Crossroads Through Time
It happened ever so subtly. At first, it just seemed like an unsettling change in feelings Genevieve got from time to time; something she shrugged off as inconsequential. Now, reflecting back, it had been present all along. She could remember back as far as the time her father died, and the bleak darkness she felt when she held her mother. The self-doubt and worry Aunt Melinda felt when Genevieve and Tess first arrived--then later, the confidence and love of a mother for her children. From the time Tess was little, and as she grew, Genevieve always knew when her sister was frightened, passionate, beyond the moon happy or annoyingly bored. With a lingering touch, she knew...yet she didn't.
For when Genevieve first experienced the feelings of another, she was unaware it came from them, assuming the feeling was her own, even if it was dramatically different than what she had been currently experiencing. Because, it was only when the contact was longer, that the feeling became stronger, more defined. And since the feeling never was felt suddenly, it wasn't apparent…early on.
It wasn't until Genevieve held her firstborn baby daughter for the first time that the feelings coming from Ella felt otherworldly. An abiding love, unobstructed and unfiltered yet, to protect the ego. The feelings were indescribably different from anything else Genevieve had ever experienced. That was when Genevieve understood, finally, the true and undeniable ability she had, to intimately feel what someone else felt.
But it had become a Pandora's box. Often the overwhelming negative feelings felt by others threatened to overtake Genevieve's happiness. She knew there had to be a reason for this “gift,” as there always was a reason, but it alluded Genevieve of its purpose. Though she felt the transcending euphoria when holding her sleeping infant, people often felt violated when they found out Genevieve could feel their emotions, especially painful ones. For emotions are the most personal possession a human has, and for many, hiding them is a secret that needs to stay that way. As time went by, Genevieve found that wearing gloves, when she was away from the sanctuary of her home, gave her relief from unwanted feelings that tore at her heart.
At home, Teddy had acclimated to Genevieve's “talent,” and, although it could have seemed unfair that she always knew his moods, Teddy felt it never mattered, saying, “I don't have the sense of touch that ye do, but ever since the first time my eyes met yours, I always knew how ye felt. I cannot explain it, but I just knew.”
Ella was just now understanding the power of her mother's ability. Although it had always been second nature for her mother to perceive whatever Ella was going through, it never really mattered when she was very small. But, as Ella started to expand her world outside of the home, especially after starting school, she began to get frustrated when Genevieve would ask why she was sad, anxious or disappointed. Even when Ella felt hopeful, she didn't always want her mom to know why.
Now that Ella was in the first grade, Genevieve knew the relationship with her daughter must be based on trust, established early, before Ella started to resent her mother for her intrusion. After talking things over with Teddy, it became a rule at the house, that if Ella or any loved one, wanted their privacy, Genevieve would wear gloves. As she explained to Ella, “I can't imagine what it would be like if someone could do to me what I'm able to do with others. I believe I was blessed with this ability for a reason, and someday it will become clearer, but I trust in you, my sweet girl, and will always respect your privacy. You just have to let me know.” The comforting surprise was that Ella never asked her mom to wear her gloves, so Genevieve still could feel her little girl's transparent emotions whenever they hugged. However, when Genevieve occasionally felt an emotion coming from Ella that made her wonder, she didn't pry.
Having given birth to Broc three months earlier, Genevieve was still basking in her infant's perfect love. The strongest of feelings were always when her baby slept. Holding him, she felt almost addicted to the rapturous heavenly connection he still had as he smiled in his slumber, and the purest trust and adoring love for her when he was content, looking into her eyes. Even when he was tired or hungry, the feelings were always clear, simple, and uncomplicated. By the time the baby was six months, that incredible feeling would start to fade and the more recognizable emotions humans have would replace it; the start of more complex feelings.
And life was surely complex. Genevieve did all she could, not to violate anyone's privacy without the consent or knowledge of the other, yet, in a very short time, she was going to be asked to violate her very own credo. If she didn't have borders or ethical rules to protect herself and others, where would she be headed?
As Genevieve sat at her vanity in her large bathroom, she stared into the mirror. She was twenty-six, married to the love of her life and mother to Ella and Broc. A dream life for anyone, with comfort and respectability. Yet, as she studied her reflection, the mirrored image only showed what Genevieve felt… lost.
Genevieve learned from an early age that dwelling on what made her feel bad, only made her life worse. Aunt Melinda was instrumental in turning Genevieve's chaotic young life around by giving her the tools to stop her constant fear and worry and see life in a different way. Every night, for more than a year after she and Tess arrived at Aunt Melinda and Uncle Steven's home, Aunt Melinda would sit with Genevieve and go over her day, asking how each event made Genevieve feel. If something were bothering Genevieve, which was often, Aunt Melinda would ask her to tell a different story; one that made her feel better. “Close your eyes and tell me what happened again, but this time you are smiling by the end of it. How do you change the story, Genevieve?”
