Friday, February 03, 2006
In Love With Rosy
Kit sighed. Her little brother now had physical therapy to endure, on top of the numerous surgeries to correct his leg injuries. This meant more time spent in Children’s Hospital.
“That’s okay, Sissy.” His pure blue eyes looked straight into her soul. “I like it here. I gots lots of friends.”
She blinked back the mist that had blurred her vision. It seemed Cubby was always teaching her a lesson. This time—patience.
Why did God allow the car accident that took her dad and step-mom and left Cubby with leg injuries at the age of two? Her father had been so happy, remarried to his second wife and starting a new family with a baby boy. How could God be so cruel?
Cubby, now five years old, wheeled his tiny chair around so he could look in his half-sister’s face. “I lub you, Sissy.”
“I love you, too. Now go play.” She motioned toward the room full of children, all with disabilities, but each full of energy as they interacted with the others.
“How’s it going, Kit?” Her friend plopped down next to her. Peggy, a plump, pretty woman, volunteered at the orthopedic play center. She was attempting to hold an active two-year-old girl with a clubfoot. “Looks like Angel Baby is doing well.”
Kit smiled at Peggy’s reference to Cubby. He'd made a name for himself around the ward, visiting with new patients, relieving their fears.
“Now we start the therapy process. Because of his injuries, he’s never walked. They tell me it may be painful for him, but it’s necessary if he’s to grow up normally.”
“He’s sure a little miracle. I’m going to miss him.” Was that a tear glistening in her eye? “Hey,” Peggy changed the subject. “Have you heard about Rosy?”
“Who?” Kit had become distracted by a vigorous game of racing cars on an imaginary track.
“Rosy. He’s a mystery clown.” Peggy whispered dramatically.
“Is that like a super hero with a secret identity?”
“In a way, yes. No one knows who this guy is, except, of course, Administration, and they aren’t talking.”
“Rosy, eh? How’d he come up with that name?”
“Supposedly from his painted rosy cheeks, but from what I hear, more likely for the roses that appear in mid-air for choice members of his audience—always of the female persuasion.” Peggy wiggled her eyebrows. “The children get balloon animals. He’ll be here next week.” She pointed to the flyer on the door.
“We’ll be here. Cubby will enjoy it, and I can use the distraction.”
“Speaking of distractions...” Peggy's face flushed as she looked over Kit's shoulder.
“How’s it going ladies?” Dr. Lovell entered the room and knelt by Kit. “Here’s the schedule for Cubby’s therapy.” He handed her a computer printout. “I checked on availability, and we can get him started tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Dr. Lovell.”
He placed his hand over hers and squeezed. “My pleasure. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Cubby, and I want to make sure he gets the best care possible. I also have a great deal of respect for you. That’s one lucky little boy to have you for a sister.” The doctor straightened his six-foot frame and winked. “‘Bye now.”
When he was out of the room, Peggy groaned, sounding like a lovesick cow.
“What’s wrong with you?” Kit asked.
“He’s so gorgeous.” Her eyes still lingered on the closed door.
“I hadn’t noticed.” But Kit had noticed. However, Cubby was the only man she wanted in her life for now. She had no room for any other kind of love.
“Way to go, Bear! You’ll be running bases in no time.” Jake Miller, the physical therapist, cheered.
“Look, Sissy.” Cubby alternated winces of pain with bright smiles. “I’m walking!”
Hanging, to be more exact. Cubby’s arms were draped over two parallel bars while Jake stood behind him with a firm grip on the special belt around the child’s waist.
Kit clapped her hands. “Good job!”
“Yep,” Jake said as he gently slid the boy’s feet along the mat, “Cubby Bear told me he’s going to pitch for the Colorado Rockies some day. So we have to get his legs strong.”
This was their fourth visit with Jake, whom Kit found to be personable. She also found him to be attractive. His six-foot muscular build could easily lift and move patients of all sizes. She found herself wondering what he did for relaxation. His tan arms, dark hair, and green eyes gave him an outdoorsy appearance.
