Fast approaching is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; my first book and writing started with my mom’s terminal illness. I’d thought about doing a memorial anthology but only found two long cancer stories in my possession. I believe a trilogy has better roots to grow an audience.
As a result of the lack of a third tale, I’m going to blog a miracle filled story from my book entitled ‘Stacey’s Song’, which is available as a paperback and in most eBook formats. It a book about a young girl that lost two sets of parents; her second mother, the one she called mommy, died of breast cancer. Come on buy to read her inspirational saga.
As a twice orphaned child, Stacey is trying to make sense of her world but has an urgency that is motivating her to believe that world will end too soon or before she enjoys any part of life.
Hail, What’s Next?
Before God forced me to live with my Aunt Cindy, my life included all forms of pre-adolescent behavior. My zeal for flights of fancy was seldom tempered by reality. At ten, I placed most of my attention on the rope that hung from a big oak tree in my back yard. Using it as a swing, it propelled me into dramatic yet safe flight. Sometimes, it appeared as if I could fly. However, my all-time favorite activity was going to the mall. Being the only child left in the home, my parents indulged me with shopping sprees on an almost daily basis. Carefree described my life. My existence promoted magical tales to be woven. However, there isn’t a life out there without a problem in search of some solution.
Some bad news arrived one fine, sunny day that caused a storm with more fury than Hurricane Andrew. It was mid-July and hotter than Hades the day that I found out my mother had terminal cancer. Reluctant to accept the truth and in the way of a grieving father, I left my castle to live with my Aunt Cindy, Uncle Mike, Julie, and Jenny. Things changed suddenly; my life turned less than perfect. The shock made me almost non-redeemable.
Even though, I lived within two miles of their house, this new home felt worlds apart from the lifestyle that I enjoyed. Suddenly, the center of attention shifted from me because my world was shared with two peers, Julie and Jenny. Each day apart from my parent’s, my soul yearned for the privilege of only child status. In my mind, I conjured up stories that were not filled with fairies or happily ever after phrases. While the thermometer raged past one-hundred degrees and the pavement sweltered beneath my bare feet, my mind would wander through chilling places. My myths contained dungeons, slayers, and nothing less than pitched forked guards. In my wildest tales, Aunt Cindy was the chilling master guarding our parents because they were sentenced to death.
The wickedest of step-mothers appeared as cherubs in my daydreams because my only villain assumed the role of my new caretaker. She made me clean my own room, do my own laundry, and work for an allowance. While the two ugly step-sisters, my cousins, willingly performed their chores, I sat brooding while freezing in the catacombs of my mind.
Finally, the day arrived when the worst news arrived. Our mother had eaten her last meal, and the sentence to death by lethal disease remained intact. This verdict was not overturned by the dark ages' court of appeal. At that moment, my heart decided that there was no bright side to life. Clouds in the sky never revealed silver linings. At the same time, my mind wanted to return home while pretending this whole thing was just a wicked nightmare.
In ordinary circumstances, a ten year old would have journeyed back home, immediately. However, our father fell apart at the funeral. His life centered on his spouse. Even though his mate's existence revolved around the life of their children, he never really merged his universe with me or any of his offspring. During the wake, the only dad I ever knew recommended that my Aunt Cindy continue to have the custody of his, once again, orphaned child.
My soul never felt the pain of the parental first separation because my life began three days after my birth when I moved in with my grandparents. Soon thereafter, my grandparents adopted me. My mother and father never kept my origins a secret. Meanwhile, my mom cuddled, hugged, and lavishly loved me as her own. Now, the only unconditional love my short life ever witnessed fled with this cancer death. The separation defeated my fantasy, merriment, and hope.
Within weeks of my initial shock, my father committed suicide. He set mom’s car on fire and got in. He accomplished this task after signing over custody of me to my new guardians, the evil ones. My Aunt tried explaining cancer and suicide to me. Devastated, my soul hid in heavy denial of reality. My circumstances left my life too unbearable to fathom. My mind translated Cindy’s strength, faith, and perseverance as a lack of love for our parent’s and possibly me. The rage of dad’s fire amounted to nothing compared to the anger that engulfed in my heart.
As in any war of two worlds, I despised the messenger for the news she delivered. In my mind, we would never be allies, again. It wasn’t an overt retaliation at first. The shock took a few days to wear off. Eventually, I decided that my messenger was the enemy. Flying up from behind as if my hands had a good grip on my old rope swing, I took out my wrath and fears on Cindy. My nails clawed at her arms as I punched furiously and screamed, “I’m going to end this, now!”
Then, purposefully, my new mother tripped me. With all her strength, she pushed my flailing arms out and against the ground. Her body perched on my squirming torso so that my legs could not goose her. Finally, my face arrived right up against hers, and she kissed me. That’s right; my being sucked face with this devil human that I intended to destroy.
