His heart seemed to burst with emotion at the sight of the waterline. The flooding had damaged everything in a three mile radius of the river, but the little church, her recent investment, their last chance at hope, stood as a dry beacon of promise, perched on the slopping hillside.
Troyer waded through the almost waist high water, the scent of mud and grass tickled at his nose, but there was something pleasing about the fragrance, something soothing. It reminded him of dew and sunshine and her, in his arms.
His water boots lost their footing as he pushed up the tiny slop towards the church doors. A curse parted his lips with a frustration that seemed to wash away once he dunked his soiled hands in the cool water.
The water. It had damaged so much, left so many in ruin and devastation, but somehow, in that moment with its coolness swirling around the callouses of his hands, right at the foot of the slop to the church he had not wanted to buy, the water felt like a baptism.
It had taken him almost a full year to clime out of the darkness he had fallen into once he said his last goodbye to her, cursing the cancer that had snatched her life away, and shunning God for letting it happen. But now, with the seat of his pants soaking up the mud of the earth and his hands bathing in the waters edge, tadpoles zipping in between his fingers, Troyer felt…new, alive again.
When he saw on the news that the river had flooded its banks and swept through the county like wipers against a windshield, Troyer thought he was dying all over again. He had not dared to come back here, look at her vision, feel the pain anew. But he couldn’t resist, not with uncertainty pressing against his shoulder blades. He needed to know that some part of her, some glimmer of her joy was still standing here on earth.
And it was. The white clapboards looked to have been scrubbed clean and doused with a fresh coat of paint from where he sat. Troyer knew better. They had already talked about how much they would have to invest in order to convert the old chapel into a beautiful home. They planned to have started that spring right after their wedding…
Tears stung his eyes and his fist clenched beneath the clear water sending the tadpoles off in a scurry. Troyer pushed himself up from the ground and carefully up the slop of the hill. His heart had crawled up into his throat, dragging up the raw pain that he had worked so hard to swallow down.
No amount of anything had helped in the beginning. Slowly he allowed God to touch his wounds, help him keep breathing.
The keys he pulled from his pocket jingled like bells for all the shaking in his hands. He blew out a breath and turned them in the lock, the movement so much like he was opening up his heart again to see where he had last buried his hope.
Stale air washed around him as the doors creaked open. Dust particles, danced in the beams of sunlight that cut in from the stain glass windows. Everything looked so untouched, neglected but screaming of promise, the same way it had when she had convinced him to buy it with her.
Tears shook his shoulders and caused his eyes to blur. A mixer of pain and joy swirled on the inside of him. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He could almost smell her here.
“Is everything alright?” Avery, her former assistant called from the porch. Troyer swiped the wetness from his eyes and tried not to scowl. He had asked Avery to stay in the truck, but like always she didn’t listen. He couldn’t be mad at her. They had both lost so much when she had died, both of them were searching for hope to move on in their own way. Avery just tended to piggy back off of Troyer’s choices.
“Everything is,” He glanced around the sanctuary and took a deep breath, a smile growing on his face, hope welling up within him. He turned towards Avery. “Everything is going to be fine. I’ll start building as soon as the waters recede.”
THE END FOR NOW…
I hope you enjoyed this peek into Troyer’s world and life. Grief is hard, I didn’t even know he was grieving until I let my fingers kiss the keyboard. I do have a sneaking suspicion that there just might be more then home building in store for Troyer especially with Avery playing his shadow. Love is always in the air for me…at least in my imagination.