Weekly Shorts

Story of the Week

The title of this week’s story is …

What Now?


By Chantelle Carignan-Fieldhouse

Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels.com

“She has Spina Bifida,” the doctors told my mom, who was shocked at the news while holding her seemingly perfect newborn daughter. “She kinda looks like Snow White,” my mom whispered, her broken heart probably quietly wondering, What now?

“She needs surgery,” the doctors informed my mom that her 10-day old baby must be put under to maybe save her. I almost hear the silent prayer slip from my mother’s lips, What now, good Lord, what now?

“She may never walk or talk, be able to feed herself, or have any independence,” the doctors said. I can only imagine the emotions going through my mom’s mind at that point. I am sure that she asked more than once, What now?

But then I grew, and I did walk. I did talk. I went to school. I ran and played along with the rest of them. I wasn’t perfect, but I had independence and these incredible feet that ran, played soccer, and loved life.

Slowly little things began to let go. Maybe my feet didn’t carry me as strongly as I had hoped, or I noticed I couldn’t keep up with the other kids. With each frustration, with each fall, I would whisper to myself, What now?

Years passed, and I got compartment syndrome. With a deep breath, my mom picked the torch back up and led me through every test and examination. The pain was severe, but her love was always greater. I mostly recovered from the compartment syndrome, but as that nightmare ended, I developed a hole in my left foot. Looking to my mom for strength, we braved the new waters, myself often asking her, “Momma, how much more suffering?”

“Momma, how many more doctors’ appointments and scary tests?”

“Momma, if you love me, you will let me die. Please. Let me die.”

While the storm worked hard at beating her emotional body to a pulp, exhaustion forever looming over her in a dark compressing cloud, my mom never lost her faith. But while holding me close, I know she asked God, “What now?”

“We need to do surgery,” the doctors said. “Her feet need help, the muscles are deteriorating.” It took 6 surgeries before I looked at my mom and asked, “Momma, what now?” It was as if my life, my self worth, my entire being, was under attack and I felt lost. Hopelessness began to rule. The darkness took a tight hold and refused to let go. For years, with every new wave, I would ask, “What now?”

“She needs an amputation.” While we had heard this more than once by now, this time it felt different. This time, this was my option, and this was my challenge. My mom wept as I bowed my exhausted head and said yes. My heartfelt a mixture of joy and fear as I signed the paperwork. My mom’s heart, always overflowing with love, had trickles of fear and doubt running through the same waters. I felt her fear and doubt deeper than the love, it was as if I was being wrapped around the ankles and pulled downwards. In a moment of complete loss, I brokenly asked my momma- what next?

The time had come. We have prepared all that we could. In one last exhausted hurrah, my mom hugs me tight and then releases me into the medical team’s hands.

After surgery, I asked the nurses and doctors, “What’s next?”

“A lot of pain. A lot of exercise. A lot of working hard,” they answered.

And just as that exhausted being had given up, my head bowed down, a new fire began to kindle. I raise my weary head, and where fear once was, a fire burns deeply. In my eyes, a newfound determination. As I slowly pick my broken body back up, repairing the wings that had been repeatedly trampled on, I work to release myself from the fear and the pain. While burning through it with my feverish determination, I cling to my mother’s soothing river of love for grounding.

While it may hurt, this is the cost of freedom.

While my body is being filled with a fresh breath of air, the smoke clearing out from around my war-torn body, something begins to emerge.

It appears to be a symbol of strength, love, and a new wave of changes, challenging every new, “What now?”


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