Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reeling and Writing

I have to be honest. The news that our Latvian kids didn't want to be adopted by us really sent us into a tailspin. I kind of went into mourning. It felt like someone had died in our family. It was, and still is, so incredibly difficult to wrap my mind around this whole thing. So many questions plague me. What happened? What went wrong? Why?

I am learning some things now that are answering some of those questions, but the hole in my heart remains. The hopeful part of me still prays for a miracle. The logical part of me tells me to move on. The realist part of me says to sit still and wait for God's leading. The I-can't-sit-still-and-wait part of me jumps into action with a new project.

Writing has always been cathartic for me. During this time of waiting and praying, I've decided to get started on something I've always wanted to do, but never seemed to have the time for. I really don't have time for it now, but creativity helps me heal.

So ...

I'm writing a book!

It's entitled "Marie: Woman of Beauty, Mother of Courage" and is about my grandmother. I'm posting the first chapter here in the hopes that I'll get honest feedback and some motivation to continue.


Chapter 1 - Escape!

Stealthily they crept like shadows through the gathering darkness, dodging Nazi soldiers dashing madly about, and slipping between trucks bearing the swastika symbol. The rumble of military jeeps filled the air, nearly drowning out the urgent commands barked left and right. The five figures paused in the midst of the commotion to peer through the smoky haze in an anxious search for the correct vehicle. It had to be the right one!

“Over there!” Marie pointed and the frightened group pressed onward towards the back of a truck carrying ammunition. The young driver gave a grim nod and a quick jerk with his thumb towards the bed, then bent back towards his work of duct taping the headlights, allowing on a sliver of light to shine through. Fourteen-year-old Henry clambered over the bed’s rails, then leaned down to help his twelve-year-old sister, Ester. “Hurry!” Marie directed as she and her sister, Anne, climbed aboard. Last up was Anne’s husband, Rolf.

Marie settled herself onto the cold steel and pulled her coat a little tighter. She would not let herself think of the memories they were leaving behind. She watched as her son, Henry, observed the activity unfolding around them. He was the mirror image of her husband. Athletic and strong, he was becoming a man now and needed a future he could look forward to. Marie’s gaze shifted to Ester, her daughter. Quiet and pretty, she loved to read and learn. Marie adjusted the small suitcase containing all she could take with her as the truck jerked to a start. Reviewing the dark events of the last few years, Marie reminded herself once again that she was making the right decision.

The Nazi caravan lumbered into motion as vehicle after vehicle fell into line in the direction of Estonia’s southern border. The Nazi occupation of Estonia was over at last, but there would be no victory celebrations on this night. At that moment a new occupier was crossing Estonia’s eastern border. Russia, with its Communist fury and vision of a massive Soviet Union, was quickly claiming ownership of Estonia’s blood-soaked soil.

Suddenly the caravan came to an abrupt stop. Doors flew open as officers and soldiers fled into the forests. The dull roar of an airplane could be heard overhead. Was it Soviet aircraft? Marie and her family scrambled off the truck and raced beneath the protective cover of Estonia’s vast forests. It would not be the only time on this journey that Marie would whisper desperate prayers for the safety of her family.

The unidentified plane disappeared in the night sky without incident and the caravan resumed its homeward voyage down through Latvia and into Lithuania. These Baltic countries would soon fall, as Estonia had, into the iron clutches of Soviet control. Reeling from the carnage of Hitler’s rampage, Western Europe was catching its first breath of freedom. Eastern Europe, however, could feel the cold breath of Soviet oppression breathing down their necks. It would be a many years before the fires of freedom would thaw Russia’s icy grip on Estonia and her Baltic neighbors.

Perched atop an ammunition pile on the back of a Nazi truck carrying her far away from her beloved homeland, Marie could not think of Estonia’s future. She could only focus on providing the opportunity for freedom for herself and her children. The farther she could distance her family from the evil clutches of Communism, the safer she would feel.