Hope Anew, Part 9

Fiction By Jackie West // 6/28/2011

                Jon rubbed his eyes wearily. It was almost midnight, yet he and Miriam still had paperwork to fill out in order to finalize their adoption of Mariah.

                “Just a few more papers, Jon,” Miriam said encouragingly as she set aside a dry pen and picked up a fresh one to add her signatures to four more papers. “Then we can hit the sack. The kids have been so responsible lately, just about running the farm by themselves, with a little help from Isaac, so they can deal with things in the morning.”

                Jon picked up his pen again.  “Well, let’s get this done.” He gestured to a stack of more paperwork nearby. “Then we can send it all in….”

               

                Two weeks later, Jon and Miriam came up to Mariah’s room. She was sitting on her bed and writing in her journal, but she quickly put it away when they came in.

                “Well, Mariah, it looks like you have a new family now,” Jon said quietly and slowly.

                Mariah looked at them. “Who?”

                “Us,” Jon said as he sat beside her on the bed. “Your adoption was finalized two days ago. Now you’re our legal daughter.”         

                Mariah looked at her hands. “So I have to call you Mom and Dad now?”               

                “You don’t have to,” Miriam said gently, “If you think you’d feel uncomfortable calling us by those names, and then you can just call us Ms. Miriam and Mr. Jon. We won’t force you to call us your actual parents, because we know we’re only temporary replacements for your real parents.”

                Mariah nodded, then suddenly turned and hugged Miriam, then Jon. “That sounds alright.”

 

                Mariah was lying in bed later that night and reading her Bible by lamplight. She quietly turned the pages, trying not to disturb Leah, who was already in bed and asleep.

                She came to the verse Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

                It’s amazing how I thought this verse was a lie after my family died. I mean, how is that good? she thought. But maybe God wanted me to be a part of Jon and Miriam’s family so that I could get to know them better and come to love them more than I ever have.

                And there’s another thing I realize now more than I ever have: God really does love me, and he does want what is best for me.

                And thinking that, Mariah slowly drifted off to sleep.

 

                “Mariah! Mariah! Get up, sleepyhead!”

                Sixteen year old Mariah’s eyes popped open. “Leah! I’m trying to get some sleep! I can sleep in a little longer, right?”

                Leah folded her arms and shook her head. “Mommy says you need to get up. It’s Gabrielle’s birthday and Mom wants to give her the day off, an’ she needs your help a little earlier than usual, not to mention we’re having guests this afternoon.”

                Mariah swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “Alright, alright, bossy, I’m coming! Shoo, go tell Mom that I’m coming.”

                After Leah had gone, she quickly pulled off her nightgown and put on her plain day dress with a clean white apron over it before hurrying downstairs.

                Mariah looked at the kitchen clock, which told her that it was barely past six o’clock.

                Miriam looked up as she entered the room. “Hello, Mariah. Was getting up early too much of a bother?”

                . “I don’t mind. I’ve been sleeping better,” Mariah said, shrugging.

                “Have your nightmares stopped coming?” Miriam inquired as she busied herself getting ingredients for whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup.         

                Mariah began helping her. “They have mostly stopped. I still get them two or three times a month, but they’re doing much better.”

                “That’s good.” Miriam paused before continuing. “Did Leah tell about the guests that are coming?”

                “She mentioned guests coming this afternoon, but she didn’t say who they were,” Mariah replied. “Can I know?”

                “I think you should wait,” Miriam answered, smiling secretively.

                Mariah sighed, but she smiled. “Alright, I guess it’s some big surprise, right?”

                Miriam smiled back as she nodded. “You’re right.”

                They busily worked on making the pancakes, and by seven o’clock, Jon, Micaiah, and Jason came in from the barn, and a sleepy-eyed Gabrielle made her appearance.

                “Where’s Danielle?” Jon asked.

                “She’s out in the ice house preparing Gabrielle’s birthday treat,” Miriam replied. “She’ll be in soon.”

                Jon turned to Jason. “Jason, please tell Danielle to hurry, and Micaiah,” he turned to his other son, “please help Mariah set the table.”

                The boys were quick to obey, and twenty minutes later, everyone was sitting around the table, eating pancakes and sausage hungrily.

                “So, Miriam, when are the guests coming?” Jon asked his wife.

                “Around two o’clock,” she replied.

                Jon cut up his pancake into small pieces and continuing his meal. “Will you be starting the meal right after breakfast dishes?”

