Into the Blue Chapter 1: The First Day
Whisperings among the wind signaled the coming changes. Tiny footsteps clamored daintily above the clouds in the evening sky. Nervous giggles and the flapping of excited wings alerted the Elders, the older angels who had completed their journey on earth well into “old age,”the little angels were running towards the edge of the darkened clouds to peek at the earth below. They jostled among themselves to find a place along the edge and delighted in seeing fireflies dancing in the mist below. Their joy to welcome the One who was about to come was innocent and real. Their own time on earth had been brief. Someone was going to join them, that’s all they knew. For the little angels, this was a Heavenly place where everyone laughed and played and LOVE was the only word whispered in their ears.
There would be shock and anger, denial and questioning of faith from those left behind on Earth. Before acceptance, many would go to the abyss of the heart, completely prepared to jump into the absolute comfort of oblivion. It would be a difficult time, but The Elders were prepared. These were the angels who completed their journey after living well into “old-age; the ones who understood that once lived-life up here was a peaceful and welcoming reward. They would provide silent words of comfort when needed to help those left behind find the will to step into a new future, without their beloved by their side.
So, the wind wept quietly, reaching out with comforting breeze as the anticipation of the little ones blended with the sadness of The Elders. The dawn was blinking through the heavens and it was only a matter of moments before the new one would come, and shatter the hearts and lives of those he left behind.
Chapter One: The First Day
The morning sun peeked through the trees as another beautiful Friday began. Alice returned from taking her neighbor to work and before she went to wake her youngest son, she put on a pot of coffee. She leaned over the sink and cranked open the kitchen window. The easy breeze of autumn brushed her face as she gazed out at the myriad of colors dabbing throughout her back yard. Smiling, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment.
This was going to be a perfect day.
Alice was looking forward to going to a matinee with her youngest son, Todd. It had been so long since they had gone anywhere together as a family, which was always a time precious to her. He found out just last night that there was an emergency in the family-owned business where he worked his full-time job, and they were closed until Monday. He had almost two full days before his going to his part-time job early Saturday morning.
In the past, Todd would have gone out to a local sports bar with a day off. He chose to stay in and take full advantage of the next day. He had asked if she had wanted to go to an early movie with him and she immediately said yes.
Alice crinkled her brow and her eyes teared as she remembered that day, over two years ago, when she woke up at 3AM, peeked out the window and saw that his car was not in the driveway. She had spoken to him just before midnight and he had been on his way home.
That was three hours ago.
When his cell phone went directly to voicemail both times she tried, her heart began to pound and she tried to calm the desperate thoughts racing through her mind. She noticed the flashing blue and red lights bouncing around the walls of her bedroom as the patrol car creeped down the driveway, and hre heart skipped several beats. She glanced at her husband, Ben, snoring softly under the bedcovers, and decided not to wake him. Alice took a breath and went down the stairs as they knocked firmly on the front door.
The coffee maker beeped into her musings. She still had a few more minutes before she would wake her son, and get ready for the movies. She poured a mug of steaming coffee and turned to rest her back against the sink. She blinked back the tears, remembering that early morning, that seemed an eternity ago.
Before she opened the door to the officers that early morning, she instinctively dropped to her knees and bowed her head in prayer. From being just a year into a program of recovery from an alcohol problem, she had learned two things. First, she prayed that Todd or whoever they were here for, would be all right. Then she did something she had never done before. She prayed that whatever had happened, whatever they told her, God would give her the strength to help her through. An immense calm enveloped her, as she slowly stood and opened the door
Two officers were standing there, awkwardly silent. She spoke first.
“His phone went directly to voicemail. Is it Todd? “
An incredible incredible calm crept over her as she listened to them explain. Todd’s car had gone airborn across the median strip and knocked out a metal light pole. He was being flown to Inova Fairfax hospital in critical condition. They asked if she needed a ride, if she needed to call anyone. She replied that her husband was home and they would leave immediately.
“Is he all right? Will he be all right?”
She noticed the glances between the two officers, and one said gently,” He was awake and he was talking.”
