The news hit Morgan like a freight train. She thought hearing that Don had left her was the worst possible thing that could happen. But then the call came from Abby on Monday morning.
“I’m at the hospital, Mrs. Lawson,” Abby had said through tears. “I think you should come up here, if you can.”
“Are you OK?” Morgan asked her. “Is it the baby? Should I call your mother?”
“No, I’m fine,” Abby said. “It is not me. It is Claudia. Her baby boy was born last night.”
“Oh, how wonderful!” Morgan said.
“Not really,” Abby said. “He is about a month early.”
“Is he OK?”
“He is doing great, considering,” Abby told her. “He is small, and on a ventilator because his lungs are not strong enough. The doctors think he has a fighting chance, though.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Morgan said. “How is Claudia doing?”
Abby sobbed louder. “That is why I called. Mrs. Davis needs a friend here right now, Mrs. Lawson. We can’t reach Pastor Davis, and she shouldn’t be alone.”
“Lorna? Why? Is Claudia OK?”
“No,” Abby said. “She had a stroke, Mrs. Lawson. It does not look good. The doctors say there is an 80% chance that her son will live, and a 90% chance that Claudia won’t.”
Morgan sank into the nearest chair. “Please tell me this is a cruel joke.”
“No,” Abby said. “I can’t tell you how much I really wish it was. Please, Mrs. Davis won’t let me near her. She has not left Claudia’s side since they brought her out of the operating room. We have not been able to get her to go see the baby at all. She just keeps saying she needs to be with her little girl.”
“And you said Wade is not there?”
“Todd is here, though. He has spent time talking to the baby and with Claudia. But no one has been able to reach Pastor Davis.”
“Did you try calling their other son?”
“Yes,” Abby said. “Todd called his cell phone and his dorm room. His roommate said he left yesterday afternoon and has not been back yet. I’m sorry to bother you, but I didn’t know who else to call.”
“It is not a bother at all,” Morgan said. “Let me get dressed, and I will be right there.” She wrote down the room number Abby gave her before dropping the phone and heading to her bedroom.
Though she was still stung by Lorna’s attitude and harsh words after hearing about Don and the secretary, Morgan didn’t even think twice about going to the hospital. None of that mattered now. All that mattered was Claudia and that little baby.
All the way to the hospital, Morgan prayed that God would provide divine protection for the Davis family. When she parked her car and began walking to the front doors, Morgan changed her prayer slightly. “Lord,” she prayed, “whatever you have in store for this family, give them Your strength and peace to get through it.”
Both Claudia and her baby were in intensive care. The neonatal unit was on the same floor as the adult ICU, and both were served by the same family waiting room. That was where Morgan headed as soon as she stepped off the elevator. Abby was sitting in one corner of the room with Emily Hartly. She walked over to the young women and was greeted with a hug from each of them. “Is there any change?” she asked.
Abby shook her head. “No, and we still have not been able to reach Pastor Davis.”
“Did you leave a message at the church?”
“Yes,” Emily said. “We have left the same one at the house, at the church, with his son’s roommate and on his cell phone. He just has not called anyone back.”
“Out of curiosity,” Morgan said, “what does the message say?”
“Just that Todd and Lorna needed him up here,” Emily said. “Todd thought it would be best to not mention Claudia or the baby on the phone.”
“He is probably right.” Morgan looked around the room. There were only two other families there. “So where is Shane?” she asked Emily. “I figured he would be here.”
“He is with Todd,” Emily said. “They are visiting the baby. Do you want us to take you down there?”
“No,” Morgan said. “I think I need to see Lorna first. Where is she?”
“At Claudia’s bedside,” Abby said. “She has not moved from that seat for hours.”
“We have tried talking to her,” Emily said as they led Morgan down the hall to the dimly lit room where Claudia was. “But I’m not sure she knows anyone has been there. She just keeps holding tight to Claudia’s hand, begging her to open her eyes.”
“She is not awake?”
Abby shook her head. “The doctors say the stroke has left her in a coma. She has not opened her eyes since they took her off for the c-section.”
