When she was a little girl, the Monster lived in the bathroom of the airplane carrying us to Guam, where her daddy was stationed. She refused stubbornly to confront the dragon in that little cubbyhole.
Everything was ok for that time we spent there, until it was time to take the Flying Tigers shuttle to Hawaii; the plane bumped and ground its way through turbulent weather, and finally, another to the States. To her the Monster still lived in the bathroom of that plane. She was fine as long as the Bathroom was inside a normal house, but up jumped the Monster again in Missouri. We relocated to a beautiful old Farmhouse with no bathroom, not even an outhouse. She was terrified of the Monster that lived in these places.
Gradually, though, our girl toughened and shaped into the person she would be. She was our Firstborn, a little different, a little slow in some things, but her own self, her own person now. By this time there were four, the youngest a bratty, adventurous boy kid, but then, in a family of Independents, only what you'd expect. Each unique, sisters who grew to love each other and their little brother. They could ride, swim in a snake-and snapping-turtle infested pond, boldly march forth towards whatever life was going to hand them: The day she came home yanking the Morgan mare behind her, madder than a hornet that she had been thrown. The day of the horse show, when thunder, lightning and rain meant a hard, fast gallop for home a mile away for the three girls: the day the cottonmouth raised up in the creek and the Fearless One ignored Mom and had to wade in closer "to see". Always the funny one in class, miming the teachers, getting a laugh and disrupting everything. Galloping out to pasture with her miniature classmate, David, ignoring the huge bull, David on his pony and she on her horse. A military brat, a gypsy. Passing the years with outrageous stunts and actions, not setting a good example for the younger ones of her clan, then, Daddy going away and the home left to be rebuilt by Mom. Carting up the goats, the chickens, the dogs and cats and headin' off to Washington.
In those days, then, six became five: three sisters, a boy, and their Mom. To Mom, there were Four, because she was Mom.
No more Monsters then, for awhile.
She wanted to be loved, this Firstborn. All she wanted was to be loved. She knew God loved her, because Christ had saved her those years ago, but she didn't know we loved her, too. And somehow we could never get her to see that she was one of us, and that we loved her.
Then, marriage and a little girl born. She thought he loved her fiercely like she loved him. He did not. She thought her best friend loved her. And that was not true, either. Her smile faded. Less frequently now. Still she kept on keepin' on, tried to make do when he went behind her back and for two years cheated on her with the wonderful best friend. Then, disaster; the babies of the two families became victims of two dirty ol' men. The cheating husband divorced her, the one dirty ol' man divorced the best friend and the husband of the Firsborn married the cheating best friend, and took her baby away from her--two families destroyed. By the Monsters, Cheating, Lying, Adultery.
How much more could she take? She thought she'd found love again, but little did she know that once again a Monster was lurking in the bushes of her life. First, his offspring was called Booze, and Booze visited every chance he could get, making room for Daddy. There was this wonderful man who loved her, and so she began to know they would live happily ever after. The Monster showed itself, ugly, unforgiving, its appetite voracious and insatiable. They called him Meth, and he was made to destroy the lives of all he gobbled up. First he took her man, who became a Changling, a Monster in himself, whom she did not know, a raging Monster who wrapped a blanket around her one night in the deep woods while she slept in their trailer --and tried to squeeze her to death. Our girl fought for her life and he dropped her, grabbing up a butcher knife while she ran out the back door. Thank God she did not have it blocked, as it usually was. Down the slippery path to the creek she ran, across the plank bridge she scurried, up the steep path in the dark night, fleeing for her life; Reaching the other trailer where people lived just in the nick of time. Hidden by them from him: They lied and told him she was not there. But she loved him fiercely and cried over his loss. And cried. And wrote love poems to him, that she did not send. And cried. And her heart broke.
But still she loved him. She lied in court and said he had not tried to kill her. Because she loved him. She did not want her love to go to prison.
It was the beginning of the end, the last straw. Our firstborn battled the Monster and all his evil little children by herself. She was not one to open her huge package of problems to the world. She was slipping. She had no home. She collected all she had from "The Free Box". Before the eyes of her family, she was going. No more sparkle in her eyes. The light dimmed. The life died. Before our very eyes she was gone, left with only an empty shell of the lively spirit of The Firstborn. She fought her battles alone, finally able to get a home again, her own. She was happy again. But we did not know that she was chained, that The Monster had enveloped her, that he was grabbing all she had and would not let go. We did not know that she only had a short time now until she stepped into Eternity.
So there were Four, two sisters and a brother who loved her, and kept wanting her to be happy but not knowing how to help her be happy, or even whether or not she needed help being happy.
She was going to be a grandma, and so happy. All the while the Monster in subtle, silent stealth crept up on her, she unaware, or unable now to control the raging beast. Time was closing in on her.
The Grim Reaper thought he had her, but at the last minute the Lord snatched her up and carried her away in a brilliance of white clouds and happiness, and incredible light far more brilliant than any star, sun, or moon, carried her to her Forever Home, where never again would she know the pain nor the sorrow of being rejected, unwanted, unloved. Where never again the Monster's horrible claws could reach and ensnare.
Sometime in the early morning hours of November 19, in the year 2013, our Firstborn rose to meet the Lord in His dwelling place, carried up beyond the highest stars, to the arms of the Lord.
And then, there were Three.