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Laying there on the table of the abrasively bright room, she held his hand as if she were holding on for her very life. It was ironic though, as she was actually clinging to death. Just a year earlier, she was happy in love with Jake. Approaching their senior year, he was tall, handsome, and the smartest boy she knew in high school. Her father had always told her that she should find the boys with the greatest aptitude, to date. “You can’t help whom you fall in love with, but you can help who you date” he would say. So, that’s exactly what she did. She looked around her small circle of classmates and there he was, Mr. Valedictorian. He was a little nerdy-needed some polish, but tall with blue eyes and a great sense of humor that everyone knew all-too-well. She wasn’t completely smitten at first, but thought he had the makings of someone that could make a great husband and be a great man. Little did she know that hanging out with this soon-to-be-man-boy would change her and her life, forever. Soon after dating, she discovered his wit and charm, and he ever-so-quickly swept her off her little feet. Once dreaming of friends and parties and dances, now all she could dream of was being his bride. Jake was full of ideas and had a mind like no other that she had known. He could take the smallest of concepts and blow them wide open with possibilities, and simultaneously blow her mind. He thrilled her to no-end with his talk of space, universal laws, quantum theory and many other things she really didn’t understand. He reminded her of her dad, in his brilliance and confidence. There was nothing that was going to stop this man, she knew, from achieving his goals. She also knew that she had better be prepared to keep up. He had a bit of an arrogant side and was quick to lash back at others. But Sarah thought that is where she could balance him out, and she had learned how to bring him back down to earth when needed. But she was also learning that loving someone that shoots for the stars can come with a price. Sarah was just a small-town girl, but with big ambitions. She had no clear idea of what exactly she would become, but she knew she would write. Unfortunately, her parents having been young when they had she and her siblings, were still too busy figuring out their lives to be worried about hers. Not a word was spoken to her-ever-about college, career, or life choices. That is, until the day her friends at school were all abuzz with the latest news of who would be going to what colleges and what scholarships they had won. Sarah had been standing in the hall between classes when the discussion ensued. She found herself standing still and silent, jarred out of reality for a moment, thinking “what scholarships…how did you know…how do you get those?”. She felt frightened and angry at the same time. Frightened in the realization that suddenly she knew she had lost the race, and angry that nobody had bothered to take the time to tell her that there even was one! “Sales” her father replied, “We cannot afford college and women do not need a college degree. Sales is where women achieve the greatest. Go out and earn your way. With looks like yours you will make it. Look at your Mother!” Sarah’s mother had been a Business Manager at a car dealership for a few years and was making steady progression toward surpassing her husband’s income. Having started out as a clerk and working her way up the ranks quickly, it was hardly anything to shake a stick it. As appreciative as Sarah was for the work her mother had been doing, it was hardly the route she would choose for herself and wanted an opportunity for a degree in Journalism. She remembered then, back a few months before, when her English teacher had pulled her aside to say what an excellent student she was and that she ought to consider a career in journalism. She was very excited about it, having thoroughly enjoyed learning how to write. The sentences thrilled her. She enjoyed creating the structure of a paragraph, and when she put her pen to paper, the words that would never come out of her mouth quite so eloquently, seemed to flow out of her fingers like water. She felt free when she wrote, and that she
could cure all of the evils of the world and that she could do it forever. However, Dad had said journalism was a poor choice in careers and “they all go broke”. “After all your cousin is a journalism major and cannot find a job to save her life. “ So, that had been that. But now, it was different and imperative that she go to college. After all, she had a boyfriend that she needed to impress, not to mention his family, and in particular, his Mother. Jake’s Mother was not on the Sarah program. Jake was the only boy in a family of many girls, and was treated like a prince. That was good to instill confidence in the young man, but terrible for a young girl from a lowermiddle-class family, and one that was not even Catholic. Feeling the half-hearted acceptance of his family was tough for her to bear. How could she prove to them that her love for him would be enough? That she really was intelligent, and savvy enough to be at his side during his career progression? That she wasn’t really like the other girls at school and not at all what they had thought of her? Although, she began to think maybe in some ways she was exactly what they thought of her. After all, being raised in a non-Christian home left values very subjective, and a young girls idea of what they should and should not do, a bit skewed. Later, she would come to understand his Mother’s critical judgment. But for now, it just meant she wasn’t good enough. Sarah’s new agenda was to be smart enough, together enough, and accomplished enough to prove them all wrong, as well as solidify Jake’s love for her. Little did she know, that God was trying to take care of that for her and her life was about to change in wonderful and also, terrible ways. There is a difference between “Christian” homes and homes of people that believe there is a Christ, but don’t worship Him, The O’Keefe home where Sarah grew up, was the latter. God was spoken of, but in more of an abstract way and never really prayed to. Her Mother had tried to go to church a few times, but her father Robert, squashed the idea and refused to get on the “tithe” program. Karen had always been a bit under the thumb of her husband, partially from being such a young bride, and partially from being so smitten with the man, she followed his lead innocently and with confidence that he knew best. Sarah did not like how Karen was so submissive and thought of her at times, as being very weak. She wanted to be a different kind of woman. A woman of strength and virtue, which would know how to manage her life and how to lead others. About God, she was different, too. She had always heard Him talk to her. Not in words-per se-but in thought and very clear, nonetheless. Especially during tough times, like when their family was young and their father’s Irish temper would flare. He would speak to her about strength and courage and truth. Things she was too young to repeat, but things her heart understood. She felt that he was giving her inner-strength and as she grew older, she felt a growth within her soul that would cause her to feel she was being trained up for something. Although, that part were never made clear. It were as though there were a secret mission being planned for her; one of the most critical importance for everyone, everywhere, and that she would be one of the few that were needed to save them. Sarah wanted desperately to go to church and would sometimes go with her best friend, Anne. Anne was Catholic and Sarah loved to go to Mass with Anne’s family, although she didn’t understand a word of it nor what was happening during the hour. She felt very out of place, which made her feel bad and guilty, but simultaneously she wanted desperately to belong. She later wondered if that were just a need to belong to something organized, structured, and bigger than herself, or if it were truly the call of God to His house that she was hearing. Only time would tell. The month after graduation, Sarah felt it was time to make a leap into adulthood. She had only a few months before Jake would leave her and move away to college, and she had better act quickly to ensure that his love for her would stay. Maybe, she would be lucky enough that he would ask her to go with him. The though thrilled her to no end. Why couldn’t they just get married and go through college together? She knew he loved her, he understood her, and they shared ambitions to make something great of their lives. She dreamt of learning and writing, and maybe someday owning a newspaper or magazine. Maybe even a television media job, as that would be something that would allow her-them really-to travel and see the world. She and Jake could make the absolute best life together and she would be so proud to hold his arm throughout it. She set out on her own and with her friend Laura, grabbed an apartment to live for
the summer. Jake’s Mom sent a lovely glass pitcher as a house-warming gift. Maybe she was impressed? Sarah thought, happily. Life ahead, looked grande and she was very hopeful to soon be Mrs. Jacob Ryan. The shock came in waves, as she hung up the phone in the hallway of the towers where she worked. She had taken a summer job as a bookkeeper for a small law firm in town. It was a very busy center where 3 towers converged into one main complex and everyone in the building converged upon the cafeteria at once, and the halls were always jammed with people moving in every direction. She had liked the hustle and bustle, as it was her first experience working in a place with everyone in suits, dresses, and sharp looking shoes. They even had a shoe-shine chair in the hall and she felt this must be what working in New York is like. “Maybe someday I will get there” she thought and was excited at just the thought, and she wondered what Jake would think. But today, and in this moment, those people with their smiling and friendly faces suddenly changed. Now, as everything stood still and was silent, they all seemed to turn and look at her. Looking at her in her jaw-opening and staggering surprise, they all looked straight at her, in her guilt, in her shame. Having been so confident of the answer to the question she had asked the nurse, she was barely nervous to make the call. The tests had been negative. But, the woman on the phone said “…but, we do know you are pregnant”. “What?” Sarah whispered, and she was suspended in horror. Every hair on her head was up on end, and she felt as though she were suddenly in a great tunnel with darkness closing in around her. They eyes of the people glaring at her, she could not believe…it was as if they knew! She did not remember hanging up the phone, but she remembers walking through the halls not knowing where to go. The ladies room was the only place she could think of to take refuge. She went into a stall and stood there breathless and terrified. She could not recall what his exact words were, but the expression on his face said it all. Her heart sank. On her way home from work she had calmed herself down and realized that this must have been a gift to them both. That this would ensure their future together and she began to get excited about the promise of it all. He would love her and the baby, and his family would see what a great mother and wife she would be to Jake. It would be a wonderful time and a wonderful life, she just knew it. But her heart broke when he said it would ruin everything. She watched him pace back and forth across her bedroom. The room that he had loved her so dearly in, and where she imagined their future together. She loved him as he paced, and with his button down, collared shirt and his pleated pants he wore to work, she loved even the way he dressed. She knew he was just reeling from the news and listened to him patiently as he expressed his great concern for his need to finish college and be able to support a family. She had hoped that he would change his mind if she gave him a little time. She could not later recall though, if she fought him on the final decision. She would live to regret that choice. Once her closest friends learned of the news, they were very quick to chime in with the “you’re too young” and “it’s a mistake, you cannot do this to yourself” arguments. In hindsight, Sarah wished that she had known herself better and sought the approval of her friends-and her boyfriend less. Jake had said that his family would never approve and that they would disown both of them. She was surprised by his staunch opposition and found this side of him a bit frightening. Later, she would come to secretly hate those friends for their advice, and would hate him, too. It would have been nice to be able to go to her Mom. But, Sarah felt she just didn’t have one of those, anymore. As Karen had gone to work five years earlier, she got a taste of what life outside of the home was like. Not to mention, earning a wage that was compatible with her husband, that in their one-sided marriage, proved to be a great equalizer. The thing that Karen failed to realize is that she still had teenage daughters and sons at home, that were in great need of Motherly care and advice, not to mention supervision. With the demands of the job on Karen, Sarah scarcely remembers spending time with her Mom, since she was fifteen. Even when Sarah moved out, there was hardly a tear and no real words spoken about why and what was next. Sarah knew that Karen really did not know her, nor understand her, and did not feel safe to go to her with such a dilemma. Feeling excruciatingly alone, she looked to the love of her life for guidance.
