Trace sat in the nursery, rocking Elise as she drifted off to sleep. Peace rested in the room like a wispy cloud, enhanced by the soft glow of the Pooh Bear lamp. Respite for his troubled soul. Sometimes disbelief overwhelmed him and his family was still in utter shock. The subject had been dissected, rehashed, and ruminated until he just wanted to scream at them all to go away. This blissful silence afforded him much needed rest-he was so weary...but it was also gave him time to think...probably too much time.
"God-are you there? I can't do this by myself-you've asked too much this time!" No answer.
"How will I ever tell you?" Trace muttered as he glanced down. "I know that someday, we'll have THAT conversation. When will you be ready, my little one? I doubt that there is an appropriate age-maybe I should just wait until you start asking questions? At some point in time, you're going to notice our situation is different than all the other kids. Good grief, I'm pretty sure there isn't a book or web site for this..."
Elise squirmed and used the scrunchy face that he had come to love. With a soft sigh, she soon settled.
"So are you going to help me, God? I've always heard that you will never leave us. Can I take it to the bank on this one? And another thing: What am I supposed to tell her?"
Anger started to well up in him and Elise responded to the tone of his voice. Breathing deeply, he forced himself to calm down. "Maybe if I practice now, by the time we need to have this conversation, I'll be able to get through it," he said tenderly.
"The reason that you and I are facing life by ourselves is that your mother had to leave. That's the simple explanation. I wish I had some amazing story about how much Janice loved you and looked forward to your arrival but the fact of the matter is, she didn't want to be a mother. Plain and simple."
"When we got married, she made it clear right from the start that parenting held no interest for her. I figured that she was just young and it would pass in time. All little girls want to be a mommy, right? The problem was, it didn't go away. She never wavered, not even once. She maintained that she was not 'mother material' and no amount of cajoling on my part was going to change her mind."
"As the years went by, we had successful careers, lived the 'American Dream', and continued down an enviable path. People were constantly asking when we were going to start a family and I would just smile. Janice was not amused and accused me of holding on to false hope. I will admit that I harbored some idea that she would come to her senses. When she unexpectedly got pregnant, I thought maybe it was a blessing in disguise and prepared for a miraculous transformation...that never came."
By now, tears were rolling down Trace's cheeks, unnoticed. Clutching the baby a bit tighter, his voice cracked till it was barely a whisper.
"Elise, I just want you to know how sorry I am that your mother isn't here. I may be a poor substitute but I promise to try as hard as I can to make it up to you. If there was anything I could do to change this, I would but there isn't--she left me no choice in the matter."
Trace looked up, a sob catching in his throat. "And God, please, I'm begging for your help. You know I can't do this alone. I'm so weak but I know that's when you're strong. So I'm just going to stand on that promise...so to speak..."
Rolling his wheelchair to the crib, Trace gently lowered Elise and tucked in her blanket.
As he backed away and turned, Trace realized something had changed in the last few minutes. Had God actually heard his cries? It had been so long since he had sensed the presence of the Lord...
With a last glance at the crib, awareness flooded his mind: yes, they were definitely in for some hard times-that was a given. There would be many challenges but suddenly, it all seemed a little less daunting.
Sitting up a little straighter, he silently glided off to face the future.
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