“No!” she cried. “No, no, no!”
She collapsed back onto the bed and let the small plastic stick slip through her fingers and fall to the ground.
She could not believe it! How could she allow this to happen? How in the world in this day and age had she not protected against this! Well, she thought, it’s 2003 and there are ways to deal with these things. And just as she thought it, guilt seized her and she quickly brushed off both the thought and the guilt. She closed her eyes, giving into the exhaustion that still lingered from the half marathon she just ran over the weekend, and, deciding to think about what to do after a nap, fell into a deep sleep.
When she awoke, she was relieved, buoyant, even. She lay still and let the memory of the most wonderful dream wash over her. In her dream, she saw herself with a little girl. At first, the girl was a tiny babe in the cutest little dress with a bow tied in her dark hair looking up at her while she gave her a bottle. The little baby’s chubby hands were reaching up to her face and her eyes held a gaze as if she was looking straight into her mommy’s soul. How could such a tiny creature hold such a knowing gaze?
Then the dream pushed her forward in time and she saw the tiny babe trying to walk. She sat on one side of a carpeted living room filled with bright-colored toys and books and stuffed animals. The baby girl first wobbled and fell onto her diapered backside, but then pulled herself up again and then, slowly, one foot wobbled forward as the rest of her body began to adjust to the gravity. The little bug took another tentative step and then another and another and then fell into her mother’s waiting arms. She stood up with the baby girl and danced around, both of them laughing until the child began to wriggle from her mother’s safe embrace. She wanted to have another go!
Swoosh, the dream forced her through time again and she was watching a tiny child running through the park. Oh, her mother thought, as the sweet little thing began to pull herself up the ladder on the slide. “I must let her try things,” as she examined the ladder, the height, the ground below, and where best to stand to catch her if she were to fall. But much to her mother’s delight, the baby girl climbed up, sure footed, and found herself at the top of the slide where she looked down and gave her mother a hesitant look. Her mother, now convinced that her child was incredible, encouraged the babe to push herself forward. “I’ll be waiting right here for you and won’t let you get hurt,” her mother said brightly. Then the child pushed herself forward and squealed with delight to be swooshing down the slide into her mommy’s waiting embrace.
Then the dream advanced and she saw the baby, now a small girl, dressed with her backpack on and posing for a first day of Kindergarten picture. She had on a new red checked dress with a big red bow on her head. She didn’t even wimper – not one little tear, when her mama pulled up to the curb and the pretty young teacher took her by the hand and led her out of the car into the building. She marched in on the first day like she had always been there, with confident, bold steps, head held high, chest puffed out, and proud to be a big girl now.
Time began to flash now more quickly. Years and years of fun and love and happiness and pain and worry and hope and failure and achievement flashed in her dream in moments, like her whole life was a movie montage. There the child was on the soccer field, with her best friend playing in her playroom, at birthday parties and Christmas celebrations, with her grandparents hunting Easter eggs, in the church play, getting awards at school, playing basketball, volleyball, going to her first school dance, on her first date, acting in the school play, working with kids on a missions trip, and graduating high school.
Then she woke up and sat up on the bed and a hope had filled her soul. She did not know God, but she thought, I think God just gave me a message. Everything is going to be okay.
Confused, though, she looked around the room and it wasn’t her room anymore. She was in a strange house that she had never seen. When she fell asleep, she had been in her upstairs apartment, but now she was in a simple little home on the ground – and a strange dog was laying on the floor next to her.
She must have been dreaming still. And then, she was back in the montage. It was whirling by her, class pictures, pictures with her cousin, on vacation swimming with dolphins…
Then the dream suddenly changed, like a plane that moments before was 20,000 feet in the air has just touched the earth for the first time in three hours. The wistfulness of the girl’s life flashing before her dreaming eyes came crashing to a halt and the dream stopped advancing time, abruptly, as if what would happen next was the important part.
