The Vision

The Vision

Saturday morning was bleak and dreary for All Saints Cemetery.  A funeral service had just concluded.  Mourners filed out of the graveyard, forming a line of black that was as dark as, if not darker than, a starless night sky.  Thick, gray thunderhead clouds covered the sky like a thick blanket, blocking out the sun and threatening to spill rain onto the acres of marble tombstones.  Thunder rumbled sporadically, sounding like a timpani in an orchestra.  A slight breeze blew, rustling through the trees that resided several yards outside the cemetery’s wrought-iron gates.  A bolt of jagged, white lightning streaked the sky in the distance, lighting up the surrounding area.

After the last of the mourners had gone, one of them, a short, red-headed woman named Andrea, stayed behind.  Her long hair fell to her waist in ocean-like waves.  Her eyes were emerald green but there was no life or sparkle in them.  Her fair, slightly freckled face was wet with the stains of tears that had run down her cheeks like salty rivers during the service.  Her heart felt crushed with grief like a bug that had been squashed under a brick.

Andrea had suspected she would have to attend her son’s funeral.  She had suspected something terrible would happen the very day that her thirteen-year-old son, Luke had been murdered.  As a practicing psychic, she knew all about visions and what they meant.  Some of them came true the day she predicted them.  Others happened weeks afterwards.  Whenever she saw something, it usually meant something really good or really bad was about to happen.  It was her job to let her clients know what visions she saw and what was going to happen.  But she never imagined that she would one day envision the brutal murder of her only child.

The Thursday that Luke died started off well.  Andrea and Luke sat down to scrambled eggs and toast to discuss the upcoming weekend.

“There’s going to be a party at the bowling alley,” Luke told his mother before taking a big bite of toast.

“When is it?” asked Andrea, after taking a drink of hot cocoa.

“It starts at seven tomorrow night and ends at midnight,” replied Luke.

“Are you interested in going?”

“Heck yeah!”

“All right.  I’ll get you there. Just make sure your room’s clean first.”

Luke choked on a mouthful of egg.  “Why?”

“Because it looks like a tornado hit it.”

“I can’t waste time cleaning my room!  It’ll take forever to clean!”

“Why don’t you start after you get home from school and football practice?  You’ll have plenty of time to work on it.”

“I’ll have homework.  The room can wait.”

“No, it can’t!  Your room must be clean and tidy before you can go to the party.”

Luke stared angrily at Andrea.  Andrea had to admit that Luke resembled his father, both physically and in attitude.  Her son had dirty-blonde hair which he kept short and had eyes that were the color of melted dark chocolate.  He had a determined spirit and could usually figure out how to get his way.  But he could never argue his way out of his mother’s requests though.

“All right,” he gave in, rolling his eyes, “I’ll get my room clean.”

Andrea smiled and got up from her place to clear the dishes.  As she loaded the dishwasher, she felt a nagging sensation in the pit of her stomach.  It felt like butterflies were swarming inside her gut.  Thinking it was a little case of indigestion from too much food, Andrea tried to shrug it off and ignore it.

At around seven, Luke left for school and Andrea left for her job as the volunteer coordinator at the Rockville Memorial Library, the small library that she and Luke had gone to for as long as they could remember.  As the day passed, Andrea went through the rather large pile of volunteer applications on her desk and felt the familiar knot in her stomach return but with a vengeance this time.  Her palms started sweating and her heart began pounding like a drum.  Seconds later, she received a horrible vision.

She saw Luke’s body on a cold, hard stone path in the neighborhood park.  His left eye was an unpleasant rainbow of red, dark blue, purple, and black.  His lower lip had been split.  Blood gushed like a waterfall from a deep knife wound in his chest, staining his white T-shirt as red as a bottle of Heinz-57 ketchup.  His bare arms were covered in bruises, indicating that someone had beaten him.  Luke’s breathing was labored.  Each breath rattled and paused at longer and longer intervals.  He managed to utter two words, “Mom…Mom…”

Andrea snapped out of her vision.  Thoughts rushed through her mind.  Should I call Luke and let him know what I saw?  What if it scares him?  I don’t want to reveal anything too gory but on the other hand, he should know.  He should be old enough to handle this kind of stuff.  She pulled out her cell phone and looked at the time display.  It was almost two forty-five.  Luke normally texted her at two fifty to let her know that he had made it home safely from school.  But today, Luke had an important football practice at the school and would be staying after for a few hours.  Andrea remembered that he needed to stay after school, put the cell phone back in her pocket and waited patiently for Luke’s text.  She decided to tell him about her vision when he contacted her.

