«Today the results came in.» Bridget took a deep breath, trying to stay strong. «I can’t have children, Rob.»
Bridget’s husband Rob frowned and leaned back in his chair. She waited for him to comfort her, cry, or express his disappointment, but he merely shook his head.
«Then you’re the one responsible for us not being able to have children.» Rob got up and headed for the kitchen.
«Where are you going?», Bridget reached for her husband, but her fingers barely brushed his.
«I need a drink,» Rob said. «You just dropped a bombshell on me, Bridget, and I need to think.»
Bridget hugged her knees and stared at Rob’s empty chair. It was the worst moment of her life. She thought she couldn’t feel any worse until she heard her husband’s car pull out of the garage.
A few months later, Rob asked her for a divorce. He confessed that he had been cheating on her and was leaving her for his pregnant lover. Bridget was heartbroken.
Her job as a teacher at the local high school was torture. Every child in her classes reminded her of the children she would never have and her failure as a wife. Her performance was declining at an alarming rate.
One day, Principal Schneider called her into his office. After thirty minutes of listening to him list all her recent failures as a teacher, Bridget was about to burst into tears.
«If your standards drop any lower, you will drag this school’s reputation into mediocrity,» Schneider concluded.
Bridget pointed at him with hostility.
«All you do is complain and blame the teachers for the failures of this school, but the real problem is your pathetic leadership.»
«If that’s how you feel, consider yourself fired. Don’t expect a good recommendation, either.»
In the weeks that followed, dark thoughts plagued Bridget. All her job applications were rejected, and she spent every moment thinking about what a failure she had become.
«No one needs me!» muttered Bridget as she stared at the busy road ahead of her. «No one would notice if I wasn’t there.»
Bridget’s dress billowed in the wind caused by the trucks and cars speeding by. She was studying the traffic when she saw a boy jump over the railing. He darted into the traffic.
Horns blared and tires screeched, but the boy kept running. He was approaching where Bridget was, when a car appeared at full speed. The car would never brake in time — it was going to hit the boy!
Bridget ran to the boy and pulled him to safety at the edge of the road. She kept brief eye contact with the terrified driver as the car went over her. Then, everything went dark.
Shortly after waking up in the hospital, Bridget discovered that she had suffered a serious injury. Doctors told her she might have to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
«What about the boy, is he okay?» asked Bridget.
«Yes, and he has asked to visit you.»
Bridget agreed to let the boy visit her, then turned her head to look at a picture on the wall. Her thoughts were a whirlwind. She thought saving the boy would be her last act in this world, but now she had to face life with restricted mobility.
«I can’t do anything right,» she muttered grimly.
«Those are strange words to hear from a heroine.»
Bridget turned toward the voice; a man in a wheelchair was approaching her bed. There was something about him that seemed familiar. She studied his face and realized with shock why she knew him.
«You’re Kevin. You won the state championships.» Bridget was silent.
No matter what he had done in the past, it seemed that this man was in the same situation as she was.
«It’s okay. I know what you’re thinking, but this is just a blip in my life. I came to see you because I heard about how you saved that boy. How are you holding up?»
Bridget stared at the ceiling.
«I don’t know. The only reason I’m still in this world is that I’m a failure. I figured I’d at least have a good ending, but I failed at that too.»
«Please don’t say that. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been suffering, but please don’t give up on your life. I went through dark times too, but I promise you things will get better.»
He placed his hand over Bridget’s.
«Sometimes hope is just a small flame in a big, dark cavern, but the more you feed that flame by believing in yourself and the future, the more the light will shine.»
Kevin returned every day to visit Bridget. For the first time, he felt that someone else understood what he was going through. He confided in her that he had suffered a terrible depression after the accident, when he realized that his career as an athlete was over.
«The doctors doubted I could walk again, but one day I decided I didn’t care. I wasn’t ready to give up yet, and look at me now.»
Kevin leaned against Bridget’s bed and stood up.
«But how, did you undergo special treatment?» asked Bridget.
«Demanding physical therapy and the power of it.» Kevin tapped his temple with a finger. «My coach taught me to envision my running races beforehand, to visualize my success. I used the same technique to help me heal.»
Bridget looked at Kevin in awe. She wished she had the same determination and self-belief he did.
«I may never compete again, but I still have a life to live,» Kevin continued. «And a new career to aspire to as a coach.»
Bridget was still thinking about Kevin’s words when she received another visitor. The boy she had saved came into the room and ran to her side.