For the next hour, she worked closely with Jake as he showed her things to do with Cubby at home to strengthen his legs.
What a cacophony! The combination of the children and their built up excitement over Rosy reminded Kit of an unstable nuclear reactor. The playroom could blow at any moment.
Cubby, always the exception to the kid rule, sat peacefully in his chair next to Kit. His serene features contrasted with the flushed, spirited faces around him. What do you know, Cubby? What do you see? Since birth, Cubby always seemed to be linked with an unseen world. A place from where he drew his strength. Kit often wished she could visit him there. Since the accident, she found it difficult to find that place within her to draw near to God. She had read her Bible and gone to church before the accident. Yes, she felt herself to be a Christian. But she hadn’t prayed for the last three years, unless you could count yelling at God as praying. She had so many questions, and Cubby had all of the answers.
“Children.” Peggy clapped her hands to get their attention. “We have a very special guest with us today.” The announcement brought the house down with cheers and clapping. “Young ladies and gentlemen...ROSY!”
A brightly colored figure burst into the room. Kit tried to look past the thick, white makeup and false eyelashes. Who was this mystery clown, anyway? Someone she knew? Someone she passed in the corridor everyday?
Rosy began with a few simple slight of hand tricks. He pulled daisies from little girls’ ears and made his finger disappear for rugged little boys. He spotted Cubby, and with a squeak-squeak-squeak of his size sixteen shoes, he waddled toward the tiny cherub.
Now that he was closer, she would surely be able to recognize him. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get past the ridiculous red cheeks and overstated mouth. She did notice that past his two-inch long lashes he had luscious chocolate brown eyes.
Suddenly, a rose appeared in her line of vision. Cubby clapped with glee. “Take it, Sissy. Rosy gived it to you.”
“T-thank you,” she managed to stammer, embarrassed to be singled out. Rosy’s white gloved hands squeezed hers as he placed the flower between her palms.
The rest of the show continued, but she barely knew it. The intoxicating scent of the rose...the real, thornless rose...made her light-headed.
When Rosy waved goodbye, the children voiced what she felt in her heart. “Don’t go, Rosy!” He shrugged his polyester shoulders and pointed to an oversized watch on his ruffled wrist. Glancing Kit’s way, he winked one overly lashed eye, then disappeared with a puff of smoke.
After the room had cleared, Peggy sidled up to Kit. “Well, that was special!”
“The children loved it,” Kit agreed as she picked up sticky paper cups.
“I’m not thinking special for the kids. I’m thinking special for you.”
“Whatever do you mean?” Kit’s cheeks warmed and she avoided Peggy’s eyes.
“The gossip mill is hard at work.” She indicated two uniformed women in the corner. “Some of the nurses have gotten roses, too.”
“So it’s not so special that I received a rose. Lots of people get them.”
“They’re a little upset.”
“They only got paper roses.”
"Everyone is a suspicious character," Kit mumbled to herself as she sat in the cafeteria sizing up everyone around her. Rosy had an average height, average build. “Sure! That should make it easier.” She looked around. Too tall. Too short. Too round. He could be a doctor or a janitor. He could even be a woman! No, not with those shoulders. And his hands were strong and warm. Even through his gloves.
His one identifying feature was the color of his eyes. Deep brown. Earthy eyes that belonged to someone who would enjoy hikes in the mountains, lengthy campfire chats, and trips to the zoo.
“That dreamy look could only mean one thing.” Peggy broke into her reverie as she sat down with a tray.
“Who is he, Peggy? Why did he choose me?” She cupped her chin while picking at her chef’s salad.
“You know what I think?”
“Rosy has a crush on you.” At Kit’s unladylike snort, she added, “Think about it. He had to plan to have a real rose the day you were there.”
“You’re sure no one has ever gotten a real rose?”