The text never came.  A half hour passed.  Then an hour came and went.  By five thirty, Andrea started to worry.  At seven o’clock, she received the call.  While walking through the park on his way home from school, Luke was attacked by a group of thugs.  Andrea grabbed her keys and hurried down to the Rockville park.  Several paramedics had knelt beside Luke, trying to treat his injuries and save his life.  One of them, a young brunette named Janet, left the group to speak with Andrea.

“Luke’s wounds are really serious,” Janet explained, “We might not be able to save him.”

Andrea’s heart sank.  Tears welled up in her eyes and fear began to set in.  “Can I see him please?”

Janet led Andrea back to see Luke.  To her horror, Andrea saw on closer inspection that the injuries on her son’s actual body were exactly identical to the injuries that she had envisioned!  Andrea backed away from the scene.  Her mind reeled.  A loud roar filled her mind and ears until she realized that the noise came from her screaming.  Shock, grief, and guilt pierced her heart like a needle through thread.  She began to feel dizzy and light-headed as if she were going to faint.  Her stomach churned with nausea and she tried to stifle the urge to vomit.

Why didn’t I say anything?  I should’ve known better than to have kept quiet about that vision!  she yelled at herself mentally.

Just then, Janet approached, “Luke’s conscious but barely,” she told Andrea, grimly, “I think he might be…on his way out.”

Andrea made a considerable effort to regain her composure and walked back over to Luke.  The teenager was indeed barely conscious.  His eyes were open just a crack.  Each breath he took was labored, rattling and pausing at longer and longer intervals just like in his mother’s vision.  Andrea gripped her son’s hand, tears in her eyes.  Luke managed to whisper his two dying words, “Mom…Mom…”

A light drizzle started to fall upon All Saints Cemetery.  Gradually, the drizzle turned into a full blown rain.  Andrea opened the black umbrella that she carried with her and walked farther into the cemetery, away from her son’s freshly dug grave.  Several yards into the acres of tombstones, Andrea found a wooden bench and sat down, not caring about whether she got the back of her black dress wet.

After a few minutes of thinking about her son, Andrea started to wonder if her son was no longer hurt.  Please, Luke, she thought.  Show me that you’re ok.

About an hour later, Andrea got her wish.  The rain slowed down to a drizzle and some of the dark thunderclouds parted, revealing the sun.  Heavenly golden rays of sunlight poured down to earth like water being poured into a glass.  The warmth of the sun felt good on her skin but when Andrea instinctively looked toward the west end of the cemetery, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

A beautiful rainbow had completely arched against the grey background of the sky at the west part of the cemetery.  The colors were as bright and vivid as a box of Crayola markers and each color stood out from the rest of the spectrum.  Andrea felt her heart skip a beat.  This was one of the most brilliant rainbows that she had ever seen.  She started to think about the old Irish legend about the pot of gold that one could supposedly find at the end of the rainbow’s magnificent arch.

For the first time in several weeks, Andrea’s spirits lifted.  A sparkle glinted in her eye and she allowed herself to smile.  A feeling of calm washed over her like an ocean wave washing over sand.  Hope stirred inside the innermost depths of her soul.  The despair that she felt after losing her only son dissolved instantly like a snowball sitting out in the sun.

“Thank you, Luke,” she whispered out loud, “Thank you.”


Animal Shelters

This is what happens at pounds behind the scenes. Please spay or neuter your pets.

All across the world today

in shelters every single day,

dogs and cats sit and wait

until they meet an awful fate.

Some are adopted, some are claimed.

Some are even given names.

But others sit and wait and mope

until it’s said there is no hope.

As critters come and cages fill,

most dogs and cats must be killed.

Some die by gas or given shots.

