Monday, November 2, 2009

Not Another Holiday!

Martha was lying in a hospital bed with her back turned toward the door. Why didn’t they just close the door so no one would bother her? If one more person came to her door and spoke to her with a big smile, she was going to throw up. There was nothing cheerful about her life right now. And if she never heard another Merry Christmas, it would be soon enough. What did she have to be merry about?

Last week, right before Thanksgiving, she was in an auto accident. Not only did it total her new car, that car had burst into flames with Martha buckled into the seat belt. A seat belt that jammed, holding her inside. By the time she was rescued, she had sustained some serious burns. Those very burns were keeping her in the hospital. Maybe until after the next holiday. So Martha really didn’t have anything to be merry about. 

Holidays were for family. Martha didn’t know if she had ever had a family. All she remembered were those long years in the orphanage before she was old enough to be on her own. Ten years, and she didn’t have anything to show for it except a totaled car.

What was that noise coming down the hall? Something was thumping an irregular beat accompanied by, “That’s right. You’re doing fine.”

At first Martha ignored it, but soon her curiosity got the best of her. Before she could turn over enough to peek over her shoulder, a clunk accompanied the thump.

“Oh, oh,” a young voice giggled. “What have I bumped this time?”

“Nothing much,” came the reply. “It’s only a chair. It’s a good thing no one was sitting in it.” Now two people were laughing merrily.

Martha turned completely over and peered from her darkened room into the lighted corridor. She could just barely see the top of a tumbled mop of blond curls. A nurse was walking beside the child, but she was just watching, not helping.

“Who’s in this room?” The child’s voice sounded almost like tinkling bells.

“Her name is Martha.” The nurse glanced up and saw Martha looking toward them, so she stepped into the room. “Is it all right if Martin comes to visit you?”

Martha was too curious to decline the request. She watched with fascination when the small boy felt his way into the room using a walker. He turned his head as if he were checking things out, but Martha could tell that his eye sockets had never contained healthy eyes. He seemed to be listening to something. 

“Are you sure someone is in here, Nurse Miller?” The boy turned his head again. “I don’t hear anyone breathing.”

Martha hadn’t realized that she was holding her breath until that moment.

“Okay, now I hear her.” The boy turned toward the nurse as if he could see her. “I was afraid she had died.”

Startled, Martha realized that was what she had been wishing. That she had died. No one cared whether she was alive or not. It might have been better ... until the child had voiced it. Now Martha knew she wanted to live.

“Come closer, Martin,” Martha’s soft voice was easily heard by Martin’s sensitive ears. 

The boy moved the walker one step at a time with a pause between thumps. “What does she look like?” he asked the nurse.

“Well, she’s a pretty woman who is maybe thirty. She’s been in a wreck and a fire, but her scars won’t be on her face. She has blue eyes and hair that is almost the same color as yours.”

As Martha listened to this, she realized how lucky she was. She wouldn’t have any scars on her face. That was really lucky. She must have said it out loud, because Martin stopped and turned his sightless eyes toward her.

“It was not lucky. It’s a blessing of God that you weren’t burned on your face,” he stated emphatically.

“Well, I suppose so.” Martha didn’t know what else to say.

“May I sit and visit with you a while?” The small voice was almost pleading.

Martha agreed, so the nurse left them alone.

Martin was a bright child who was curious about everything. He asked Martha about her room, her life, the wreck she had been in, where she worked, if she liked her job, her family. There didn’t seem to be an end to the questions from that fertile brain. One thing the questions did was free Martha to ask some of her own.

“Why can’t you walk?” Her voice was hesitant.

“I can walk better than I used to.” He was so proud. “And I’m learning to walk better all the time. I had to have surgery to help me be able to walk. Something was wrong when I was born.”

“Have you always been blind?” 

“Yes, but I can see, you know.” He sounded so confident.

“What do you mean?”

“When people describe things to me, I can see them in my mind.” He seemed really proud of that.

“But what do you see?” Martha asked. “If you’ve never seen, how do you picture something like yellow ... or flowers ... or sunshine?”

“You know,” Martin was turned toward her as if he could really see her. “I used to not really see things. But one day, I asked Jesus to show me what people were talking about when they described things to me. And He did. He showed me flowers and colors and sunshine. And He continues to show me pictures in my head for what they tell me.”

“How do you know that’s really what things look like?” Martha wished she hadn’t asked that question when she saw the expression on the child’s face.

“Jesus wouldn’t lie to me.” The confidence in the boy’s voice pierced Martha’s hardened heart.

“I’m sure He wouldn’t,” she quietly agreed.

Just then the nurse came back for Martin. “It’s time for your physical therapy session.” 

Martin struggled through the door and thumped down the hall, but not before his voice sang out, “Merry Christmas, Martha.”

And Martha knew she had a lot to think about. If that child could be so full
of love and good cheer, she was going to have to reexamine her own thought processes. She could walk. She could see.
Yes, she was going to have a very merry Christmas.

Lena Nelson Dooley is a multi-published, award-winning author. Several of her books have appeared on bestseller lists, both nationally and internationally. With over 570,000 books in print, Lena loves to encourage readers with her stories of hope and changed lives. Lena spends her working hours in the office in her home, where she writes full time. She has hosted a critique group in her home for over 25 years. More than a dozen authors have signed their first book contract after being under her mentoring. She lives in Texas with her husband of 45 years. The Dooleys are active members of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, where Lena serves on the Altar Ministry team and volunteers in the church bookstore. Sharing a love of travel, James and Lena have visited several states and a couple of foreign countries.
 Lena Nelson Dooley -  Characters who grip your heart
 Author - Speaker - President DFW Ready Writers

© 1999 Lena Nelson Dooley