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Midnight phone call

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Midnight phone call (author unknown) - I received this e-mail and it really
made me think.

We all know what it's like to get that phone call in the middle of the night.
This night's call was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red illuminated numbers of my clock. Midnight. Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver.

Hello?"

My heart pounded; I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who
was now turning to face my side of the bed. "Mama?" I could hardly hear
the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my
daughter. When the desperate sound of a young crying voice became
clearer on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.

"Mama, I know it's late, but don't...don't say anything, until I finish. And before you ask, yes! I've been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and..." I drew in a sharp shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something wasn't right.

"And I got so scared. All I could think about was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said I'd been killed. I want...to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know you've been worried sick. I should have called you days ago, but I was afraid...afraid..."

Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter's face in my mind and my fogged senses seemed to clear. "I think--"

"No! Please let me finish! Please!" She pleaded, not so much in anger but in
desperation.

I paused and tried to think of what to say. Before I could go on, she continued, "I'm pregnant, Mama. I know I shouldn't be drinking now...especially now, but I'm scared, Mama. So scared!" The voice broke
again and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture.

I looked at my husband who sat silently mouthing,
"Who is it?"

I shook my head and when I didn't answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning seconds later with the portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she continued, "Are you still there? Please don't hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone."

I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. "I'm
here, I wouldn't hang up," I said.

"I know I should have told you, Mama. But when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about things and all, but all you do is talk! You don't listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my feelings aren't important. Because you're my mother, you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I don't need answers. I just want someone to listen".

I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my night stand. "I'm listening," I whispered.

"You know, back there on the road, after I got the car under control, I
started thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this
phone booth and it was as if I could hear you preaching about people
shouldn't drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home."

"That's good, Honey," I said as relief filled my chest. My husband came
closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine. I knew
from his touch that he thought I was doing and saying the right thing.
"But you know, I think I can drive now."

"No!" I snapped. My muscles stiffened, and I tightened the clasp on my
husband's hand. "Please, wait for the taxi. Don't hang up on me until the taxi gets there." "I just want to come home, Mama."

"I know. But do this for your mama. Wait for the
taxi, please." I listened to the silence in fear. When I didn't
hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to
stop her from driving.

"There's the taxi, now."

Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing.

"I'm coming home, Mama." There was a click and the phone went silent.
Moving from the bed with tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my sixteen-year-old daughter's room. The dark silence hung thick. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. I wiped the tears from my
cheeks. "We have to learn to listen," I said.

He pulled me around to face him. "We'll learn. You'll see." Then he took me into his arms and I buried my head in his shoulder. I let him hold me for several moments, and then I pulled back and stared back at the bed. He studied me for a second, and then asked, "Do you think she'll ever know she dialed the wrong number?"

I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. "Maybe it wasn't
such a wrong number."

"Mom, Dad, what are you doing?" The muffled young voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness.
"We're practicing," I answered.

"Practicing what?" she mumbled and laid back on the mattress, her eyes
already closed in slumber.

"Listening," I whispered! , and brushed a hand over her cheek.

I wrote your name on a piece of paper, but by accident I threw it away.
I wrote your name on my hand, but it washed away.
I wrote your name in the sand, but the waves whispered it away.
I wrote your name in my heart and forever it will stay..
 

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