As the sign said “Women’s Clinic” Sarah had no idea that she was like a sheep going into the lion’s den for advice. When asking the question of what is it exactly at this stage-six to eight weeks-she had been told. The barely twenty-something girl said “it’s just cells…just like your period…they just go in and clean it out”. It sounded simple enough and as Sarah cried in relief, her worries of shaming herself in front of her family and his, dissipated. She felt relieved that she and Jake could continue their lives as planned, and hoped that they would be married soon and could plan a family, later, just like he had said. It was a bright and sunny day, and Jake picked her up in his sedan. They were quiet, but jovial. Sarah was uncertain, but holding steadfast to what Jake had said should be. She was thankful that it would soon be all over. The waiting room smelled worse than she remembered. It may have been because this time it was packed with women. Mostly black women, but some white. All were young, like her, she guessed. Some had their Mothers with them. That made her stop to think, where was hers. Then she decided not to let herself think. Everyone in the room was silent, and it was as though there was a great secret nobody was willing to tell…the proverbial elephant in the room. None of the women would look at each other, either. In fact, nobody was looking at anybody. It was a horrible feeling and it began to get under her skin. She tried to force out her thoughts and her panic as she felt it welling up inside of her. “Remember why you are here and what needs to happen. We agreed on this” she scolded herself. As they moved down the list, she watched as one by one the girls disappeared behind the dirty white door with a large silver knob. No sign, just a knob. Sarah didn’t like it. She began to hate it. She looked at Jake and he was silent, reading a magazine. She waited for him to look at her. He did not. She didn’t like him. She began to get angry, and then they called her name. Her clothes were off, the gown on. Naked, cold, and laying flat on the hard table, her heart pounded wildly. What am I doing?” she said to herself. “What is the matter with me” she countered and felt like she was going crazy and wanted to jump out of her skin. Before she could change her mind, the nurse was on her with a pill in a cup. The doctor was in rubbing something on her cervix. Jake was holding her hand and with his face pale and scared, looking at her. He grabbed her hand, and in some twisted form of loving gesture held her hand while the man slid ever-increasing rods into her vagina. The pain for Sarah was like nothing she could have ever imagined. When she yelped against her own will, the doctor told her to quiet over-reacting and lay down. He grimaced at her in disapproval. She tried to object but was overwhelmed with fear and some sort of submissive response to a man’s authority; which she questioned in herself immediately but was too overtaken to process it. The machine was turned on and the suction began. She felt it pulling and tearing away her insides. Her mind could not grapple with the happenings as the pain was so severe. She was panicking and knew she was in a state of absolute shock. Her heart pounded, body trembled, and she felt for a moment-without even understanding-that something had left her soul. That’s when it ended, and when it began. The man grabbed up the towels and bowl of blood and said “I will be right back, I just have to weigh it”. “Weigh what??” Sarah gasped. “The baby” he said, “ Iwant to make sure it is all there”. Stunned, she whispered through her breath “but she said it was just my period”. Sarah dressed resolutely and rode him with Jake, in silence. But, her mind could not silence and neither could her spirit… “And there it is, the great lie and I bought It, and now I live it. I killed my baby. I let them lie to me and I killed my baby. I believe it because I wanted to believe it and I let them lie to me and they are bastards, and I hate them. I hate them all. They are mother-fuckers and they are liars and they fucking know it. I hate them and they stole my child, and they knew it was my child, and they ripped it out of me and they fucking killed my baby. I hate them, the fucking, fucking, bastards. I fucking hate you, and now I deserve to die. My baby died and now I will die. I fucking hate every one of you!” and Sarah did die that day, in so many ways, but unfortunately she still breathed.
She sank deep into depression and could not get out of bed for days. Her haunted existence would not allow for her mind to rest. After a few days she didn’t know whether she was asleep or awake. She was alone. He had gone back to work and her roommate was around only at nights. There was nobody to care for her or help her to process this thing that she had done. This vile act that she had committed. Where does a girl go when she has taken a human life, especially her own flesh and blood? She didn’t know where to turn. Jake had gone about his business and for some odd-reason, she thought, had expected that she would, too. The following week, there had been a big family camping trip planned where she had been invited to go with the entire Brewer clan to spend the weekend at the lakeshore. She had been very excited because she was actually invited by some of Jake’s sisters and their Mom had expressed her wishes for her to join. Of course, she would be sleeping in with the girls…as there was no co-sleeping in Catholic families. The fact that she had her own apartment and Jake would spend the night and everyone knew it, notwithstanding. Another reason to feel ashamed, she realized. Ugh. If only she could get how to be a grown-up and how to please the potential in-laws. She would do anything. “Figure it out, girl! This is too, important” she had thought. As the weekend approached, Jake wanted to know about planning the trip. Sarah was still bleeding from the abortion, and unable to walk around the apartment much, without feeling surges. Her gynecologist office had called to see about the pregnancy (a week too late, in her mind) and they told her to be very careful to rest for several weeks to avoid hemorrhage. She explained this to Jake and that she felt very weak and could just not bear it physically, or emotionally. But Jake had determined it otherwise. He insisted that she must go. That if she did not go, “the family” would know something was going on. That they had gone to great lengths to get them to accept Sarah and this was not the time to let them down. Sarah packed and went. She was not exactly sure how she got so tough or became such a good liar. She had always been a pretty good girl, and really never lied to anyone that she could remember. It had always been important to her to be true to her word, especially to friends and family. Even as a young girl, she would always defend others and try to do the “right “ thing. She would always seek out the underdog in any group and make effort to include them and make them feel good about themselves. Having been the eldest in a large family, she had taken the lead to maintain peace and goodwill in the home, even amidst arguments between their parents. Shelter others, and take up for those whom were in need of defense, she did. She didn’t realize though that those things would have trained her to put on a good show, even when the battle against her was fierce. That weekend, it took all of her resolve to get through alive, but she did. The family was abuzz with laughter and alive with beautiful celebration of them all being together. They were a very fun and light-hearted family with a sense of community all within themselves. It seemed as though they never needed anyone else but each other, and if you were lucky enough to be married in-then you would want to stay forever. Raised by parents strong in their faith, that loved each other and every one of their children, profoundly; they instilled inner beauty and self-confidence in their children that any parent would be proud of. Unfortunately for Sarah, the natural juvenile narcissism can interfere with and skew even the greatest of faith and parental teachings. Sarahs physical symptoms worsened the first night in the tent, and she lay awake most of the night attempting to deal with it, privately. She worried that his sisters may have noticed her many trips to the ladies room, and her fussing with toiletries, so she told them she was having problems with her period. Secretly, as she lay there next to the girls she had hoped to have love her as much as she loved them, she wept. Day number two brought adventurous trips to the dunes, that she knew she dare not take. Yet, in his zeal for the experience Jake insisted she at least go for the ride. Once there, she felt reluctant to sit in the car, lest everyone think she was a killjoy, so she climbed half the dune. That would prove to be a disaster. That night, she lay there and knew she was hemorrhaging. She woke Jake and made him drive her to a phone where she could call the emergency number. They urged her to get to an emergency room. She knew before she even told him that Jake would not be happy. She realized finally, what it was she was dealing with here. He did not love her. He did not want her to have his baby.
He…did…not…love…her. She lay down in the tent, knowing she might die that night. She decided she did not care. Only saddened that she would shame him and shame his family, so. She thought of her child and that she somehow knew it were a girl. She wanted her baby back. She thought if she died, she might be able to find it…her, the baby. She would try, she thought, and she said for God to please help her find the baby and she sobbed into her pillow. Somehow, the morning broke, and it was all still there. At least, it was time to pack up and go home. She went back to her life and to her bed, with nothing to hope for. She never returned to her job after that trip, and cannot recall if she even phoned. She had no more dialogue with her friends and stayed in the apartment for weeks. Sarah needed love and she knew it. She ached, her heart shattered, and she longed to be held and for someone to wake her from this wretched nightmare. She had begun to have dreams about a devilish figure chasing her around. It was a guy that she knew from another school whom was in a rock band. He had sort of frightened her at a party earlier in the summer with his talk of black magic and the way his music sounded like it was satanic. For some reason now, it was his head with a pair of wings that were appearing to her…even while she was awake, and startling her. She didn’t really believe in the devil, but for some reason she felt him upon her. It felt very real and scared her to death. She felt certain that she was close to having a nervous breakdown. She decided that if she could go home, it might help her. She made up a story and told Laura she could not afford to live with her any longer. Laura had been a “chin-up and get on with it” sort of girl, and although was full of advice when the baby was in Sarah’s belly, didn’t have much time for the after-effects. Surprisingly, Sarah’s parents were happy to have her return home. Her younger sisters and brothers still at home were equally as thrilled and even cleared out of an entire bedroom for her. She moved home and for the next several months, lived like a kid again. Feeling comforted by the surroundings and by her family, but still as though a hole had been ripped through the center of her and she could feel nothing but a gnawing sadness. *** Fall found her enrolled in a local college, trying to feel as if she belonged. Somehow, she and Jake had managed to continue although she had become increasingly frustrated with him and sometimes lashing out at him when she would see him goofing around and acting like what she thought was a child. She was beginning to despise his joking personality and frankly, every time he showed any joy. Jake was also tiring of her being down all the time, and said he didn’t want to hear about what their plans should be, or what they had done. He had been off to a lot of frat-parties and sometimes she could not reach him for days. She had helped him to build his loft at his frathouse that summer, drywall and everything. Yet, she had barely been in it since it was done. Sarah knew it was ending, but she could not be the one to let it go. Jake would be able to do that with ease, in just another few weeks, right after one more smart remark and Sarah nailed him in the head with a tennis racket. He had gone onto a larger University and there he found a new popularity with the women. Back in high school, before Sarah, he was not so popular. Maybe had a date or two, but Sarah’s interest in him was the first time that he was made to feel as if he were really something special. As they dated over the next few years, he became increasingly popular with the other girls who saw how she and Jake did so well together. It is funny how men seem to become more attractive, with an attractive girl on their arm. By the time, Jake and Sarah had broken up, there was a line of girls seeking to be the next on Jake’s arm. He moved on without a flinch. Sarah learned that within a few weeks, he had dated one of her close friends, and then another a few months later. Plus, there had been a girl or two at school, and she heard rumors of a serious affair at his place of employment. She was surprised and angered that he could move on so quickly, and also that he would be having so much fun, while she was left with her pain and loss. Sarah had to make some
tough decisions, she knew, or she would be forever lost in a world of darkness. Maybe she deserved that, she felt, but maybe there would be something to bring her light and healing, if she would just try. So, off to school she went. She commuted the first year, making the long trek on the freeway in the early morning hours, and home in the early evening. It was a long and tiring week. Her classes were basic and un-inspiring, and being a commuter, was not able to find the social connections that could have helped her to be a part of things. But, her long-time and truly best friend, Anne, had begun calling her that summer and the two had started up their friendship again, like it had been prior to their senior year. She and Anne had met in middle school and had instantly taken a liking to one another. Sarah had been quiet in her early years, and having had some fiercely crooked teeth in her puberty, remained quite shy and less than pro-active in making new friends. Anne was outgoing, funny, and was overtly kind to Sarah in the midst of harsh-ridicule from some nasty pre-pubescent boys. They quickly bonded and began spending all of their days, nights, and weekends together, in true girl-friendship form. There could not have been better times, Sarah thought, nor a better feeling of someone that is not really your family-feeling like your family. The weekends were the best, especially when high school began. Although they went to different schools, they were determined to maintain their close ties. So, they went together to the parties at both schools, and carried other friends along with them. It was unusual for rival schools to have so many kids become friends in those days, as they tended to stay in their cliques. By the end of their high school years, they had so many friends in both schools that were all friends with each other, it seemed like one city-wide family. Life was good, healthy, and fun, for the most part. They smoked cigarettes after school, drank Mountain Dew, ate Doritos, and went to the South End party store with fake i.d. on the weekends to buy beer. That was about the extent of it for Sarah, with regard to adventure. Sarah dated a bit before Jake, and had a brief (and too early-she later felt) encounter with two boys-one of which had dated Anne’s cousin. But, Anne was a bit too promiscuous with boys in her early teen years, leaving Sarah in amazement at her confidence and ability. But, such behavior ended up leading her into trouble that a young girl should not have to face, and contracting an STD is pretty tough to tell your parents at the age of 15. Sarah encouraged her to tell her parents so she could get help, but Anne was too reluctant and opted to get it treated on her own. Sarah often worried about Anne’s reckless behavior and tried to reason with her about the risks. Sarah seemed to be the more conservative and have the more sensible head of the two, maybe as she was the eldest child in the pecking order, she thought; while Anne was the middle child, with an older sister whom seemed to have no boundaries and run with the wolves. It was not an infrequent thing, to find Anne’s older sister drunk on her face and in the lap of some guy at a party. It was also a little bit sad, Sarah thought. But, she didn’t care about the misgivings of Anne’s family and she loved them as she loved her own. Anne’s parents Katie and Tom, were hard-working middle class folks, working day and night to take care of the 4 kids in a small urban house. They didn’t have much, but they loved each other and had fun with what they had. Plus, they went to Catholic Church every Sunday and Sarah loved to go with them. She could feel the grace, the power, and the community there, and she somehow knew that this is what helped them to be a harmonious family. Something that her own family lacked, always under immense financial pressure and with tension you could cut with a knife. The Adams household was for her, a place of refuge. When things would get too tough at home, sometimes Sarah would run-away-with all her clothes in a black, plastic garbage bag. Inevitably, she would end up in the basement of the Adams home. Tom Adams would joke with her and say, “Oh no, any kid who goes to Traver High School has to sleep in the garage!” Sarah knew that Anne’s parents loved her too, and that’s what mattered. Through the years of curling their hair, putting on mascara, and walking to the Coney Island, she grew to love Anne with all of her heart. They made plans for what they would do when they were old women, like wear big hats, and read books, and drink tea. They knew they were safe from the cold and fast-moving world somehow, in their friendship.
