I’m one of those people who can smell snow. I really can. Not like, individual flakes … But the almost carbonated freshness in the air just before the sky opens up. That.
I still love snow.
You’d think maybe I wouldn’t. You’d think maybe the contrasting optics of a Thomas Kincaid-esque winter scene and the memory of how my blood looked in the drift … would turn me off to it forever.
Black. The blood. Not bright red like you see in movies.
The police report explained how my body was found in the snow. In an outside stairwell, behind the hotel where I’d rented a room for the week. One officer used the word “dumped”. I was dumped. Like the trash abandoned in the bins nearby.
The medical report would note that the cold temperatures kept the swelling in my bleeding brain to a minimum. See, the snow, potentially, saved my life.
I still love snow.
This is my story. It isn’t pretty. And it isn’t easy. There is no fancy filter that can smooth away the scars left by horror.
But pretty isn’t everything.
God shows up in the grit and the tears. He makes Himself real to the broken and violated. THAT is everything.
He was young. Big, as in tall. Solid. The kind of guy who looked like he tried to impress women by telling them how much he could bench-press. I don’t know if I trust my memories past that. It’s possible my mind created an amalgam of cinema super villains and men who pass through my everyday life. The UPS driver, the man who bags our groceries at Kroger…
I know I didn’t feel scared. I’m a freelance sign language interpreter. The hallmarks of my job have always been travel and variety. I had worked all night, interpreting for a 3rd shift job training. Bleary and benumbed, I trudged to my room unaware that I was followed. I saw him with my eyes for just a few moments when he surprised me in my doorway.
I would see him in my mind every time I closed my eyes for the next several years.
The bleed in my brain left me epileptic. Fractured bones healed, multiple surgeries would repair most internal damage. More painful were the questions that no one could answer.
Was it my fault? Where was God?
Who was I now?
In one afternoon, the sunlight went out. In one afternoon, I felt as if I had died inside.
There’s no “when your wife is raped ” manual. My husband of 20 years tried. Told me that we’d be okay. I’d be okay. God would get us through. But when he thought I was sleeping; I’d hear him sobbing. I’d hear him punching the walls in the shower.
Nothing was okay.
Our children thought I’d been in a car accident. I hid in my bedroom wanting no part of the world. You might be surprised to know how very surprised I was when I got a positive pregnancy test 6 weeks later.
I had considered a disease. I hadn’t considered a baby.
I first saw him as a pea on a grainy ultrasound screen. Each flicker of that tiny heart beat splashes of light where there had been darkness. And in one afternoon, the Son shone again.
In one afternoon, I came back to life. My unanswerable questions began to resolve. THERE was God. He never left. And who I was … was who I’d always been. A daughter, a friend, a wife, and a mother. Again.
I told Jeff in one breath. “I’m pregnant.” He had a vasectomy years before. We knew. “Okay.”
Then a balm to my soul. “Sweetheart. This baby is a gift. This is something wonderful that has come from something so terrible and painful. .”
“We love babies.” We do. “We can do this.” The name Joshua means “Jehovah saves”. He did. He does.
Joshua was born into love the following autumn with a call on his life that only God knows the extent of. At 5, he knows he’s special. At bedtime, I tell him:
“Once upon a time
In a land far, far away There lived a family.
A mommy and a daddy, their daughter and three sons.
They laughed and hugged. They worshipped.
They fought sometimes. They were happy.
One day, the mommy traveled far from home. It was winter and the world was gray. Snow fell, the wind cried.
A bad man saw the mommy and decided to hurt her. And snow fell.
The wind cried.
The mommy came home and was very sad. And the daddy was very sad. The daughter and the sons were very sad.
But they didn’t play much anymore. They hugged silently.
They worshipped. They cried sometimes.
They had lost their happy. Until one wonderful day,
The mommy found out something good happened when the bad man attacked her. He had planted a seed.
The mommy was going to have a baby. A beautiful baby.
She was excited.
She told the daddy and he was excited too. And the daughter. And the three sons.
Winter bled into spring and the mommy’s tummy grew round. The daddy kissed it and whispered to the growing baby that he would be his daddy. And he loved him. The daughter and the sons were relieved to see the mommy smile again.
The trees began to show off displays of fiery reds and yellows, the sun set in sepia tones.
Leaves fell. The wind sung.
The mommy had her baby. A boy.
Hair the color of a raven’s wing. Eyes as deep and blue as the Indian Ocean. And the family that had been so sad,
wasn’t sad anymore.
Joshua was their gift. He healed them.
It didn’t matter how he came to be, he was theirs. All theirs.
At present time,
In a land quite near, There lives a family,
A mommy and a daddy, a daughter and four sons.
They laugh and hug. They worship.
They fight sometimes. And they are complete.”
Joshua says that’s the most beautiful story he’s ever heard. I’m glad.
It’s my favorite one to tell.