Journey to Grace
Sofia Di Trapani
Two nights ago, John arrives into this world. His birthmarks are still fresh. They will soon disappear. But, there are new marks on their way; the marks of the human fallen nature. Marks that time can never heal. The ones that only the sinless blood of a man can restore.
He is dead, thought his mother. Trying to calm the voices of regret, she bundled the little body in a white blanket. Whispering “Hush, hush,” she hid behind a wall.
His heart isn't beating, she thought as she placed her hand on his chest.
The clock kept ticking, until the rumbling noises in her stomach were the only noises she could hear.
A tear rolled down her cheek, “I'm sorry,” she said. When she saw the lights around the neighborhood go off, she took a deep breath. A small beam of light, coming from behind, allowed her to see his little face---for the last time. It looked as white as paper. His breathing was as silent as a grave.
She could tell his muscles had lost tone; he wasn't moving.
John's mother looked around making sure no one would see her. The garbage can was a few steps away from where she was hiding. There were a few stairs she could have used to get to the can, but the light shining down that path made her walked through the grass. The darkness surrounding the path seemed more comfortable for her. With a kiss of regret, she placed him inside an old, rusty garbage can. It looked like nothing else would fit. But somehow, she managed to make room for his fragile body. When she opened the can, a strong smell hit her nose, as if something dead was already lying there. She removed plastic bags and saw two rats run away.
Approaching steps made her heart pound fast. She covered her son with a cardboard box and a few plastic bags. The terror overtaking her heart made her run away. She didn't look back.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"I found a baby inside a garbage can behind my apartment complex."
"Is the baby alive?"
"I'm not sure. I heard him scream when I opened the lid. But, I don't see him moving and he hasn't made anymore noise."
"Are you holding him?"
"No, I'm afraid to move him because his hand looks stuck inside an empty soup can."
"Leave him there and don't touch him."
"Where is your emergency?"
"My address is 9281 Powathan Ave. The garbage can is behind the building."
“The paramedics are on their way."
A cold breeze blew on Kirsten's face. She wish she could hug the baby. The fog embracing her grew thicker. She didn't have the courage to leave the baby there by himself. Even if he's dead, I want him to know someone cared, Kirsten decided to wait for the paramedics. She prayed, "Father, save this little baby. Let your unmerited favor be greater than any human mistake."
Kirsten turned on her cellphone to try to take a better look of the baby. The smell of death made her hold her breath.
What a terrible place to dump a human being, she thought as she noticed the rusty edges of the can. It reminded her of a time she felt she was living in a dumpster. “God,” She prayed trying to apace the sense of debt she had with God, “When I was on my sin, you found me; just like I found him,” she turned and looked inside the can, “You cleansed me, and now I have the opportunity to give back to you by taking care of this baby.” Kirsten forgot, that just like this baby, she didn't have to do anything to deserve God's love. Yet, she felt she couldn't receive His love for free.
The sound of sirens approached Kirsten's location and hope in her heart began to rise.
“Where is the baby?” asked the paramedic.
“Inside the trash can,” Kirsten said.
“Have you seen him move?”
“No. Not really. But I heard him scream when I open the lid twenty minutes ago,” she said.
The paramedic, proceeded to bring the baby out of the can and check for vitals. He removed the blanket, once white, now covered in scarlet red. The paramedic noticed the baby's left arm was turning purple, “The can almost cut to the bone,” he said.
The paramedic placed him on the back board. Then, he kept looking for a sign of life. “I can't pick up the heartbeat,” he said.
Wiping off a drop of sweat, he turned to his partner, “DOA,”
Kirsten's heart twisted inside. A tear rolled down her cheek. As strange as it is, she bonded with the rejected one. Her heart ached for the one who could never pay her back. She prayed, “God, If something I've learned is we are born with a sin nature. We deserve to die. Even this little one. But, Jesus, through his blood has given us the right to live an abundant life. So, I ask you in the name of Jesus to make this little baby live a---"
Listening to his stethoscope, “Wait a second,” The paramedic said. “I'm picking up something.”
Closing her eyes and tightening her fist, “Thank you Jesus,” Kirsten said.
The paramedic placed an oxygen mask on the baby's face, he said, “This baby is a fighter.”
Kirsten looked up and began to see the fog dissipate. The stars began to shine upon her face. She turned to the paramedic and asked, “Can you take me to the hospital with you?”
“Not a problem,” he said.
“Hi mom” Said Kirsten on the phone.
“Hey, how are you?”
“I'm doing good. I'm at the hospital but everything is fine with me.”
“What happened?” her mother asked. “Are you OK?”
Kirsten took a deep breath as she noticed her hands were shaking, “Yes mom, don't worry. Someone dumped a baby inside a bin behind my apartment. I found him.”