It seemed like a stupid waste of time at first, but it wasn't long before Genevieve saw herself looking at any particular obstacle that was causing distress, and finding a different perspective on it, one more positive. “Look for the good Genevieve, look for the good,” she remembered hearing her aunt say over and over. It became Genevieve's mantra back then. As time went by, the clouds that always haunted Genevieve dissipated. It was a powerful understanding that had helped her countless times, when negative feelings wanted to burrow their way in and take a firm hold on her.
For the first time in a very long time, Genevieve sensed the clouds gathering again. The question was whether she could look at what lie before her and know what the right perspective would be.
Genevieve heard a knock at the bathroom door. “Gen, Stuart and Jennifer are here.”
Genevieve got up, walked over and opened the door to see Teddy holding baby Broc as he slept. All Genevieve wanted to do at that moment was to cuddle with her baby and escape into the feeling of which she knew he was basking. But, instead, Genevieve placed her hand on Teddy's arm and gave each of them a kiss. Then, forcing a smile, she said, “I'll go talk to them.” She could feel Teddy's helplessness in the situation.
“I'll put the baby doon, and meet ye in the living room.” Genevieve nodded her head and started walking down the hall. When she was halfway down the large open stairway, she saw the two of them, staring up at her with an anxious, pleading expression on their faces.
Stuart Kohl had been a friend of Genevieve's ever since they were in the equestrian circuit together. He even dated her once before she had met Teddy. Staying close, Stuart went to Genevieve and Teddy's wedding, bringing along his girlfriend Jennifer, who became his wife a year later. It was a couple years later that they had little Christina, or Chrissy, who was now four years old. Although Ella was a little older than Chrissy, the two loved to play with each other when the families frequently got together.
Stuart and Jennifer knew about Genevieve's “gift,” and both were fascinated by her ability. Sometimes, if they went to dinner together, Stuart or Jennifer would have fun trying to hide a particular feeling they had, and see if Genevieve could sense it. But Genevieve had become quite attuned to the nuances she felt. With practice, she had learned how to distinguish her feelings from others and could often read two and even three different feelings within another, however, she had a much clearer understanding when the feelings weren't so fragmented.
As Genevieve greeted each with a warm hug, Teddy was making his way down the stairs. “The kids are taking naps now, so we shouldn't be interrupted,” he said.
When they all sat down in the comfortable, inviting living room, Jennifer started trembling with visible signs of worry. Stuart held her hand and looked at Genevieve. “Thank you, Genevieve. We know how you feel about your ability, but you are our only hope.”
Genevieve looked at them and took a deep breath before she began. “When I got your call last night and rushed to the hospital, everything was so unclear and chaotic. The two of you were with Chrissy and the doctors. When I spotted Jennifer's mom, I asked her what had happened. All she could tell me was that Chrissy had been in a serious accident. It was late, and the children were terribly fussy. Teddy couldn't get away from work and so after a little while I had to leave. I hope you understand how sorry I am that I couldn't be there for you.”
Jennifer shook her head. “There was nothing you could have done anyway last night. I just called because we wanted you both to know.”
Genevieve then continued, “So, when you called early this morning you said I was the only one that could save her. Can you tell me now what happened? I'm not sure how I could help, but fill me in on everything you know.”
Stuart was first to speak. “I understand now, when a parent says, 'It happened so fast.' You know the county carnival has been here for the last two weeks. I think you went last week, right?” Teddy nodded his head. “We took Chrissy to it last year, and she loved it. So, yesterday, after her nap, we decided to take her again this year. She was having such a good time....” Stuart stopped abruptly, fighting strong emotions that were triggered upon his reflection. Then Jennifer took over.
“We had just gotten off the merry-go-round, for the third time. Chrissy saw a man holding balloons, and before we knew it, she dashed out, toward him. She was only looking up at all the colorful balloons and didn't see the two carnival workers who were carrying a heavy steel pole, obstructing her path. It was like slow motion, watching her forehead slam into the beam, and her little body fly backward, hitting her head again, hard against the dirt pathway.”
Genevieve closed her eyes. Jennifer paused for a few moments, cleared her throat, then continued, “When I ran up to her I thought she was dead. Getting her to the hospital seemed to take forever. The doctors don't have much hope. They've relieved the pressure in her skull, and she's in a coma.”
Genevieve opened her eyes and took Jennifer's hand. She could feel a torrent of conflicting emotions, “So, how do you think I can help?”
Jennifer smiled for the first time, “Bring her back to us.”
Genevieve instantly felt a tightening in her own chest. “How do you think I could do that, Jennifer?”
Stuart interjected, “You can feel what she feels, right?”
Nodding her head, Genevieve replied, “Yes, but no matter what she is feeling, I can't communicate with her.”
Jennifer let go of Genevieve's hand and pulled a small plastic ring from her pocket. “She won this treasure yesterday. When I was sitting with her on the way to the hospital, I noticed it, still on her finger.”
