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Meant to Bea novel
By MELODY CARLSON
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2005 Carlson Management Co., Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSaturday, December 17
Christmas break started today. Wait a minute, let's make that winter break. It's the latest controversy around here. Do we call the activities during this time of year "Christmas" or "winter"? For some reason it's got everybody worked up. And unfortunately winter seems to be winning.
Same thing happened with our orchestra concert last week. I mean, I've always called it the Christmas Concert since we play mostly Christmas music. But this year it was officially changed to the Winter Concert in order for the school to be more politically correct and avoid any civil lawsuits. Yeah, right. They even had to reprint the posters, and at no small expense either. The only consolation was that we still played some real Christmas tunes including "Silent Night." Although I hear that may all change by next year.
Well, okay, I suppose it's not the end of civilization as we know it, and it's not like I want to offend some minority religious group, but the truth is, it does irk me a little. I mean, here I am actually celebrating the real reason for the season this year-since I'm a real Christian now-and it seems that everyone else is trying to strip the word "Christmas" off of everything.
I suppose Hallmarkwill start marketing winter cards to send to all your friends. "Merry Winter, hope you and yours stay warm and dry this season." The ironic thing is that last Christmas, back when I truly believed I was a born-again Buddhist, this kind of absurdity would've made me extremely happy. Now, it just makes me sad.
Okay, that's not the only reason I'm sad. I'm mostly sad about Mom's diagnosis of ovarian cancer. It's like I can feel this gloomy cloud hanging over our entire house now. Although if anyone had been watching my mom these past few days, I'm sure no one would guess that anything is wrong. She's like Mrs. Santa-baking cookies and nut breads, decorating the house, and wrapping packages as if ... well, as if it's her last Christmas.
Even writing those words right now puts a huge lump in my throat, and I can't believe it's true. I keep telling myself maybe it's not. Maybe there's been a mistake, a misdiagnosis. Or maybe it's just going to go away.
For the past couple of weeks, I've gone online regularly trying to read up on the latest treatments for the kind of cancer my mom has, and while most of the news is rather dismal, I have discovered a few encouraging stories. And I do believe it's possible that my mom could survive this thing. At least I try to believe it. Sometimes I get pretty depressed.
"Everyone in my church is praying for your mom," Natalie assured me at school yesterday when she noticed I was feeling down. "And a lot of people have sent word out to their online prayer chains, which could mean that literally thousands of people are praying for her right now." Her blue eyes got bigger. "Do you have any idea what that means, Kim?"
I didn't say anything. I guess I was just feeling too bummed to respond intelligently.
"It means that God could do a real miracle!"
"I know," I finally said. "It's just hard sometimes ... to believe, you know?"
"But I thought you said your mom is feeling better now, and that she even believes she's going to be healed."
I nodded. "Yeah, I guess she does. I mean, her spirits are up, and she's acting perfectly normal ..."
"So you need to do the same thing. For her sake, you need to at least act like you believe she'll be healed, Kim. And maybe it's one of those faith things. Our pastor was talking about that last week. Like when Abraham stepped out into the desert and when Moses stepped into the Red Sea-it was all about faith. But they had to take that first step, and then God stepped in and did the miracle. You know what I mean?"
And suddenly I sort of did understand what she meant. "Yeah," I finally said. "Maybe that's what my mom's doing now-taking that step of faith."
"And you need to do it too. We all have to believe this for her, Kim. We have to expect a miracle. Who knows, maybe it will happen at Christmas. Can you imagine how cool that would be?"
And so for a while at school, I really did feel somewhat encouraged, and I really did believe that God could and would do a miracle for my mom. I was being really positive when I got home too. And I told Mom that I believed she was going to be healed. She just smiled and nodded like she believed it too. And everything was pretty cool.
Then this morning, I went online again. I visited some new medical websites, which turned out to have some less-than-happy facts, and now I'm feeling all discouraged again. The stupid thing is, I only went online to pick out some letters for my Just Ask Jamie column. Instead I ended up spending the whole morning getting thoroughly depressed. So much for my big step of faith, huh?
Anyway, I finally quit searching the web for miracles and went to my e-mail box, reading the most recent letters that had been forwarded to me from the newspaper. I'm supposed to be looking for something that specifically pertains to Christmas, since Dad suggested I focus next week's column on Christmas, and I finally found a couple that will work.
Dear Jamie, I'm feeling really torn. My parents got divorced a few years ago, and they both want me to spend Christmas with them this year. My dad recently remarried and just invited me to go on a very cool skiing vacation in Aspen, Colorado, with him and his new wife and her kids-which sounds totally awesome. But then my mom would be all alone, and she's already kind of depressed, so I feel sort of bad about leaving her behind. What should I do? Guilt Ridden Dear Guilt Ridden, I think you already know the answer to your question. But let me ask you a question-what does Christmas really mean to you? Have you heard about the baby who left His Father's glorious kingdom to be born in a drafty old barn and into a family that was considered "peasant class"? That was the first Christmas ... and it was about things like love and sacrifice and mercy. I guess the real question is, what kind of Christmas do you want to celebrate this year? Just Jamie
Okay, I hope that wasn't too harsh. I know my dad is expecting "uplifting" responses, but honestly, that letter just got to me. I mean, how could this person (not sure if it's a guy or girl) even consider ditching a hurting parent to go off to enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous? It just seems all wrong.
What I really wanted to ask was, how would you feel if you knew your mother was dying? What if this was your last Christmas to be with her? Of course, I can't write that. And I'm probably imposing my own situation onto this poor person who's just writing to ask for advice, when I should be asking myself these questions.
How would I feel if I knew this was Mom's last Christmas with us? And can I even face the answer? The truth is, this is tearing me apart.
Excerpted from Meant to Be by MELODY CARLSON Copyright © 2005 by Carlson Management Co., Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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