”Oh my word,” said Kirsten's mom. “Is he doing alright?”
Kirsten sat down, drank a sip of water, “Well, they declared him Dead on Arrival,” Kirsten cleared her through, “But something amazing happened,” she said. Then, she told her about the miracle of life she experienced.
“Wow. That is amazing. Almost unbelievable,” said her mom.
With a knot on her stomach, Kirsten blurted out, “I'm thinking on keeping the baby.”
“What?” said her mom. “Are you crazy?”
“No mom, I feel this baby is a blessing.”
“Don't do anything crazy. You cannot afford a baby right now,” said her mom.
“Yes, I can. I can use my college funds to raise him. I trust God will provide for all my needs.”
“Listen, don't rush it. Hear some advice. It's going to cost you a lot; your career, your dreams are all going down the drain. You are not even going to be able to find anyone to marry you with a child. There is a lot on stake here. You'll loose everything.”
“Mom, I know this is the right thing to do. I want to do it. I'm not afraid,” said Kirsten.
“You are only 22 years old. You are not done with school and you are so close. D---”
Kirsten observed from the distance, a short woman with a long brown skirt approaching the hospital's information center, across the waiting room. The lady giving the information, pointed at Kirsten's direction. After a few minutes, the lady began to walk towards Kirsten, “Mom, I have to go. I think the social worker just got here. She wants to talk to me. I'll call you back,” Kirsten said.
Holding her glasses with a hand, the social worker asked, “Did you see the person who put him in there?”
“No. I found the baby inside the bin. I stayed there for about twenty minutes after I called 911. And I didn't see anyone come by to claim him,” said Kirsten. “What will happen to the baby?” she asked.
Looking at her watch after taking some notes, the social worker replied, “We need to find his relatives.”
“Where is he going to be during this time?” Meredith asked. “Once his health is stable, he'll go to a foster home.”
Kirsten couldn't bear the thought of this baby going through the foster care system. Kirsten's mind wandered, What if he doesn't have good foster parents? What if they harm him? Without hesitating, she said, “I would like to adopt the baby if you don't find his relatives. Can I be his foster parent as well?”
“Do you have a foster care license?” the social worker asked.
“No, I don't,” Kirsten said.
“You'll need one,” the social worker extended her hand, “Here is my card. Give me a call.” She was about to walk away when the doctor caring for the baby came out of the emergency room.
“How is he doing?” Kirsten asked.
“I'm sorry,” the doctor said, “ unfortunately, I can only share this information with the legal guardians.”
Kirsten went back and sat on the waiting room. She meant to call her mom but she got distracted by the smell of death in the room. Metallic smell can never disappear, she thought. Not even with the sterilizing chemicals they use to disinfect. Kirsten took a moment to look around. She saw the white colors on the walls, blue aprons covered with blood. Her stomach revolved inside of her as she saw the pain on people's face; sucking life out of them. The fear in people's eyes, penetrated her soul. The wife running beside her husband's bed as tear rolled down her cheek was a hard scene to take in. For a moment, she looked down, the tile floor as she dangled her feet on the chair she was sitting on. It reminded her of her church's floors. She thought those floors were a sign from God. At church, her pastor would always encourage the parishioners to be compassionate and do good deeds. After all, he wanted his church members to be like Jesus. The teachings of her church on doing works were subtle but strong enough to make her feel guilty if she wouldn't adopt the baby. Suddenly, her ears were pierced by the agonizing cry of a patient with a broken leg. Apparently, a drunk driver ran him over. Kirsten wanted to run away and forget about the world she never knew before. Then she thought, I cannot be arrogant and pretend humans deserve better. All that I see are just effects of the curse that came through Adam. We are living in a fallen world.
The desperate cry of a mother snapped her out of her thoughts, “Please, save my baby,” the mother said as she held her baby nearly dead. A few minutes went by and Meredith heard the innocent baby had died.
She heard the mother ask, “Why me God?”
Kirsten was tempted to question God. So, when she heard the mother's cry, she pondered Why would the innocent die?
Then, she remembered, Sin came through Adam. Therefore, no one is born good. We all deserve death, destruction and curses. I just have to remember, even though we don't deserve life itself, God sent his son to rescue us from the curse of death.
Kirsten sighed, put her shoulders back, held her head high and prayed, “God, help me to remember through your blood you have freely given us a way to have the abundant life we don't deserve.”
Several hours went by since Kirsten got there. When she was ready, she called her mom to ask her for a ride back home.
Kirsten still couldn't believe her eyes. She was still thinking about everything she saw. She got on her mother's car and rushed to hug her. Her eyes couldn't contain the tears anymore. Her mother hugged her back and waited for Kirsten to calm down, “How is the baby doing?” she asked.