“Nary a one.” Peggy’s smug smile unnerved Kit. “So who is he? Let’s narrow down our possibilities.”
“I’ve been trying. He could be anyone in this room,” she wailed just before shoving a black olive into her mouth.
As if playing a game of Clue, Kit and Peggy ran through the cast of characters. Peggy began with, “What about Kurt the Flirt?”
“You’re kidding! That snot-nosed intern? Besides, he has freaky pale blue eyes.”
“Okay, how about Dr. Hawthorne?”
“How could you tell how old Rosy was?” Peggy rolled her eyes.
“I just got the impression that he was younger. Late twenties. Maybe early thirties.”
“Cubby’s therapist? What’s his name?”
“Jake Miller. But he has green eyes.”
“Ooh! I know! Dr. Lovell.” Peggy slapped the table to make her point.
Kit considered him a moment. He did have brown eyes, and he seemed the right build. But if it had been him, did he really care about her that way? Or was the rose simply to show his appreciation of her dedication to her brother?
“I don’t know,” Kit said. She turned her head away from her friend.
“You already have him fixed in your mind, don’t you?” Peggy shook her head. “All you saw was his eyes and height and you already know his favorite color and what toothpaste he uses.”
“I know he fishes with a fly and loves long walks in the rain.”
The two giggled like silly teenagers while they finished their lunch.
Throughout the following weeks, Kit’s spirits soared. She looked forward to the therapy sessions almost as much as Cubby. She found out Jake was single and when asked about his chosen profession, he replied, “I was an athlete, in the emergency room more than on the field.” Cubby was on his back, pushing against Jake’s hand with his foot. “I soon realized it was more lucrative to be on the medical side rather than the injury side, so I moved into sports therapy thinking I could be a team doctor. But I also had this passion for children.”
“Like me!” Cubby interrupted from his prone position.
“Just like you, Bear.” He moved to the boy’s other foot. “Anyway, after winding my way down the career path, I found myself working with kids.” Jake looked at Kit and asked, “What about you?”
Kit told him how she had inherited Cubby. “He’s my life right now. Everything revolves around getting him better. Our parents’ insurance money made it possible for me to take only temporary jobs so I can concentrate on Cubby.”
“Thank God he has you.”
“If God had cared, Cubby would still have his parents.” She tried to suck in the words, but they spilled out too fast.
Jake started to say something, but a voice from behind interrupted him. “How are things going?”
Dr. Lovell approached Cubby and shook his tiny hand.
“Great,” Jake said, lifting the boy and helping him into his wheel chair. “We’re finished for the day.” He gave the doctor a run down of Cubby’s progress. While the two men were talking, Kit found herself scrutinizing Dr. Lovell. She tried to imagine long lashes surrounding his brown eyes.
“Glad to hear Cubby’s doing so well,” Dr. Lovell said to Kit.
A wink! The man winked as he said goodbye!
“Kit,” Jake touched her elbow when they reached the door leading to the hospital corridor. “Do you think you could get someone to watch Cubby tonight? I’d like to have dinner with you.”
Kit pulled herself back to the present. Jake had asked her out and all she could see in her mind’s eye were brown eyes and a single rose.
Jake had chosen a place near her apartment, a little bistro that served gourmet hamburgers and stuffed mushrooms.
“I’m glad you could make it,” he said after they ordered.
“Peggy jumped at the chance to watch Cubby.”
They filled the next few moments with small talk. She told him more about her dad and step-mom. Her parents had divorced when she was a child, but stayed friends, always putting her needs first. They both remarried, her mom just a few years after the split, but her dad waited longer. Kit was thrilled at the age of nineteen to learn she’d have a baby brother.
“Then the accident happened.” She stabbed a cherry tomato with her fork.
“Yes, it did. And you blame God.”
Kit jerked her gaze from her salad. It sounded so harsh coming from someone else.
