No Place Like Home
By Anna M. Popescu
Covering everything from sidewalks to roadways, the white mantle of snow muffled all sound and made the world seem quiet and peaceful. As so often happens, this amazing transformation of brown, drab landscape to sparkling white occurred unnoticed in the middle of the night.
As usual, Carrie was awake before the rest of her family. She slowly blinked her eyes open and had the feeling that something was different. The light that peeked through the crack in the ruffled green curtains looked so white, unlike the normal sunshine she was used to. And then she wondered why everything was so quiet.
She tossed aside the bed covers and hurried to the window. Pushing the curtains apart, she gasped as her eyes took in the elegant white scenery, and then clapped her hands together in delight when the rising sun turned the blanket of white into tiny sparkles of light. Where was the little red wagon that she had parked next to the garage last night? All she saw over there now was a big pile of snow.
“Mommy!” Carrie called as she ran across the hall to her mother’s bedroom. “Come see! It’s all white out!” Then she stopped and stared. There were two lumps underneath the quilt instead of just one. She tiptoed to one side of the bed and peeked at the pillow. Daddy was here too! Carrie covered her mouth with her hands in delight, then poked Brett’s arm, trying to wake her father. When that didn’t work, she padded to her mother’s side of the bed.
“Mommy?” she asked quietly, carefully guiding her index finger to Amy’s right eye. Pulling gently on her mother’s eyelid, Carrie leaned over and stared into Amy’s eye. “Are you asleep, Mommy?” she asked in a loud whisper.
“How could I be sleeping when my little Carrie-girl is trying to poke my eye out?” Carrie giggled as her mother yawned, then looked at her through the one open eye. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
Carrie nodded and whispered, “Our Daddy’s home?”
“Yes, Carrie-girl,” Amy said softly. “Our Daddy’s home again.” She pulled Carrie close and wrapped her arms around her daughter in a long hug.
Carrie allowed herself to be held this way for only so long before she pushed herself away and clutched her hands together. “But Mommy, there’s something else!” she whispered. “It’s all white out!” She tugged at her mother’s hand lying atop the comforter. “Come see!”
Amy sighed, realizing there would be no more sleep for her this day. But then she smiled at Carrie’s five-year-old excitement. After all, this was Carrie’s first winter in snow country.
Amy allowed herself to be dragged across the hall to her daughter’s bedroom window. As she listened to Carrie’s excited chatter, Amy turned her tired eyes to the white-shrouded landscape. She thought back to her childhood years spent in this old house, and suddenly experienced the excitement she had always felt at the sight of winter’s first snowfall. No matter how old she got, she had never tired of being the first to make footprints in the fresh snow.
“Come on, let’s get dressed, Carrie-girl,” she urged. “And then we’ll go have some fun in the snow!”
Carrie’s eyes shone with wonder and excitement. “Oh, Mommy, really?” she asked.
Amy nodded. “I’ll show you how to make snow angels.”
Carrie jumped up and down. “Yay! Snow angels!” Then she stood still and frowned. “What are snow angels, Mommy?”
Amy laughed at her daughter’s innocent question. “You’ll have to get dressed to find out!”
Amy watched Carrie run to her closet and pull out her new winter jacket, hat, and mittens, and listened to Carrie’s excited chatter for several seconds before turning back to the window. She surveyed the pristine whiteness again, and decided that the decision she and Brett had made to move back to their hometown was a good one. No matter how wonderful the mild year-round climate of southern California was, she had never gotten used to the absence of this official herald of winter. And now her little Carrie was going to be able to grow up in this small Vermont town too.
The freshness of the morning raised Amy’s hopes again. She recalled the problems of the previous two years and how everything seemed to be pointing them back here. First, the horror of losing their little Nicky before he had even been born. Oh, how difficult that time had been! But instead of turning to Brett for comfort, Amy’s silence had made them both wary of saying or doing the wrong thing. It had taken Carrie’s innocent remark (“How come you and Daddy are so sad all the time?”) to shake Amy’s despondency and bring her back to what had always seen her through other tough times—prayer and reliance on God.
The renewal of her faith brought about a tentative restoration of her relationship with Brett, but soon after, they were shattered by the news that Brett had lost his job. Downsizing, his company had called it. Cutting out their hearts was what it felt like.
And so the job hunting had begun. For months, no matter how hard he tried, all of Brett’s efforts had led to dead ends.
Amy’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled the daily tension during those months that had finally led to the harsh words she and Brett exchanged. Once again, she had gotten off track, forgetting that no matter how hard anything seems at the time, God is always there when we ask for His help.
She had taken Carrie and fled thousands of miles back to the comfort and security of her parents’ home. When Amy told her parents why she had come to visit, they held back any recriminations they might have felt. Instead, when she awoke the next morning, she found her mother’s well-worn Bible on the night stand, opened to a page in Isaiah. There were many underlined verses, but one in particular was also highlighted in yellow: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
When Amy contemplated those verses, she realized once again how she had failed to take God at His Word. She thought about how God reminds us over and over again that we only need to rely on Him to get us through anything—not only in the good times, but especially during the bad times. That’s when He is the greatest comfort.
