Authors: T.I. Lowe
A Discovery of Hope
A Coming Home Again Novel
Copyright © 2016 T.I. LOWE All rights reserved.
Cover design by Lynnette Bonner of Indie Cover Design -
All Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version
, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
To my Gal Pals. You ladies are amazing and never fail to make me smile. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this lovely group of fabulous, genteel southern belles. I also want to thank you for allowing me to take this group and turning you into eccentric and over-the-top characters for this book. I’m honored to be your Lulu. HOLLA!!
In Loving Memory of
Swish, swish, swish…
The rain is crashing down in sheets and the windshield wipers are slapping it away as rapidly as possible.
Swish, swish, swish…
They’re not helping. Every other swipe, the road is lost completely. The night is so pitch-black, I feel as though my vision is limited by some invisible mask. I keeping trying to peer out from around it to see things clearly, but it’s useless.
“The plumber!” I scream into the phone. “You’re ripping our family apart for the
Mom screams back but I don’t hear what she’s screaming, because I’ve just hit a large puddle of water that was obscured by the aggressive storm. I clutch the steering wheel with both hands, trapping my cellphone against it. High-pitched tones are pinging with all the buttons being squished between my palm and the steering wheel, but I pay it no mind. I’ve got bigger problems. I feel the back of the car fishtailing and it’s all I can do to keep it on the road. I let off the gas and remind myself not to hit the brakes, although my reflex is begging me to do just that.
After the car has recovered and is back on track to nowhere, I notice mom is still screaming away. Raising the phone back to my mouth, I scream, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” I then throw the phone in anger and hear it shatter against the passenger window.
“The plumber!” I scream to the empty car. How could she leave me and my dad for the plumber? I’m so angry I can hardly stand it. My entire body is radiating with trembles. I’m over the shock and now I’m just flat out
. The same plumber who has done work for my family for the past few years is now the love of my mom’s life. Really? The guy doesn’t make a drop in the bucket compared to my dad, who is a prominent neurosurgeon.
A few more sluggish miles pass and some of my anger is ebbing away. Confusion rears back up though, causing me to question everything.
The plumber… She left us for the plumber? I just cannot wrap my mind around it. Granted, he is a tall drink of water and eight years her junior. He might not have an abundant checking account like my dad, but I guess he does have something of much more importance. He has an abundance of attention he lavishes on my mother. My dad has always prided himself on providing for his family. And he is a great man, who never misses church on Sundays except for dire emergencies. However, he forgot something very important in there. He forgot my mom. He thought he could throw material things at her to make up for having no time to spare, but he was wrong—the plumber has proven it very clearly today.
So my mom rode off into a pristine sunset today with the plumber in none other than his work van. I stood on our vast porch for hours waiting for her to return this evening. I just knew she would come back and declare it a mistake and beg for our forgiveness, and I was so willing to grant her forgiveness. As the first raindrops fell, it became clear her decision was made and she would not be returning. I eventually went inside to check on my dad and found him in his study, sitting in what looked to be a state of shock. He was still in his tailored suit and tie, which is what Dr. William Carter wore to the hospital each and every day. He is a handsome man with warm mocha skin and brown eyes, but his handsome features were twisted in pain as he sat there at his desk. He glared up at me when I entered the room and my heart crumbled more.
I was confused by the look and questioned him. “Dad?”
He shook his head slowly and turned away from me. “I can’t even look at you. Please, Willow… You look just like her. Just… Leave me alone.”
It’s true I look like my mother. Raven black hair that spills in glossy waves well down my back, gold eyes, and an average height at five-foot-five inches. My skin is just as flawless as hers, but she has alabaster skin and mine is several shades warmer. If not for that, yes, we look exactly alike. Our infinite budget has always afforded us the best in hair, makeup, nails, and fashion. I’ve always prided myself in mimicking my mom’s look and deemed it an honor to take so much after her. I’m beginning to see where that pride of mine was ill placed.
Pride may have been my dad’s downfall as well. He has always prided himself in being able to provide abundantly for his family. In twenty-three years of marriage, my mom has never had to want for anything. Nonetheless, providing abundantly has ended up costing him dearly. I feel as though all of this has robbed me, too. Money cannot buy everything—especially time.
My dad’s words of not being able to look at me broke my heart. I’ve always wanted to please him—perfect grades, star tennis player, president of student council, college scholarships, etc. I did all of this on my own merit as my dad encouraged. He wouldn’t let me play the race card, saying he wanted me to be rewarded for my effort and no other standard. I am half Caucasian and half African American. I say half white and half black as does my dad. It’s a lot less of a mouthful.
Living the dream my parents set out for me meant studying pre-med right here in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Their dream is not mine, but I was willing to comply with their choices and keep diligently to the prescribed path.
So his statement finished severing that same cord my mom sliced into earlier today when she loaded her last bag and declared that she finished her job.