“How are you going to end this?” Her voice taunted me.
“I’m going to run in front of a car; let it crush me to death!”
“That won’t end it because you’ll spend an eternity in Hell for you actions!” Her warning occurred.
“There is no Hell because there is no Heaven. There is no God because if there was one He wouldn’t have let me lose a second set of parents.”
“God didn’t force our dad to flee from this Earth! It was his bad decision!” My aunt defended.
“Yeah, but He did take my mom. If He does exist, God must hate me,” My words made chilling sense. How could an adult dispute this logic? Some of the old clichés about why God returns someone home to Heaven would have infuriated me further. In true wisdom, Cindy searched for the next words.
“God does not hate you,” Is the only phrase that she muttered. There just wasn’t a set of words to convince a child or even an adult that this situation was fair.
Meanwhile, Cindy wisely called a crisis line when her body separated from my torso. An appointment with a grief counselor occurred immediately. Placing a reluctant girl in a car is easier to do if you offer a reward such as a shopping spree. At that moment, my newest caretaker dwarfed Solomon because she tricked me into the car with a vague promise of new clothes, shoes, or some other item. Then, off to find support in this difficult time, we drove.
The counselor tried to explain our father’s departure as a disease. Our dad suffered from manic depression or bipolar disorder. “He could not cope once his helpmate left. Thus, he left this world to find his wife on the other side. Meanwhile, he never thought about the psychological consequences on the other relatives or you.” She smiled while enraging me.
As my caretaker and I continued therapy, months later, I revealed, “If my mom had to die, I didn’t want my dad to raise me.”
“Why?” The psychologist questioned immediately.
“He was mean! Once, he threw dishes at me because I sprayed Windex on the table to clean. He was eating at the other end, and it made him mad. The table went up in the air and dishes flew my direction as he hollered things about my stupidity.” I explained meekly.
“Are you glad he’s dead and afraid that is a wrong feeling?” The counselor prodded.
My soul felt the chill of the dungeon as I wandered through the dark thoughts in my mind. Suddenly, my mind realized that the dragon holding my parent’s prisoner was not my Aunt Cindy. The fire breathing dragon was me. Shutting my eyes, the tears tumbled over my cheeks and rested on my palms that lie open in my lap. I had to look away from everyone around me because I had revealed too much. Soon, they would convince me that there was no good reason to conjure these raging tales in my mind. I would not budge off this anger so my retreat occurred hastily.
Breaking the silence, I added, “There is not a God. If there is one, I don’t trust Him. He is not my Father because I don’t trust any parents. My mom told me that she’d fight the cancer, and I’d be home once she was better. She died. She lied. Then, my dad left me. He killed himself. If you can’t trust your own parents, who can you trust?”
The counselor and my aunt could only bow their heads in silence as the darkness of my thoughts tumbled past my lips. Finally, the counselor spoke, “Do you know your parents are dead and that Cindy doesn’t have them hiding out somewhere?” My head bobbed up and down as the flurry of tears subsided and reemerged. “Can you trust anyone?” Again, my head elevated and descended in rhythm.
Now, the task was to find out whom I trusted because that person or those people could help me bridge back from self-hatred and possible self-destruction. Did the counselor dare push me on this day, or should she let the next revelation occur in its own time? The counselor moved forward, “Stacey, do you trust any adults?”
Dawn crept near and the sun peeked timidly as it gained in position about to reappear in my life. However, my soul remained reluctant to wander out of the catacombs because I’d have to truly believe that my parents would not return to this world, today or any other day. Eventually, my voice muttered, “I only trust Cindy!”
The missing link between the pain and the solution emerged. It was a good thing I spared the messenger. The counselor was well aware of my background. Unlike the ten-year-old needing her counseling, my aunt was well anchored in reality. Thus, the healer continued, “You trust Aunt Cindy?” She was not slow or hard of hearing. In fact, this lady was laying the foundation for the road that I would journey back over from despair to hope.
“Yes, I told you,” My mind argued aloud.
“You don't trust your deceased parents for lying to you or for leaving you on purpose, am I right?” My answer was a slight nod. “Is God an adult?” The positive affirmation continued. “You feel you can’t trust Him because you can’t trust your mom and dad?” My whole being shrieked as a result of all this questioning. My head halted its nodding and remained in a bowed position. “You trust Cindy, and she is an adult!”
“No she is not! She is one of the kids! Cindy is one of my parent’s children,” My voice boasted as if I just revealed a secret to this stranger.
“How old is a grown-up? Would you say someone twenty-one or older is an adult?” The counselor set the stage to trick me into being reasonable.
