Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chapter 28 - Jerry's Miracle

October 22, 1948

Solomon helped Bertha to stand up and walk. Hank trailed behind with her IV pole. She stepped up on the stool and sat on the table. Solomon put one hand on her back and another under her knees. He spun her around and laid her back. He didn’t bother with a sheet. At this stage of labor, he knew that modesty wasn’t an issue. He placed her feet in the stirrups. As he examined her, a contraction began. “Bertha, try to push,” he said.

She pushed half-heartedly. Mothers help with the birthing process because soon they will hold a new baby. Bertha had no such incentive for her labors. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t even keep her feet in the stirrups. Solomon knew she needed help immediately.

“Hank, get behind Bertha and hold her legs,” Solomon said.

Hank straddled the table behind his wife.

Solomon said, “Hold behind her knees open and back towards her chest.”

Solomon lubricated both sides of the forceps. It lay in two pieces on the sterile instrument tray. He inserted one side of the forceps until it was in position on the right side of the baby’s head. Then he inserted the other on the left. He fastened them together at the center. Grasping the handles, he pulled down on the baby’s head to help it clear Bertha’s pubic bone. He could apply firm pressure because the baby was dead. Bertha’s vagina was stretched too much. “She’s about to tear,” Solomon said picking up a pair of scissors. “Bertha, this may sting.”

Hank looked away. Solomon held the forceps with one hand and using the scissors with the other, he clipped a medio-lateral episiotomy running off to the left. After that, he could easily deliver the baby’s head. He clamped off the umbilical cord and cut it, and then he wrapped the baby in a soft white towel and laid him on the counter beside the sink.

Bertha’s placenta delivered quickly. Solomon could see that the umbilical cord had not developed properly. It had only one artery and one vein. He massaged her uterus to stop her bleeding, and then he cleaned her with a mild iodine solution. As he sutured Bertha, he caught a flash of light out of the corner of his eye from the baby. What is that? The baby was giving off a pulsing white light. Solomon couldn’t resist looking up between sutures to watch the light show.

When he finished, he hurried to the sink to examine the baby again. The thick white covering on the baby’s skin was opalescent. Solomon had never seen anything like it on a newborn. He wiped it away with a towel. Baby Boy Elliott glistened as if he had been sprinkled with diamond dust. It clung to the tiny hairs covering his body. When Solomon picked him up, the spot where he’d lain still glowed. Solomon swaddled the baby in a plush white blanket and asked Hank and Bertha, “Would you like to hold your son?”

“Yes,” Bertha said. She cradled her deceased infant in her arms. Hank wrapped his arms around Bertha and their son. Solomon lingered looking at them. They had a surreal glow. It was as if they had halos. It reminded him of renaissance paintings of the Holy Family.

Becky was still sitting at Ma’s desk. I wonder if she saw the lights around the baby, Solomon thought. “Let me clean up a few things,” he said to her, “and then we’ll go find Jerry and Ma.” Solomon put the soiled linens away. He put the instruments in the sink and poured chlorine water over them. He wiped down the countertop with disinfectant, and then he washed his hands. He turned to Becky and said, “You’ve been very patient.”

“You’re amazing to watch,” she responded.

He smiled as he led her into the back hallway. They passed the transfiguration chamber and turned left into the living room. Jerry’s empty wheelchair sat beside the sofa. “Where are they?” Becky asked. Laughter came from the front porch.

Becky and Solomon stepped out onto the porch. Jerry and Ma sat rocking. They stopped laughing and looked up. Solomon felt a surge of energy flowing through his body as he watched Jerry’s foot tap the floor while his chair rocked back and forth. He moved closer until he stood in front of Jerry, and then he backed up until he was leaning against the banister.

Jerry burst out laughing.

Becky stepped forward to stand beside Solomon. “What’s going on?” she asked.

Solomon smiled and said, “I think Jerry’s had a miracle.”

Jerry stood up and bowed deeply for his niece. She threw her arms around his neck. He lifted her feet off the floor as she asked, “How’d this happen?”

“Bertha Elliott’s baby did it,” Jerry said. “His name is Servant.”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

Solomon said, “I’ll drive you two back home, and Jerry can tell us all about it.”

Jerry was already bouncing down the front porch steps. He looked back and said, “Hang on to that wheelchair. Somebody else might need it.”

Jerry made a pot of coffee and pulled an apple pie out of the pie safe. “I made this to use up my apples, but now it’s a celebration pie.” He laughed, “It’s impossible to know how wonderful walking is until you’ve been crippled.” He put his hand on his belt buckle, “I’ve got to pee. That’s another thing you’ve got to lose to know how much you appreciate it.”

“Have you ever seen anything like this before,” Becky asked Solomon.

“I’ve seen people healed in the spirit world,” he said thinking of Rachael.

“Do you really think the Elliott baby did this to Uncle Jerry?”

“I’m sure he did,” Solomon said.

Jerry came back into the kitchen and sat down with them.

“Is the baby...a ghost?” Becky asked.

“Hmmm, I’m not sure how you’d define a ghost,” Solomon said. “Servant, or Baby Elliott, was attached to a human body, and that body died. The physical body can die, but the soul can never die. It’s eternal. When the baby’s physical body died, its soul was freed to continue its existence in the Light World.”

Jerry said, “I haven’t told you, but Servant appeared as a young man, not as a baby.”

“Really?” Becky said.

Solomon said, “Advanced souls can appear in any form they want. They usually choose to manifest as a young adult.”

Jerry said, “Ma Patsy told me that because Servant’s physical body died before he was born, he was pure enough to return to God immediately.”