She knelt down by the side of her bed and felt herself finally let go of all the fear, anger, and apprehension of the past two years.
For several days after that, she spent a lot of time taking stock of herself and how much she had let Brett down with her negative attitude toward their problems. As she prayed, she felt a renewed strength of spirit, almost as if God was right there with His arm around her. She believed she was finally ready to make amends with Brett and try to be the kind of wife that God wanted her to be.
In the meantime, Brett had also been overcome with the need to make things right between them, and had arrived here late last night. What a surprise she’d received when the doorbell rang! Amy’s heart had melted all over again at the sight of Brett’s sparkling blue eyes and crinkling grin. Then he enveloped her in that special hug she remembered so well, and she knew they would work everything out.
Over hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies, she and Brett had prayed and talked late into the night, agreeing that this little town was where they wanted to raise their family. They were both ready to start all over again in a new place that had a familiar feel.
Now she felt Carrie’s small hand slip into her own, and looked down at the tiny head of copper curls. “Isn’t it purty, Mommy?” Carrie sighed with pure contentment and then looked at her mother again with that same sweet smile. Amy’s heart skipped a beat as those green eyes looked up at her with such complete trust.
“It certainly is, Carrie-girl.” Amy picked Carrie up and planted a kiss on her pink cheek. Then she put Carrie back down. “Now, I think it’s time to go get Daddy out of bed!”
Carrie ran ahead of her, and Amy knew what was coming next. Sure enough, she saw Carrie climb onto the bed and sneak under the covers. Amy laughed aloud when Brett jumped awake, exclaiming, “Hey, you little snicker doodle! Stop tickling my feet with your cold hands!”
“Daddy, Daddy, it’s time to get up!” Brett pretended to go back to sleep, so Amy pushed the quilt off his shoulders. “Come on, Daddy! It’s time to make snow angels!”
“Snow angels?” Brett said as he sat up and rubbed his arms, trying to get warm again. He looked at Amy. “Did she say snow angels?”
“Yeah, Daddy, snow angels!” Carrie shouted. “Mommy’s going to teach me how to make them.” She knelt down in front of Brett and put her hands on top of his shoulders. “Do you know how to make snow angels, Daddy?” she asked in a very serious voice.
Brett pulled little Carrie into his arms for a big hug, something he hadn’t been able to do for the past couple of weeks. He smiled up into Amy’s face as he kissed Carrie’s copper curls. “I certainly do, Carrie-girl.” He cuddled her on his lap. “But there’s just one problem. You need lots of snow for snow angels.”
Carrie looked at Brett with a bright smile. “But Daddy, there’s so much snow I can’t see my little red wagon anymore!” She jumped off his lap and tugged at his hand. “Come see! I think there’s enough snow!”
Brett raised his eyebrows at Amy, who nodded and smiled. He let Carrie drag him over to the bedroom window.
“See, Daddy?” Carrie exclaimed. “Look at all the snow!”
Brett was as surprised as Carrie had been at first. When he arrived here late last night, the landscape was frozen and brown. How magnificent it now looked!
“Is there enough snow, Daddy?” Carrie asked, tugging at his hand.
Brett reached down and pulled his daughter into his arms. Amy came over and put her arms around both Brett and Carrie. As the three of them enjoyed this early-morning hug, Brett answered, “There’s more than enough, Carrie-girl.”
Carrie was impatient to get back down, so Brett lowered her to the floor. He watched as she ran across the hall to her own room, then he turned to Amy and enfolded her in a hug. “I am so happy to be home with my two girls,” he whispered into Amy’s hair.
Thank you, God, Amy thought, then pulled back and planted a kiss on Brett’s nose. “I love you,” she stated, then pulled out of his embrace. “But now it’s time for us to go out and play!”
“I know, I know, just give me one more minute.” He kissed the top of her head. “I want to remember this day.”
Just then, Carrie ran back into their room carrying her snow pants. “Mommy, I need help with these,” she said, then stopped. “How come you’re not dressed yet?”
“We’re just making a memory, Carrie-girl,” Amy replied. “Want to join us?”
Carrie nodded and ran over to them. Brett scooped her up and the three of them gazed at the sparkling whiteness together. “Do we have to go home?” Carrie asked. “I want to stay here where there’s snow for angels.”
Amy pressed her cheek against Carrie’s. “We are home, Carrie-girl.”
Brett squeezed Amy’s shoulder. “We certainly are.”
Published in Fiction and Truth Anthology: Stories that Speak to the Soul. Copyright © 2009 Mountain View Publishing, a division of Treble Heart Books. Compiled and edited by Kathy Ide.