A second part to my long forgotten story "Dana the 10th Grader" You might need to read it before the following post:
Kellie sat quietly next to her while Dana sunk deep into her own thoughts. Dana loved introspection and was ready to brood all day but she was interrupted by Kellie's sudden leap to her feet. Kellie started to whoop and Dana raised her head and saw what caused her friend's excitement. Both of their mothers were coming around the bend in the road, back from their morning hike, with Mrs. Johnson smiling in response to her daughter's warm greeting.
"All right, it's time for breakfast!" Kellie shouted. Mrs. Johnson stopped in her tracks and pretended to lose her smile. "Let's have pancakes!"
Dana's mom came over and extended her hand to pull her daughter to her feet. "We had a great hike, Dana! We went all the way to the top of the ridge over there. And it didn't take long, either."
"I'm a little winded, though, Cary." Mrs. Johnson came over to hug her daughter who seemed overjoyed at the prospect of an immenient meal. Dana thought Mrs. Johnson looked just fine--hardly tired at all. "I think the girls can handle breakfast, don't you?"
Kellie stopped jumping. The older women laughed at her quick change of mood. Dana wondered if they knew how she and Kellie created disasters when it came to cooking.
"C'mon, I mixed the batter already at home and it's waiting in the cooler. I will walk you through how to cook them in the pan. It's easier than climbing mountains, all you have to do is pay attention." Mrs. Johnson turned the girls towards the campsite. "Mrs. Smith and I are going to cool down and make some coffee."
Since Kellie and Dana were in the Outdoor Ed class together, they found out that Kellie's parents and Dana's mom worked at the same hospital. That revelation turned to dinners over at each other's homes and a friendship between their mothers casually progressed. Kellie's mom, Deborah, was a pharmacist part time while Dana's mom worked as an R.N. , so they often had lunches together or coffee in the cafeteria. For most of the year, Kellie's dad was in Iraq working in the medical support unit, but now that he was back home, he'd stop by to join them if he wasn't busy with his rounds.
In the last few months, Dana and her mom had been attending church on Sundays with the Johnson family. It seemed like a natural thing for Kellie's parents to invite them and it seemed just as natural for them to accept. Dana's mom used to attend church as a kid, and welcomed the opportunity to restart that tradition again. For Dana, it was a whole new world that sometimes seemed really boring, but not that bad. She liked the youth group and all the activities--some were designed for sheer fun, and some were planned to help others in the community and the congregation.
Since Dana's father left them, her mother had a hard time adjusting even though she did her best to cover that up by being really busy with work and upkeep in the home. The long hours her mom put in at work gave Dana a lot of independence at home at her young age, but sometimes she felt adrift. Dana also felt as though her mom was always angry at her, because they didn't spend time together and when she did speak to her, it was for not putting her stuff away in her room or forgetting to put the trash can out on pick up day. She wished that her mom would understand that hers wasn't the only heart that was breaking in their little apartment.
Dana saw that the time in church gave her mom a lift and a sense of hope that she didn't ever recall her having before. Her bitterness and grief were slowly fading away until about two weeks ago, her mother spoke to her about having returned to God and making a commitment to Jesus whom she believed in as a young woman but left her faith to follow her own selfish path. The harshness in her mom's voice turned softer and gentler, and Dana felt as though she was really being seen when her mother looked at her. Her mom's work schedule was more regular, and they started eating dinner together most nights. She didn't understand the whole God business, but she did understand her mother's love and sanity had somehow been restored by him and the church. And for that reason, Dana didn't mind the new direction her mom was taking them.
The camping trip was fun for the families and they were doing a lot of interesting things. However, Dr. and Mrs. Johnson and Dana's mom were in deep talks about the possibilities of doing a kind of short term medical mission as part of a team that was going out next year. At first, Dana had not paid attention to their discussion, but as it dawned on her that this might also affect her somehow, she started having the same anxious feelings that she had when she contemplated rock climbing.