Sadie stood at the window and watched as the snowflakes fell gently to the ground. It was the first snow of the season and she was mesmerized. The long hot summer months were gone and her ever-growing belly was more uncomfortable by the day. She rubbed her little one all nestled deep inside and hummed lullabies to the rhythm of the snowfall. Today she was supposed to visit Hazel, but the weather would not allow it. She was both disappointed and enchanted. It was their second winter and she didn’t think she would ever grow tired of the beauty and mystery of white flakes falling from the sky. The blanket they left on the earth was a testament to God’s creativity. “You didn’t have to make the snow for us, Father, we would never have known the difference. But, I’m so glad you did. You are beautiful, thank you for sharing some of your beauty with us.” She prayed out loud and her breath made a crystal fog on the window.
She turned and walked into the kitchen and unpacked her basket full of projects she’d made sitting alongside Hazel in front of the fireplace. Such a lovely friendship they’d forged over the last several months and she smiled to herself thinking about it. As she held the tiny crocheted baby things, she had an idea. She and Abe planned to put up the Christmas tree soon and the box of Christmas ornaments she’d brought with them to this new place was in the small living area. Sadie had avoided it for reasons she held secret in her heart, but now it was time. She felt it deep within her, it was time to face the priceless treasures in the box. Her little one kicked as if affirming the decision.
“Okay, Lord, she prayed, please help me. I can’t imagine how I’m going to do this. I want to be brave, but I’m not.” She put another log on the fire and walked over to the box pressed against the wall. She pulled it over in front of the small sofa and slowly began to peel back the tape. The sound pierced the silence and felt like the scraping pain her heart was feeling. She rolled the used tape into a ball and set it beside her. The only thing separating her from what lie within was a thin piece of cardboard. She hadn’t been willing to face this truth since the moment it happened…until today.
Her mind wandered back to a conversation she’d had with Hazel. They were laughing and talking like good friends do, when the subject of Henry came up. Sadie wanted to ask Hazel about Henry for so many weeks, and finally the opportunity had arrived. “How long were you married, Hazel?” Sadie spoke softly like a summer breeze blowing fresh on your face. Hazel was quiet for a moment and then she spoke, “Well, now, I guess we’d been married near my whole life, a child bride ya might call it. I reckon I was somewhere aroun’ sixteen.” Hazel responded with her head down. Sadie knew instinctually to give her a moment to regain her composure. Minutes passed and Hazel spoke again, “He was the best thing that ev’r happen to me. I was young and wild and he was kind and gentle. No one ev’r spoke to me as good as he did. He was a youngin’ too, seventeen. We married behind our parents back, though they never woulda cared, neither of us really had a good home.” Sadie continued to crochet, steady as a clock ticking. She didn’t want to scare this moment away with words that couldn’t possibly make any difference. Hazel continued, “He loved me real good for ov’r sixty years and I wasn’t ready to be done. He led me to the Lord and helped me stay on the straight and narrow through thick and thin. We nev’r had much in the way of worldly things, but we had real, true, forever love and that was enough.” Hazel was quiet for a moment and the crochet hook lay still in her lap. She continued, “I reckon he’s sittin’ at the feet of Jesus right now, reapin’ all the rewards for all the good he done. Sometimes I imagine him waitin’ for me at the Pearly Gates and I want to go to ‘em so bad.” She paused. “But, the good Lord hasn’t seen fit to call me home, so I wait. I wait and I pray and I’m figurin’ out life without ‘em. I never woulda chose this, but it’s what I got and Henry would want me to make the best of it.”
The two sat in silence, one stitching and one still, both lost in memories for different reasons.
Finally Hazel spoke again, “you want some more tea, hon? And how bout a biscuit? That little one would love some of my biscuits and honey.”
Sadie nodded her head, still lost in her own thoughts. She stared at the fire as it danced in front of her and she knew.
Today, sitting on the sofa, she remembered it was in that very moment she decided to face her pain and learn to “make the best of it” like Ms. Moses said. She took a deep breath and pulled back the thin cardboard and looked into the box. There they were, brightly colored ornaments she’d made throughout her whole life. Her breath caught in her throat and water filled her eyes instantly at the sight of them. She sat there, tears streaming while the snow fell, and remembered what it was like to be a child again. To be held close and protected, before pain and suffering crashed into her life. Back when snowmen might have been real and her only worry was getting her chores done so she could go play.
She turned her head and started to close the box when she felt the Holy Spirit speak to her heart. “Go on, I am with you.” With courage that wasn’t her own, she reached inside and pulled out an ornament from kindergarten. It was brightly colored, although faded from the years. She remembered when she’d made it and the feeling of pride that welled in her heart. She’d run home to Momma and smiled her biggest toothless grin as she presented it to her. Momma made such a fuss over it and hung it on the very front of the tree. Looking at the spindly thing now she wondered what her mom was thinking putting it in such a noticeable place. A small giggle escaped as she wiped tears. “Oh, Momma,” she whispered. She reached in and pulled out another, and another as she wiped tears and walked down memory lane.
Why do people have to die?
She’d asked this question a million times. There was never an answer, never one she was willing to accept. It was always easier to pretend she was “back there,” back where they’d come from. She’d kept her very much alive in her mind and never entertained the fact that she wasn’t.
Hazel said something else around the fire that resonated so deeply with Sadie, she couldn’t get it off her mind. “Ya know, Henry gave so much of himself. When someone gives like that, they’re never really gone. You can see ‘em and feel ‘em in all of the things around you.”
Sadie looked around the room, the vase on the table, the quilt on her bed, the ornaments now spread across the sofa and her lap, all ways her mother gave of herself. “I feel you Mom, way down deep and I see you all around me. You’ll never really be gone, will you? As long as I have breath, you’ll be remembered and cherished and you will live on in my heart.”
Sadie lowered her head and gave in to the tears. She cried for the loss, she cried for what would never be, and she cried because she missed her mother more than she could ever put into language. And, at last, she cried because her little one would never know her.
Words she’d heard in a sermon came tumbling to the front of her jumbled thoughts… Even on our darkest days, if we help each other, we can overcome anything.
And, immediately, she thought of Ms. Moses.
In the beginning she knew, but, after today, she had to ask, who was really helping who?
His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.