“You’re a grown woman now, Willow. You’re settled in college, so I’ve done my job.” With that, mom climbed into the van and left me. All I could think of was how she had totally canceled out all of those wonderful years in one fell swoop.
My life, the one my parents helped set on the nice neat path, is now ruined.
After my dad turned his back, both literally and figuratively, I stormed out into Mother Nature’s wrath in the form of a severe storm. Now I’m driving around in this irritated night and I feel so lost. Everything I knew about myself seems like a well-constructed lie. I, Willow Maria Carter, am a lie. I painted myself into the image most pleasing to my parents. Nice, pristine, and pleasant. Always carrying myself in this proper package and never deviating from its format. Today, my eyes have been opened and reality slapped me in the face. Nothing is perfect. Things change no matter how badly I want to keep them in their original state.
The car starts fishtailing again as I near an intersection, so I forget about being lost and try to focus on straightening the car. The rain won’t relent and the lines on the road have all but disappeared. I blink several times and rub the tears out of my eyes, hoping to see more clearly. It’s no use. I finally get the car straightened just in time to spot a faint, blurry greenlight indicating I’ve reached the intersection. I slow down even further and decide it’s best to creep through the crossing.
All at once, a loud explosion pierces through the roaring rain and rocks my car in protest. Confusion is replaced by an acute flash of pain. Lights blaze in bursts of fuzzy colors. The world spins out of control before I feel as though I’m drowning on warm liquid while surrounded by cold nothing. Everything is black, wet, freezing, and oddly numb. One minute I’m nestled in the dry surrounds of my car, then the next it has abandoned me. How? I don’t understand. I can still hear the windshield wipers working frantically, or am I imagining the sound?
“Hold on! Please! Hold on!” someone shouts in a gruff voice. His deep tone echoes in pain—swearing and praying at the same time. I want to tell him those two really don’t go well together, but I cannot find my voice. I beg my eyes to open, but they answer in silent protest. Something is heavily weighing my body despite my mind’s commands to move.
“Please God! No! Please God!” The voice chants over and over until it starts to get muddled as waves of wooziness seize me.
This is not right, I think to myself. Something’s not right at all…
Then his voice fades to a mute. A brilliant glowing light rises in my shrouded vision. I can feel the warmth of it. The odd hurting of my body eases and the angry rain ceases to exist, while I feel as though I’m floating away. The feeling is so peaceful, I can’t keep myself from craving it.
Then I see her, a perfect serene young woman. She beckons me forward and I want nothing but to go with her.
My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness. ~Job 17:11-12
The driver of the red SUV stated that she was unable to see the traffic light in the downpour. Her late reaction to the red light caused an impact that ricocheted through several cars before ultimately ending with the car of the unsuspecting Willow Carter. The first impact in that intersection spun Willow’s car around like a fast moving carousel and caused her head to collide into the driver side window. Disorientation and panic caused Willow to unfasten her seatbelt after the first collision, just before the second impact caused the car to flip and catapulted her out of the smashed window. The tossing of her body broke her arm, but the real damage was secured along her scalp. The force of the impact and the shattered glass left a deep gouge beginning at Willow’s left ear and continuing almost to the crown of her head.
A human body is wonderfully made to handle many hardships, with great durability in many areas, but it can only withstand so much. A broken arm is fairly easy to heal. An injured brain is another story.
Another victim of the car pileup found her on the side of the road unresponsive and with a very faint pulse. She was losing blood at a considerable rate from the head trauma. Her face was masked with dark red streaks and swelling was already transforming her delicate features, making her unrecognizable. The stranger held his shirt to her head to staunch the flow of blood and begged God to save her. His hurt for this young woman, whom he did not know, was so raw and powerful. I sensed his anguish all the way through me, causing me to ache.
I felt it in that moment, in the midst of the chaotic intersection while the tempest of the storm continued to rage. This was a divine appointment, and the pull to complete it drew me closer. I came near, attaining Willow’s attention. She smiled peacefully at me as she took her last breath and I knew it was time. I walked closer but paused at my Father’s voice.
I hurt. Everywhere. I hurt.
My eyes only to find a painful blur, so I close them back and beg the hurt to leave me. I’ve rested in a season of peaceful darkness and now that I’m resurfacing all I want is the darkness to welcome me back. Moaning noises are the only sounds I can emit. An odd cool tingle spills into my right arm then seeps all over me and I moan until relief finds me again…
My head holds a debilitating throb—so severe, it makes me nauseous. I have no desire to open my eyes when any light is evident. Because of this, they keep the lights almost always off. I feel like I know what I want to say, but my words come out all garbled and wrong. I don’t even try to form them most days. Most days I spend cocooned in a dark room while medications comfort me…
Pain is an endless season that refuses to cease. Why am I still here? Why couldn’t I have stayed in the peace that blanketed me?
Why am I still here?
I want to ask all of this, but it causes a throb on the left side of my head anytime I think about it too hard. They’ve given me a button to press now when the pain becomes too much. It’s always too much…