In her dream, she began to cry a little. At first, it was a soft cry as she watched her baby packing to go off to college. Then, she was standing in the dorm room with her baby, looking deep into her eyes and seeing her as the tiny baby she rocked and fed just 18 short years ago. And then, she saw it, that knowing gaze that had been so remarkable as a newborn was looking back at her now. And she knew. The tears still fell, but she knew. It was time to turn her loose and let her see what the world had to offer. She had to let her go take flight, to see what she could do with her life.
Then, she saw a glimpse of her daughter’s future. The dream felt very different now. The beautiful pictures progressed, but now they were hazier and more obscured. But she could still tell – her baby would graduate college, land a wonderful job that afforded her an easy life, would get married, and have children – her grandchildren!- and she was happy and healthy and a ray of sunshine in her community.
The surge of joy forced her eyes open. She looked over at the clock. 5:30 a.m. “Oh, well, I was going to get up in a few minutes anyway,” she told the German Shepherd at her feet. As she began to shake off the long night’s sleep, she remembered that she had dropped her baby off at college just the day before. Her heavy, puffy eyes reminded her of how she had cried most of the ride home.
She stumbled out of bed and made her way to the bathroom. “Odd,” she said to the cat staring at her from the bathroom sink, “I remember those awful thoughts after I found out I was pregnant and waking up with a renewed hope and joy, but I don’t remember what I dreamed.” She lost herself in thought for a moment.
I do remember waking up hopeful. Maybe I had a dream like that one? Like the end of the one I just had that showed me what a wonderful life I’d have raising my baby girl? Was it that I was just tired and once I got rest I felt better and could face the future? No, no. That couldn’t have been all it was.
“No, I was confident that everything was going to be just fine after that nap. I remember thinking about my strange shift in attitude and actually becoming excited,” she told the orange tabby now stealing water from the stream in the sink to groom himself. That dream felt like something I had had before, but it couldn’t have been way back then before I became a mother, could it have been?
Then her mind turned to the present. As she brushed her teeth and began to think about the day, she heard rain hitting the bedroom window. “Rain?” she asked the cat, “It hasn’t rained in months!”
The dog met her at the bedroom door as she went out to see what it was like outside.
“Maybe it’s not a good idea to go for my morning walk today,” she told the pup. The pup let out a small whine and lay down on the dining room floor by the back door as she opened it and stood on the back patio, rain splashing on her from the eave just a few feet away.
But it does feel nice, she thought, remembering the long, hot, dry summer they had just endured in Texas this year. Then, the sadness washed over her again. Her baby was at college and wouldn’t be home for at least two weeks. But let’s face it, she’ll never be home again like she was before.
“Life is different now, so get used to it,” she said to no one in particularly, wiping away a small tear that had escaped. The sadness overwhelmed her again. “How are we going to make it here without our Bug? Why didn’t I raise her to be stupid and afraid to leave home?” she asked the persistent dog, that really just wanted her breakfast.
And just like that, she made up her mind to go out and get her morning walk in despite the pouring rain thinking that the weather exactly matched her mood anyway. Her sweet pup didn’t understand why she was being left behind for their usual morning walk. “It’s too messy out there for you today, sweet girl. You can go tomorrow.”
She let some more tears fall as she drove to the local park. Then, as she sat in the parking lot watching the sheets of water dance down the windshield, she bowed her head and asked for a safe trip around the park. “And please, Lord, don’t let anyone I know see me!” Then, pulling the makeshift poncho she rigged out of a large trash bag over her head, she stepped out into the monsoon. She had to go. The mental toughness program she started just that day called for one outside workout and there wouldn’t be another chance today.
She ditched the political podcast and audiobook and just listened to the rain thump the bill of her hat and the trashbag poncho. At first it was miserable and silly. Then she started to talk to God and tell Him how she really felt. Why did He give her such a gift, her Baby Bug, only to make take her away from her? She knew she was whining. She didn’t care. She was stomping through the rain puddles, quickly turning into streams, and letting her sadness ooze out through the angry words in now what was a loud prayer.