As Sarah grew out of her awkward stage, got braces on and off, some things changed about the way people received her. They began telling her she was very pretty, and much to her surprise, she was suddenly popular. She had never felt pretty, but only skinny, and like the “Wearwolf” people called her in middle school, because of her crooked teeth. Because of this, she was humble at heart, and developed a strong sense of compassion for anyone and everyone. She would always take it upon herself to seek out those less-fortunate or in need to help them feel better, or feel included, particular at school or in a peer setting. She refused to let anyone feel as badly as she had been made to feel. She made special efforts to meet the disabled kids, and greet the younger kids at high school, especially the friends of her little sisters; that she may help them to feel good at school, and be encouraged by her love for them. High-fiving the kids in wheel-chairs became the common place in the halls of Travor High when her class was in. It was a great feeling to uplift others, she felt and one she did not want to forget. As she grew older and more confident, she expanded her social circles, gaining more social graces and savvy. She was inwardly determined to recognize this power as a gift from God, and equally as determined to not let it go to her head. In her senior year, she was elected to the homecoming court and voted in as class Vice President…and she knew it was by these young ones that she doted on. It made her heart feel good. But, it made Anne feel badly. Anne had slowly begun to pull away from her and stopped calling so much during the last high school years. Sarah thought it was because she had started to date Jake, but she didn’t know the real story. Years later, the hidden jealousies and ugly truth would rear its ugly head. Now, Anne had begun to call again at exactly the time when Sarah had emotionally collapsed. Sarah was so thankful and thought that God had returned her lovely friend to help her through. Sarah clung to Anne like a baby clings to its mother. Anne having gotten engaged to Paul a few months back, it was still fresh and exciting and Anne seemed to be the happiest girl on the planet. Sarah could not have been happier for her. Anne thought it might be a good idea to introduce Sarah to Paul’s brother, Chad. “Chad” Sarah thought, might be just what she needed, and it didn’t matter who he was. Just that he was a potential distraction from her sad life. It turned out that Chad was more than a distraction. He was blonde, with a cute face-not striking-but cute with a rugged look. He was a construction worker by day and attended University at night. He wanted to be an architect and had some pretty serious ideas of how to get there and what to do with it, once he did. Sarah liked his determination, and also his “tough guy” image he conveyed. She remember that Jake –as tall as he was- had been pretty passive. Even in some situations that she had witnessed where it really called for him to man-up, he didn’t. In her second semester, she tried living on campus and was hopeful that this would help her to connect with more people and make some friends. Unknowingly, she took a sublet in an apartment with a group of coke-users, whom did not like the fact that she cleaned their food off of the walls and tried to actually study. On her 21st birthday, Sarah, in her room studying for finals, was met at 2am with the boyfriend of one of the girls in the hallway. All strung out on drugs, he threw her against the wall and down to the floor. She was hurt, terrified, and shaking when she showed at 8am for her final. In a desperate act, she called Jake and explained what had happened-hoping he would come to the rescue. But, his response was “oh, I am sorry that happened” and then silence. She didn’t feel so safe in his arms, but in these tough-guy arms, of Chad, she could. In fact, she met him right after this incident and when she told him of the happenings at her college apartment and that she did not feel comfortable going back in there; he marched right over there, knocked the door down, took apart her furniture and belongings and hauled them back to her. What a hero! She thought, and she clung to him, like glue. Not only was he her savior there, but being raised in a Baptist home, he told her about her true Savior, Jesus Christ. Sarah confessed about the baby and the abortion to Chad, and he held her while she sobbed her heart out. He took out the Bible and read scriptures to her, that showed how she would be forgiven and could be granted eternal grace and life, if she asked of Him; and that she did. It was the first light of true hope, and the first peace she had felt in 2 years. She was very grateful and truly loved him for that.
A year later, Anne and Paul Robbins were married with Sarah as the Maid of Honor and Chad as the Best-Man, naturally. The four had been palling around together for the last year and were head long into planning their futures. Sarah remembers some of Anne’s friends asking why she would date Chad. She thought it was a funny question, and didn’t quite understand why they would ask that question. She supposed they did not know him as well as she did, and could not see the fine qualities that he had. Granted, he was a little rough around the edges, and his temper seemed to flare up a bit when riled. But, he had treated her so well in comparison to Jake. Besides, it’s not like she had other options. Jake didn’t want her, she knew that much. She couldn’t even think about Jake, as when she did she would collapse. She knew she still loved him fiercely, but his rejection of her and her guilt over the baby prevented her from allowing any thoughts of hope to prevail. She knew she just had to be strong and keep going with what she had. Then, the reality of Chad and of the choices she has made, hit like a ton of bricks. Sarah had decided to quit college. She was having major roommate troubles, and generally felt a lack of connection to anyone or anything on the little campus. She was also, having a tough time covering expenses, even with her waitress job at the steakhouse and her second job in the school library. Instead, she decided it was time to work. She had a job offer that came through a friend of her mother’s, at a car dealership making three times what someone her age would normally make. It would mean a lot of hours and hard work, but she saw it as an opportunity for freedom, and she took it. She also moved in with Jake, to a high-end apartment on a lake, where all would be just perfect. The complex had a beach, tennis courts, a restaurant and all the makings for a good life for a young couple. Despite the fact that it was a religious problem, living together was not a problem in her book, and apparently not in his either. Nobody had ever told her otherwise, and when she mentioned it to her (still very cool) parents they said “oh, good for you!” Sarah bought nice suits and shoes, got her hair and nails done, got a fine demo to drive and was living high style in their new apartment. They had joint checking accounts, assuming they would be married someday, and although she put most of the money in, nobody was counting. Working so many hours and until late in the evening, months flew by. After half a year of grueling hours and the “real world” of work taking its toll on Sarah, she began to feel as if this might not be the life she wanted. Chad had quit going to college, and now had been laid off from his construction job, leaving him to lay around the sofa day and night. They began to argue and things escalated from bad to worse. He was clearly depressed and she tried to motivate him, but ended up being frustrated and spent. Then, one day after coming home from a 14 hour day, she had enough of seeing him lay there watching the Miss America pageant on the TV, she pushed him a little too hard. The first fist hit her in the chest, the second in the side, knocking her to the ground. Out of his mouth came expletives that she wished he would take back, but knew he meant. Shocked by the sudden events, she left with her clothes in a box, and her life in ruin. Most of her siblings had moved out of the O’Keefe family home by then. Except for the youngest, Tricia, whom was living at home but was dating her 45 year-old married boss, and about to move out, herself. Karen and Robert had a year earlier, moved into a new and larger home on the north side of town, and lately were spending all of their energy at work and hard at work, fixing up their new home. She went home for a few nights, but it became clear that they didn’t really want her to return and instead suggested that she try to put things back together; and after all…”what about the lease?” In her first year out of high school, her other younger sister, Stacey, had grabbed an apartment at the south end of town, with a friend. She called to see if she could stay and yes of course, she could. When she arrived that night, the place looked as though it had been hit by hurricane Katrina. “How apropos …just like her own life”, she thought. Plus, one more thing though, which could have been good or bad, depending on whom you were, which was a naked man passed out on the floor. This was nice, she thought. She had worked so hard to make a life for herself and thought she had come so far with her fancy car, apartment, and clothes. Just for it all to come to this. A naked guy on the floor…nice. She closed the door and left. Stacey was nowhere to be found anyway. She had always been a free-spirit and they were still teenagers, anyway. This is what
kids do, they get drunk and pass out. The naked part was surprising, but not shocking. Still, not for Sarah. She felt bad for her sister and felt badly for herself, too. What the heck has gone wrong? She wondered. They were all really nice people, and thought they all did the best they could. How could everyone in her family be turning out so screwball? She had no perspective to give herself any constructive advice. She knew she would have to grow up and figure things out, eventually. She managed to maintain getting to work and live out of her, bouncing around between friends and family. Her job was getting tougher and tougher to deal with though as the pressure of working in automotive retail management was bearing down on her. The hours were long and the tasks arduous. She worked with people that were not as kind and as ethical as she and found them stealing from her, and from the company. They had also promised her a promotion to the Finance department, which they gave her, but at a reduced level on a “trial” basis. She regretted leaving college for a 60 hour work week, to make less than forty-thousand a year. It was not adding up to be all that it had promised. So, she quit, feeling both a failure and relieved. Meanwhile, she heard that Jake had begun to date a girl at work, pretty seriously. She wondered whom, but knew she would not know her. She was very jealous and sad, feeling as though that was her life that was going on without her. She could not understand why and how all of this grief and misfortunate could have happened to her. Her friend Anne had been distant through these months, having been newly married and struggling to get pregnant. She was all-consumed with the mechanics of the fertility process. Failing month after month to conceive, she began to get depressed and to increasingly withdraw from everyone. Sarah’s heart ached for her, and all she could do was pray for Anne to conceive. Then, the worst happened. Sarah had received a call from Jake saying he had moved out of the apartment, paid the fees, and had a new place. He wanted her to come see it and he wanted to speak with her. She