“I don't know. They didn't tell me. They are not authorized or something,” said Kirsten.
With a trembling voice, her mom asked, “Are you still thinking of adopting him?”
Nodding her head, “Yes,” she said.
“You know you don't have to. You already did good by taking him to the right place,” said her mom.
“I know,” Kirsten said.
“Is this something God is asking you to do? Is that something you learned at church?” asked her mom.
“Well, I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Kirsten.
“OK” replied her mom. “So, When are they going to give you the baby?” she asked as if she cared.
“I don't know, I need a foster care license first. Then, I need to start the adoption process.”
“You know it's going to be expensive, right?”
“I don't care. I love this baby as my own.” Kirsten replied.
“ I don't understand. Why?” asked her mom, “he is probably going to have mental and emotional issues. If that's not enough He'll probably have physical limitations.”
Kirsten just remained silent as she listen her mom's arguments.
“Sometimes, adopted children can be bitter and give you a hard time.” said her mom.
“Mom, you know what?”
“What?” Her mom said.
“I don't care what he looks like. I don't care what he does. I don't know why but I love him just as he is.”
“OK, I'll ask this one more time. Be honest with me. Are you doing this for pity? Or are you trying to prove you are a good religious person?” asked her mom.
“Well mom, if I don't do what's right then how will people know I'm a good Christian?” said Kirsten.
Kirsten remain silent for a while, she was sure God was convicting her to do a sacrifice greater than what she could take, “ Besides, I'm doing this because I really love the baby.” Then, Kirsten cleared her throat, I love the baby, I love the baby, she tried to reassured herself.
“Well, If you insist in doing this, I will tell you, I'm not going to help you. It's for your own good.”
“Because, you need to finish school. How are you going to pay for the adoption process? Are you going to graduate? You are throwing away your future for someone who doesn't deserves it.”
“One thing I know, mom,” said Kirsten,
“Yeah, what's that? Ms. wise”
“God will be so pleased with my good deeds,” Kirsten said.
Slamming on the breaks, “Excuse me for saying this but, You are just being stupid,” said her mom. Then, she parked in-front of Kirsten's apartment.
“I'm not stupid. If I do this sacrifice for God then he will reward me,” Kirsten yelled back at her.
“I think that' doesn't make any sense,” her mom said, “The things they teach you at church are ruining your life!”
“What do you mean?” Kirsten asked.
“I thought you believed Christ died for your sins and through his blood you became pleasing to God.”
“Well, yeah,” Kirsten said.
“Then why would you need to do this for God to be pleased with you?” Asked her mom.
Looking down, she couldn't respond to her mom. She didn't want to admit the messages she has heard at church contradicted the fundamental truth of Christianity; Everyone has sinned. Therefore, no one can pay to God. The only payment God accepted to cancel our debt with him was the blood of his Son. Even if she adopted a baby, her sacrifice was not enough to make her pleasing to God; her good deed would be an underpayment.
“Thanks for driving me home,” said Kirsten “Hey, just one more thing” Kirsten said before closing the door.
“Yes,” said her mom.
“I have the conviction in my heart. I will adopt him. His name will be John.”
Six months later. Kirsten was able to adopt John. John had been in a comma for the past six months. She had permission to visit him at the hospital. It was for her to see the tubes surrounding him. The first time she visited him, she felt she had to run out of the room. She didn't want to transmit any wrong emotion to the baby. A sobbing through her lips escaped as she stood against the wall outside his bedroom. Closing her eyes, the only thing she could see was a picture of the disfigured face of John. Putting herself together, Kirsten took a deep breath, peek behind the window and decided to walk back into the bedroom.
This is the right thing to do, she thought. At church, they have taught me to be obedient and help the least of these. The closer she got to his bed, the more she would remember her mom's words, why do you need to offer a sacrifice, wasn't Christ the accepted sacrifice? Was his blood not enough? She remembered.
“I can't be selfish and regret adopting him” she condemned herself as she looked at John's condition. He must be in so much pain right now. She tried to comfort him by holding his fingers. They almost felt as if they were going to break by the slighter touch. As Kirsten convinced herself her good deeds scored points with God, the doctors walked into the room. It was time for her to make the call. “ Whenever you are ready,” said the doctor. “We will take him off life support.”
“What are his chances of survival?” Asked Kirsten.
“He is not going to live. If he lives, he will remain a vegetable for the rest of his life,” said the doctor.
“Is there something we could do to improve his chances of survival?” asked Kirsten.
“No. There isn't.”
Kirsten sat down as the doctors left the place. She prayed, “Father, I know Jesus died on the cross. He bore our sin, our mistakes and our punishment at the cross. I believe in you. And because of your Son I can pray. So I ask you to heal John. You bore the wounds in his place. Grant him life on earth because at the cross you took the death he deserved.”