“That’s why I wanted to talk to you,” he said. “Away from the hospital. Away from Cubby.”
She swallowed hard. Had she hoped this was a date?
“If you don’t want to talk about it, I’ll understand. But I want you to know I’m here for you.” His broad smile seemed genuine. “I have big shoulders, made specifically for leaning on.”
Yes, you do have big shoulders. Hmm. Rosy had big shoulders. But he also had Dr. Lovell’s eyes.
It would feel good to talk. She knew she had bottled everything in. Her slip of the tongue earlier at the hospital had caught her by surprise. She never said anything like that in front of Cubby. Jake’s manner evoked openness.
She began with her confusion. They were active in church. Dad was on the board. Cubby’s mother sang in the choir. “Why would God take them?”
“I have a verse from Hebrews. ‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ The Bible refers to our need a lot. God never promised us we’d be spared from bad things, but He does promise to help us through those times. If we seek Him when we’re hurting, He will strengthen us.”
Jake stopped to sip his coffee, and Kit asked. “That may help me in dealing with all this, but what about Cubby? He’s too little to understand.”
Jake reached across the table and wrapped his coffee-warmed hand around her fingers. “Cubby already gets it.”
Rosy was scheduled to entertain a month after his first appearance. Once again, Kit sat next to Cubby’s wheel chair in the playroom, soaking in the peaceful glow that radiated from deep inside his soul.
Cubby gets it.
Jake sure called that one right. For the past week, ever since their dinner together, Kit poured through her Bible, something she hadn’t done since the accident. She’d looked up everything that had to do with need and strength. She began to feel a hint of the peace she used to know, trickling slowly like early spring runoff over a dry river bed. It wasn’t about her, or even Cubby. In the midst of their circumstances, all that mattered was that God loved them. He was their source of strength.
“What’s the dreamy look for?” Peggy pulled up a chair. “Thinking about Ro-sy?” She sing-songed the name, mischief dancing in her eyes.
“I’m over Rosy. But I had dinner with Jake the other night. We shared a moment.”
“Ah, the therapist with a heart...a heart for you.”
“It was a spiritual moment.” Kit back-peddled. “He helped me put things into perspective. He quoted scripture.”
“Wow! Sounds like he’s a keeper.” Someone gave a thumb’s up signal by the door. “Gotta introduce our guest.”
Rosy waddled into the room and performed. At the end, he again presented her with a real rose—and a note. After his smoky departure, she read, “Meet me tonight in the cafeteria.”
After the show, Cubby was due another therapy session.
“Cubby Bear!” Jake called out. “Up and at ‘em, young man. We have work to do.”
Kit thought of her rendezvous. Should she go? Peggy told her she owed it to her sisters, then made her swear to reveal his identity.
When Jake leaned over to pull Cubby out of his chair, Kit noticed something on his collar. Something white that showed up well on his navy polo shirt. Pancake makeup, perhaps?
“Look at me, Jake.” He gazed at her with curiosity...and with brown eyes! “Do you wear contacts?”
“Well, yeah.” He put Cubby on the padded table.
“Different colors?” She placed her hands on her hips.
“I get bored with one color.” He shrugged, clearly not knowing why she was grilling him.
She narrowed her eyes. “I’ve had an invitation to meet somebody in the cafeteria later. I wasn’t going to go, because I’ve found someone I care for more.” She reached over and pulled on his collar. He tucked his chin to look at what she found so interesting. “Should I go to the cafeteria, Jake?”
Understanding dawned in his face. He smiled and pulled her close. “I don't think that's necessary.” Though their lips only touched for a fleeting moment, their lives were changed forever.
“Sissy,” Cubby sat up and poked his fair face between theirs. “Rosy lubs you!”
Copyright: Kathleen E. Kovach, 2004. All rights reserved.
If you wish to share my work, please do not copy without express permission, but I do invite you to send the link to those you feel will benefit from my stories. Thank you for understanding.