went, begrudgingly, but thought maybe it was a sign from God. It may have been. Chad had purchased a mobile home-which was completely unimpressive to her-but had a plan to live in it while he finished college, and wanted her to live there too. He had been very upset by his own behavior and begged her for forgiveness for his actions. Sarah was a bit numb, and did not have a response for him. Her head was spinning over what had happened, having the rug pulled out from underneath her like that, and struggling to find out what she really wanted out of life and whom she wanted to be. She had been having thoughts over the past few weeks of a new life and of maybe, driving to New York to get a job where she could write, or go to college there. Maybe she could work for a magazine, or a publisher, or get a shot as a television news reporter! Yes! What a dream it would be to become a news-anchor, and hey she was pretty, after all. Right? She would need more time to think, but she was pretty sure the answer was no. While he worked hanging the closet doors, his sweet little sister Meg, whom Sarah had always adored, walked in and said “Hi Sarah! Oh my gosh, are you pregnant? Your boobs are huge!” Shocked, Sarah stood there, and looking down, realizing that Meg was right. Also, realizing that in all of the uproar over the past weeks, she failed to realize that she had completely missed her period. Oh shit! She thought, and there it was. She left and drove back toward her parents house. Her head reeled and her heart flipped around in her chest. She realized that was it. The story was written, the decision made. There would be no abortion again, ever, she knew that much. There would be a baby. She would have to marry Chad, she would never marry Jake. Forget the choices, forget her potential, forget writing, forget television, forget college. She would be a Mom and marry this guy, and live in a trailer, Period. Jake, whom didn’t care if she were alive or dead, would go on to live the life of Princes. He would have his career, his wealth, his life of travel and of love, all the while, being adored by the family that she had adored and still wanted to be a part of. She secretly believed this was her punishment, for throwing away his child. This is what happens to women whom throw away their babies. I let those people lie to me and I was quick to take the easy way out. I don’t deserve to have that man, she thought. I will take my punishment and I will do what I must to give life to this new child, and thinking martyrdom would be the atonement for her sin, that in doing so, God will truly forgive me and erase
this Hell from my heart. It was a like a light-switch had flipped in her mind. With the certain thoughts of her decisions, she suddenly transformed her despair into semi-fabricated excitement. Confirming the pregnancy on the little stick, she threw her arms around her husband-to-be and cried happy, make-believe tears. She ran immediately home and told her parents, knowing they would be just so happy that she was pregnant, and also that she and Chad would be together, that they would no longer have to take care of her. Dad had always liked Chad as his construction background was similar to Robert’s. Plus, they had been raised in the same old country town and their families had known each other throughout the years. Although, Robert was much older than Chad, of course, they had become good friends. For these reasons, Sarah understood why her parents were reluctant to have her leave Chad when things had gotten rough. She also knew that her parents had their own tough-times and had in their earlier years had some pretty good knock-down-dragout fights. Too bad, it was in front of the kids, but hey that’s life, she quipped to herself. Now, it didn’t matter anyway, as there was a little Robbins on the way. Karen’s eyes glared at Sarah with a simultaneous effect of anger and fear. Marching back into her bedroom, she whispered that they would talk in the morning. Sarah stood in their upstairs hallway stunned by the lack of enthusiasm and also with fear of what her Mother’s response had meant. She stayed in their guest room that night, and laid awake wondering what her Father’s response was going to be. She was only 22. Still a girl really, at least she felt like one, and still wanted and needed her parents love and approval. “Oh my God”, she thought “will he be mad at me? Why would he be mad at me? I don’t get it!” and her head spun. In the morning, her Father dressed for work and left without a word. Karen said to her, “You’re father is extremely upset and doesn’t want to see you again until you are married.” “What?!” screamed Sarah in her mind. She was too shocked to speak. She felt as if she had just taken a heavy blow to the gut. She began to tremble and her mind was whirling with guilt, shame, and thoughts of what now. She packed the few belongings she had drug out of her car for the night, and she drove to Chad’s trailer, where she unpacked. She hit the mattress that had been on the floor with such a loud thud, that it shook the entire place. She knew in that instant, with the sharp poke she felt up her vagina, there would be a problem. At the doctors that day, they asked how she fell. “Clutzy”, she replied. Her OB gave her a raised eyebrow and she said nothing. What could she say? Chad’s mother was the receptionist at his office. Did she really want to out him at this point? Where would she live, whom would pay for her baby, and where would she get insurance? She had no answers to any of these things. Chad had been able to secure employment and as long as they were married, she would have fabulous coverage for the birth and everything the baby needed. Nobody else wants a woman with someone else’s child. It is what it is, she knew. The bleeding slowed that night, but was still going when Chad came in and hit his knees with an apology. He swore, never again. She secretly prayed that the pregnancy would end. It didn’t. Three months later, there were two-hundred of Sarah and Chad’s family packed into a little Presbyterian Church in the hometown where Sarah had grown up. It was right down the street from her Alma Matter, and the entire high school gang had been invited. At least, those in her close group of friends, plus their spouses; but a good crowd, nevertheless. She was standing in the “Bride’s Room” in the back of the church where she could see all of the guests facing forward. There with her girlfriend and old roommate Laura, whom was busy fluffing up her extra wide, stark white dress, that had layer upon layer of ruffles on the train. Sarah stood there speechless as the surreal moment of what was about to happen stunned her into stillness. Laura mentioned the superb job that had been done on the side panel inserts that were needed to accommodate her huge four-month pregnant belly, and they both laughed. Sarah had asked her life-long friend, Anne, to be her Maid of Honor and she had accepted. However, a few weeks later she told Sarah that she could not be such a thing. She explained that Sarah being pregnant was too painful for Anne to deal with and caused her too much grief. She would be happy to be at the wedding, but did not wish to be her best girl. Sarah was deeply hurt. She knew things
had been different between them, but she thought Anne still loved her. Now she wondered. She understood how much her friend was hurting and so accepted the resignation with love. Laura had been helping Sarah plan for the wedding and was an especially good Maid of Honor during those months. Sarah was very grateful to have her old friend (not her oldest-but maybe now, her best) at her side. Laura had been well aware of Sarah’s true feelings for both Jake and Chad, and of all of the painful circumstances that had brought them to this moment in time. Laura purposely caught Sarah’s eyes and said “you don’t have to do this you know”, with a loving but convicted voice. “I have no choice” replied Sarah, and she turned to look out the back window and stared at the parking lot across the street. She had a thought that maybe Jake was out there. She desperately wished, and half-hoped that he would run through the Church doors and stop the wedding. That never happened. The reception was held in a small barn-like building off a freeway. Sarah hated it the minute she saw it. But, standing there in the damp and smelly room with her parents whom would be writing the check, what could they say? They thought it was fine. She was embarrassed to have her friends there, and embarrassed to be married to Chad and fat and pregnant in her white, flouncy, dress. When it came time to have dinner, they all began to sing to her-it was also her 23rd birthday, she had forgotten. Chad presented her with a beautiful carousel music box, which she loved. But, when she looked at him, she had to leave the table. She went into the bathroom and cried in a stall. A quick trip to Traverse City, and an early return home to meet the Sears delivery man for a dryer delivery that never happened, was the extent of the honeymoon. Sarah had done her best to stay enthused, but was rapidly sinking back into depression. She didn’t understand what was wrong with her, as everything worked here on paper. Her life would be decent, with a roof over her head and the baby’s. At their age, her peers didn’t have much more than that, but for some reason her ever-high expectations about what she would make of her life were making her miserable in her new circumstances. She needed to grow up, she thought, and needed to be happy and content like other young married couples that she had seen. In fact, she thought, what made her so special that she would think she could have such a grande life? A young girl with a high-school education shouldn’t expect such things. A few weeks later, Chad got layed off from his good paying job-the one with the good insurance. That meant that Sarah had to find something on her own. She had some friends in the freight business and felt that maybe she could use some connections to land something. She did. She convinced Mr. Devon Reed of Air-Pak Corporation to hire her full-time as a clerk, in her seventh month. He gave her full benefits for she and her family, including health insurance, to boot. Sarah was pleased. She bought herself some cowsized maternity clothes for her ever-expanding physique and was shocked to discover that she was a far-cry from the size four she had always been, and needed queen size panty hose. Bummer. Forty hours per week, plus a two hour daily commute left her tired by the time she got home each day. It was a challenge to clean the floors, bathroom, and the rest of the house/trailer. She had always been sort of a clean-freak, but now was feeling she had to overlook some things. Chad minded. He became upset if there was no milk in the refrigerator, and if something was not on the table for dinner. She did not understand how he expected her to do all of that while working every day. He was also working again, and physically hard, so she understood the necessity. But, didn’t understand why it was only her job. They began to fight again, quite often. Feeling tired from work and from carrying around a heavy baby belly, she got a bit edgy herself and she knew, a bit mouthy-at times. This time, the shove from behind was enough to send her off balance with her nearly full term baby inside. Trying as hard as she could to catch herself, her side hit the protruding kitchen counter as she fell with a big thunk to the floor. There was minor bleeding, and the ultrasound showed everything was in-tact. Her doctor did not ask what happened, although this time, she may have told. This time was different also, in that Chad did not apologize.