I raised one arm slightly and made a yes motion with my clenched fist. “So, an adult can be as young as twenty-one?” This counselor would have made a fine defense attorney. My thumb rose and pointed in a fashion that meant definitely. That’s when the psychologist positioned to pose the most important question. “You said you trust no adults including God but you have every confidence in your aunt.” This line of questioning agitated me so I squirmed in my chair.
Giving me a break from the inquisition, the counselor asked, “Cindy, are you a child of her deceased parents?”
Quickly, her voice responded, “Yes, I am one of the original four kids. Stacey was born my niece and adopted as my sister.”
“So, she is right to call you a kid?”
“Is there something to add? How old is an adult for you?”
“Over twenty-one, I guess,” The dialog continued between the counselor and Cindy. They used words instead of my sign language.
“Stacey, since you both agree that twenty-one year olds are adults, would you like to know Cindy’s age?” The counselor got a shrug out of me. “Okay, how old are you?”
“Thirty-five!” Cindy announced proudly.
“Ah! Ha! You are an adult, and Stacey trusts you. Maybe, she can learn to trust even more people now that she realizes some tell her the truth more often,” The counselor concluded. Then, an explanation followed, “Your mom was trying to spare your feelings by not admitting she was dying but that confused you more. It was a bad decision.”
Later in another conversation, Cindy told me, “There are a ton of reasons why you need to live. First, you haven’t even seen all the world has to share with you. There are some really beautiful places left to visit.”
“Where?” My being asked tartly.
“Well, we went to see snow once and sledded down a hillside. Have you ever heard the crunch of snow beneath your feet?” Cindy thought of a magical world to describe to me. She brought fantasy in her voice. Looking up, I wondered how she could disengage her own grief for me. How could she be filled with hope when I only knew despair?
As I searched her eyes for a clue to her smiling spirit, I answered, “No, I’ve never seen snow in person. Can we go at Christmas? Can I build a snowman like Frosty?” I returned to frivolous behaviors after a long grief-filled journey. My eyes twinkled with the vitality that my old rope swing shared with me in the past. Was it energy shooting from my Aunt’s eyes or my own hope returning? Was I finally restarting my young life?
Before I could decide on the answers to those questions, my Aunt responded, “I get two weeks of vacation in December. We can drive into the mountains and find snow for the holidays.”
Suddenly, I pictured sledding, friendly snowball fights, crystal castles, and magical snowmen. Christmas break would not arrive soon enough, and I could barely capture my pleasure as magic carried my soul. My thoughts filled with glistening snow as my cold dark ages converted to chilly thoughts blanketed by cozy fireplaces.
Then, the bad luck returned when my caretaker cancelled this trip. Jenny was hospitalized after repeated infections. Her tonsils needed to be removed, and the promised trip was postponed. I knew that there was always tomorrow for dreams to come true but my alarms went off. My soul verged on returning to its dark ages.
“Jenny destroyed my dream!” I blurted out.
“These things happen. No one gets sick on purpose. Life is full misadventures. There is good news; then bad news follows. First, a new baby appears full of new hope. Then, we have to bury a person after love shared. In between, there is a series of good then bad events. That’s life.” My Aunt resembled a frustrated philosopher as she explained things to me.
“It wasn’t good news when I was born!” Pity took over my mouth.
“Yes, it was! When you leave us some day that will be sad.” Cindy contended. Then life went on because, sometimes, no words can help a grieving soul.
Meanwhile, the operation went well but Jenny claimed the center of attention. For a year or more, I strained my aunt’s emotional budget with weekly then bi-weekly counseling. Now, she focused on her youngest child rather than the failed attempt to find snow. I forcibly learned the word share, and it was a hard lesson for a previously only child.
By March, Spring break planning took the spotlight. As we discussed a long deserved vacation, my aunt recalled, “Stacey wanted to see snow at Christmas. It’s too bad our break is coming in the spring.”
“We might find snow in Canada this time of year. Or maybe, Michigan. My Uncle Red lives near Canada. I wonder if there is still snow on the ground.” My Uncle Mike suggested.
“Even if there is, it would cost too much to fly all five of us. We only get a week break!”
“Yeah, you’d have to fly.”
“Forget it! We can drive to see snow next winter,” She rationalized.
Eventually, the girls began discussing spring break as well. One morning, on the way to school, Julie stated, “I want to go to the beach.”
“Yeah, the beach!” Jenny responded with a completely healed throat.
Finally, I broke my self-inflicted silence, “I want to see snow. I am not going on vacation unless we go see snow!”
“Be reasonable. The only snow is far away, and we’d have to fly there,” Cindy retorted.
“Then, let’s make flight reservations.” It’s always easier to make a suggestion when someone else pays the bill.
“The snow would be so far north, and we may not even find it there!” She explained rather than disclose finances.
“Then, I wish it would snow here!” My response arrived.
