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Monday, November 23, 2015

A Story for Thanksgiving (guest post)







Here's a bit of fiction that my daughter wrote for her high school composition class. 
I thought I'd share it with you.  Enjoy!



A Teddy Bear Thanksgiving
- Autumn Quesenberry
“Noah, honey, how many times does Mommy have to answer your question?”
Four-year-old Noah peered up at his mom with a sheepish look. “I’m sorry, Mommy.”
 “It’s okay, sweetheart.  We’re going to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa. Did you bring Mr. Ted with you?”
“Yep, he’s ri-i-g-g-h-h-t here.” Noah stretched out his small frame to reach the teddy bear which had been carelessly tossed into the vehicle before its departure.  “I think he needs a new bow. Do you think Grandma could make one?”
Looking back at her little boy with tousled brown hair, Tiffany saw his troubled expression. “Yes, I think Grandma would be happy to help.”
Seemingly content with her answer, Noah settled back into his booster seat and proceeded to tell Mr. Ted how big the mountains in Colorado actually are. Trees whizzed by the window as the evening turned to night, and heat blasted from the vents on the floor to counter the forty degree temperatures outside. Christmas music played softly in the background, filling the cozy Jeep Liberty with a sense of peace. Tiffany turned her attention to her husband who was driving their vehicle down the highway. “I can’t wait to see Mom. She must have made at least three pumpkin pies by now, and who knows how many apple pies she’s going to make.”
Damien flashed a quick grin. “Yeah, and as I remember, her turkey is the absolute bomb. Hey, Tiff, can you get the GPS back out? I need to get gas, and this traffic is so thick that I’m not sure we’ll make it.”
“Sure thing, where’d you put it?”
“In the glove box. Now why did I let your brother convince me to try this new route?”
“Because you were curious.  Ah, here it is!” Rescuing the GPS from its long forgotten residence, Tiffany punched in their location. “There’s a Shell station about fifteen miles from here. We need to make a right at the next light.”
“Okay, thanks,” he said with a sigh. “Do we have any of that puppy chow left? I’m starved.”
“Yeah, I think it’s in the back. Noah, will you give me the puppy chow, please?”
Noah roused from his explanation to Mr. Ted. “Here, Mommy.”
“Thanks, honey.” After taking a handful for herself, she held it out to Damien. He reached for the bag, but it fell between his feet in front of the pedals. Distracted, he bent down to pick it up, taking his eyes off the road for a moment. Without warning, a car horn loudly sounded followed immediately by a crash into the driver’s side. Noah’s frightened screams filled the air. Glass shattered, seat belts retracted, and the air bags deployed, then the sound of sirens floated through the chilly November night as paramedics flooded the scene.  Before she lost consciousness, Tiffany looked up to see a firefighter pulling her son’s body out the back window.
She groggily awakened. The overpowering smell of disinfectant permeated the room, while the heart monitors beeped with a cicada-like rhythm.
“Good morning, sleepy head.” A voice spoke from the corner chair, and Tiffany soon realized that it was Damien’s.
“What happened? Where am I?”
“We had an accident. You’re at the hospital just outside of the Colorado state border. The doctor says that you have a mild concussion along with some scrapes and bruises.”
Terror suddenly gripped Tiffany’s heart. “Where’s Noah?”
“That’s what I need to talk to you about. The car that hit us rammed the side of the Jeep where Noah was sitting.” Tears filled Damien’s eyes, and his voice caught. “He’s got serious internal bleeding. The doctor called in the surgeon; they’ve got to perform surgery right away.”
Tiffany’s body shook with uncontrollable sobs. “My poor baby. How could this happen?”
A still silence followed her question. Damien’s head dropped into his hands, and Tiffany couldn’t bear to see her husband in such a deflated state.  She looked to the window, unable to understand how her world had shattered in merely hours. Before she lost all restraints on her emotions, she choked out the words, “When are they going to take him back?”
Damien walked over to her with a look of tenderness. “He’s already in surgery. Has been for the past thirty minutes.”
“Oh, no! No, no, no.” She murmured to herself.
 “I can’t lose him, Tiff. I just can’t.”
“I know, honey.  I can’t either.”
 “Your mom called a few minutes ago. She said to tell you that she and Dad are praying for us.”
