The Trade, Chapter 12

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“Daddy, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” As Ruth looked at her father lying in the hospital bed next to hers, she began to cry uncontrollably. Years of rebellion and regret, the fear and shame of the last few months, and all the emotions she had been feeling but sharing with no one, converged and crested like a swollen river and poured out of her in wave after wave of wrenching sobs. The torrent was so strong, she couldn’t tell if the stabbing pain in her chest was physical or emotional.

“Nurse…guard…please!” Ruth’s father looked pleadingly at the two standing by his bed, and at the restraints they had each bound him with. With an intuitive grasp of the gravity of what was unfolding before her, the nurse moved quickly but carefully to remove the needle from his arm, gently placing a square of gauze and a bandage over the entry point, then released him from the blood pressure cuff. The guard, confused but obviously moved by the emotional scene, stared at the man as the nurse attended him, cautiously assessing the situation and the risk. And at the moment Ruth’s father felt the pressure cuff slip off his arm, he saw his ankle cuffs drop onto the bed.

With one dexterous and determined movement he was out of the bed and at Ruth’s side. “Sweetheart,” he whispered through his tears as he gently stroked her bruised and bloodied face and hair. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” he repeated, putting his cheek next to hers as she continued to weep.

“I love you, Daddy. I…I…”

“Shhh. Don’t talk now. You can tell me later.”

“No, Daddy…I need to tell you. I was coming to tell you. Then…the phone…the turn…the car…” As the pieces of her most recent past flashed like a strobe light in her memory, Ruth’s recollections of her less recent past dimmed considerably. She suddenly realized that her very life was in danger now, not just her freedom. Though she had thought about dying as an escape from her predicament before, now she desperately wanted to live because being in her father’s presence after foolishly rejecting him for so long had her feeling loved and whole again. As broken as her body was, whatever was going on in her spirit was definitely of a healing nature.

As Ruth tried to begin to tell her father everything she had planned, he hushed her again seeing that the medical staff, now three nurses and an orderly, were anxiously waiting to take her into surgery. He had been apprised of her multiple injuries before knowing who it was he was donating blood for, and saving her life was all he was concerned about.

“There’ll be time to tell me everything when they’ve got you all fixed up, honey. And no matter what happens, I’ll be here for you, and we’ll handle it together.” Then he gently kissed Ruth on her forehead and cupped her face in his hands before backing away from the side of her bed. As he watched the nurses deftly remove monitors and gather up tubes and IVs, Ruth’s father stood by the door and prayed to his Father, thanking him for reuniting him with his daughter and asking that she be healed. “I know the road ahead won’t be easy for her, Lord,” he prayed, “and she’ll have to pay for the wrong things she’s done. But with you there is complete forgiveness. Please speak to her heart right now and tell her so.”

“Excuse us, sir.” Ruth’s father opened his eyes as the orderly was gently but firmly guiding him away from the doorway. “Gotta’ get this little lady into surgery right away.” As he moved aside, the nurse who had drawn his O negative blood and prayed for his daughter stopped the bed for just a moment when Ruth could see her father’s face again. But Ruth did not see his look of love and concern nor his fingertips as he touched them to his lips. Her eyes were closed and her face, though cut and bruised, exuded a softness and serenity that belied the dire potentialities of her present situation. She would have looked dead except that her lips were silently moving.

And as they wheeled her away, her father closed his eyes again to try and capture the scene in his memory, and the words he was sure she had mouthed. “Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus.”