Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Point of No Return – Pt. 2

Mad Penguin Creative

She had carried the memory for so many years. It had seemed too preposterous to believe. There were times she dismissed it as the faulty wiring of childhood. Time had re-engineered reality as age and experience left their mark.

The end was coming. The older girl was now older than the mother had been when the water came rushing in. In fact, the girl was now almost old enough to have been her mother's mother on that almost forgotten day. She could see it on the faces of the medical staff even tho' they put on the positive attitudes required of those who work with long term acute ICU patients. The end was near. It was.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
The respirator had taken her voice weeks ago, but not her spirit. She had laughed soundlessly and made jokes with visitors and staff through mime-like motions. As the end grew nearer, visitors left her room with tears glistening in their eyes or illuminating their cheeks. “How can she be so dead when she looks so alive,” they would finally say in the hours before the machine breathed her last breaths.

Night came and the pace of the day began to slow. But for the ever present alarms signaling someone in distress, the white noise of the respirator would have almost seemed comforting. More often than not, hers were the alarms that were sounding. So much to be said or left unsaid. Which was it to be? The end was near. It was. you remember a time...there had been a storm. We rushed back because we'd left Brother with the neighbors. I keep remembering....but surely...surely my memory is not right.”

She looks at me straight on as if to say, “Go on...” and raises her shoulders and eyebrows in question.

We are in a place near Rodanthe (made famous now by Nicholas Spark's book, Night's in Rodanthe)...or maybe Salvo. Too far to get back to the ferry station. The water came up from the sea, and we were caught in an you remember?”

Her eyes grew wide and her pupils wider still. Was it the dim evening light, or was it the memory rushing over her as well? She nodded a slow, determined, “Yes....” and motioned with her hand that the girl should go on.

I remember we were crying, and you were too. Daddy took his shoes off and got out of the car. He said it was so he could feel for the pavement and keep us out of the sand.” She nods in affirmation and the girl continues. “We were praying.....all 3 of us even tho' she and I were so little...we prayed too. Daddy was walking and motioning you where to go. The water was up to his thighs?” The girl wrinkles her forehead in doubt and looks up with cloudy questions in her eyes. “How could that be? Surely the engine would have flooded out...? Can I be remembering right? There was nothing but water everywhere on all 4 sides. We should have been washed out to sea?”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
The mother nods again. The memories do not fail. “Are you sure? The water was really up to his thighs, and yet the car kept moving?” She nods. “How far?” Mile maybe. Maybe 2. She mouths wordlessly. The girl slumps under the enormity of what she has remembered.

Eventually...miraculously, the water level dropped from his thighs to his knees and then to his calves. He had gotten out before the water reached the floorboard of the car and had gotten in again after it receded below that level.

She cannot remember how long the crying lasted. What she does remember is getting to the village and finding little to no damage. She remembers staring in wonder at one lone mud puddle. If one had not known, one would have concluded that the area had just been through a mild rain shower. The boy was there. He came running out. Again, they were 5.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Looking at a map now, it takes her breath away. The road between Rodanthe and Salvo is bordered by almost invisible strips of sand. No wonder the water had come rushing in so quickly.

She thinks of her life and the storms that have threatened her foundation. She thinks of the times life could have washed her away. There have been days when the choice was plain: keep moving forward because there is no way back and help is in sight. There have been days when the choice was not so clearly defined. Cling to faith or walk away because her good God seemed to have no need for her nor did he even seem interested in her pain. And yet, when it was all said and done, she realized she had long since passed the point of no return.

She would cling to that faith when no one understood the nature of her battle. She would cling when clinging made no sense in her relativistic and humanistic culture. She would cling and keep moving forward. Eventually, she would, again, emerge on dry land with only a puddle to remind her of the battle to survive.

Hebrews 10:36 (English Standard Version)
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.


  1. Amazing CA! I was on the edge of my seat. Love it, love it, love it.

  2. Aww! You make writing worthwhile! I'm guessing you couldn't pay a writer a much higher compliment. Thank YOU for all you've done to help make this blog 'success' by sharing it so faithfully! If not for friends like you, I'd probably run out of steam and decide not to write another word.