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Volume 3, Issue 2
Summer 2007:

Amazing Grace

Deborah Opramolla

Cell 2 Soul. 2007 Summer; 3(2):a16

I need to talk to God and yes, it's going to be a why me kind of conversation.

I have circled this parking lot eight times looking for a handicap space. There is a white conversion van with a high top. Its springs sagging to the left, making it look as tired as I feel. Then there is the tricked out Toyota truck I would have to bring my leg up over my head to get into. But my favorite is the jet-black BMW sport coupe with a ragtop; it can go 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. I could fly in that. But everyone needs those spots as much as I do.

I glance in the rear view mirror and notice Adriel is asleep. The soft whirl of his feeding pump and the steady motion of the car has done its job. Finally! Sara is snoring softly. Her head is hanging down allowing her red curls to fall in her face as she is hugging tightly to her brother's "Teddy the Bear". I wonder what that little lawyer negotiated with Morgan to get it, but maybe he didn't need it; his hand is resting on Adriel's lap. I would give anything to point this vehicle towards home; to let my babies rest peacefully in their beds. To let me rest. I just can't, I just can't. Joe is in China, I have frozen bag of lima beans in the freezer, a half bottle of ketchup and a green fuzzy thing in the fridge, Adriel needs his meds picked up, the PT is coming. Tomorrow? Ahh, tomorrow is a round of tests and doctors appointments in Boston. I just can't.

Please dear God don't let me run into his PT in this store. I know putting him in his stroller is not good but that huge monster size blue car seat like Snug seat and its base with lunar moon wheels takes Herculean strength to get out of the trunk. Just this once he can be lying down instead of being properly positioned. I don't need the guilt; I don't need the tsk, tsk or the stares. Speaking of stares Lord it would be nice if you turned those stares into something more helpful. Like someone pushing this damn cart.

I push the cart and pull the stroller, Sara grabs the string on the stroller, Morgan holds Sara's hand and just like circus elephants we cross the lot to enter Market Basket.

It has taken three aisles before we've run into someone I know. Thea is a church friend, who has an unshakable faith. If only she could be practical. Thea would tell a starving person she would teach them how to fish so that they can feed themselves. Me, I would feed then teach.

Thea greets the kids first with a smile, "How is my favorite redhead and her handsome brothers?" Morgan turns to Sara expecting her to answer for them-she usually does. But somehow Sara seems to weary. Morgan answers, "Fiiinnne". I give him "the look"; you know, the one that mothers use, that says it would be in your best interest to use the manners I taught you. NOW!! Morgan catches the look and adds, "How you be doin?"

"I am doing grrreat." Thea says, " You said more than one word to me."

She turns to me, her smile dims just a bit and she reaches to pat my arm, "How are you doing?" Thea seems so sincere; I wonder should I tell her? Should I tell her that I'm so exhausted that I would need to sleep for a week just to be tired? That since I had to stop working our budget is so tight that buying groceries is a treat. That I'm still grieving for the healthy child that I didn't have. Above all that, I'm frightened beyond words about my baby's future. Will he have a future?

"I'm okay", I say.

Adriel starts making gagging sounds just as the food pump begins a loud shrill beep. I check him for seizure activity but he only needs a few swift pats on the back and settles back down. I fix the kink in the tubing that was stopping its flow and reset the pump.

Thea is wide-eyed, "You handle things so well. I couldn't be so calm. God is going to bless you." And as she starts to push her cart she says, "If you need anything give me a call."

We are in the Health and Beauty aisle when Sara says, "Can I pick out something Mommy?" I know she's been eyeing the toothpaste that has Snow White, Cinderella or some type of princess on it. "Yes", I reply.

My little cherub happily skips by the toothpaste and picks up a box of black hair dye.

I give Sara a wide smile and tell her, "Honey, Mommy thought you wanted the special toothpaste not hair dye. Put it back and you can get the special toothpaste."

Sara looks stunned, "You are breaking a promise. You said I could pick out something. I pick this. I want black hair not red", she wails.

I give Sara " The Look"- it doesn't work. She is in a full fledge tantrum yelling that I broke a verbal contract and she needs a phone to call her lawyer. Right now! Because she has rights!

As I kneel down to be eye level with Sara, I wish a hundred paper cuts on the tongues of all those who only seem to notice my daughters beautiful red hair and fail to mention nothing else to her but her hair. I quietly say, "This hair dye cost $8.00. You can have it if you pay for it" I now have her attention so I continue, "You will have to open your piggy bank and give me the money."

It takes a microsecond for her to return the dye and head for the toothpaste. Morgan comes forward and puts his hand on my shoulder he says, "Can I have the yellow bubble bath?"

I smile "Yes" I reply. I know that one-day he'll find out that his favorite bubbles are Joy dish detergent.

Adriel starts crying and bringing his legs up to his stomach. I turn off the food pump and change his position hoping to buy some more time in the store. I only have milk, eggs, box mac n cheese, boxes of cereal and some other quick and easy's. I just need to go down a couple more aisles.

I get to the meat counter and the baby starts retching and he is making all the sounds that go with it. I throw the meat I'd picked up into the cart, hoping it was ground beef and I sling the food pump over my shoulder; it's in a bag that looks like the kind that the airlines use to give out. But instead of Pam-Am it says Kangaroo Pump. I must wear it to pick up Adriel.

His stomach is a tight little knot, he is gasping for breath between the retches. His face is a bright red with his eyes screwed close tight with pain.

What should I do?

I take a few steps-there are a line of black plaster chairs in front of the store. This sets the children into motion. Sara starts to pull the cart and Morgan pushes the stroller.

"Chairs", I say in a calm voice that I do not feel.

I sit down and begin my checklist what do I need, can I handle this myself or do I need a doctor? I press lightly on Adriel's stomach and rock him a bit.

I over hear a woman say people with sick children should stay at home.

Okay God, this is what I'm talking about, do you think I needed to hear that now! What I need is help. What I've got are the comments and the stares.

The kids are frightened and trying not to cry. I'm still not sure what I should do.

I notice that the store has music playing, the light rock that I might be prone to sing along with. For generations, in times of need, my family sang spirituals. My favorite was Amazing Grace. I gather my children close. Then softly I start to sing and gently rock my small son.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

As I sing the store and the people fade away. It's just me and mine. I begin to feel an inner strength-a place of peace that I have forgotten that I had. It reminds me that everything is going to be okay.

My children seem to exhale, to settle just a bit.

It's time to check out.

I reach the cashier, a woman behind me asks if she can go in front of me she only has a few things and she is running late. I turn to give her my best " are you crazy" look. She must be because I am holding a whimping baby in one arm, unloading a cart with the other and trying to direct two children with a stroller where to stand so that they're out of the way.

"You are going to be late" I tell her.

She begins a tale that I have no desire to hear. I say, "Look it's not going to happen, so live with it. Life is just that way sometimes."

I return to unload the meat, the mac and cheese, and the woman is mumbling something about people being so unkind, when the cashier takes a look at me and says to the bagger, "Help her."

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