Labor started at 5am with a gush of water between her legs and contractions began immediately. She wood be at Oakpointe Hospital within a few hours and in heavy labor. The stark white room, reminded her of the last stark-white room she had been in with her other baby. She was glad that this time though, she would be giving life and not death. She did not know what to expect during labor though, as nobody, not a nurse, nor her Mother or Grandmother had told her anything. Her Mom had said she laid back on a table and was given a “saddle block” with each child, and her Grandmother had said she had been completely knocked out with both of hers. “How does that happen?” Sarah wondered in surprise. So, like a good girl, she laid on her back and writhed in pain for hours. Meanwhile, it was like a three-ring circus, with visitors from both her family and Chad’s all wandering in and out and having loud conversations all the while, right over the top of her. Everyone staring at her, and staring at the “monitor” which showed the baby’s heart beat and also her contraction times and strength. Everyone seemed to love telling her when the next one was coming and “ooohhh…here comes a big one!” which she found completely bothersome. She began to feel what she (sort-of) identified as anger after a while of the party atmosphere, and she threw everyone out, except Chad and her Mother. Sarah kept looking to her Mom for comfort, but Karen seemed despondent and stared out the window often. Chad was silent and seemed quite unsympathetic to her. When she dilated to 6 centimeters, she vomited all over herself and then when the nurse stood her up, her greenish-yellow mucous plug was laying on the bed underneath her. That was all Chad could take, and he headed for the waiting room. Sarah could not believe the amount of pain she was in, and nobody was talking to her telling her that this was normal-or not normal, so she was also very afraid. She thought she might actually die, and then began to worry about the baby. After the long day, she had not further progressed, and her parents announced they were going to have a steak dinner down the street and taking Chad with them. They left Sarah with her sister Sam. Sam was a nursing student, and at the wise old age of 21, was sure to be able to comfort her older sister and give good advice, if needed. Sarah was getting increasingly pissed off. Still laying flat on her back-nobody instructing her otherwise-Sarah nover progressed beyond the 6centimeter mark. Around 7am her doctor came back in to find her exactly how she had been. He gave instruction to the staff to give her an epidural for pain and to add petocin to the mix. Big Sigh. Oh my gosh, Sarah thought, why didn’t they give me this yesterday? For the first time in 24 hours, she was pain free. Her contractions had been one-minute apart and one-minute long for over 8 hours. Her doctor was livid that they had let it go on this long. There must be something wrong, Sarah thought, but nobody said anything! Within ten minutes, it would be over. An alarm went off and the doctor ran in. The baby’s heart had stopped. The threw Sarah back on the table and wheeled her down to the operating room. She panicked and asked if the baby would be okay. No response. They threw the blue screen up over her face and she could feel them cutting through her, but in a dull sense. Cut, cut, tug, tug, tug. “Baby’s out…no breath…no pulse..” someone said. “What is happening?!” screamed Sarah. The anesthesiologist said “you have to be quiet and stay calm”. She yelled, “what is wrong with the baby?!” Someone hit something on the wall and yelled “blue team in here, stat! Baby’s out, no breath, no pulse, 30 seconds!” A team of people rushed in, Sarah could hear and sense movement. While she continue to yell for someone to tell her something. She looked at the anesthesiologist whom just shook his head with sad eyes peering over the top of his mask. Once again, he told her to be quiet, as she was still “open” and they needed to keep her calm or they would “lose her, too”, he said. She turned her head to the side to see Chad whom had been sitting beside her, and he had a tear trickling down his face. Everything fell silent as she saw her doctor appear at the top of the screen. He pulled down his own mask with tears flooding his face went to speak. “No!” Sarah screamed, “I am going to talk to God!” “God!” she screamed! “If you are here like they say you are and if you can hear me, don’t let my baby die! I promise to you right now that I will dedicate him to you and I will teach him about you, and I will
raise him up to know you better than I do! I will raise him for you! Don’t let him die! Give him life, pleeeeeaaaase, Jesus! While she was praying this prayer-the first prayer she had ever really, really meant and prayed hard with all of her heart-she felt something inside of her soul open up and pour out of her into the universe. It was the spirit of her own Motherhood, she had surmised. The entire pregnancy she had felt disconnected from the child. She felt dead inside, and was not even sure that she loved it. That was one of her big secrets. She never told anyone this, and was ashamed for the feeling of it. But now, in this moment, when faced with this child being gone and dead…even in the millisecond that the thought of this being final retribution for her killing her first child crept it-she pounced on this thing that was welling up within her. She grabbed what was coming out of her center, this thing that was what it meant to be “Mommy”. She now knew this was a gift that was bestowed upon Mothers and that it came from somewhere else. Having felt this for the first time ever, she clung to it with all of her heart and might, and begged the Lord that she barely knew. With the crowd of people nearly out the door and not a hand near that still and lifeless being, that child whaled as loud as Old-Faithful spews. Immediate cheers and celebration carried out of the room, down the halls, and into the waiting room where the family had already been given the bad news of the child’s death. Not even waiting until the surgery quite finished, everyone rushed upon the operating room doors. In that moment, Sarah had received acknowledgement from God and witnessed her very first miracle. It was a triumph in many ways and a victory that through His grace, she would come back to when needed, for strength, mercy, and love. It is a wonderful thing that happens when a baby comes. No matter what bad times may have been, things get bright when love is at the center of your world and of your room. They names him Matthew, Matt for short. Matty was sweet and relatively quiet, without much fuss. He took a bottle well from the start. They had sent she and the baby home just 24 hours after the surgery. Chad went to work the next day, so she was home by herself with Matty. She wondered about the instructions on not to carry anything over 5 lbs for a week. But, the baby was 8.4 pounds, and she would have to carry it. Nobody offered to stay or to help. Sarah had wrapped her breasts right after birth, just as the doctor had told her to do. But, the milk came in, anyway. Oh God, did the milk come in. It came in so hard and fierce that she could not wear a bra, and barely a shirt. Her entire upper body ached and swelled with red, hot, rampant infection. This was really great, as so did her belly from the c-section. The pain meds really started to wear off after day number 3 and she was terribly sleep-deprived. Matty was on an every 2-3 hour waking to feed schedule and having not had a minute to recover from being cut in half, she was hitting the wall. Sarah hallucinated at times, and saw things flying at her from the ceiling. She called her Mother for help, but that was out of the question, as she had to work, she said. Her sisters and brother were all younger and what could they do. Chad’s parents came one day, and she took her first 2 hour nap. That was beautiful and she felt a bit better, but it didn’t last long. It was a painful first month, but slowly she began to heal and within three months time (when her disability pay ran out) she had to go back to work. At first she cried to be away from Matty, but knew there were no other options. She desperately wanted out of the trailer park, and knew that was the only way out. She drove 20 miles to the sitter that was Karen O’Keefe’s friend, that happened to live near where Sarah worked. Sarah’s parents had lived next door to Nancy for years and she was a good woman and good mother to her kids. Sarah felt maybe she would be a better mother to Matty than she knew how to be, anyway. She loved Matty, of course. But, she felt completely clueless and inept about parenting. There were not many “how to” books around for new Mother’s in those days, and no internet, either. How does anyone learn anything, she wondered. Being young and inexperienced, she began to give Matty whole milk at the age of seven months. She didn’t know the difference between that and formula, and so then Matty began throwing up. Her pediatrician explained the difference to her. Life was tough, tiring, and uncomfortable at home. Chad was grumpy, intolerant of the baby, and did not like to get up for his “turn” in the middle of the night. One night, an exhausted Sarah pushed him out of bed with her feet, to go feed the baby, unable to do so herself. But, that was the last time she ever did that. He made sure of it.
Finally, they were approved to purchase a house. She thought, that would be good, life will be better, we just need a home. So they chose a little fixer-upper in the hometown she grew up in. Sarah was not too thrilled about that, as it was known to be a “hillbilly” town and the crime rate had grown quite a bit since she went to school. But, with their income, that was all they really could afford. Besides, it would be right around the block from where Anne and Paul had bought a house. Maybe, they could work on getting closer and being a real family, again. The two couples had grown apart since Chad and Sarah had been married. The rift between the two girls getting wider, with the birth of Matty. Anne, still having not conceived, was more distant than ever. She saw Matty a time or two, but was reluctant to hold him or to stay too long to visit. She didn’t have much to say to Sarah, anymore. This really saddened Sarah and she missed her friend, dearly. Sarah tried to speak with her about it and told her how badly she felt that things had worked out the way she did, but Anne did not seem to be moved by it. Even Chad and Paul’s parents played down the birth of Matty, as they were so worried about Anne. They didn’t wish to be a part of the baby shower, as to not make Anne so upset. Sarah said she understood, but she did not, completely, and it did hurt her feelings. It seems as if she spent her entire pregnancy apologizing to everyone for being pregnant. She was getting a little tired of feeling sorry all of the time. They were getting into a nice little groove it seemed, and they really got along well when things moved forward. Chad was busy with a great new job with a commercial builder and was making a salary that finally surpassed Anne’s. Anne was hopeful that she could soon stay home with Matty as it were becoming evident to her that she were missing out on her rapidly growing child and still didn’t feel quiet like a Mom. There was always something missing, it seemed, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Overall things were smooth, until they weren’t. “Okay, so you will be back by 11:30 am from your meeting and then I can get to the dentist for this toothache?” Sarah questioned. “Yep” Chad replied. She was happy, the house was clean, she loved their new silver carpeting they had just installed and now Matty could walk, run, crawl all over it without worry of what others had left behind on it. The house felt clean, new, and fresh and so did she. She had quit working full time the month before, was able to be at home with Matty, and dropped a good ten pounds. Feeling at peace, she had no idea that over the next few weeks her life was about to change dramatically. 11:30 came and went, so did 1, 2, 5, 10pm. No phone call. Frantic, she called the police, after having called family and nobody having heard from him. Around midnight, she was able to reach a wife of one of his coworkers. Her heart pounding at first, then sunk, with the words she heard. “They” had gone from the meeting out to lunch, then to a bar, then another. Her husband had called around 10pm to say they were at this little dive bar on the south end of town, and he would be home soon. Sarah sat down on the sofa, with the baby having been long asleep, and thought for a long while about what this meant, and what to do. She wondered how she could have missed the disconnection. She had learned how to put on a good face and be a good wife. She had been cooking for him, entertained his family, cleaned their home like a crazy woman, and had been raising their son the best she knew how. Not to mention, worked her fanny off to put them in this house, secured the mortgage, and tied up every other loose end of their fragile life. She had been a woman on a mission to bring her “family” into a better place. She may have been a little bitchy at times, but would never lie to him and certainly would not betray him in such a blatant manner. She began to get really pissed. Against what should have been her better judgment (at the ripe old age of 24) she grabbed Matty out of bed, put him in the back of her Ford Taurus and drove to the sleezy little bar. Driving in, she saw him coming out the door and he got in her car. “Just drive home” he said. Sarah asked about his car, and he replied, it was already home. Confused, she drove her drunk husband home, quietly. Her heart began to sink as she sat there with him, with their baby in the back. What to do now? She did not know. Her feelings were all over the place, and she was just spent from the day. Not to mention, the toothache. As they rounded the corner of their street, she saw his