“Get real! It rarely snows in Central Florida. If it does, it falls in January and never hits the ground. It melts on the way. It sometimes falls just north of us and stays a few hours but nothing close to snowman weather. We can drive to see snow next winter, but we are not flying anywhere this vacation.”
“So what! I’m going to pray for snow within driving distance of our house. I am going to ask for it now,” My style less angry these days converted to belligerent.
“Pray away! But, it isn’t possible,” She added as the other car passengers giggled. At age seven and nine, they realized I could be unreasonable at times.
That afternoon, storm clouds rolled into Central Florida. I witnessed dark clouds before, and they were always awesome. Quickly, Aunt Cindy entered our school building to retrieve us before the downpour. Everyone mentioned that the clouds were so dark and scary. People feared a twister. My aunt suggested we’d be drenched if we didn’t pick up the pace to the car.
Arriving home minutes before the fast moving clouds, the girls clicked on the television. Even from the front door, I heard the beeping as the weather bureau warned residents to remain inside and alerted them to possible tornadoes. Swiftly, we scurried around unplugging the television, personal computer, and other lightning prone gadgets. Then, the deluge began. It rained so fast that the two inches of exposed pool tile was swiftly overcome with water. Watching out the back sliding glass door, the sky lit up a fireworks display far better than any on the Fourth of July. Within a half hour, the sun reappeared and a rainbow emerged barely visible in the West. The sun set soon after that vision.
The next day, the front page of the local newspaper pictured the hail storm that happened just south of our home. Hail stones piled into drifts so high that it appeared to have snowed in Florida. With a busy schedule, my new parent found the pictures amusing, but it didn’t come together in her mind that the storm held a special meaning to me.
It wasn’t a week later when the clouds barreled in, again. Florida is prone to sudden tropical storms. Growing up in Florida, my family habitually unplugs their appliances and pulls out the flashlights. This storm took place after dusk, thus a frantic search for batteries for the dead flashlights ensued. Someone always leaves one flashlight burning. You’d think we’d learn to have extra batteries handy.
After this storm passed, television viewing resumed. Prime time, our favorite shows blared. The fury of the rain gave us extra energy. Meanwhile, I sank into an easy chair to view the shows with Julie and Jenny. Suddenly, a news break interrupted. The news team showed pictures of the hail storm at the university just south of our home. My Aunt Cindy attended that university without having to use the dorm. It is within driving distance of our house.
The next day, as my aunt talked with colleagues about the unusual weather conditions, a revelation emerged, “Oh shoot!” She spoke aloud to herself while meandering back to her desk. “Stacey told me she was going to pray for snow within driving distance of our house. The only snow that can happen and stick in Florida is hail. I have to ask her to stop praying so hard.”
After picking me up at school, we went to the counselor for a pre-planned session. They planned to talk about disappointments and accepting some grief in life. On the way to this appointment, the debate began, “Are you still praying for snow?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, stop it because it already snowed twice within driving distance of our home. However, the only ice that sticks in Florida is hail. It is not fun to play in because snowball fights would hurt. You can’t do a snowman, either. So, stop praying because God has a sense of humor and keeps answering your pleas with hail.”
Upon arriving at the counselor, without prompting from Cindy, the psychologist added, “Stacey, how come I thought of you when the hail began outside my office this week? I went outside and picked up some of the ice balls.” Her arm made a reaching motion, and her hand rose as if she were holding a gem stone. “I looked at that ice crystal in amazement. My first thought was how much like snowdrifts the piled ice looked. My next thought was Stacey has been praying to see snow, and God has been answering her.”
There was a pause as I strutted and giggled. My aunt quickly expressed her feelings about the incidents, “I could have driven Stacey to see the Florida snow if I wasn’t so absorbed in finishing a task at work before our vacation.”
“Oh, yeah! Stacey wanted to go see snow on her vacation and illness disrupted it. Then, she pleaded to fly off to see snow instead of going to a beach resort,” The psychologist mentioned.
“Yeah, so I kept praying for snow!” I added gleefully.
“If the hail storms are not God crying out to you Stacey, then, He doesn’t exist. I have never seen such a dramatic message from God. Surely, He exists and He doesn’t hate you! Obviously, He hears your prayers.”
My conclusions ended this session, “My only regret is the hail damaged other’s property especially their cars. I want a cool car when I get older. Some nice cars got wrecked by my prayers.” Amused, this session marked the beginning of the end of my need for grief counseling.
It may be odd for a counselor to proclaim news of a fair and loving God but miracles can happen. I wasn’t on my rope swing, but my mood kept flying. I enjoyed our spring break. Then, the next Christmas, I got to play in the snow in Boone, North Carolina. That’s another story.
FYI- My author name when my story is nonfiction is Cynthia Meyers-Hanson. When I may be fibbing in a novel way I use a pen name Sydney S. Song.
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