A lapse once again entered the conversation. Damien tried to find a way to fill it, but he didn’t have anything else to offer. “I’m going to go to the hospital chapel. I need some time alone.”
Shuffling out the door, Damien made his way down the hall. He should have told her the rest of it. It wasn’t right to keep this kind of news from her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. It didn’t make sense. How could his insurance company, the one he worked for, not pay for Noah’s hospital bills? How was that even possible?
 His mind reeled with all of the many potential reasons, but the harsh atmosphere of the hospital hallway didn’t help his concentration any. People bustled by on their way to spend time with family members on the eve of Thanksgiving. Doctors, medical charts in hand, rushed around to see patients, and a couple of nurses shared a light moment at the desk. Despite the cheerfulness surrounding him, Damien continued to plod through the sea of people. He knew that he looked ghostly white, but he didn’t care at the moment. He just had to get to the chapel.
Reaching the door, he stuck out his hand and twisted the knob. He wasn’t even through the doorway when he saw a man in his late fifties sitting in the second row, silently praying. He considered walking back out, but since he didn’t know where he would go, he quietly trudged down the short aisle and knelt in front of the large cross displayed on the front wall. He felt his body collapse into a heap onto the floor as it shook with the release of the raw emotional pain gnawing at his soul. Broken, he begged God to spare his son’s life.
“ ‘Scuse me, son. Can I help you pray about something?”
Damien stopped praying for a moment and looked up to see that the man had come to kneel beside him. His graying brown hair fell atop peaceful, compassionate eyes, and his voice was calm. Damien didn’t know what to say. “Sir?”
 “I said, can I help you pray about something?”
“Oh, I don’t want to burden you with my problems.”
The man didn’t seem to be offended but instead gave a gentle reply. “Well, now as I recall the Bible says to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. My name’s Peter, and I really would like to help you pray if you’ll let me.”
Damien couldn’t explain it, but he felt that he could trust Peter fully, so he shared everything that had happened within the last two days. He told of his plans for Thanksgiving, the accident, and the unexpected trip to the hospital. At the end, he even shared that his insurance company was not going to pay for the hospital bills for some reason and that he had no idea where he was going to get the money.
After he finished, Damien looked over to see Peter’s eyes filling with tears. He didn’t understand why this man, whom he had never met, would take time not only to pray with him but for him as well. Before Damien could thank him, Peter interrupted his thoughts. “Last night I saw a terrible car accident while going home from the store. I didn’t know those involved, but I heard that the victims had been brought here. This morning when I got up I felt the Spirit of God telling me to come to the chapel this morning to pray for those who were injured and from what you’ve just told me I guess that would be your family.”
Peter reached into the bag he had by his side and pulled out a mud-caked teddy bear. “I found this by the side of the road this morning where the accident was. Does this belong to someone in your family?”
Damien reached for the teddy bear with a watery smile on his face. “Yes, yes it does. My four-year-old will be so happy to see him.” Frowning, he realized what he had said and added, “That is if he gets out of surgery okay.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you,” Peter said. “God can heal with but a single word. And as to your hospital bills? Every year I set aside some money to give to charities and other Christian organizations, and oddly enough I met you the day before I normally send the checks. I don’t think that God would mind if I gave this year’s money to you for your family. In fact, I think He had the idea in the first place.”
The two men rose from their places on the ground, when a knock sounded on the door. A tall nurse with a broad smile lingered in the doorway. “Mr. Jakes, your son’s surgery was successful. He’s in his room.”
Damien felt a joy that was unlike any he had ever known. He practically leapt towards the doorway, but not before ensuring that Peter would come visit Noah soon.
The amount of gratitude Damien felt was indescribable, and as he walked down the hallway towards Noah’s room, he couldn’t help but smile at the teddy bear firm within his grasp. 

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