I walked into Jaci’s bedroom. I needed someone, and I needed someone now.
The past week had been rough. No sleep. Mr. Steve didn’t talk to me that much. I got a C on a history test. For some reason I couldn’t enjoy dance class. I fell down a million times at skateboarding lessons today and didn’t learn anything new. We didn’t have another therapy session for a little less than a month, and I was worried I wouldn’t make it until then.
“Natalie?” Jaci asked as I crawled into her bed.
“Can I sleep with you?” I asked turning towards her. Jaci nodded and pulled me into a hug.
“How are you holding up?” She asked me.
“I’m not,” I said. “I just don’t understand anything anymore. I don’t know anything anymore. I just feel like God has left me. Why do I feel so miserable? Why does he not answer me? Why does he let me suffer? I’m only twelve years old and I feel like I’m eighty. I’m so tired. My grades are slowly slipping. I don’t want to come home for fear of facing Mr. Steve. I just…I just feel like God’s not with me.”
Jaci turned on a lamp and pulled her Bible from the drawer.
“O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, [and] thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” Jaci read. “Psalms 139.”
I let the tears fall from my eyes.
Jaci flipped a little through her Bible and started reading again.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live forever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this,” Jaci said. “Psalms 22.”
I started to sob.
“I know it feels like the darkness has covered you, but remember God is still with you. I don’t know why you have to go through this. I don’t have all the answers. I know God knows all the answers and He sees the outcome of this. God does answers prayers. It might not be the answer we want; it might not be in the way that we want Him to. But He will answer you,” Jaci said. She turned off the lamp. I snuggled close to her and cried.
“Cry out to Jesus,” Jaci said. “Cry out to Jesus. Lay it all down.”
And I did.
I sighed. I had been resisting for so long. We had moved her a little less than two months ago and I still wasn’t finished packing. I opened the final box. It contained my Christmas fudge can, some of my father’s journals, and a box I hadn’t put in there.
I opened the box and found a little Christmas bracelet.
I put this in one of your boxes because I’m too chicken to give it you in person. I’m gonna miss you. I hope you miss me. Florida will never be the same without you. When you first came I was mean to you and I’m sorry about that. Will you forgive me?
I sank into the corner and started to cry. I had forgiven him long ago. I put the bracelet on and it warmed my heart a little. I picked up one of my father’s journals. I opened it up not caring where I landed.
Today Riley had an appointment. All is well with our baby. The doctor keeps asking if we want to know if it’s a boy or a girl. Riley doesn’t want to know. I want to know, but Riley wants it to be a surprise. Boy is it hard buying and picking out a name for a surprise.
Of course Riley wants the baby’s name to be Christmas themed so we’re thinking of everything we can. Riley immediately ruled out Yule for a boy. I agreed with her. Yule is a strange name, and Yule Baldwin just doesn’t flow. Riley doesn’t like Holly, but I do. Riley likes Mistletoe, and I hate it. The other day I mentioned the name Noel and she nearly had a panic attack. I thought she’d like the name, but by the way she acted, I’m never saying that name again. We only have two good names. Nicholas and Natalie. I know this wrong but I’m really hoping for Natalie Baldwin.
Something inside of me went off. My mom sure attacked strange when I mentioned Yule and Noel. It couldn’t be because she disliked the name. Why would Momma nearly have a panic attack at just the mention of the name Noel? A cruel idea came into my mind. I got up and found my mother in the kitchen.
“Momma, why didn’t you name me Noel?” I asked. Momma looked like her heart stopped for a second.
“What kind of question is that?” Momma asked putting her hands on her hips.
“Well, I’ve been thinking. Noel has a closer connection to Christmas than Natalie does. I mean Noel means Christmas. Why didn’t you name me Noel?” I asked. I could see the hurt in my mother’s eyes. I shouldn’t have asked this question. I had a feeling a wave of bad memories were attacking Momma.
“Cause when you were born you looked more like a Natalie than a Noel so we named you Natalie,” Momma snapped. Momma walked off towards her room leaving me there to feel miserable.
The phone rang. I checked the caller ID. It was Yule’s cell phone number.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Grandma sick. Yule crazy. Natalie, come quick. Yule no admit but need you,” Noel said. She hung up.
“Momma!” I called. Momma walked out of her bedroom.
“What?” Momma snapped. Her eyes were red. Her hair was a mess. I sighed.
“Noel just called. I think something’s wrong,” I said. Momma’s features relaxed.
“Come on,” Momma said. “I’ll drive you to the hospital.”
I got into our car not knowing how different my life would be in forty-eight hours.