The rain came down harder and the stream that runs through the park began to swell. It had been so dry for so long that the water wasn’t seeping into the rock hard ground, but running over it and flooding the low places even at this early hour in the storm.
One mile down, and still she stomped and let God have it. “Why does it have to work this way? Why didn’t you make my marriage work? Why do we have so many problems in this world? WHY WHY WHY?! I wanted more time to be her mama! I want to go back and tell my younger mama self not to worry so much about the small stuff. I want to go back and hold that sweet baby as long as I could. Why did I rush that? Why did I ever think I didn’t want her? Why did I think my life was over the day I found out I was pregnant? Why, Lord, do you make us so dense and stubborn to miss the blessings you pour on us?”
The storm raged and her feet were soaked. But her steps began to fall softer, her breathing less intense. The tenseness in her face began to fall away and she began to laugh.
“Someone is going to try to commit me to the looney bin for sure,” she thought as she waved to the man in the parks maintenance truck driving through to check on the facilities.
But the joy that welled up in her all of a sudden when she realized that she wasn’t angry with God. NO! No! She was so very grateful for the blessing He gave her in spite of her stupidity so long ago.
I remember now, she thought, partly to herself, partly to God. You did send me a dream that day. I thought that day was going to be the start of a painful, long journey! Oh, and I remember having the thought that I might abort my Baby Bug. It was a short, fleeting thought – but it was there, no doubt. I remember being exhausted and falling into a deep sleep desperate and distraught.
But then…”Lord, was that you?” she yelled into the rain. “Was it you that sent me that dream to show me that that baby was not the end of my story, but the beginning of it? Yes! Yes! It was you, wasn’t it? That’s why the dream felt so familiar to me – because I’ve had it before!”
Then she grew silent, rounding the corner and heading down the home stretch. The rain had increased and now every low place was covered in water. The whole area had been praying for rain for months – and here it was, finally! People were selling livestock because they couldn’t afford feed because all the grass was dead. The whole state had been under water restrictions, and the lake that fueled the town economy was so low, the weekenders couldn’t get their boats off their dock so they had quit coming down and spending money in the local restaurants and stores. Governments at all levels were calling for ways to conserve and arrogant humans schemed plans to fix the environment. But God…
“That’s right…But God! But God always restores” she said to the poor Hereford cow hunched by the barbed wire fence at the corner of the park, rain running in big streams through her reddish hair. “In a wave of his hand, look what He will do. Oh, sure, we scheme, and we plan, and we think we’re so very smart and clever, and all the time, God knows what to restore and when.” The cow moved away from the fence, less interested in God and more in a tree with low-hanging branches that might help shield some of the rain.
Watching the cow mosey away, she began to think again about the dream. Of course, God had sent that to her to calm her and help her see that what had happened to her would serve as her deliverance, not her destruction. But she knew the last part of the dream, that was different. It had been hazy and not as well defined. It was God’s new message to her. “Child, trust me because I love you and have poured blessings on you already. I tell you, you will love the future too.”
“Oh, Lord, I do trust you. You have given me the greatest blessing in my child. I’ll be a grandma!? My Baby Bug will be happy in her adult life? For what more can a mama’s heart hope? A happy child placing grandchildren in her arms? Lord, if that is your blessing, this time, I won’t miss it! I’m going to take my time and enjoy every moment!”
A grandma, she thought again, as she passed the pavilion, and her car came into view again. The rain poured, defeating the long, hot, dry summer and a few doomsday predictions with it. She pulled the trashbag poncho over her head and placed it in the recycle bin by the ballfields and began to laugh and dance.
“Lord, thank you for the rain. I won’t miss this blessing either!”
Soaked to the bone and actually feeling a bit chilled, she twirled and turned, with her arms flung out and her head tilted toward the raging sky. A turn, a leap, and a splash! Yes, this new weather is perfect to go with my new mood! Thank you, Lord, for your grace and your pouring blessings!”