In the O R, medical practitioners in blue scrubs darted back and forth with efficiency and skill. At one point, the patient nearly required no more attention as his heart flat-lined, but after quick work by the med team and recent fervent prayer by Marcy, he was brought back from the brink.
Three hours and forty-five minutes later, they were able to deliver him into a room in ICU to wait for his destiny. The fifty-something year old man in the next bed inquired about who was bunking with him. The male nurse only shared that he had been in an accident and needed time to recover.
“How awful,” he thought. “I wonder if I know him. Hope he has good insurance.”
A smallish town like Maple Valley does one thing really well—gossip. By 10:30, the coffee establishment, Holy Grounds Coffee Company was buzzing with details of the accident just down the street. Few people seemed to know many facts but speculation was in abundance.
For instance, the mystery man at the center of the story was unknown but several people suggested it might have been a young man on their block. An older, farmer type gentleman even called the neighbor in question only to be told, “No, it wasn’t my boy, he’s still sleeping.”
Ed Hammberg, the truck driver in the accident, was a wreck himself. He kept telling the other employees at the beer distributorship where he worked that he, “just didn’t see him, I just didn’t see anybody! All of a sudden there he was and I couldn’t do nuthin’ but hit him. I prob’ly killed him; I’m goin’ to jail for sure this time.” His supervisor finally sent him home insisting that he take something and get some rest.
Ramona awoke as the scratchy loudspeaker intoned the imminent schedule. “Bus leaving at 8:05 for Chehalis, Centralia, Tumwater, Olympia, Lacey and points north. Please step out to the bus for your driver to check tickets. Thank you.”
A quick glance at her phone told her she had 12 minutes to get a ticket and head out to the curb. Stiff and cold from the long night on the old oak bench gave her a bit of an attitude. But gathering her thoughts and recalling why she had to sleep on the “far-cry-from-a-Beautyrest” reminded her of the sudden itinerary reversal.
She tore over to the ticket counter. Inquiring whether her destination was for sure in the 8:05 departure, the agent assured her in the affirmative that she would be back home by 1:00 p.m.
It was brisk outside, as she queued up behind two others waiting for the driver to check them on. A cast of big, billowy white and grey clouds moved with synchronous beauty against a rich, deep blue background, illuminated brightly by earth’s closest star.
Maybe her luck was finally changing. That was a shallow thought! She was taught that luck had nothing to do with our lives as Christians. Everything was either in or out of God’s will.
“Ticket please,” the driver requested.
She found a seat near the back hoping that this time she could sit alone. She didn’t want a repeat performance of her last ride! After a few minutes the bus backed out headed for the freeway. Her neighboring seat remained empty.
“Excellent,” she reckoned. “I might even recover some sleep from last night’s miserable experience. At least the seats have some padding.”
Closing her eyes, her thoughts wandered. She felt a twinge of . . . hope; a topic of thought that had been lost back there somewhere. These unusual events appeared to imply that this might be a day offering the nearest thing to hope Ramona had felt for several months.
Maybe it was the “Angel Unaware” Edith experience that caused this feeling. Maybe it was the eerily prophetic baby articles that prompted this expectant promise of near optimism. In any case, fear and anxiety for the future shrunk just a modicum allowing this strange, forgotten feeling of hope to resurface.
Another awareness crept up; this one from a place deeper inside her. Going so far away from home for the reason that had motivated her was really terribly self-centered. Actually, her whole life these last few years had been somewhat; ok, a lot self-centered. But was she only thinking of herself? What was wrong with that? Since turning thirteen or so, she knew she had become more contrary of her parents’ wishes and direction.
Not grasping that disagreement is often a typical behavior that arises from a child differentiating from parents, her sub-conscious defaulted to her religious training for answers. Obedience to the Pastor and her parents was tantamount to obedience to God. “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” scripture said and God expected perfection!
This rebellion on the outside had now borne fruit on the inside. Not only had Ramona gone out and sinned against God and everybody else, she wanted to erase that sin by running away and even murdering an unborn child. As she thought now, this had to be a completely self-centered pursuit. She could never be perfect again. She was ruined. She was doomed to hell and she knew it.
But if that was the case why did she feel hope? Wasn’t her sin beyond hope? Could she ever be free from shame and guilt again? Wasn’t sex outside of marriage unforgivable, like divorce?
Becky finished dressing and reached for her phone.
“Hey, Becky. Did you hear about that bad accident yesterday?”
“Yeah. In fact Marcy called me because she was there when it happened.”
“Oh, that’s awful! Is Marcy doing ok?
“Well, that’s why I was calling. I want to find her and take her with me to see the guy in the hospital; to see how he’s doing. Want to go with us?”
“Sure, let me finish a few more sentences on my blog and I will meet you.” Jeremy was a part time journalist/writer/author of Christianity and culture themed topics. “At the hospital then?”
“That works just fine. Say in an hour? I need to be at work this afternoon.”
Becky headed out to find Marcy. She was homeless but there were some predictable areas of downtown she could usually be found. Today was no exception. Becky found her engaged in animated conversation with a street friend. Marcy stopped when she saw Becky approaching.
“Morning, Marcy. I am headed to the hospital to see the young man that was in the accident. Want to tag along?”
“Yep, I sure do! I was just telling my friend Robin here all about it. Turrible accident! I’m s’prised if he din’t git kilt! I’m s’prised if he din’t. Do you think he’s dead, Becky?” She asked excitedly.
“I think we would have heard, Marcy. But I’m meeting Jeremy there in a few minutes. Let’s you and I see if we can find him.”
“Awright. But we prayed so I think he’s gonna be there. He might need to git well but he’s gonna be there, I just know.”
Finding Jeremy and the room where the young man was quartered proved fairly easy. After all, since this was a fairly small town, this was not a large facility.
She went up to the top floor to Room 314 and as she entered she started to walk past the first patient toward the back bed.
She glanced at the first bed’s occupant.
“Oh, Mr. Beckett! I wasn’t . . . I guess I didn’t think you . . . how are you feeling?”