Sadie woke in the night with a piercing pain in her abdomen. She sat straight up in bed and gripped the quilt given to her by her beloved late mother as she waited for the spasm to subside. The night was beautiful; moonbeams spilled across the bed and she could feel the coolness of winter on her skin. She sat there a moment in the dark trying to take deep breaths and shake off sleep that was still trying to fog her mind. “Abe,” she said his name gently to see if she’d woken him. He stirred and continued his rhythmic breathing. Sadie laid back down and tried to relax her tense muscles. Her mind began to wander back to sweet times of childhood around the kitchen table. She rubbed her swollen belly absent mindedly and began to pray for their unborn baby. One day she and Abe would have children’s laughter around a dinner table, she thought, and it made her smile.
The pain came again.
This time she sat up so abruptly it woke Abe and he rolled over to see what was wrong. Even in the darkness he could see Sadie’s wide eyes. “What is it?” He said groggily. “I don’t know, but I think it’s the baby, I think it’s coming.” Abe jumped from the bed arms spread wide, “What? Right now? I need to get the doctor from town. It can’t come now, we still have two more weeks.” Sadie shook her head and doubled over with another pain. “Mrs. Moses,” she said breathlessly. “What about her?” Abe was hopping on one foot as he attempted to put his leg into his pants. He couldn’t think straight, what was she saying about Ms. Moses?
“Mrs. Moses used to deliver babies, she told me.” Sadie was finally able to speak in spite of the pain.
Abe grabbed his shirt and buttoned it lopsided and began to search for the car keys in the dark. “Light the lamp,” Sadie spoke from the shadows. Yes, the lamp, he thought. And stumbled from the bedroom to the kitchen to find the matches. “Abe, town is too far, you need to get Mrs. Moses and bring her to me.” She was finally able to make herself clear. “I can’t leave you alone.” “Yes, you can,” she said with strength she didn’t feel. “Bring her now unless you want to deliver this baby.” Abe was gone within a minute and Sadie was left with lamplight as her only companion.
It was dark and Abe could barely see the trail when he turned toward Hazel’s house. Running and praying, asking God to keep Sadie safe and that Ms. Moses wouldn’t point a shotgun at him for a visit in the middle of the night. He bounded up the stairs and banged hard on the door. “Mrs. Moses,” he said loudly in a panicked voice, “Mrs. Moses, please come to the door.” He banged again. And waited. It seemed like an eternity but eventually Hazel opened the creaky door, “What are you doing out here, child?” “Oh, thank goodness, Mrs. Moses, Sadie is having pains, a lot of pains. She said you would know what to do.” He’d hardly gotten the sentence out before Hazel grabbed her shawl and tore off down the trail behind him.
Sadie was pacing the floor, praying and breathing just like the doctor told her to. The pains were coming quicker and the fear of what was coming doubled down on her just like the shotgun Ms. Moses had held in her face that first day in the woods. She forced herself to remember that, in spite of her fear, God had taken a horrible beginning and turned it into something beautiful. That’s right, Sadie, remember how God uses ALL things. He’ll use this pain to bring new life into the world, trust him. She took a shallow breath and groaned as another pain began.
She was kneeling on the floor when Hazel flew through the door. “Hazel, I can’t do this,” she cried. Hazel took her by the hands and looked straight into her pained eyes, “yes, child, yes you can. You done been through a lot harder than this. You made from good stock and God’s gonna see you through. Now, see if you can get up from your knees and let’s take you to the bed.” Sadie slowly and painfully rose from her knees, she would tell you later that moment was very important for her. She knew as she took each step to the room she was not only going to make it, she was going to praise God on the other side of it. She would never again underestimate the power of a good friend, she wouldn’t have made it without Hazel’s support.
Abe heated up water and brought it to Ms. Moses and she promptly shut the door behind him.
Abe fell to his knees in front of the small sofa as he and Sadie had so many times before. “Father, please keep her safe and bring our little one into the world unharmed. We will raise him or her to worship you, Lord, give us strength and grace.” He whispered prayers on through the night as Sadie suffered the pains of childbirth.
Abe was in the chicken coop at the crack of dawn talking to Daisy, Stella and Henrietta. “We’re going to have a little one, girls. Your momma is bringing him/her into the world as we speak.” The hens clucked as if to respond and Abe understood why Sadie had so many good conversations with them. His breath hung as crystals in the air and he pulled his scarf over his ears as he headed to the barn to milk Lucille. “I don’t know how long this whole process takes, Lucy, but we’ll bring the little one out to meet you as soon as she or he is big enough. Lucille gave him a half bucket full of milk to show her pleasure.
Abe was headed to the house with a basket of eggs and a sloshy bucket of milk when the front door slowly opened. He stopped in his tracks and held his breath. He realized right then whatever was said next would change the trajectory of his life. Ms. Moses’s head poked out the door, “C’mon on inside, you’ll catch a fright of a cold out there.” Abe picked up his pace and finally stood face to face with Hazel on the porch. “Well, come on now, come and meet your new little one.” Abe set down his load and whooped loud for the world to hear. He picked up Hazel and spun her around before she could protest and nearly sprinted to the bedroom door.
Just before he opened it, he stopped and gathered his thoughts. “Whatever lies beyond that door, Lord, let it be known right here, I thank you. You are a faithful Father and friend.”
He gently opened the door and Sadie raised her head to face him. She could hardly take her eyes off their wee one and Abe could hardly take his eyes off her. She looked angelic with her long blonde hair flowing down her shoulders and a smile that could always light up a room. Sadie held her hand out, “come and meet your son. He looks just like you.” He walked to the bed, took her hand and gently kissed the top of her head. “You’re amazing.”
Hazel was gathering her things when Abe stepped back into the living room to thank her. “It ain’t no problem, I reckon she coulda done it on her own if she had to.” “Come in her with us, Hazel, we have something for you.” Abe spoke and waited for Hazel to move toward him. Sadie waved for Hazel to come and sit on the edge of the bed. Abe stood behind her. “Hazel, I could never thank you for the love you’ve shown me this past year. Our friendship is a treasure to me. I would like you to meet our little one officially.” Hazel looked at Sadie and then to Abe, she’d already met the baby, she’d delivered him, did they forget? The room grew still and Sadie finally spoke.
“Please meet our son, Henry Abraham Henderson.”
Hazel’s eyes grew wide and she opened her mouth as if to say something, but no words came. Her eyes began to fill with tears and slowly they streamed down her cheeks. “You named him Henry?” She finally regained her composure. “Yes,” Sadie said softly and handed the small bundle to her. Hazel scooped him up and carried him into the living room. Her steps were light and gentle, in her arms was a great prize. She stood in front of the window and looked up to the heavens as she spoke to the Lord. “You’ve allowed me to see your redeeming love in the land of the living, Father. Henry would be so proud. I never woulda thought this would happen, never seen it coming. I woulda rejected this whole idea if you hadn’t made that girl so hard headed. And now, I see you was plannin’ the greatest gift. Thank ya, Lord, I’m gonna love this one real good.” She let the tears flow as she stroked the tiny little head.
“Henry,” the familiar name rolled off her tongue. “You got some big shoes to fill little one.”
She looked out the window over the yard and beyond the woods and spoke to an image only her mind could see, “You’d like this one Henry, she don’t believe in givin’ up.”
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before His throne.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
(At least for now)