“The longer she is out,” Emily said, answering the question Morgan had not yet asked, “the less chance there is that she will wake up. We are hoping to get hold of Pastor before it is too late.”
Morgan peered over Emily’s shoulder. Through the window she could see Lorna sitting beside Claudia’s bed, holding her hand and stroking her hair all at once. For a moment, she could imagine herself sitting in Lorna’s seat, with her Frankie in Claudia’s place.
It was a terrifying thought.
She pushed open the door, and walked quietly to Claudia’s bedside. At first, she just stood there, silently praying for Lorna and her daughter. There was another chair in the room, and Morgan carefully pulled it up next to the bed. She was not sure if she should physically reach out or if her presence there was enough. “Dear God,” she prayed silently, “show me what to do, how best to help here.”
“They told me I should talk to her,” Lorna said, breaking the silence. Morgan watched her friend, who never took her eyes off of Claudia. “Talking to her used to be so easy. Now I just don’t know what to say. I can’t think of anything she might want to hear from me.”
“Tell her you love her,” Morgan suggested.
Lorna touched her daughter’s cheek, gingerly brushing aside a stray lock of hair that had fallen over her eye. “The words sound so empty and hollow. I have said them, but I don’t think she believes me.”
“Claudia knows you love her,” Morgan said.
“Does she?” Lorna asked, not taking her eyes away from her daughter’s face. “After the way I have acted in the last couple of years, I don’t see how she could know that.”
“So you have had a rough time recently,” Morgan said. Her eyes moved from Lorna’s quavering, fearful face to Claudia’s still, sleep-like one. “But think about all of those happy years you shared with her. If there are more good than bad, I think you have done a good job.”
For the first time she looked up at Morgan. “Did you know that I was adopted?”
“I think you mentioned that before.”
Lorna returned to gently stroking Claudia’s hair and staring at her face. “The day she was born was the happiest of my life,” she said. “For the first time, I could understand both of my moms. I could understand the fear of my birth mother. I looked at Claudia’s perfect little round face and I was so scared that I was not ready to be a mother. I didn’t think that I knew how to take care of her and I was sure that I would drop her or break her or something. At the same time, I could completely understand the love my adopted mother said she felt the first time she saw me.”
“I think that most every first time Mom feels that same mix of fear and love when that first baby is born.”
A smile slowly crept onto Lorna’s face. “She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I didn’t know what I could have ever done to make God think that I deserved her. I remember thanking Him for her and asking Him to help me be the best mother I could possibly be.” She sat quietly for a short time before adding, “I thought I had been doing such a good job, and then this happened.”
“Her pregnancy is not because you were a bad mom,” Morgan said.
“That is not what I meant,” Lorna said. She looked up again at her friend. Morgan could see the tortured pain in her eyes. “I mean the way I responded to it. So what if she did things differently than I wanted her to? She is still my little girl. I should never, ever have made her feel like she was not good enough. She is perfect. She always has been perfect.” She raised Claudia’s hand to her face, caressing it gently against her cheek. “I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. And now, I may not be able to tell her that.”
She broke into tears, her body shaking with her sobs. Morgan walked around the bed and wrapped her arms around Lorna. She said nothing, just held her friend while she cried. “Wade and I treated her so badly,” Lorna sobbed. “I knew we were wrong, but I didn’t want to upset my husband. How could I just turn away from my own child like that? How could we have done that? I don’t understand how we could have gotten so carried away. She made a mistake. She didn’t live up to all of the dreams Wade and I had for her. But she has been happy. Why couldn’t that be enough for us? It is not like she killed anyone or anything.”
There were no words Morgan could say to change things, nothing that would make the situation better. All that she could do was pray, which she was doing harder than she ever had in her life.
As she sat there, Morgan found herself praying a prayer of thanks. She had spent a little over a week feeling sorry for herself because her marriage had ended. She had even asked once or twice why God was letting so many bad things happen to her. Now she was not upset about the things she had lost, but thankful for the things she still had. She had her friends, her grandson, and her children. By the grace of God they were all healthy.
Now she just prayed that God would extend some of that grace to the Davis family.