«I’m so sorry!» he yelled. «I was trying to get away from social services and I thought they would never follow me down that busy road. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.»
«What’s your name, honey, why were you running away from social services?»
«My name’s Tommy.» The boy looked at her with sad, brown eyes. «Social services wanted to put me in foster care because my parents died. I didn’t want to go, but in the end they got me anyway.»
«I’m so sorry about your parents, Tommy.» Bridget put her hand on the boy’s arm. «But you should never have gotten into traffic-what would have happened to you if I hadn’t been there?»
Tommy shrugged and looked away.
«I’m all alone in this world, so what does it matter?»
Bridget’s heart ached for the boy. She invited him to visit whenever he wanted and slowly began to love the boy.
«I think Tommy came into my life for a reason,» she told Kevin one day.
«I want to adopt him, but first I need to get out of this hospital and get well — will you help me, please?»
«Of course, Bridget. I’ll ask my physical therapist to work with you, and I’ll be there every step of the way to support you. It won’t be easy, but you can lean on me whenever you need help.»
And she kept her word. Over the next few weeks, Bridget worked hard to regain the use of her legs. It was incredibly difficult, and sometimes she wanted to give up, but Kevin was always there. He trusted her so much that it was easy for her to believe in herself.
Every time Tommy visited, Bridget was reminded that she had a goal to work for that was bigger than herself. She wanted to be a mother to that child and give him a family. When she talked to him about it, he hugged her tightly.
Soon, Bridget was discharged. She still needed a wheelchair, but the physical therapist assured her she would be fine. He was convinced she would be able to stand up in the next year.
«It’s not enough,» Bridget said as she talked about her progress with Kevin.
He, too, had been discharged and was visiting her at home to help her with her exercises and mental health.
«Healing takes time,» he replied, «I know you’re impatient, but you can’t rush it. As I’ve told you before, you can’t let everything depend on you walking again.»
Bridget shook her head.
«If you can do it, so can I. You’re the one who taught me not to doubt myself for a second, and I won’t.»
Kevin took Bridget’s hands between his own.
«I’m so proud to see how that positive attitude has transformed you, but it’s not healthy to measure your sense of self-worth by success. You are an amazing person, no matter what, and I want you to always remember that.»
It soon became apparent that Bridget’s recovery had stalled. No matter how hard she worked on her exercises, she was failing to improve. She had set a goal of being able to walk by Mother’s Day, so she could stride into the shelter and get Tommy out of there.
Bridget became increasingly frustrated with her stagnant progress as the deadline approached.
«Why is it taking so long?» she asked her physical therapist. «I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do and it hasn’t worked!».
The physical therapist replied that she shouldn’t expect linear healing and that some phases could take longer than others. She complained bitterly to Kevin when he came to see her on Mother’s Day to help her train.
«After all my effort, I’m still the same loser who lost her husband and her job. The only difference now is that I can’t walk anymore.»
Bridget was on the verge of tears, but a knock on the door caught her attention. Then, she heard a child’s voice say:
«Mom, open the door!».
When Bridget opened the door, she found Tommy with a huge bouquet of flowers.
«I picked them for you,» he told her with a big smile. «I want you to know that I’m looking forward to the day when you can adopt me and become my mother.»
A surge of excitement swept through Bridget. With it came an indescribable certainty that now was the time to try to stand up again. Without a second thought, she rose from the wheelchair and stood.
«You did it!» Tommy hugged Bridget. «Mom, I love you.»
Bridget kissed the top of Tommy’s head.
«I love you too. I love you so much I can’t wait any longer. I’m going to the shelter with you right now so we can start the adoption process.»
Kevin came out behind her with the car keys on his finger and a big smile on his face.
«I’d be honored to drive you there.»
Bridget’s life was never the same after that day. Tommy became her long-desired son, and a few months later she became engaged to Kevin.
She had been very attracted to Kevin almost from the beginning, but didn’t imagine he would reciprocate her feelings until she asked him out on a date.
After the wedding, Kevin, Tommy and Bridget settled down, and they became a happy family. Every day they woke up grateful for the blessings they had received and felt convinced that they would always be together.
However, the family was in for one last surprise. One day, after dinner, Bridget brought out some cupcakes for dessert. Kevin and Tommy soon realized they had frosting on them.
With a knowing smile, she challenged them to figure out what word the cupcakes spelled. Minutes later, Kevin looked at her in surprise.
«Are you pregnant?»
Bridget smiled. «Apparently, my life is full of miracles.»