This happens every day a lot.

Care for your pet every day.

Have your pet neutered or spayed.


I have had many memories of the pets that I have had throughout my life.  But my favorite memory is the story of how my family and I got Coco, our eight-year-old miniature poodle.

It all started back in 2009.  Our old miniature poodle, Carmen, had just died of old age and we missed her terribly.  After two or three months, Mom decided that she wanted another dog in her life, specifically a miniature poodle.

As an animal rescue fan, I thought it would be a good idea to get a dog from a shelter.  We went to the Rappahannock shelter and the Prince William County shelter to search.  Both shelters smelled like bleach.  Dogs barked continuously, causing echoes in the kennel halls.  Neither of the shelters had what we wanted so we left empty-handed.

We also checked an adoption event going on one Saturday morning at Petsmart.  Things were a little quieter but the dogs were mostly hound dogs.  None of us were keen on adopting a hound dog so again, we left without a dog.

Finally, we went to  Mom typed in the criteria for the dog she wanted.  Miniature poodle.  Female.  Young adult.  About one or two years old.  I watched as the search results came up on our computer screen.

The first dog on our list was named Caramel.  She was a little apricot miniature poodle, about three years old.  Her eyes were a rich, chocolate brown.  We learned that whenever she was excited, she would stand on her hind legs and wave her front paws.  We found her charming so we sent in an application.  Unfortunately, we found out later that she had already been adopted out.

The second dog we came across was Maisy Mae.  Maisy was a small, maltese-poodle mix who had been surrendered by her owners because their landlord didn’t allow pets.  She was eight years old and was a dark gray, almost black.  We sent in an application and told that she was having a biopsy done on a lump that was found on her.  The biopsy revealed that she had cancer.  A dog with cancer would’ve meant big vet bills which Mom didn’t want to deal with so we didn’t adopt Maisy either.

The third dog on our list was Poochy.  Poochy was a white poodle-terrier mix, surrendered because his owners were moving and couldn’t take him along.  He was about seven years old and was neutered.  I sent in an application and got in touch with the woman in charge of his adoption.  We talked several times online and I thought we were going to bring him home but there was a problem.  Poochy was yappy.  Mom didn’t want a yappy dog so Poochy didn’t come home with us.

The fourth time was a charm.  We continued our search and found Coco, a (then) six-year old brown miniature poodle living in a shelter in Prince George’s County.  He had been surrendered because his owners could no longer care for him.  We sent in an application and said some prayers that we would get him.  A few days later, the shelter called us and said that before Coco could come home with us, everyone who lived at our house needed to come and meet him.

My stepfather Tony and I were the first to go and meet him.  The trip from our house to the shelter took only about an hour.  The weather was sunny and not too hot.  Clouds drifted through a bright blue sky.  As soon as we got there, one of the shelter workers took us to Coco’s cage.  Coco had been brushed up.  He looked very much like a typical miniature poodle.  We took him out to the interaction pen in the back of the shelter.  While we were out there, we discovered that he knew when to come when called and sit on command.  This raised two green flags with us.

Mom and my sister, Allison, met Coco a few days after Tony and I visited the shelter.  They told the shelter workers that they were interested in adopting Coco and wanted to bring him home.  After this, we had to wait a few days for the adoption to be processed.

The next few days passed painfully slowly.  The tension was as thick as peanut butter as we waited to find out whether we could bring Coco home.  About a week after Mom and Allison visited the shelter, we got the call we had been hoping for.  The adoption had been processed and Coco could come home with us!

Tony and I arrived at the shelter the next day.  We brought along a leash to walk Coco and waited in the lobby while the shelter workers microchipped him and brought him out to us.  After we waited for what seemed like an eternity, Coco came home and has been with us ever since.

Counting My Blessings

I count my blessings

for people I love, for a

body in good health.

But I give most thanks

for God’s biggest sacrifice;

sending Christ to Earth.

God sent his son to

live on earth in human form

to live as we live.

He was flogged harshly

and carried his cross to where

he’d be crucified.

Christ was crucified

like a common criminal

to pay for our sins.

I am truly blessed

to know that Christ died for me

and for all of us.