“Right,” Solomon said, “a child that dies before the age of accountability immediately returns to God.”

Jerry said, “So I guess the stories about lost ghost children are nonsense, right?”

“Pure nonsense,” Solomon said. “It’s ridiculous to think that God would allow any harm to come to children in the afterlife. Horrible things happen to children at the hands of sick people, but that’s not the Will of God. In the afterlife only the Will of God exists.”

Becky gazed at the ceiling in thought. “How can the Will of God exist in hell?” She looked at Solomon.

“Hell is remoteness from God...nothing more. Even on earth you can be in hell. And that feeling of remoteness from God follows the soul into the afterlife. It feels like hell because it feels remote from God. And unfortunately, in the afterlife, the soul doesn’t have the power to change anything. There is no free will in the afterlife, only God’s Will.”

“But my preacher said that Satan can make a person do bad things. Doesn’t that mean that Satan has a will of his own?” Becky looked confused.

“God is omnipotent,” Solomon said patiently. “He’s all-powerful. Think about that word. If God has ALL power, then there is NO power opposite Him. Satan is just a word to describe the part of a soul that turns away from God. Only humans can choose to turn away from God. God gives human souls that choice because He created us in His image. God has freewill, so He gives us freewill...for a little while.”

Becky laughed and said, “Have you ever thought about being a preacher, Solomon?”

Solomon grinned and shook his head no.

“You’d be a good one,” she said, “but the deacons would probably run you off for some of your ideas.”

“They’re not my ideas,” he objected.

“You know what I mean,” she said.

Jerry said, “You know, I think I want to climb up in my tree stand and contemplate my navel for a while. I need to let some of this sink in before I add anything to it.”

“I don’t blame you,” Becky said, “this conversation’s gettin’ too heavy for me too. I’ll start supper for us. Can I talk you into staying, Solomon?”

“Sure,” he said, “I’ll help you with it.”

“You mean you can cook too?” she teased.

He chuckled, “I said I’d help. I’m not making any promises about my cooking skills.”

Becky squatted down so she could see what was in the icebox. She reached into the back, “I know there’s more butter in here,” she said. “If my belly weren’t so big, I could see what I’m doing.”

“Let me get it,” Solomon said.

“You’re an angel,” she said as she peeled potatoes into a bowl in the sink. She took a deep breath and said, “Solomon, would you promise not to go all weird on me if I ask you some questions?”

“About what?” he asked standing up.

“Just promise me you won’t get all concerned and weird,” she said.

Solomon put the butter on the table and stood watching her.

She looked around at him. “See there, you’re getting weird already.”

He laughed, “Becky, I’m not acting weird.”

She kept peeling potatoes with her back to him.

He leaned around in front of her and chuckled, “What’s on your mind? Spit it out.”

“I just wanted to ask some questions about my pregnancy, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re supposed to take care of me or anything.”

“You can ask me anything, Becky.”

“Well, there’s so much that I don’t know,” she said, “like...I don’t even know when my baby’s due.”

“That’s easy, when was your last period?” He said it nonchalantly as if he didn’t already know.

She wouldn’t look at him. I should have known he’d get too personal. “June seventeenth,” she answered.

“Then your baby’s due March twenty-fourth.”

“That was quick,” she said.

“From the last period, you count back three months,” he said, “and then you count forward seven days. That’s how it’s figured.”

“Oh golly,” she said, “I’ve got a long way to go.”

“You’re half way there. By the way,” he said casually, “when are you going to let Ma examine you?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “sometime soon, I guess.”

“Well, the sooner the better,” he said.

“Why, what will she do to me?”

“She can tell you what to expect with your baby and with your own body as the weeks go by. She’ll take measurements to make sure your baby’s growing like it should,” he said. “She’ll check your urine to make sure you’re not getting too much sugar or protein in your system.”

Becky laughed, “I wondered why you keep passing out cups.”

“She’ll keep check on your blood pressure,” he continued. “She’ll check you more often as you get close to your due date. She’ll make sure your baby is in the right position and that your pelvic bones are moving to accommodate delivery.”

Becky turned around and looked up at Solomon. “Do you do all those things too?”

“Yes, of course I do,” he said.

“I’m not worried about the pain. I just think the whole thing is humiliating and embarrassing. The sounds and smells and sights are disgusting. I don’t want anybody to see me that way. Can you understand that?”

“I think of it as a miracle,” he said.

She took a deep breath and held it as she turned back to her potatoes. She slowly let it out and said, “What if...I’d rather have you for my midwife?”

“I would be honored, Becky,” he said. “I just want you to be comfortable.”

“After all,” she laughed, “you already saw me naked in the hooch…as disgusting as that was.”

Solomon looked shocked by her words. “Becky, surely you know how beautiful you are!”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “I feel ugly, especially now.”

Solomon stood beside her at the sink. He wanted so badly to hold her in his arms, but she was still so reserved with him. He wondered what had happened to her to cause such alienation. It was as if she were afraid of touching and of being touched. And why was her self-esteem so compromised?

She put down the knife she was using on the potatoes. She turned and looked up at him again. She looked like she was going to cry. “Would you please hold me? When you held me in bed, I felt so safe,” she said.

Solomon folded his arms around her and held her to his chest. As he gently rubbed her back, the roundness of her belly and her breasts pressed against him. He buried his face in her sweet-scented auburn curls and closed his eyes. I must be in heaven, he thought.

Copyright © 2008 by Robbin Renee Bridges
Coping with Grief through Afterlife Communication

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