                “Yes, with help from Leah and Mariah, if you can spare them all,” Miriam said. “Danielle will be completing the housecleaning under my supervision.”

                “The boys and I are going to be in the fields until noon, doing all the work we can,” Jon explained. “Then we’ll clean ourselves up and help all of you finish up preparations.”

               

                The morning sped by. After Mariah helped clean up the kitchen from breakfast, she helped Leah bake two chocolate cakes, and then she worked with Miriam to prepare the roast.

                The family gathered at noon to eat a light meal of jam sandwiches with fruit.  Then they cleaned everything up and made more preparations for the guests that arrived at just past two o’clock that afternoon.

                “Mariah!” Miriam called from the porch.

                “Yes?” Mariah looked up from the pants that she was dutifully mending.

                “The guests are here, and you need to come out and meet them.”

                “Yes, Mom!” Mariah put her things away and came out.

                The rest of the family was gathered around two buggies. As Mariah drew near, someone from the buggy closest to her looked up and spotted her.

                “Mariah!”

                Mariah’s mouth opened in shock and her eyes widened. “Breanna!”

                Breanna, whom Mariah had not seen in more than a year, was now a lovely young woman of fifteen, got out of her buggy and ran to Mariah, grabbing her in a huge hug. “Are you surprised?” she asked as she let her friend go and faced her.

                “Yes, I’m very surprised!” Mariah exclaimed. “Is the rest of your family here?”

                “Yes. Bekah and Mom and Dad are here with the baby, and Mark, Jackson, and Parker and their wives and children.”

                “What did your mom have?” Mariah asked curiously.

                “Guess,” Breanna said, smiling.

                “Did she have a boy?” Mariah asked.

                Breanna shook her head. “No, she had a girl. Her name is Katie.”

                The rest of Breanna’s family emptied the front buggy and part of the second buggy. They surrounded Mariah, greeting her happily and eagerly.

                Then they parted to let the remaining guests come through.

                Mariah’s breath caught. “Andrew…?” she asked in disbelief.

                The husband of her sister, Abigail, walked toward her, two young girls in tow.

                “Mariah, you wouldn’t believe how long I’ve searched for you,” he said. “I’m glad to see my favorite sixteen year old sister-in-law!”

                She ran to hug him before bending down to her nieces.

                “Hello, Sadie and Lydia. Do you remember me?”

               

                Lydia, who looked to be about three years old, came forward and gave Mariah a hug. “Hello, Aunt Mariah,” she said. “I’m glad to see you.”

                Mariah smiled as she returned the hug. “And I’m glad to meet you, Lydia, and you too, Sadie,”

 she said to the other girl.

                The two girls ran to hide behind their father again.

                “Well, Mariah, I know you have already been adopted,” Andrew said, “but I haven’t remarried since Abigail’s death, and my two little girls need someone who could care for them in the long stretch. I was hoping that you would be able to come and live with us to care for them.”               

                Mariah looked surprised at the proposition. “I-uh-well, I-“she began, stammering in shock.        

                “You don’t have to,” Andrew said. “It was a suggestion.”

                Mariah looked at her hands. “I’m so happy here. Miriam and Jon have helped me so much since my family’s death.” She looked back at Andrew. “I-I don’t know if I’m capable of caring for two little girls.”

                “That’s alright,” Andrew said quickly. “I’ll try to find someone else.”

                “Why don’t we all go in?” Miriam asked to break the awkward silence that followed the conversation between Andrew and Mariah.

                Everyone trooped inside, and Danielle and Miriam served everyone lemonade and cookies.

                “How are you doing here?” Breanna asked.

                “I’m doing really well,” Mariah replied. “This whole family has helped me recover from my grief so much!”

                They were interrupted as Andrew spoke to Mariah again.

                “I have something different to propose to you,” he said. “Would you be willing if I adopted you and then you could come and care for the girls? Do you still want to live with relatives?”

                Mariah sat up and put down her glass of lemonade. She cleared her throat before saying, “I was very angry at God when my family was killed by the tornado. After I suffered a bout of sickness and almost died in the hospital, he showed me that he really did care for me and that he only wanted what was best for me. He showed me that he wanted me to be adopted by Miriam and Jon and their family and that he would help me to accustom to life in a different family. He wanted me to get to know them better and love them better through this.”

                She paused. “They are my family now.”

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