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Brownies, Cappuccino, and Grace

by Jan Ackerson  
9/25/2006 / Short Stories

Somehow, Tammy always knew when I needed a friend. I had been crying all morningtrying to hide my distress from Caleb by claiming that sudden-onset allergies had reddened my nose and moistened my eyeswhen Tammy called.

How does a four-million calorie mocha brownie from the Chocolate Factory sound?

Ive never been one of those fragile women whose appetites shut down when theyre emotional. A four-million calorie treat was exactly what I needed. Ill meet you there in ten minutes. I really need to talk.

Butcan you leave Caleb? I was going to bring it to you.

No, Tammy. I have to get out of the house for a while. Theres only so much physical therapy we can do in one day, and besides, he just got some new voice-activated computer software. Hell be at his computer for hours.

A few minutes later, we were sipping caramel cappuccino and chasing brownie crumbs with our fingertips.

Sowhats up, Jeannie? Calebs therapy not going well? Tammy had followed Calebs progress closely, since Id first called her with the noise of the crash still reverberating in my soul.

I swallowed hard, my eyes prickling again with familiar tears. Nothing new, therapy-wise. But I read an article this morning about some really promising research into a cure for spinal cord injuries

Tammy grasped my hand. Thats wonderful!

Youd think so, wouldnt you? I didnt recognize my voice, strained and bitter. But theyre using embryonic stem cells. Looks like they might have the ability to regenerate damaged spinal cord tissue.

Tammy squeezed my hand. Oh, Jeannie

Ive never held anything back from Tammyshe knew about my first adolescent kiss, my disastrous brief rebellion while in college, my anger at God following Calebs accident. So heres the deal. You know that Ive always been vehemently pro-life, right?

My dear friend nodded. I kept talking, feeling the ugliness of the words before they left my lips. Tammy, I just dont care. If they perfect this cure, even if its twenty years from now, I want it for Caleb.

Tammy met my eyes, and I could see that her own had filled with tears to match mine. I continued with my speechknowing that I would hurt her, too wounded to care. You just dont know what its like to see your child so injured, struggling so hard just to get dressed. Eat a sandwich. Go to the bathroom. I know its wrong, Tammy, but it comes with being a mother. Id do anything for Calebeven if it means losing my salvation. I dont expect you to understand.

I pulled my hand out of Tammys grasp and delivered my final verbal blow. Tell me the truth. If there had been a cure for Kellisomething that would have saved her life twelve years agowouldnt you have grabbed for it, even if it came from embryonic stem cells?

A tear rolled down Tammys face and landed in her cappuccino. She was silent for a minute, and I knew that she was remembering the three weeks after Kellis birth, nearly two months too early. Kelli had spent twenty days struggling for each breath, her tiny chest collapsing alarmingly after each gasp, her skin a frightening shade of bluish-gray. After Kelli died, Tammy and Butch had never been able to conceive again.

No, Jeannie, she finally whispered. I loved Kelli as much as you love Caleb. But her life was no more precious to God than that of any unborn child. She choked back a sob. I couldnt do that, not even to save Kellis life.

Now it was my turn to reach out. Im sorry, sweetie. I really am. Its justI want so badly to see Caleb walk again, and it just doesnt seem like thats ever going to happen.

Tammy smiled through her tears, and spoke with uncommon grace. Of course Caleb will walk again, Jeannie, and if you just think about it for a second, youd know it, too.


No buts. Who knows if theyll come up with a cure during Calebs lifetimebut hell be walking with Jesus forever. Whats a few years of this life, compared to eternity?

I studied my empty plate in silence, letting the words of grace soak into my spirit. When I looked up again, I saw that Tammys face was streaked with tears and a brownie crumb clung to her chin. The light of my Savior shone in her eyes.

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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