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On The Doorstep
By Dana Corbit
Steeple HillCopyright © 2005 Dana Corbit
All right reserved.
Firsts were supposed to be good things. First loves. First kisses. Scary yet exciting, these beginnings were like birthday presents, wrapped in hope and tied with ribbons of promise. Pilar Estes used to believe all that and more. But as the first of September brought a fuchsia-tinged dawn to Chestnut Grove, Virginia, her morning of premieres only made her feel ashamed.
Last week if her friends had suggested she would dread coming to work, she would have thought they were kidding. It would have seemed impossible. Helping to create families through Tiny Blessings Adoption Agency was her dream job, a fact she'd repeated to anyone who would listen. She'd even earned the duty of starting the office coffeemaker because she was always there first.
This morning she couldn't even gather the energy to get excited about an upcoming child placement. Her eyes filled with tears at just the thought of the office's "Wall of Blessings," the photo collage featuring the agency's many happy adoptive families. If only she could stay home.
That truth humiliated her enough, but it paled by comparison to the shame she felt over her other first that morning. She'd begun to question God's will for her life. Not just small, needling questions, either, but huge, nagging uncertainties with dancing question marks.
Her chest squeezed so tightly that Pilar cracked open her car window so she could gulp in some of the crisp morning breeze. It must have been her imagination that tinged the air with the odor of decay. Labor Day wasn't even until the following Monday, and the leaves didn't usually turn in central Virginia for several more weeks. But her betraying nose, so like her disobedient thoughts, made her wonder if dying dreams had a scent.
What ever happened to "leaning on the everlasting arms," as the old hymn said? She'd always felt so comforted by that hymn and by its reference to Moses' words in the Book of Deuteronomy, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Was she one of those people who only trusted when trusting came easy? No, that wasn't true. She'd gone right on believing in God's will during her mother's heart trouble when Pilar was still in college. She'd never stopped praying through Rita Estes's triple-bypass surgery and recovery.
And even at twenty-eight, she'd never questioned that God, in His time and with His infinite wisdom, would provide her with a home and a family. She'd continued to believe, though she could count her dates the last two years on one hand, and the one man at church she'd seen possibilities in didn't seem to notice her at all.
So why now? Why couldn't she let go of her fears this time instead of being so selfish and secretive with them? Hadn't her psychology degree taught her anything about sharing her problems? Obviously not, because she hadn't mentioned a thing to her parents or to her three best friends, and she'd never kept anything from Meg Talbot Kierney, Rachel Noble and Anne Smith.
Everything might turn out to be fine. Even her gynecologist had said so the day before. She wanted to trust God to take care of the situation; really, she did. She just needed some time to process the news, to accept that she might have more in common with Tiny Blessings' clients than she'd known.
Polycystic ovarian disease. It sounded so complicated, but it was really just a fancy term for a combination of irregular cycles and ovarian cysts that could add up to infertility. Though it was still just a possible diagnosis, to Pilar it felt like a death sentence, at least for the future she's always imagined.
She wouldn't know anything for sure until the ultrasound her doctor had scheduled for Tuesday, but she worked in the adoption business. She understood the prospects. And the possibility hanging heavily over her heart was that even if she found a man to love, there was a chance she could never have his children.
Her nose burned and her vision blurred, but Pilar fought back her tears. She needed to push aside her worries and focus on her job. The coffee wouldn't put itself on, and the Newlins would expect her to be there for their first interview later that morning.
She took a few deep breaths and found some tentative control. Grateful for the comfort of routine, she parked a few buildings past the agency office and backtracked. A gust of wind fluttered her bangs and whipped her long black ponytail over her shoulder. She crossed her arms over her blouse, wishing she'd worn a sweater.
With her gaze on the sidewalk cracks, instead of the narrow former bank building that for thirty-five years had housed Tiny Blessings, she mentally ticked off a list of her other duties before the big Labor Day weekend. A home visit to schedule. An introduction to plan between prospective adoptive parents and a darling toddler with special needs.
"Lord, please help me not to be distracted from my work today," she whispered when her thoughts flitted back to her own needs. Reflexively, she pressed her hand against her lower abdomen, as if she could protect the fragile organs inside. The minor cramps that had brought her into the doctor's office in the first place squeezed again, taunting her.
"Please help me to stay focused," she restated, knowing full well she should have been praying for healing or at least acceptance of God's will.
That she couldn't manage more than that today only frustrated her more. She'd never had patience for weakness in herself, and she wasn't about to go soft now just because she had an upcoming appointment at the hospital.
If she'd been looking up from the sidewalk, she might have seen it sooner, but Pilar was already halfway up the walk before she noticed what looked like a giant lidded picnic basket resting on the building's wide porch.
Excerpted from On The Doorstep by Dana Corbit Copyright © 2005 by Dana Corbit.
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