There was no one to answer when I cried out, “Dear Lord, my babies, not my babies!”
Last week seemed a great distance past. After all, being told that a divorce was in the offing can come as a shock. Yes, I loved Keith with my very being. His announcement was not only unexpected, it left me with a pain in my soul that seemed to increase each day. Ashley and Joshua needed a mom who was full of life and able to love unabashedly. I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The ice seemed to appear haphazardly. The roads we traveled on in the West Virginia Mountains had been dry. It was winter, yet well above a freezing temperature. I think we had spun around a full turn and then another half. Facing the oncoming lane, I knew that cars and trucks would soon hit our compact car. I vomited.
Ashley whimpered as she keyed into my panic. Joshua remained blessedly asleep. “Honey, we’re fine.” I tried to speak in a calm voice. She was only two and my son just another year older. “Hush little baby. Don’t say a word.” I sang out, “Momma’s gunna buy you a mockingbird.” A car trip from Connecticut to Ohio had seemed feasible and a temporary reprieve from such a deep angst. With a black cloud hanging above our home, Christmas for my little ones would be cheerful at my folk’s. Our tiny car was filled with Santa’s bounty, suitcases and 3 pies. Ashley found her thumb as I continued on, “If that mockingbird don’t sing, Momma’s gunna buy you a diamond ring.” Split seconds seemed to pass in minute’s time. The heater blasted suffocating hot air and I was vaguely aware that Johnny Cash was picking his guitar over the radio. Had I hit my head on the driver’s side door? Blood trickled onto my hand and I fought to not faint. “Ash, my little love…sleep little baby… if that diamond ring don’t shine…”
Keith was a good man; therefore I must be a terrible wife, a bad mom. Both children were planned and absolutely adored. Joshua’s first word was “Devon.” Our spunky Jack Russell Terrier was not only constant entertainment for my babies, but a fierce protector from all things frightening in a child’s mind.
“Now, I must do something now.” Our lives were in danger and time could not be wasted. I turned the key. The car had stalled when we slid. It groaned and coughed but did not turn over. “My cell phone!” I fumbled on the seat next to me, but could not locate it. “Damn!” I cried out as I slapped the steering wheel with both hands. My eyes were transfixed on the empty road ahead and I screamed, “Lord, if you are taking us, do it now! I can’t do this Lord!”
He was a young man, thirty, perhaps. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but pleasant on the eyes. I recall thinking that it was odd that He wore a short-sleeved t-shirt in this weather and that his watch was cracked. Sandy colored tousled hair, a trim build and average height completed his appearance as He opened my door. “Please, I have babies in the back. Two babies. Please,” I garbled as tears ran down my face. “Oh, please get my kids.”
Would Keith hear our story- hear how close to death we had come and feel guilty for allowing us to travel? Would he hug me tight and profess his sorrow for saying such hurtful words?
My mind flashed on the day when our family portrait was shot. Devon would not sit by my side and Josh kept twisting his khaki shorts so that one pant leg was tight and the other too loose. We were posing near our ancient willow tree that loomed large on the freshly mowed lawn. Keith was at ease – the office phone that sat on our deck was unusually quiet. Ashley wore a bonnet set back from her beautiful face, and all seemed right with our world. “Say Sesame Street,” called the photographer and Joshua giggled.
Where had He come from? The area around us was still free of any vehicles I unbuckled my seat-belt as this man, our savior, reached in to unlock the back door. I know that He pulled both children from the car at the same moment…one under each arm. Joshua was startled awake, yet made no sound. Unusual. (He was wrestling with stranger anxiety at this point in his development.) “Oh, thank you sweet Lord,” I said aloud, but the man did not look in my direction.
He gently carried my treasures to the side of the freeway, glancing back once to see that I was following. The grass that He set the children on shimmered in the sun light, coated finely with frozen dew drops. I slipped and landed hard on the cement road way. As I got to my feet, I saw him pat Josh on the head and tickle under Ashley’s chin. My children were calm, still and silent. I vomited again. And when I had finished, He was gone.
“And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.”
[Thank you for reading my FICTION piece.]