Summer unofficially ended yesterday, and as I look back to the trips we took over the last few months, one in particular stands out in my memory. It was a trip back to a scene from the manuscript, similar to the one I took a couple of years ago. This scene comes very early—in the first chapter—and it was the first time I used setting as a means of conveying an inner transformation. It was a much smaller and more subtle revelation than the one I received on the beach four years later, but it gave me my first opportunity to write such a scene. That I wrote the first draft of the scene prior to the beach trip, when the shape of the narrative was still somewhat nebulous, makes me wonder if the very act of writing it helped prepare me for the experience on the beach a few months later. Perhaps God was preparing me through my writing for what I would have to face, and helping me to understand it.
A little background. At this point in the story Julia is about six weeks pregnant. We haven’t heard a heartbeat yet, so we’ve only told a few people—her mom, my parents, our priest, and one friend from my college days, who happened to be visiting Oregon that week. We swore him to secrecy until we made the news public.
The day before he flew back to Galveston, Eric and I took a day trip to Salt Creek Falls. So far, our conversation had covered the usual topics: the music we were writing, the concerts we had seen, and the old tales from college we enjoyed retelling again and again. I’m not sure what it was about the long hike down to the base of the falls, but from that point the conversation grew more personal.
“I am getting in way over my head,” I said.
“Parenting. I’m going to be a father in seven months and have no idea what I’m doing.”
“You’re reading pregnancy books, right?”
“Yeah, and I’m not worried about that. Julia’s got the rough part; I just need to be there to support her. But what about after the baby comes?”
“You’re asking me? I just got into a serious relationship a few months ago. We’re still figuring out if we’re right for each other.”
“I know. I think I just need to vent a bit.”
We reached the last overlook at the base of the falls. A fence blocked our path down from there.
“What the f—,” he said. “When the hell did this go up?”
“I guess someone decided it was slippery and didn’t want to get sued.”
“Well that sucks!”
I laughed. “So were you actually planning to hike down there?”
“Remember the last time? You got soaked by the spray and then complained about it the whole way back to Eugene.”
He laughed too. “Yeah. You got a real kick out of that.”
We stood there as our laughter dissolved into the echoes around us. We watched the water cascade down from the cliff two hundred feet above us, and crash into the little creek below. The sound of the water roared through the valley, and broken tree trunks lay scattered where the current had left them. At that moment a strange calm came over me. My worries hadn’t left me, but they felt a bit lighter.
“Dude, you’ll be fine,” Eric said without looking up. I knew he was right. I could handle anything as long as the baby was okay. “Please God,” I prayed silently at the base of the waterfall. “Please let my baby be okay.”
God answered my prayer—in a way I never expected.