan “J”.”
I cupped her contrite face in my hands, “Honey, your daddy wrote that down a few days after the doctor told him his cancer was terminal. He told me, If I don’t get to see Kelly before I die, maybe God will move her spirit to come visit me and see these words.”
Kelly’s spirit softened, surrendered, “Does that plan include forgiveness?”
“It’s the only one that does.”
A sudden wisp of air brushed by me. Maybe it was angels waving Hallelujahs. Maybe it was Jim whispering, Thank you plan Jesus.
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