Alice closed the door and gently woke her husband with the news that Todd had been in an accident and they needed to go to the hospital. She splashed cool water on her face and neck, under her arms, before quickly putting on the clothes she had worn yesterday. As she headed down the stairs, she realized Ben was already at the door. She grabbed her keys, but Ben took them from her and said he would drive.
As they drove through the quiet morning north on I -95, Alice sat leaning forward, hands folded, rocking back and forth. Neither spoke as they made the simple trip that seemed like a thousand miles.
They were escorted to the emergency room where her son lay on a gurney, neck in a brace, a bloody gash along his forehead. Ben went to the doctors as Alice went to her son. She picked back strands of hair from the gash, and took his hand. She showed no fear, as she smiled down at him and softly said, “I’m here, Todd.”
“I’m sorry, Mom,” he had said, and she whispered to him the words that she would believe through the next two years.
“Everything’s going to be fine.”
She looked at the xrays of his upper cervical spine as the doctor explained that his injuries had stopped just short of severing his upper vertebrae. She looked at the doctor and said, “I don’t know if you believe in God or not, but this is a miracle.”
She remembered the physician took her hand in both of his, and said with reassurance,” I do believe in God and this is a miracle.”
Todd had been sent home after four days, but within the following four weeks, he would endure three emergency surgeries. He had developed a hematoma on the brain and the cervical vertebrae were collapsing. After one week of being home, he again underwent surgery to clear a staph infection that developed along the scar from where they had opened his skull. Within another few days, he was stabilized enough to come home.
His recovery was slow, but over the next three years, he doggedly pursued getting better. When he felt well enough, he had applied for part time jobs. Because of the effects of the brain injury and having his neck in a brace, he would be let go from each job, but he never gave up. Some people had suggested that he qualify for disability, but he was determined to see if he could just get better through time. His thoughts became clear and the tremors eventually went away.
Alice exhaled quietly as she reached for another coffee mug. Today, Todd not only had two jobs, but he was smiling and happy and hanging out with his friends. She could tell that both his body, mind, and spirit were beginning to heal. She blinked back the tears now as her heart filled with pride as she saw his determination to get better.
Once, months after his accident, he had asked her if he would ever get better. Alice smiled now, as she did then, when she gave him her usual response.
“Of course you will. I said everything will be fine.”
Those simple words spoken had great power because he believed her. Todd had been making plans to finish college, play baseball, and find his future. He was the happiest she had seen, completely at ease with his past, confident in his future.
Everything was perfect.
Smiling, she refilled her mug and poured one for him. The last thing he said to her before he went to bed last night was, “You don’t mind getting me up?”
“Nope. Not at all,” she had replied, and she smiled back at the peaceful smile he gave her as he left the room. She would never forget that smile. It was so happy and content.
Upstairs, Alice elbowed his door to open, turning first to the TV, which was on rather loud. That’s strange, she thought. He never slept with the TV on. Setting the mugs on the TV stand, she reached for the remote and turned off the TV.
“Todd, your TV is kind of loud. Did you sleep with it that loud?” She turned to her son, with a happiness of the day swelling in her heart, ready to see him snuggled on his stomach, leg hanging out, beginning to wake up.
Instead, she saw her son laying on the bed as if he had just sat down and fallen asleep. Her heart stopped. Todd was laying flat on his back, arms to his side, eyes wide open. Her words froze in midair as her mind struggled to comprehend what her heart knew to be true.
In that instant, she felt the air sucked out of the room as she struggled to breathe. She climbed onto the bed and wrapped her arms around the still warmth of his body. Her mournful wail filled that quiet, happy morning as her tears spilled on his hair and she willed her life to breathe into him, crying out, “What have I done? What did I do for this? God, what have I done?”
The confusion raced through her mind as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. She had always promised she would try to be a good person because she never wanted to bury a child. She had seen such pain on other’s faces at their loss. She was angry. She felt betrayed. This just wasn’t fair.
In an instant, without warning, it was not a wonderful day. Alice held her son’s lifeless body, still feeling the warmth on his back, her sobs uncontrollable.
With her eyes squeezed tightly in prayer and heartbreak, she knew in this moment, that her life had changed forever.