As our week of grandparent stories draws to an end, I am so excited to share with you this story that just took my breath away. It is awe-inspiring and exquisite and one I will not forget...
"Beyond the Door"
by Deborah Dee Simmons
The corridor was empty and eerily quiet with that hollow silence known only to hospitals in the dead of night. It smelled of bleached sheets, antiseptic, and the aroma of stale gourmet coffee sold in the lobby during the bustling morning hours. But tonight there were no coffee-drinkers, no throngs of visitors or patients, and no medical personnel rushing to and from their various destinations. I was all alone and my hurried footsteps past darkened offices and deserted clinics echoed from the highly waxed floors, then bounced off pastel walls covered with large canvases of Impressionist art. Vaguely, I wondered why anyone would choose that kind of painting to grace a hospital wall. It seemed impersonal and removed from real life, something colorful to catch the eye, but not meant to engage the mind. Perhaps that's their sole purpose, I thought. Just a distraction. Nothing more.
I found the bank of elevators at the end of the long hall, entered one, and pushed the 4th floor button. It lumbered upward, slow and halting, adding to my fatigue and frustration. I was already exhausted and in no mood to accommodate unruly mechanical devices. The doors finally opened and I rushed off the elevator, jogged down the hallway to the nurses' desk and identified myself. "I've come all the way from Michigan," I panted, telling myself there was no way they were turning me away just because it was past visiting hours. I stood ready to argue, but the nurse on duty nodded and pointed to the room just a few feet away. After 11 long hours of driving, I had finally arrived.
I walked over, took a deep breath and put my hand on the worn wood. I knew that beyond this door, my life would change profoundly and I wasn't sure what to expect. This was clearly new territory for me and I mouthed a fervent prayer. "Please, God, this would be a good time to give me a sign that You're with me. You know, maybe an angel, something Heavenly?"
My journey to this darkened doorway had begun months before when my husband and I had first received the news, so I was not totally unprepared for this eventuality. I had imagined, even rehearsed, what I would say and do when the time came. Still, here I was, all alone at this crucial moment, unsure of myself, and wishing with all my heart that my husband could be at my side. But I had known from the beginning that when the time came, John would more than likely be unable to accompany me on the 550-mile trip. It couldn't be helped and I understood, but I was alone, nevertheless.
It had been a long and tiring journey that began shortly after the phone call earlier that morning, and was filled with conflicting emotions and long hours of silent contemplation. The miles had dragged by, even though I broke the speed limit in every state I passed through in my haste to reach her side. How would I handle this? Was I up to it? Was I ready? Could I give her the help she would need? "Please, God,"
I continued. "Make this moment special. Let me hold this memory in my heart forever."
I had often thought about a moment like this, particularly in the last few months, and hoped and prayed that when the time was upon me, I would know what words to say, how to react, what to expect. I've always been one to look for God's Hand in everything and today was no exception. I was counting on Him to put the perfect words in my mouth and guide my actions, for this precise instant in time would not be repeated and I couldn't afford to make a mistake. Surely, I thought, He won't let this moment pass without His blessing. Let me know You're here, Lord. Send an angel... send something! Please? This was too important and too emotional to handle by myself. Yet, as much as I had hoped I would during my long trek that day, I had neither glimpsed nor heard anything remotely angelic or Heaven-like. Was I asking too much? Didn't He know how much I--we--needed Him right now? He's here, Deb, I scolded myself silently. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
My heart was beating like a kettledrum and I feared I would wake her when I entered the room. Taking a deep breath, I slowly pushed the door open, and peeked into the dimly lit room past the bathroom on the right, beyond the first empty bed, and on to the one next to the window. She was awake and when she saw me, she struggled to sit up, smiling faintly, and motioned me in. She looked delicate and worn out, as if the events of the past few months had taken their toll. Yet she appeared joyous and genuinely happy to see me.
"I wondered when you'd get here," she whispered. "I was getting worried about you."
Worried? About me? I thought. Isn't that just like her--worried about me when she's the one who's been through it all this. I looked at her with wonder, my eyes taking in every detail of her lovely face--her freckles, her sandy-colored hair, her soft hands and that precious smile I've always loved. We hugged and I gave her a kiss. She looked at me and smiled knowingly. The long wait had come down to this.
