The leaves on the trees are gone, on most of them anyway. As Jenna walks along the streets of the big city with dusk closing in, she notices how some trees have tiny red berries still clinging to them as if they won’t let go without a fight. As the lights shine on the berries, the droplets of rain water look like crystals hanging from an elaborate chandelier. As she takes each step, her heart seems to be beating louder. She is breathing a little heavier now and there is tightness in her chest. “Oh great, I can’t afford to get sick now,” she says to herself, thinking of all the work she has yet to do at home. The sitter can only stay till 6:00 and it’s 5:43pm. She has one more block before she reaches her warm home with her children waiting for her as they peer out the condo window from the second floor. Every night, for 5 nights out of the week, her children greet her with stories of the day. How did I raise 4 children without Gary for the past couple years? Her best friend, companion, mentor and father to her children, passed away 2 years ago. It seemed like yesterday when they were all together. “But let’s focus on my 4 blessings waiting for me,” she mumbled. Trying to shake her head to get rid of the negative thoughts, she soon found herself at the bottom of the stairs to her condo.
As always, the kids were waiting. Wanting to share their day with her and crowding around her to give her a hug and kiss. “One at a time my little gems. I can only hear you one at a time. Remember we need to use lower voices. I know you’re excited, so am I. Try to be calm.” She realized that this request may not even reach the ears of her gems. Each was precious and unique and though at times, she wanted peace and calmness, she figured she’d get that later. Jenna paid the sitter and watched as she left to go home.
First, there was Mya who was 8. Brown hair with hazel eyes and looked just like Gary. Even though it pained her to think of him, she was happy Mya reminded her of him. Mya had a talent for playing the piano and would play for the family at least once a week. She wasn’t always in the mood to practice, but worked hard at it. Next was Shayna who had long black hair and dark brown eyes. So dark that you could barely see the pupil. Her talent was dancing. She didn’t go to classes, she just liked practicing what she saw on television shows, music videos and for a 6 year old, she was good. Then there were the twins, Travis and Stefan. Now 4 years old, they were a handful. Both had sandy blonde hair but Travis had light blue eyes and Stefan had green eyes. She had family and friends that helped her when Gary died and she was so thankful for that.
If nothing else comforted her, it would be that she had a weekend with the kids and her parents were coming to visit for a few days. Henry and Janice were your typical 50 something grandparents that looked forward to spending time with the children and of course, her too. It had been 3 weeks since their last visit and Jenna was looking for a little bit of a break. At least to take a bath, light candles, pour a glass of wine and listen to a CD that Gary gave her for their Anniversary.
After dinner, she had the kids help her clean off the table and asked Mya and Shayna to put the leftovers in food bags. She was not in the mood to deal with bowls and lids. As she got the twins cleaned up and put them in their play pens, her chest started to tighten again. “I’m feeling a little funny,” she finally said. Mya wanted to help her, “What’s the matter momma?” “I’m not sure, precious.” Just then she felt as if her heart was going to burst out of her chest. The pain was going down her left arm. “Oh no, Please Lord… help me… and save… my babies.” She sat at the table in the kitchen. Mya had a horrified look on her face. “Momma, what’s wrong, talk to me.” Mya tried not to sound panicked. She remembered what Momma taught her and Shayna in case of emergency. “Shayna, call 9-1-1.” Shayna ran over to the phone to call but the line was dead. No dial tone, nothing. “How come it’s quiet on the phone?” she said in a more panicked voice. “The lines must be down or someone hit the pole down the street.” She thought it was odd they had lights but no phone. “What is she going to do now,” she thought. The twins could sense tension in the air and they started whimpering. Jenna couldn’t talk with the knife like pain radiating from her chest to her arm. All she could do is pray that somehow, someway Mya would know what to do. She motioned to Mya to get her something to write on. Shayna got some supplies out of their craft drawer in the living room. “Here mommy, write what you want to say.” Shayna tried to sound encouraging but she couldn’t hide her feelings very well. Jenna tried to write on the pad, and then another sharp jab of pain stopped her from trying to write. Jenna slid to the floor, the twins started crying now. “Momma, Momma, Momma,” they shouted. Mya froze for what seemed to be forever. It seemed as though things were happening in slow motion.
There was a hard knock on the door which frightened the twins more and Mya and Shayna both jumped when hearing the knock. “Who is it?” shouted Shayna. “Don’t say anything; we don’t know who’s out there, Shayna. Momma said not to answer the door unless we know who it is.” Another hard knock made everyone jump. “Who is it? This late at night? Dad and Mom weren’t going to be there till late,” thought Jenna. Mya started talking out loud with a slight shrill to her voice. “Help, Help! We need help.”
They heard the door unlock and in a hurried voice, “What seems to be all the commotion?” Janice swooped in and saw Jenna clutching her chest while on the floor. “Henry, go get those EMT’s down the street! Mya, get a blanket and Shayna, give the twins their toys to keep them occupied.”
As the family was in the ER waiting, Janice asked Mya, “Are you okay? Momma is being taken care of. The doctors will find out why Momma is sick.” Even though Janice was scared and trembling inside, she had to seem together for the children. A trusted neighbor was watching Travis and Stefan. Shayna was sitting on Grandpa’s lap, very quiet and somber. It was as if she was looking past everyone, not really hearing things that were going on. She zoned out until the Doctor asked, “Is the family of Jenna here?” Janice and Henry swallowed hard. They couldn’t imagine what the doctor could have found out. Jenna was always eating healthy, getting exercise when her schedule allowed it. “Well…it seems that Jenna has had a mild heart attack.” “What’s considered mild?” Janice inquired. “Her heart has no permanent damage and she is resting. I’ve given her pain medicine and if her tests come back good, she can go home in a couple days. However, she needs to be out of work for a couple of weeks so we can find out why this happened.” “I thought that’s what tests are for,” added Henry. “Yes they are. But Jenna should not have had this happen. She is very healthy and we need to be sure we aren’t missing anything.” The doctor directed the nurse to give Henry and Janice whatever information they needed on Jenna’s condition. “She IS going to be…Okay, right?” “I don’t see why not. Being that Jenna is healthy, she will be fine. We just want to make sure.”
Henry and Janice looked at each other and both sighed. “She is one tough cookie, our girl,” Henry uttered with a proud smile. “Yes, she certainly is.” Janice grinned and smiled at Mya and Shayna. “Things will be fine. We will be here for as long as Jenna needs us.”