lost and found

alleyThe following is a creative writing piece that was inspired by an unusual dream:

“Grams, tell us something new about Gramps,” and suddenly four expectant faces were glued on her.

The Memorial Service was over; just the family remained. The “boys” were playing poker in honor of Gramps, while the “girls” were across the room discussing the details of the day.

Carolyn was startled by the abrupt change of subject, but she knew Gramps was what her granddaughters really wanted to talk about.

“Lise, your grandmother might not want to go there right now,” her aunt said warningly.

“No, Jeri, it’s alright . . . I’m fine.” Turning to her eldest grandchild she asked, “Did you have anything specific in mind?”

“Not really. I just thought it’d be nice to know something from before you got married. We haven’t heard much about that time.”

“Well, your grandfather was full of fun and surprises back then,” she said with a nostalgic smile crossing her crinkly lips. “He had a wonderful sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, and was extremely creative – other than his good looks, those were what first drew me to him. But a few months into our relationship, I found out how kind and loving a person he was and that’s when he really captured my heart. Jeff gave me the most profound gift I ever could have received . . . he gave me a miracle.”

“You’ve always called us your ‘little miracles,’” said the eldest twin, Meridian. “But, if it was before you got married, then you can’t be talking about us . . . unless there’s something you two never told us,” she said with teasing suspicion.

“There is something we never told you girls – but not what you’re thinking,” she added quickly at the looks of either horror or gleeful fascination in front of her.

At this, even the boys’ interest was piqued; the volume at the poker table lessened substantially.

“Oh dear, where do I begin? Well, I suppose we are all adults now,” smiling at the youngest, Becca, who crossed that milestone not three weeks earlier. “Contrary to family lore, Jeff and I met at a community theater audition; he was the producer and I was trying out for the lead.”

“How did we not know that?” asked Meridian and Jericha together.

“I’m sorry girls. Considering the circumstances, your father and I decided it would be easier to say we met at church – it was believable and left nothing to explain. We didn’t like deceiving you, but at the age you started asking questions you were too young for the truth; as you got older, it didn’t come up, so the story stuck.”

“Well, what happened?” Meri asked impatiently.

“Long story short, I was cast in the play and Jeff and I began seeing each other soon after. We decided to be discreet about our relationship, so when a castmate named Jacob began making passes at me I rebuffed him and didn’t tell Jeff. Well, he became more insistent as the play progressed . . . and finally at the wrap party he tried to rape me.”

Now she had everyone’s undivided attention – even the card game stopped mid-deal.

“Mom! No!” with mouths covered in alarm.

“Grams!” came in surround sound.

A chorus of voices flooded the room with shocked requests for explanation. Once she had everyone calmed down, her story continued.

“It was in the alley behind the theater . . . I went outside for some fresh air and Jacob followed me with a knife from the dessert table. At first he just seemed a bit tipsy, but when I became uncomfortable and tried to go back inside, he got angry and grabbed me.

“About this time, Jeff was wondering where I’d gone and began to look for me. We’d planned on making our relationship public that night and he was anxious to give the announcement.”

“Oh, Grams, the miracle . . . did he find you in time to stop it?” asked a breathless Becca.

“No honey . . . and in a way I’m glad he didn’t. I know that sounds strange,” she added, sensing the confusion about her, “but God knew exactly what I needed. He allowed me to partner with Him in saving myself, which kept me from remaining a victim.

“Anyway, after searching the theater Jeff finally found us, but by then it was all over. I was in shock, laying naked in the alley, and bleeding from the cuts I’d received while being relieved of my clothes. Jacob was curled up a few feet away, cringing in pain and close to passing out.

“Jeff ran up, breathless, saw the blood and panicked. He dropped down beside me, made sure I was alright, gave me his jacket, and turned on Jacob. He probably would have killed him had I not gotten between them.”

“Didn’t you want him to defend you?” asked her oldest grandson Ryan.

“Yes and no. I was very touched by his passionate response, but there were two reasons I couldn’t let it happen. First, had he acted on his impulses, he would’ve ended up in jail, which he didn’t deserve. And second, though I was running on adrenaline, I would be crashing soon; if he were in jail, the person I needed most would be unavailable.

“When the police arrived, we gave our statements before he took me to the hospital for first aid and an examination. Then he took me to his apartment; he didn’t want me to be alone overnight after all that had happened . . . and I think he felt guilty for not preventing it in the first place.

“I just wanted sleep, but the alley had been so filthy I needed to bathe first. At this point I started to feel shaky, so he helped me into the shower.” Carolyn then explained that normally something like that would’ve never happened, but there had been nothing normal about that night. Since she’d already been naked or nearly so for several hours, it hadn’t seemed like an issue.

“Well, about the time the water hit me, I pretty much collapsed – my meltdown had arrived and I was sobbing uncontrollably. The next thing I knew, Jeff was right there in the shower with me, clothes and all, gathering me into his arms. He sat there with me, getting soaked, for what must have been twenty minutes while I purged every last tear from my system. When I’d finished crying, I could tell he’d been crying and praying for me the whole time.

“He asked how he could help, and I said I didn’t know. I just felt contaminated and helpless to cleanse myself. He held me tighter and said, ‘Let me do for you what you can’t do for yourself right now.’”

This memory made her misty and she paused for a moment, noticing that every eye in the room was riveted on her. As Carolyn collected herself and went on, she was transported back into the memory of that night, almost feeling the hands of her beloved as he tenderly washed her hair and body, praying silently all the while.

She recalled her initial numbness and inability to pray that was gradually replaced by the words of worship songs that spoke of cleansing, healing, and grace. Though just whispers at first, as she gained strength, so did the songs. By the time Jeff finished, Carolyn’s heart, mind, soul, and spirit had undergone a transformation in the cocoon of love he’d created for her: she felt a peace she couldn’t explain.

At that point everyone was tearing up. To their credit, the boys had migrated from the table to sit with and comfort their wives and sisters.

“That was the miracle,” Carolyn continued, “As Jeff cleansed from without, God cleansed from within. It was truly a living parable: Christ Himself washed me through Jeff’s act of sacrificial love. They partnered in caring for me when I couldn’t care for myself – in the process I was healed from the feelings of physical and spiritual contamination, and my faith in male-kind was restored.

“Earlier that night I had looked into the face of lust and violence, as a man tried to take by force what was only mine to give. Part of Jeff’s gift was letting me look into the face of love and nurturing compassion as he tried to give back everything that had been taken. He gave me a reason to trust men again within hours of having that trust unthinkably violated. The contrast was both profound and healing.

“The last thing he said to me that night gave me even more reason to trust: ‘I’ve seen you naked tonight, but I promise that won’t happen again until the night I make you my wife.’ Then he kissed my forehead and tucked me in. And he kept that promise.”

At this, they sat in silence, pondering the boundless love of the dear one they’d just lost. Emotional day after emotional week had drained them all, but the memories and love in the room gave them courage. After a slow and deliberate round of hugs, Carolyn retired to the room she would never share again.
Artistic Kudos: Pixabay.com/ahundt (modifications by fracturedly)

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