little black pick-up parked about 4 houses down from their home. He laughed when he said that they had dropped there around Noon and left. She was aghast. Then, the fury came. She realized that one of her faults had been to always complain about things, but never to make very bold actions. Stupidly, she picked this time to do such a thing. After putting the baby to bed, she poured her half full cup of Coke on him in the driveway. So, he promptly went in and locked her out of the house and away from the baby, for the entire night. She pounded and pounded and yelled, and went to the neighbors for help, but nobody answered the door. On four different homes, nobody answered the door. She went back home and heard Matty crying alone in his bed and she could not get to him. She tried to get in, but there were no tools outside. The only way in would be to break the glass and climb in, but she didn’t have anything to break it with and was afraid she would get hurt in the process. If she did make it in, she might have gotten hurt worse, by Chad. She really began to get frightened and realized that she had not paid attention to whom he really might be. She sat on the porch all night, just waiting. At around 830am, Chad left for work without a word and she went in to get Matty. When he returned home that evening, she tried to discuss with him how he hurt her feelings and asked why he would disrespect her so. For that, he put her face in the bathroom mirror and moved her mouth with his fingers saying “I am just so fucking stupid”. He then bounced her face off of the mirror. As it recoiled, Sarah got an outsiders perspective on what was happening to her. It was as though the mirror gave her an out-of-body perspective. In that quick moment, she saw the abuse, and she saw herself as whom she really should be. It was the moment of grace needed for complete conviction, and she received it. Thankfully, she was a lot like her father in many ways. Robert O’Keefe had grown up in a Catholic home of 2 parents and 9 kids. There had been twelve, but three had died either in childbirth or in very early weeks. He was resourceful, self-sufficient, and full of tenacity, and he had raised her to be the same. In addition to the normal “girl” duties, Sarah had to mow the lawn, shovel snow, wash the car and a host of other things that other girls in their teens did not have to. She was quite resentful when she was not allowed to go to the mall to shop with her friends, and instead had to learn how to change the oil and rotate the tires on her car. Why couldn’t he just treat her like a girl? She wondered, often. Her life was not full of pretty things, nor really anything pink. She saw her friends with girly accessories and was envious. She had to wear boys shoes to school, if they were on sale. How embarrassing for a young girl. But, those things wouldn’t matter later in life, and responsibility training, would. She would eventually, be thankful to him for such things. Nine dollars per hour is not much to survive on, but it came with health insurance. Matty was once again in daycare, but now he was almost three years old. She had chosen to move to Northfield ,a town that she had heard about from a woman she had worked with. Carol had a lot of class and carried herself extremely well. Her clothes were sharp and she spoke softly, but with grace and eloquence. Sarah admired her and listened when she spoke of the charming old train town that she and her husband lived in, with a center park, fountains, and quaint shoppes. Sarah discovered that she was thrilled by the fact that she could move anywhere she wanted-within driving distance of her work near the airport-and that she could create for herself a new life. She began to write down the things that she wanted out of life and for Matty. They included, charming cottage style house in town of Northfield, good job that would allow some travel to see the world, get a college degree, and maybe go to law school or to be a journalist for a newspaper and/or magazine. Plus, maybe someday move to Manhattan, but that could wait. She was just happy to have a shot at any of it. She didn’t have much luck finding the right place though and needed to grab something quickly. She had just finished with the court hearings and she had signed away her rights to the house in exchange for four thousand dollars; which went promptly to the attorney handling the case. Sarah had gone home after the last incident with Chad and asked her parents help with a divorce. Robert told her they would stay out of it. Sarah argued with him and told him in detail what was happening. He yelled at his wife to stay out of it and that Sarah should leave. Sarah looked at her Mother and said “He is abusing me and I will not stay. I need your help. Will
you give it to me?” The next day, Karen hired an attorney and fronted her daughter money for the divorce, and in a bold and unprecedented move, took a day off of work to drive Sarah to the filing. Sarah respected her Mother that day, and felt a surge of love come over her as she sat there next to Karen. Appreciating her for standing up to Robert, and appreciating that Karen was literally holding her hand. A heart never really forgets the one it began beating under. That was September. Anne on the other hand, took the opportunity of the divorce to lay Sarah out completely, for all of her transgressions, known and unknown. Sarah called Anne at the beginning of the end, and wanted to know if she could come to sit with her and help her to figure things out. Anne confessed to Sarah that she would have no part in such a thing. She coldly advised Sarah that she and Paul had discussed the situation and it was to “her family” that she must remain loyal. She matter-of-factly accused Sarah of “competing” with Anne for years and “wedging her way in” to Anne’s new family and “purposely” getting pregnant when Sarah knew that she could not. Sarah was aghast and nearly speechless that anyone would accuse her of such a thing, least of all Anne. Anne went on to say further, that she has held many jealousies of her own throughout the years, and even back in high school had to seek counseling over her jealousy about Sarah’s beauty and popularity. Sarah, reeling with shock and simultaneously furious that she could entrust her whole heart to someone and be so solemnly betrayed, begged Anne to take back what she was saying. Sarah spilled her guts with reminders of their friendship and how honestly Sarah would die before ever doing a thing to hurt her, and how could Anne throw their friendship away like this. Even now, after Anne and Paul had their own child, did these things matter? After all, they were not true! Exhausted in attempts to convince her life-long friend to love her, she acquiesced to the situation. And with that, their friendship and what Sarah thought was her rock, was lost. Afterward, Sarah just melted in despair. Lost and alone, with nobody to talk to and even her own parents at a distance. She was just terrified. How would she do all of this alone. She longed for a life that mattered. Weeks went by and then suddenly, there was a fierce knocking at the door. It was 3pm and Sarah was still in bed, Matty, along side. She had been struggling for some time with that eternal sinking feeling and could not recall if she had spoken to anyone on the phone, lately. So, whom could it be? There on her shabby little porch, were her four closest high school friends at her door. Laura, Steph, Jill, and Kari…What on Earth where they doing there in the middle of the day? They had jobs and lives, and for God’s sake what did they want? What they wanted was to pick Sarah up off the ground and set her right again, and that’s exactly what they did. They spent hours with her, listened to her stories and let her pour her heart out. They also cheered her on, reminding her of who she had been, and what she was capable of. They reached out, invited her along on their outings, and for the most part, saved her very life. She would never forget the love they showed her that day and over the coming years. She went out with her girlfriends when Matty was with Chad a few times. She connected with their larger group of friends whom at heard what had transpired and spent some good times reminiscing with all of them. One of the guys had let it slip that Jake had “been a mess” on the day she got married. He told her that Jake had been in the parking lot across the street from the Church on the day of her wedding and sat in his car while it poured rain. She was shocked and jerked back to the moment she was standing in the back room of the church and looking out the window, half-waiting for him to come. She couldn’t stop thinking about this unsettling, but somehow hopeful news for the coming weeks. She wondered how long it would take until someone told Jake-whom apparently was now engaged to a girl at work, ironically, named Sarah. Oddly, it was her sister Stacey that told Jake first. She had run into him at a shopping mall and he asked how Sarah and her son were. Stacey told him she was getting divorced, and said his face just went white. Sarah had known it was only a few months before his wedding and it was something that she couldn’t bear to think of. She knew they would have a big wedding at St. Timothy’s Parish, which was where she wanted to be married to him, and that all of her high school friends would be invited. The entire group, except her,
of course. She waited and prayed for a call from Jake, hoping that he would have realized how much he loved her and needed her and would put their life back together, again. After all the selfish things he had done, she still loved him fiercely and would have taken him back in a second. But, the call never came. A few months later, she found herself in the parking lot across the street from his church, but left before anyone came out. It was final, she knew, and her the door to hope was closed. Sarah and Matty would have to be out by January first, and it was already December first. The only thing she could find was a crappy little complex across from a grocery store on a busy road, one city south of Northfield. The price was right and occupancy matched, so she drove out after work one day and signed. On December 20, she got a call that the apartment would not be available after all. Ten days from moving, and her house in boxes, she was frantic. On the evening of the 22nd, after work, she picked Matty up from the daycare center and went driving around looking for a new place. It was cold, raining hard, and very dark at around 630pm when she pulled up into a complex just on the outskirts of her favorite town. She had been praying during her entire drive from work, and after picking up Matty, she had started to cry and could not stop. Thankfully, he was asleep in the back. Through her tears she prayed to Jesus for a miracle. She liked the look of this place, it looked new and very clean, with a pool and some grassy area where kids could run. Each unit had its own outside entry, with red doors, which was her favorite door color, and very large walkout doors, and brown brick. “Perfect” she said…”God do you see this?” She went looking for an office and found a small house next to the pool. It also looked like a residence and there was a light on. On the door hung a giant sign that said “closed”, she knocked, anyway. An older man with whitish hair and a small but pot-bellied stature answered. He was chewing food and in the background she saw the glow of the television and some TV trays next to the sofa. She heard a woman say something, but Sarah over spoke her and said “So sorry to bother you, but is there any vacancy here? “ “No”, he said. “Not until well after the holiday”. Her heart sank, but she continued “my baby is in the car over there and we really need to find a place by next week…might you know of anywhere in the area?” The man looked to the car and looked back at her standing there soaking wet in the freezing rain. She realized that she must have looked pretty pathetic. Well, she was actually pretty pathetic, she thought, so what did appearance matter? She didn’t care. The man’s face softened and he said give me a minute and closed the door. He returned and motioned for Sarah to follow him as he got into his truck. They drove around to the back of the complex to apartment number 214. Sarah almost cried. She knew God was up to something. 214 was a number that had followed her. It was her locker number in high school, her apartment number with Laura, and now this. This, she hoped, was a sign from the Almighty, and boy did she need it. She pulled Matty from the car and carried him out of the rain and into the “model” apartment. It was beautiful with white walls, and light creamy carpeting. It has 2 huge bedrooms, good kitchen, private laundry and best of all, central air. The manager explained that he was not supposed to rent the model, but that she could have it anyway. Knocked one hundred dollars off the rent, and said she could have the keys the next day. Sarah and Matty were home. All that good news had lifted Sarahs spirits incredibly high. She was so very relieved to have a good and safe place to go. She had a job, and had just started to date a guy that owned a company in her new industry. In fact, just down the street from where she worked. She had seen him once while she was married to Chad and almost dropped her jaw. He was beautiful with big shoulders and dark, wavy hair. “John” her co-worker said, “he owns the expediting company down the road”. She wasn’t quite sure why, but something in her stirred. It bothered her all the way home and into the evening. Eventually, she forgot about him and went on with the troubled life at home. But about a month after Chad had moved out, word of her impending divorce was circulating and a message with a phone number on it, came from a mutual friend. Sarah could not believe that this man was interested in her. She was so excited she could hardly breathe. He was incredibly handsome and he must have some intelligence, after all owning a thriving business is no small thing. They had been out on a few dates and she was falling hard. But, dating a wealthy, single man, sometimes has its price.
