It was the coolest time of the year, yet sweat was beading on her forehead and not having him here was harder than she ever imagined. Fifteen years together–and although life hadn’t been easy by any means, the good Lord’s provision had been enough. She sat down to have a rest and ease the pain for a bit as she counted the days on her worn, cracked fingers…and if she had counted right, it had been 28 sundowns since he closed his eyes for the last time. She looked at her children sleeping at her feet, and prayed for their warmth on this cool night and frowned that the blankets were in different use. The family blankets, the family’s biggest assets, were all being used to keep his honor and the smell of death at bay while enough bishca was saved to give him proper burial. She looked down at each of the children…now some becoming near to adults themselves…remembering every birth when she first saw each face for the very first time. What joy had filled their hearts! What miracles and memories each life held! And he had delivered each and every one…even the two that had not made it. There were six altogether–soon to be seven; they were all a part of her heart, and she couldn’t bear what this delivery might be like without his holding her hand.
In his last days, he had requested to rest beside his parents and brothers…and the two she would always carry in her heart–and though she could not bring this son kicking in her belly into the world in time for him to rejoice in his birth…she would see to his final request of burial. Until then, his body remained securely wrapped in layers of blankets in the back as many African families must often do as they save and collect what they need for a plot for proper burial. If it meant working in her difficult state sunup to sundown and returning to work as soon as the day after she delivered, she figured it would take just two more months of saving and she should have enough to honor him with his request. Maybe then, her heart could finally rest…as best as she figured it could.
She felt the tightening of her abdomen all the way ’round to her back–and wondered if she should leave the hut and do this alone…yes, without him she assumed just do this alone…or she could wake only Zewdneshe from her slumber. Yes, “Neshe”, as they often called her, was old enough, and it wouldn’t be long before she, too, would be old enough to marry and begin a family of her own. Neshe had seen her father help birth many of the others, and she would tell her what to do. Yes–her mind was settled, Neshe could help her. Maybe she would not do this alone after all. Neshe had proven herself during her father’s last days–bathing him, carrying pails to and from the river and even taking his place in the bean field to make some extra bischa for rice and teff flour. Yes, Neshe would help—but for now, she would let her rest.
She looked for the pales of water and towels. She contemplated waking Neshe to ask her to fill the pails, but smiling at her firstborn sleeping–she shook her head and decided it wouldn’t hurt to walk to the river herself and let her eldest rest while she could. It had been almost five years since her last delivery but she remembered how walking always helped her before.
Was it a good idea to go alone to the river with pain so intense? No, probably not–and she shook her head and laughed quietly. He always told her that she was too stubborn for her own good and she headed out of the hut with pales in each of her hands…
All the while—across the world—a mommy in Georgia couldn’t sleep. Something wouldn’t let her. Even with what felt like a housefull of children herself, something about her heart and her arms felt empty. There was something in her heart she couldn’t shake—it was unexplainable…something a mommy’s heart only feels when the hand of God plants that seed there. Something within her was bleeding for more…
(Just a itty bitty glimpse into something I’ll be working on to practice my writing and imagine the unknowns…how they connect with the knowns…and to bring glory to God in the highest for the beauty of how He works in the midst of lives when they some times don’t make sense—to be continued.)