Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Entry #2: Keywords - River Reverie

River Reverie
by Sally Chambers

Callie stood alone on the weathered dock gazing out over the Indian River Lagoon. A light wind was all that made Florida’s oppressive midsummer heat bearable. She studied the western horizon as the sun slid down between earth and sky, gilding the edges of everything in its path with golden rays.

The dock paralleled the “thinking tree” of her youth. Like the tree had, the dock drew her to a comforting solitude, to a place she could think and pray.

She pushed her sunglasses back up on her nose, remembering one late fall morning in particular when she’d stood here alone, musing. She’d just received a phone call with the news she was pregnant, a late-life pregnancy she and Alan considered an “Elizabeth, Zacharias miracle.” She’d been filled with happiness, but also apprehension, at the thought of becoming a new mother. How many years ago? Michael, their only child, calm, quiet, strong, passionately firm in his faith—a mirror of his father—which didn’t make things easier for her.

Where was her faith? Apprehension tugged at her again. What did the future hold? Change was inevitable and had already impacted her life. Widowhood had seen to that. The good Lord willing, her move south from Ohio would be her last. She didn’t qualify as a snow-bird anymore, coming and going each year. The sale of their Ohio dream house-on-a-hill had been final two weeks ago, and Florida was home now.

She tugged on her wide-brimmed hat to keep it from sailing into the water as the breeze blew damp silver tendrils across her cheeks. She brushed the hair aside, uncertain whether the dampness was from perspiration or her tears. It just couldn’t be tears! She breathed in the moist air, determined that she and the Lord could hold things together.

A lone dolphin sounded off to her right. “Hello, Jack.” Callie spoke the words into the wind as the familiar dolphin broke the water again, shattering the reflected sunset into wiggling fragments.

Shattered. The word described Michael’s life—and now—hers too because she loved him so. She cringed at the unfairness. He’d returned from Afghanistan only to find he was out of a job, unemployed by a firm with no patience for dealing with an injured veteran.

Callie shook her head. Neither, apparently, did his wife of ten years. Julie had walked away from Michael and three-year-old Mary, leaving only a terse note. It had been a crushing blow. Tears had streamed down Michael’s face as he shared what had happened, “I’m on permanent vacation, Mom,” he’d told her from his wheelchair, “and I have a new assignment—a bum-legged, rolling, full-time dad.” His try for humor had wrenched her heart.

The fading sunset blurred along with Callie’s emotion, and she gripped the splintery wood railing as hard as she gripped her faith. Talk about sunsets, Lord, I’m in the sunset of my life! What can I do to help my son? It was a question she’d petitioned God about a thousand times. But she knew the answer. Every winter, she rattled around in the rambling house she and Alan built together long ago, here on the edge of the water. Two homes had become difficult to keep up. It was time to rethink the future of this one—and her own future. Could she do this? Could she deal with restructuring the house to accommodate a wheelchair and a little girl so full of energy and curiosity?

Nothing is impossible with God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Callie.

She’d trusted with all her heart before. Why should it be any different now. Her life had been full of joy, and walking through the joy-part was easy. But she’d also walked through heartbreak many times before with broken health and broken dreams—even losing Alan. She could do this.

I will never leave you or forsake you.

A low-flying jet heading north toward nearby Patrick Air Force Base interrupted her thoughts. The pilot ripped through the sky, leaving a white contrail in his wake. Callie watched deepening sunset colors claim the contrail, and the rumble of jet engines died with distance. She shivered in spite of the warmth as a light breeze pressed around her. As she had so many times in past winters, she sensed a quickening in her spirit as peace and strength enveloped her like a holy hug.

Thanks, Father. I love you.

Dock lights flickered on, illuminating the length of heavy wooden boards. The noise from the jet dissipated leaving only the sound of water lapping at the barnacle encrusted piers. But it had lingered long enough to cover the bouncing, tip-tap steps of a child, a little girl with a cloud of thick, red-gold hair, dressed in a pink and white checked sundress.

“Grandmother! I’m here! Mary’s here, Grandmother Callie!”

Callie heard the sweet lisped words before she saw Mary, and turned. A rush of red-gold, pink and white flew into her waiting arms. Michael was right behind his tiny daughter, wheeling toward them with a look that took Callie back to his little-boyhood. It was all she could do to maintain her composure. For the first time in months, he wore a smile on his face and quiet happiness shone in his eyes.

Mary didn’t stay in her grandmother’s arms for long. In seconds, she was on her tummy on the still sun-warmed boards with her hand out toward the bottlenose of the dolphin. Once again, Jack had made it his business to bring happiness to a child. Michael pulled his chair up beside Callie, laughing, looking toward the effusive gray mammal.

“Hey there, Jack. Nice welcome! Thanks.”

And Callie smiled, feeling fresh energy surge into her mind, body, and spirit as she put her hand on her son’s shoulder. With a deep breath and silent joy, she gave herself with her whole heart to God’s plans for the three of them, ready to welcome this new season of life.

Submitted by
Sally Chambers

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