Sarah worked very hard at her job and had to arrive each day at 8am, working until 5pm. This meant that she had to drag little Matty out of bed each morning by 6am and get him to daycare by 7am. He was the first one in and the last one out. A year and a half had now passed and this schedule became too much for both of them. He was sick all of the time and quite exhausted, and so was she. Sarah wanted to know where this very serious thing that she and John were in, was going. It was nice to date, but she was in her mid-twenties and already had a child. They were a family without the dad, and waiting around wasting time was not an option she had. She decided to ask him blatantly if he planned to marry her. After all, they were sleeping together and spending every single weekend together, as a “family”, sort of, with Matty and John palling around together, regularly. He had his own house, and they would stay there on the weekends, but she was tired of being shipped home on Sunday nights to a lonely house. About six months earlier, Sarah had been offered a home to lease, with a yard, two blocks from Main Street and adjacent to a wonderful playground. She jumped at the chance, only holding off long enough to give John a chance to stop her (with a proposal). He did not. When she asked him now, about their being married and explained she really needed to be at home more with Matty, he said something to the effect of not being able to afford to support her and Matty and blah, blah, blah, and that was all she needed to hear. Not just a month before, he took her on one of his whirlwind trips that exhausted her like the others. Sure, it was fabulous to be invited to go to Europe: Paris, Rome, Milan; what girl wouldn’t want to go? But, the difficulty was that she was already spent before it even got started. Life as a single mom, had been tough, on both she and the little guy. Days off were few and far between and Matty had to spend every other weekend with Chad and his new/old bikini wearing girlfriend whom was living in Sarah’s old house with Chad. So, Sarah was beginning to feel like she never got to see her own son and if she left him she might just hate it. John would not have it though and threw a mini-temper tantrum over her not going with him on this (group) tour. Reluctantly, Sarah agreed to go. Only, only, only, because somehow she had it in her mind that he was making such a fuss because he was going to propose marriage to her on the trip! It made perfect sense, and it must be. But, she was wrong. She packed her high heels (ha! What a joke that was, high heels in Europe! She didn’t know the streets would be mostly brick and cobblestone and it would be a physically challenging, back-packing sort of trip-not like spending the night at the Plaza) and spent money she did not have on clothes with glimmer and sparkle, and left her child for 10 days. They flew coach at night, while she had period cramps and could not move the entire evening, because she was stuffed into a seat next to an old man that was stretched out sleeping across four seats next to her. John didn’t seem to care about her being uncomfortable and refused to ask the man to move over. When they got to Paris, she blew out the entire floor of the hotel with her expensive hairdryer and plug converter she had bought for the trip, then she fell down in the street in Milan, tripping in her heels, and choked badly on a string bean in Venice. John went to bed early, slept in late, and refused to go into the Eiffel Tower with her as the line was too long. He wouldn’t allow her to go by herself either. Standing there insisting she would not leave the line, she said she was quite pissed that she went all the way to Paris and did not set foot in the Eiffel Tower, and she didn’t care whom paid for the damn trip. The final kicker was when they were walking with his family and friends through the streets, including his diminutive, law-school grad cousin, Leslie (whom despised Sarah and called her a gold-digger), and John announced that Sarah had a “mean streak of gray” in her hair, and lifted up a section from underneath the back of her head…for all to see. Damn him, she thought. Of course, I have gray hair at 26. I am a single Mom of a three year old working more than full time and dead broke. I haven’t an extra dime to get my hair done, nor an extra five minutes for my self, not that he would care. Sarah returned home heartbroken for her boy, and vowing to never leave his little side, again. She also vowed that she was done with the jerk. If that wasn’t the last straw, the “I cannot support you” comment, certainly was. Sarah determined to start something new. It was a shame that she had not made better choices that would get her closer to being at home with her boy, as she felt she should be. But, without a husband it would be next to impossible. She had considered welfare and food stamps, but when she went to apply, she could not bring herself to do it. She kept thinking of her girlfriend Shelley, whom was at home
in a low-income complex with her two young boys. Everything about their existence said poverty. Sarah had often wondered about raising kids like that, as it seems they would grow up thinking that was the way to live. She didn’t want to have Matty grow up being “poor”, but wanted to give him a good life that he may have joy and hope. She didn’t know how else to do that except to work hard and keep praying for God to send a good husband. She didn’t know it would take him many years. It’s probably a good thing she didn’t. Sarah knocked on her boss’s door and said “put me in sales, I need to be in sales”. He told her no, and to come back in a year. She said she had a boy to raise by herself and needed real money and he would be thankful. She knocked again in a few months, and then in a few more. Finally, he called her in to say the job was hers, as another girl had quit. She got a five thousand dollar per year pay raise and a company car. Yahoo! She thought, here we go! Within three months of being on the road, her boss had quit. Plus, two other managers and then within a few more weeks there was a complete management walkout. Having worked as an export clerk, Sarah knew how to run an operations desk, so she took over the whole department. A strange man walked in a few weeks later and wanted to know where his thousand seat covers for the General Motors facility were? Nobody knew. After a while, they realized that the former team had signed a contract to import, hand separate and re-pack according to production specs, and deliver to the local GM plant, over ten thousand seat covers per month. The first dozen containers were already at the rail head, and accruing storage fees. Where were the workers? He wanted to know. Where were the storage racks and the pick and pack-ers? He demanded. Sarah picked up the phone and called the corporate management team in New York, whom promptly flew in to meet with all of them the next morning. Sarah was the only one with the systems and operations knowledge to be able to put this thing together. They asked her if she would and told her to name her price. So, she did. She knew it would take a miracle to make it work, as she had never imagined something of the scale, and that it must be managed correctly in order to avoid plant shut-down, which she had known can cost millions for just one day! This would be a huge undertaking, she thought, but maybe well worth it. She asked for a fifteen thousand dollar pay increase, and then she wished she would have asked for more. She spent the next 90 days hiring staff, establishing procedures, organizing inventory, and with the lack of functional computer systems in the office, managed the ten thousand seat covers per month inventory-by hand- on green spreadsheets she purchased from the office supply store. Everywhere she went for the next few months, her case of sheets went with her. She stayed up nights and weekends reconciling her inventory with import orders and delivery requisitions. She ran it like clockwork, and the plant never missed a beat. Just when things were going smoothly and she felt really good about her career, a smiling man with silver hair walked into her office. She had no idea whom he was “Joe Fitch” from such and such line, they said. He took a seat in her office without being asked. Meanwhile, she was on the phone and had a line of staff at her door, to whom she was shouting out directions intermixed with phone conversation. Sarah profusely apologized to the man, still sitting there after thirty minutes, and she thought it odd that he was laughing and seemed very cheery for someone whom has been waiting for so long. After a bit, she began to laugh just as he was laughing but she still didn’t know what they were laughing about. Finally, she got up and closed the door, and said “how can I help you?” to Joe Fitch. He said, “just come to work for me”. She said nothing for a few seconds. “I am sorry, who are you again”, she questioned. He explained that a friend in the industry had recommended Sarah for a high-end sales position they were looking to fill. As it turns out, Jim Jacobs, whom Sarah had gotten to know at several industry affairs and whom had thought she was so brilliant (yeah right, he meant pretty) had said he should speak to her. Joe said that after watching her run the office, that is the only interview he needed and would she come to be their sales representative for a three state territory, including the Automotive Firms. She would have a company car, a local office, and an unlimited expense account. Not to mention that he offered her another fifteen thousand over what she was already making. Yes, so she thought she would take the job, but would like to speak with him more on another day, she said.
Five years and three job changes later, Sarah found herself where she had wanted to be so many years before. She was now managing a Senior Account Executive position with one of the world’s largest global ocean carriers, handling a territory that produced in excess of four hundred million dollars. She had just purchased her own home in the heart of downtownNorthfield, three blocks away from where Matty attended elementary school. Their life in Northfield had been as she had imagined. They found friends and families within their neighborhood, in the schools, and in the shoppes. Sarah still had to operate on a budget, with a house payment, insurance, and all of the other necessities of life. They were wealthy by no means. But, looking back, she was glad she made the decisions that she did for she and Matty. She was a self-made girl, with nobody telling her how to live her life. She was free to travel with her job, and free to come and go as she pleased. The only thing she missed was a great love, and she had never given up hope of being married. During the Thanksgiving break from school, when Sarah was thirty-two, the holidays hit her particularly hard. Even she was surprised by how emotional she felt. Matty had been delivered to his dad’s house for the holiday and Sarah really didn’t have anywhere that she wanted to go. She decided that she would take her time on the way back to Northfield and drive through some neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights, which were already up, everywhere. What she didn’t plan to see where the families. It was dark already and many people had left their curtains and shades open. It was a weekend of parties and family gatherings. As she saw these groups of people in their warmth and togetherness, Sarah’s heart felt something it hadn’t in a long, long time. She had that overwhelming feeling of what it meant to be a family, and of being in love. She was not even sure she has ever truly felt that in this lifetime, but she could feel it in that moment. She felt like that with Matty, but then again, it always felt incomplete. She realized that it had been so many years, and Matty was almost nine years old now, it was probably never to happen for her. She had toughened up over the past few years, having dated quite a bit-usually men of some social stature and wealth. In fact, all had been business owners of some sort, or at least in very high executive management. She thought she was really in love a few times, but realized she was more in love with the idea of being in love. With each relationships failure, she learned more about what she wanted and equally as important, what she didn’t want. There was the one southern gent she met in Kentucky while in the airport. He really swept her off her feet. They met up several times for a whirlwind romance during their mutual business trips. But somehow, he could never come to see her at home past that first time. After a year or so of the back and forth, she finally realized he was not that serious about her or he would have just come for her. She decided that whomever were right for her, would just push through anything and knock down doors for her. When a man did this, she thought, then she would know. There were others, that would try to woo her, and offered her fancy gifts and trips to great places. But, she got very good at identifying those that really just wanted her because of the way she looked-the pretty, professional, independent, business woman-they were so impressed, she thought, they just wanted arm candy. A friend of hers once told her that she should marry a guy that wants to be up with her and the sick kids at three a.m. Sarah thought that was good advice. But now, here she was driving and sobbing, her heart aching and breaking. She cried so hard she couldn’t see out the front window and had to pull over. She began to panic with the thoughts that she had worked so hard these years providing for she and Matty and what did she do that for? Why didn’t she work harder at finding a husband? What was the matter with her, that everyone else seemed to get married, but not her? She was pretty after all, together, paid her bills, and smart. After all, she wanted one and needed one, and poor Matty needed more than a weekend dad. Chad had gotten married to the high school bikini queen and they had 2 more children. Matty always felt left out and longed to be a part of something more real. Her heart ached for Matty. She cried all the way home and then she hit the floor. She cannot recall ever praying that hard, since the day that Matty was born. She cried, begged and pleaded for God to not forget her and please bless her with a husband and a real home for her child. She poured her heart out to the Lord, with all her heart, and then she lay there until she couldn’t anymore and got up to drag herself into bed.
