This week I am unplugged. In order to do everything I need to do to prepare for unplugging, I decided to have a “fiction week” on the blog. This will be the first of three posts sharing some excerpts from the last novel I wrote (the one that is shelved indefinitely…or permanently). The novel is titled The Circle Home.
Someone once told me when you can’t go any further; you’ve come to your edge. When you come to the edge a breakthrough is about to happen and you must go further. I want to remember the person I was and the road I’ve traveled. If peace has found a place in my heart, it’s because I crawled over the edge and found my way home.
The house is silent, outside still dark. It’s my favorite time of day when the only light here is the 60 watt bulb in the lamp beside me. The only sounds are the creaking of the house and the coffee mug landing gently on the side table as I set it down.
The Christmas tree is still up, though not lit. It is almost New Year’s. I walk over and gaze at the tree, stopping at my favorite ornament, picking it up. It’s one of those macaroni wreaths. We made it the last Christmas my mother was with us. I am pulled away from my thoughts by the sound of tiny footsteps. I look up and see Janie Beth rounding the corner. Her wild blonde curls are shooting out in all directions and she is rubbing her eyes. She looks at me and smiles. Suddenly the room and my life have more light in them.
“Good morning, Sweet Girl!” I place the ornament back on the tree.
“Mornin Mama.” She holds her arms out to me, lips poked out. I lift her up and give her a kiss. “Hey, it’s our ornament.”
I learn so much watching the way this little girl moves people. She’s breathed life into me and everyone around her. Even the dog forgets how old he is in her presence. We all call her JB, except for my father. He calls her Janet two, because even at three-years-old she’s the only person who can make him laugh the way my mother could. Last month, right after he found out my stepmother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, JB said to him, “Gammy Beth’s gonna be okay, Pop.” He smiled when there shouldn’t have been a smile left in him. I think he believed her more than the oncologist. I believe her too. My little girl knows things, even if she doesn’t remember why.
Once when she was just a year old she pointed to the scar on my chin and said “boo-boo”. It was a scar I had gotten when I was a baby too. My father had told me the story many times; it was his last tangible memory of my mother and me together. She was teaching me to walk and I got too close to the hearth. When I started to fall she didn’t reach me in time and I hit my chin on the bricks. Dad ran out of the room for a towel and some ice and when he came back Mom was using her favorite sweater as a compress. She held me tightly and rocked me as I cried. Dad said he saw tears streaming out of her eyes. He’d joked that he’d get her a new sweater if that one was ruined.
Losing Mom was hard. Grandma and Grandpa were never quite the same, at least that’s how the story goes. I was just grateful that Grandma lived long enough to meet Janie Beth. I think in the end she knew the truth about her great-granddaughter. It’s a truth I’ve known since I gave birth to her and have only ever shared with my best friend, who happens to be her father. What I love most about him is that he believes me.