Tears were appearing in everyone's eyes. “When I reached down and held her hand, you appeared in my mind, Genevieve. Of all the thoughts that had been whirling around, when I held her hand, all I saw was you, by her bedside, hands on hers. I don't know if it came from Chrissy or heaven above. You've told us there has to be a reason God gave you your ability. Maybe this is it. Maybe there is something, which even you aren't aware of, that could help my baby. Please, Genevieve at least give it a try.”
Genevieve was scared. If there was something to whatever Jennifer experienced, then the ability Genevieve thought she had a handle on, was going to reveal more than she may be ready to know. And, if it ended up as she assumed, the best she could do for Stuart and Jennifer would be to give them some peace, yet, still break their hearts because she wasn't able to live up to their expectations.
Everyone watched in silence, as Genevieve sat with eyes downcast, moving them from side to side as if weighing the pros and cons, again in her mind. “If I were in your shoes, I would do whatever I could to help my children. Nothing would be off the table if I had the slightest glimmer of hope. So, for that reason, I will go to Chrissy. But, I still must stress, I don't see how anything I do could change what will happen, one way or the other.” Jennifer lunged at Genevieve and held her tight. Stuart looked at Teddy with a smile and nod of his head. The feelings between Jennifer and Genevieve had been miles apart, but Jennifer's elation and optimism flooded over Genevieve's feelings of doubt and pessimism, so, Genevieve chose to “look for the good,” and could only hope there would be some when she was done.
Teddy stayed behind until someone could come and stay with the children. Genevieve left for the hospital with Stuart and Jennifer. The car was quiet as they drove into town, everyone deep in their own thoughts. As Genevieve sat in the back seat, she saw Chrissy's toys scattered about, and noticed one of Chrissy's favorites, lying next to her. A tiny giraffe, maybe five of six inches tall, made of soft yellow fabric and white spots. Chrissy took it everywhere. Its face was faded and worn as she would suck on the poor giraffe’s head like a pacifier when she was very little. Genevieve picked it up and held it. “I think Chrissy might be looking for her giraffe. I'll take him along with us to see her.”
Jennifer looked back and saw Genevieve holding the small toy. As Jennifer stared at the giraffe, tears welled up in her eyes, “Yes, I'm sure she's missing him.” The two looked at each other and smiled.
Stuart quickly took the first parking spot he could find, and they all rushed into the hospital. As they got to the second floor, where Chrissy's room was, several of the hospital staff were seen rushing around. Stuart could see where the activity was focused and started running down the hall. “Oh, no!” Jennifer shouted, and started running after Stuart with Genevieve close behind.
When they got to Chrissy's room, Stuart's parents and Jennifer's mom stood just outside. “What's happening?” Stuart asked his mom.
“She started to go into convulsions a few minutes ago! She seemed okay before that, sleeping quietly. Even the doctor said her condition seemed stable an hour ago.”
Genevieve watched as two nurses and a doctor held Chrissy down while another doctor was adding something to her IV line. After a few minutes, she was lying, still. As one of the doctors continued to monitor her vital signs, the other came out to talk to everyone outside the room. “Chrissy has suffered a stroke.”
Jennifer put her hand over her mouth, trying to muffle a painful wail, as her mother wrapped her arm around her. Stuart looked at the doctor, “So, what are you saying? Will she recover?”
The doctor looked at Stuart with utmost compassion in his eyes. “Mr. Kohl, I can't imagine how hard this is for you and your wife. I wish I could say yes, that she will recover, but her head injury is extensive. This stroke is another indication that without warning, a rupture has occurred, due to the trauma. If she can get past the next few days and the swelling goes down in her brain, there is a much better chance of survival. Don't give up; there is hope.”
Stuart turned to Genevieve, “Please, go to Chrissy. If we wait any longer, it might be too late!” Stuart and Jennifer must have mentioned their hope in Genevieve because as she looked around, their family and even the doctor standing next to Stuart gave her an expectant, hopeful look.
Genevieve wished Teddy was there as she glanced down the empty hallway. Slowly, Genevieve walked toward the little girl, as the remaining doctor and nurses left the room. Stuart and Jennifer shadowed Genevieve to the bed, while the rest of their family remained by the door. She's just so little, Genevieve thought. As she gazed upon the little girl that had the cutest infectious giggle, the abundant dark brown curls that once covered her small head were now gone, replaced with white sterile dressings. Her face was pale, forehead badly bruised, and arms lying limp at her side. Stuart grabbed a chair that was in the corner and moved it next to the bed, so Genevieve could sit. Giving a cursory smile, Genevieve sat down and stared at Chrissy's hand lying in front of her. With a deep breath, she placed the giraffe next to Chrissy, then took Chrissy's tiny hand, wrapping both of hers around it.
Copyright Sheryl M Frazer 2017