"Well, do you want to meet him?" she whispered, pointing at the nearby bassinette. "He's probably sleeping, but he's been waiting all day long to meet you." I could hear her sweet words, but just barely, and the rush of tears streaming from my eyes veiled her smiling face.
"How's it feel, Mom?" she whispered again. "How's it feel to finally be a Grandma?"
I walked over to the bassinette and gently picked up my grandson. I held him close to my body, breathing in his newborn essence and marveling at his sheer perfection. He was warm and compliant, molding himself to my arms, and he nuzzled my neck as I stroked the back of his head and felt his downy hair against my fingertips. Cupping his bottom easily in my left hand, I traced the incredibly soft skin of his tiny arm and marveled again at the perfection of every detail. His delicate fingers were clenched in a tiny fist and I eased my finger between them, feeling his surprisingly strong grip as he wrapped his around mine. I gently rubbed his back, memorizing every curve, every line. I kissed his little shoulders and murmured sweet nothings into his ear, as I breathed deeply, trying to absorb him into my very soul. My heart ached at the longing I felt to keep this tiny child in my arms forever.
I sat down and laid him gently in my lap. He began to fuss quietly and his eyelids fluttered open. For an instant our eyes met--deep, blue, innocent eyes staring into the grateful eyes of his incredibly blessed Grandma.
It lasted for only a split second. His eyes drooped shut and he was asleep once more. I glanced at my daughter and watched as she touched her baby boy with a look of absolute wonder on her beautiful face. His fussing had quieted and all I could hear was his soft, even breathing.
"Hello, Dustin," I whispered, rubbing my finger across his pudgy cheek. "It's Grandma. I love you, you know. I've always loved you."
And so it was there, in a dim room in the dead of night in a quiet hospital in Kentucky, that I finally recognized the two sweet angels who God, in His infinite wisdom, knew were waiting for me all along.
And Dennae, in answer to your question, honey--it feels good. Real, real good.
Deborah Simmons copyright email@example.com
Deb is a gifted and busy writer! She writes often for 2theheart and Funny Friday, for Dayspring greeting cards and for her own newspaper column. She is married to handsome hubby John and her family means the world to her. New grandbaby Dustin is BEAUTIFUL and you can see a photo of them together on "Today's Story" page of 2theheart.
"How does it feel to be a grandmother? A little odd? It seems quite crazy that your baby should be sitting there with a baby of her own on her lap. But good ... A sort of bonus." ~~Quotes for the New Grandma~~
The Letter Box:
Grandparents are so very special. Some people look at the elderly and think, "hey you! Get out of my way slow poke!" Little do they know one day they are going to be those same elderly people walking that slow.
If we would just sit and take time to listen to the older and much wiser generation we could learn so many things, although once and a while you do happen to run into the old grouch and complainer! Lol! I think of my grandfather all the time who is passed away now. I know he is in a much better place, free from any kind of illness or pain. I still miss him though.
Your story made me think of how, when I was younger he used to take me on walks when we would go visit them. He helped me raise a baby robin that got injured in a tornado one year. He showed me verses to live by from the bible. So many things he did and gave freely from his heart. Cherish your elders for they are our past and mold the young ones for the future. Great story!
~Misty Freeman Agoody2shoesmom@aol.com
Thank you Pattricia and Sandra,
I envy your wonderful memories, since I never even met my own grandparents. I love your stories. It's thrilling to know my daughters will treasure memories of their grandparents. My mother was especially close to the girls because she moved into her own little house in our city, where she lived the last 13 years of her life. Mom joined us for many dinners and evenings of fun afterwards. Our youngest daughter was nine years old when her Grandma moved into the house a few blocks from us. They spent many hours playing games together. Mom was a serious Yahtzee,player. She hated to lose. They played other games too. Mom was a fierce competitor.
I have to mention my neighbor's first introduction to her microwave oven . She decided to warm some biscuits (yes , we make biscuits out here in the state of Washington ). Willah came to my back doorwith this funny grin on her face, and I thought "What now?" She had a dishtowel in her hand. Opening it. she asked me to take the biscuit. It was as hard as a rock! She found out it only takes a few seconds to warm a biscuit. Keep those stories coming,
Making a difference, one story at a time!
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