Monday came and she was taking Matty to school. She had not slept again so her eyes were puffy and she felt ugly with her new short hair-do that she had gotten in order to ward off men; or so she thought. She had to pick up some of her bosses at the airport, so she was in a hurry and feeling very impatient. Pulling out behind another car, she noticed it was a Corvette. She hated Corvettes, they reminded her of the guys from her home town that smoked weed and played Van Halen too loud on their crappy speakers. She did not want to know any man that drove in a Corvette. But, there he was. His son had bounced out of the car over to Matty and they did some high-five sort of thing, while Sarah was trying to get Matty to get going into the school. She could feel the kid’s dad staring at her, and “oh crap”, she thought, “he wants to talk to me”. “I hate men” she thought. Sarah had never before spoken to a man directly at the school, even though Matty was in his 3rd year there. To the best of her knowledge, the men were all married (not a single parent other than her that she know of at the school) and they had no business talking to her. The less she spoke with them, the less threatened their wives would feel and the more possibility of she and Matty being socially accepted in this close-knit little town. Yet, here was this guy with a smirky-grin staring at her, approaching slowly, and peeling down the drivers glove (oh, nice, really completing the Corvette thing) off of his right hand. Out extended his hand and his calm and slow introduction, with an invitation for coffee. Sarah was too tired to think of what should have been her response of “oh good, is your wife coming, too?” Instead, she handed him a business card and said “Maybe”. Then, as she was speeding away toward the airport, she was flooded with thoughts of the previous night that she had spent on the ground calling out to the Lord for a good husband. The thoughts, “Ask and ye shall receive” ran through her head. “Hmmm…”she thought. “I didn’t really like the guy. She wasn’t that impressed, especially with the Vette. The last thing she needed was another showy guy. But, maybe God knows better than me, she wondered. My choices have not been the best.” When he called, she agreed to the coffee. Evan was trying his best to put on a good show. He was handsome, and dressed well. But, during their coffee-which turned into lunchhe told her he was a car-salesman. She almost got up and left, right then. She remembered now, having seen a good-looking man getting out of a Lexus earlier in the year. She could only see the back of him, but remember she thought him striking. Then, she noticed the “D” tag, which meant demo, so he was a car guy. Probably married, anyway, she had thought. Her mind was set against anyone in that horrible business that she knew all-too well from her earlier years before Chad and Matty. Everyone she knew who worked in it, hated it. Except for her Mom, everyone was either divorced, on drugs, or died at the job from a heart attack. It was not a business that was conducive to health or well-being for a family, and no thanks, she thought. Plus, he was being elusive about what he had done in his former life when he was married for more than a decade to his first wife and the mother of his two young children. He said that he drove a taxi in Vegas. Sure, she thought, you cannot support a family on that and though in that city, and what kind of a job was that for a man, anyway? Sarah had a list of questions for him, and one of them was about God. She had been doing a lot of praying lately, and had started going to church in town at a non-denominational Church. She told Jesus she would dedicate her life to Him, although she was still unclear as to what that actually had meant. But, she knew in her heart she really wanted to be a good Christian girl and live a very solid and straightforward life. That would be best for her and for Matty. She had been carrying around her Bible in her arms, hoping it would give her protection from whatever bad things seemed to be lurking about. Having always had a sixth sense, she could feel darkness surrounding her, but could never see. Now the man up on the platform had given it a name, Satan. Thus, the question she had for Evan. “Well, it’s not like I am going to say screw God or anything, but I am just not on that whole program right now” was his response to her question about why he decided not to go church these days. He was so flippant with his response that she almost smacked him. Instead, she left. For reasons unknown to her, he followed her to her car and said thank you and please call me sometime, handing her a card. “As freaking if” she muttered. She returned from the lunch to her office where she was still writhing in offense to announce she had
officially been on the worse date of her entire life. That the guy had used a swear word one, was a car-salesman, and had spoken against God. How could she ever be with a man that had no love for God? She knew she couldn’t. She needed a man that loved God and in turn would also, love her. If a man can be humble enough to hit his knees before the Lord, that man can be humble enough to receive Grace when needed. She had been asking for a Godly man, for quite some time. She would just have to wait longer, she decided. Having just purchased her own home a few weeks before, Sarah was up to her eyes in housework and projects, on top of career and everything else. She had lacked the down payment needed to buy the house, but learned her credit was good enough. She asked her parents to borrow money (for the first time, ever) and they declined. Karen O’Keefe suggested that she marry John, as he could afford to give her what she wanted. The conversation ended there. She knew Karen just didn’t want to be bothered with her and it was the easy way out for them. Instead, Sarah decided to put her talents to work and began to market herself as a staffing agent in the industry she was already in. People were regularly calling her and getting referrals from her for this position, or for that. Having worked her way up from operations to sales, she knew what most of the jobs entailed and whom would be most qualified to do the work; thus, she could pre-screen. She made up business cards, and set appointments with some of her existing clients and told them of her new plan. She did so well and her clients so pleased, that she decided to open her own business doing this, full time! She made enough money in her first 30 days to cover the entire down payment and more. Life was looking good and she felt really good with the achievements she had made. She knew also, that God was answering her every prayer and that it was His divine grace and favor that was shining down upon her. She would not forget where her blessings where coming from. She bowed to her knees and prayed to Thank Jesus, every night. Now, she could thank him for a home of their very own, even if it were really small. It was beautiful to her and to Matty, whom was thrilled to no end. The phone never seemed to stop ringing at home, so she had one installed in her laundry room which was in the basement of her little cottagy kit-home she now owned. This would save her running up the steps that were built for people with much shorter legs than she, in the early 1900s. Why did they make these with such short risers and did they trip as much as she did? She would never know. After Matte was off to school one day, the phone rang and she grabbed it while her washer was overflowing. It was Evan and she was not only aggravated that she did not have functional caller i.d. on that phone, but she was pissed that he would call her at all! I mean, why was he calling? Did he honestly think that he had a shot with her? Could he not tell of her frustration when they met? Did he not know that she dated business owners and Vice Presidents of major corporations that could buy him ten times over? She decided that he must also be socially inept. What he had to say was some dumb thing that she couldn’t remember. He asked if he could take her to dinner and she declined. She hoped that would be the end of it. It was not. Three more calls that week, turned into three rejected calls. Sarah knew better than to answer and had no interest in a man that disrespected God. The next week, she got a letter from him in the mail. It was a poem. It nearly knocked her off her rocker. Nobody had ever written her a poem. Well, one guy had sent her one on the fax at work, but it was a very ethereal and abstract piece. She later realized that he thought himself as bright as Bill Gates and Nietzsche, whom he compared himself to and realize the poem was to brag about his own ability. This one however, was clearly about her. It was neatly hand-written in blue ink, on the front and back side of a half page sized sheet. She thought it must have been a page out of a planner, and imagined him writing it in his car. It was about “the girl with the pretty brown eyes” (although Sarah’s were truly hazel) and rhymed its way through how he had been watching her and trying to meet her for quite some time. She was flattered and a bit caught off guard. She didn’t call him, but thought about it. A few days later, it snowed hard. Sarah had been at work and came home to a driveway full of now-packed under tire tracks, snow. She was really tired and had to make dinner for Matty yet and was standing in her dark kitchen on the phone with her mother, when she heard a strange noise. It was dark outside, but she could see a man’s figure in her driveway and he was shoveling her snow. She walked
out to the front porch and noticed also that her garbage can had been hauled out to the curb. It was Evan with his shovel in hand, and he was talking on his cell phone. He just looked up and waved. She waved back and said “what are you doing” he said “shoveling your driveway…I don’t have one, anymore” with a big grin on his face. Then he waved her back in the house. She told her Mom what was happening and she would call her back. When he approached the door, she was waiting with hot cocoa. It was the least that she could do for his kindness. Sarah found herself agreeing to meet with one more time. This time, it would be dinner, he said. He showed up wearing a dapper hat, jeans and a rugged leather jacket that was quite stylish. He played light jazz music in the car, and took her to the zoo, where they had a holiday lights festival and she considered appropriate and thoughtful. He was completely relaxed and very different from their first date, and he made her laugh, albeit she thought him a little corny, particularly when he spoke to the animals. He made funny voices as they ran around and pretended he were them speaking to each other, and then giggled at himself. She had never seen anyone act like this, and sort of liked it, but was not sure. He then, took her downtown to a staged comedy performance and she watched in amusement how he giggled hysterically through the entire show. She had not felt that much joy about anything, she thought, in as long as she could remember, maybe, never. She liked the idea that his spirit seemed light and he seemed so friendly and kind. Afterward, she invited him back to her house for a chat. She wanted to talk with him to get some things figured out and reconcile the Evan she had seen tonight and the Evan she had seen a few weeks before. She was blatant about her confusion. His expression changed and he spilled his guts. He told her that he had seen her about a year before and learned she was single. He had been watching and trying to meet her on so many occasions, but it had not been successful. He was so smitten with her that he told his entire family about her and they all knew her as “the school Mom”, and that when she happened to pull up behind him that morning he was completely caught off guard but knew he had to act. By the time they had gotten to coffee-turned-lunch, he was so out of his mind with nervousness that he just could barely function. He had planned to say so many cool things, and portray himself to be as smooth as he would need to be, to compete with the likes of men that he guessed she would have been accustomed to. He knew he failed miserably at that lunch. So, he decided that as a last ditch effort, to try for one more chance and this time he would just be himself. He could not change the fact that he was a car-salesperson and did not particularly like it either. But, he explained that having been working for the Christian Church as a Pastor in Vegas, and driving a taxi at night, did not give a man much of an opportunity to make enough money in any other field, on short notice. He told her that his wife had suddenly left him and the Church, and took the kids back to Maine. He had to close up the church, settle accounts, and moved to Maine to be closer to his children, as he had missed them terribly and they needed him. When he arrived, she had handed them over and went off to live with her new boyfriend whom was a business man from Germany. Apparently, the German guy did not want somebody else’s kids. Evan apologized for the statement about God, and admitted he did not how to answer that question without revealing the tragedy that he had felt and was still dealing with. He explained that his Father was a postor of a Lutheran Church his entire life, and when he left college and moved out west, took an opportunity to be a leader with this new church. It meant everything to him and he spent more than a decade building it. He gave everything of himself and his family to the church and its congregation. Yet, when his wife left with him having a say-they threw him out. You were not allowed to lead a congregation when you could not manage your life at home. There would be no television, no movies, no outside friendships, and certainly no divorce. He had still been trying to process all of this and recover from the utter rejection of losing his marriage and all of his church family, at once. It seemed to Sarah that he was going through the same things she had been for so many years. That he may be just the right guy to understand what it was liked to be ousted by those you loved and to be left alone and with virtually, nothing. But, she wasn’t sure that
was enough. Could she really live with a guy that had not achieved financial success? How could she feel safe without that security? It might mean a life of instability, she thought, and wasn’t worth the risk. She avoided his calls for a few days and stayed busy at work. Then, sitting in her office, she heard a thunk as the door flew open and there he stood in his white button-down collared shirt, glaring at her with smiling eyes and a giant boquet of flowers in hand. “You are hard to reach” he said “but I would go anywhere to find you”, He said that half-jokingly, but with that, he stole her heart. Sarah was invited over to meet his two children, a boy and a girl. The boy had already know Matty as they were in class together at school. The girl was beautiful, but a bit shy. Sarah appreciated the cute apartment he had, with candles and books everywhere. It was charming and warm. Evan made the kids lunches while she spoke. It was the first time she had seen a man do that. What she liked the most however, was that instead of sitting by her, he chose a seat on the other sofa next to his kids. The second he sat down, they both curled up underneath each one of his arms and sat there looking at her. They felt safe with that man with the bright and charming smile on his face. He was more handsome than she had remembered. She could see why they felt so safe with him, and thought she did, too. He didn’t have much in worldly possessions, and certainly didn’t have money. But, she could see that he would be the one to get up with her and sick kids at three a.m. That thought was extremely comforting. One year later, Sarah and Evan were married. Matty was thrilled, having sat Sarah down at the table one day to explain why in his ten year old wisdom, he felt that Evan was the right one to marry. His reasons were: he loves us, he is responsible and he is independent. Both she and Matty laughed as they both knew he didn’t know what independent had meant, but had run out of things to say. The two had planned a large wedding, but then after adding up costs, decided to get married in Vegas. Sarah had heard that it was a beautiful place for a cheap wedding and it could be done in short order. They were both anxious to get their lives together started. They found a Christian minister and said I do, in the most beautiful ceremony filled with music and roses. Sarah’s parents, and some of her family had flown out to be with them at their own expense. It was really lovely for Sarah to have them there. Her sister Stacey and husband surprised them with the penthouse suite at one of the high-end hotels and covered the room with rose petals. Sarah marched down the street in her gorgeous, size 4, silk Italian pearled dress and turned every head on both sides of the street. This time, she was a fabulous and beautiful bride. She felt grande. They had an intimate dinner in an Italian restaurant overlooking the interior hall of the Venetian Hotel, with her family, in a room draped with heavy burgundy curtains and filled with champagne. The design and architecture were so well done, that Sarah would say it was like actually being in Italy, only cleaner, and without a self-centered boyfriend, and they all laughed. The nice thing about Vegas is that you can change scenes in a millisecond and down the strip they found the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. Evan lifted her up and carried Sarah to it, and up inside they climbed. “I’ll be damned if I let you miss that opportunity twice,” he said with a smile, “Not on my watch.” Sarah smiled and was happier to be here in fake Paris with Evan than anywhere else in the world. Thankful that God had carried her through her difficult times, and bad decisions, and had after all, answered every prayer she had ever really had. Now, it would be time for her to be in a real family, and to love and be loved. She couldn’t wait and her heart overflowed in joy and gratefulness. Soon, Sarah would receive the blessing to know the true joy of what it meant to be a Wife with a loving husband, and also she would learn first-hand, what she thought was forever lost. That is, what it meant to be a Mother whom could stay home and raise her children, with a roof over her head and food on her table provided by a loving God and a devoted man. She would allow family life to completely swallow her up and cover her with love and grace, until she felt the pain and frustration of her former life, no more. She would receive that very special gift not only once, but twice.
Sarah still thinks of, and loves very dearly, her first unborn child. But, she has come to understand that God in His great mercy, offers forgiveness and love to all, when they are truly repentant. She knows that God knows her grief and pain, and is holding her dear child close until the day that they will finally meet. She looks forward to meeting both of them.
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