Chapter 3 – Lavender Christmas
For several months now Kalai had been feeling badly about herself – she hated herself. It didn’t seem like anything she had done in her life had worked out. And when she looked in the mirror, she saw nothing beautiful at all. She hadn’t been eating right – in fact she had just been skipping meals. There was a faint hope that she would meet someone on this lonely island – and she wanted to make a good impression if that ever happened.
Kalai came here in the beginning to get away from everything, because she needed to think. But she had been alone for quite awhile, and she knew that just because you go back to civilization doesn’t mean you won’t be alone. A lot of her friends had gotten married and moved away. You always wish each other well and promise to keep in touch, but it seldom happens. Life moves on with or without you. And since she came here, what little she had left back home in the way of social ties was probably non-existent by now.
And there were the voices in her head – it seemed that living alone on this island allowed her time to hear their dark insinuations. Maybe these voices had always been there, but she never allowed herself to think too deeply for very long. She was always busy, building a life, until her beloved died. This stopped everything, and took away the meaning of what she had treasured through the years. Now she had herself and her good and bad qualities to think about. Now she had to start over again with the “ABCs” in almost every arena of her life.
Dark voices crept into Kalai’s mind.
“Do you deserve this place? Do you deserve to eat, or enjoy the sunlight, or walk along the sand?”
A picture of the past flashed into her mind.
“Remember?” the dark voices asked.
Kalai started shaking, crying. “Please don’t remind me.”
“Come with us,” the dark voices ordered.
Kalai walked out of her hut onto the beach. The wind was blowing, and it began to rain. She was cold and starting to get hungry.
“You need to stop eating so much. You don’t deserve anything anyway. Just look at what you did. Do you think you could ever be forgiven?” Kalai wanted to forget the past, but the voices wouldn’t let her.
Over the next few months, Kalai ate very little. She became thinner and weaker. She broke the mirror she had, and cringed at the sound of the dark voice telling her she was ugly.
“If you ever hope to find someone new, you had better listen,” the dark voices said.
Kalai felt worse and worse. She found some of the glass from her broken mirror and started cutting her arms. Anger welled up in her like a giant flood. She hated herself. She couldn’t escape the dark voices.
“You know what you did, and you should be punished.”
She wandered around the island. Her arms had scars from cutting herself. She fell down, and lay in the sand. Very weak, she fell asleep.
Two hands reached down and checked her wrist for a pulse. A man was seen picking her up and carrying her. Blood from her hands and her arms stained his old gray shirt. He carried her on a long pathway up to his small hut in the mountains. He laid her down on a mat on the floor and covered her up with a blanket in front of a fireplace. He made some soup and put some bread on a plate with a glass of water by her head. The sun had gone down and it was getting chilly.
She slept soundly and then awoke and saw the fireplace. It frightened her and she sat up. She saw the food, and then the stranger, and she gasped.
“Better eat something,” he said.
“Who are you, and where am I?”
“I found you on the beach, passed out I guess, and bleeding. Were you trying to end your life?”
Kalai was embarrassed and didn’t like being questioned by a stranger. She avoided the issue.
“How do I go back to my place – how far am I away from where you found me?” she asked.
“Too far to go back tonight. It’s dark and you’re up in the hills, and right now you’re safe and there’s food. How long has it been since you’ve had a decent meal?”
“None of your business. I just want to go home.”
“OK, I know that you want to leave, but that’s not a very practical idea right now. You need to eat something and rest before you go back – it’s not a good idea to leave before the sun comes up.”
She grabbed the spoon and took a bite of the soup. It tasted good, but she felt horrible eating. She looked around his hut, and saw the strangest thing – a large lavender cone that reminded her of a Christmas tree, all decorated with chrome bulbs and painted rope that was supposed to look like tinsel.
“Is that supposed to be a Christmas tree?” she laughed, mocking it. “Don’t you have the wrong color? I think Christmas trees are usually green, not lavender!
He scowled at her. “It’s the best I could do. I was shipwrecked on this island, and we just happened to have red and blue paint, so I mixed them, and this is what I got.”
She shook her head with a confused look, and asked, “So why did you make a Christmas tree? Is it Christmas now?” She had lost track of time since she came to the island.
He looked at her, surprised. “Didn’t you know? Today is December 21st.”
She stopped eating for a moment, stunned. “I used to celebrate Christmas.”
He said quietly, “So did I.”
There was an awkward silence in the room.
He said, “So why are you here – were you ship wrecked too?”
“No, I came on a boat and had them leave me here. I just wanted to get away.”
“Away from what?” he asked.
She looked at him, irritated that he was prying into her life. Then she looked away and said, “This soup is good – what kind is it?”
He walked towards her and bent down on his knees, looking right at her. “Listen, I don’t want to be here – maybe we can help each other get off this place and back to civilization.”
She put her plate down and laid her head on the mat, turning away from him. “I don’t want to leave.”
He stood erect and declared, “Now that’s really stupid.”
She sat up. “The love of my life died, and I got tired of people saying, ‘You need to get over it, dear, and get back to work.’”
She looked down, crying. “And today is December 21st. And today is December 21st.”
“Yea, just a few days before Christmas.”
“Yes, it is, but it’s also the day that they took my loved one away from me.”
“You mean your husband…boyfriend…?”
“NO, my…baby.” She had to say it. She slammed down on the mat, clenching her fists, pounding the ground.
“Who did that – what a terrible thing – who did that – did the police find them?” the stranger asked frantically.
She grabbed the plate and threw the plate across the room. Then Kalai stood up, and screamed, “NO, it was ME! But they made it so easy…stainless steel, knives, white aprons, white paper forms that you sign, and they take your money, and they take your…dreams….”
“Oh.” The stranger sat down in a chair close by, looking at the floor.
“And December 21st is the day it happened.”
The stranger felt helpless. The only sound was Kalai’s groaning, as she clutched her sides. She screamed, and held out her arms, showing all the scars…”THIS is because I HATE MYSELF!” I didn’t think I could take care of a child after I lost my soul mate – I was all alone – all alone – I didn’t want to tell anyone….”
“And now you are punishing yourself?” the stranger asked.
“YES!” She sat down abruptly on the mat and covered her face. “Why did I just tell all that to a total stranger? I came here to this island to be alone – to forget the past – and someday… just die.”
The stranger went over and picked up the plate. “Good thing this plate didn’t break. I only have 2.”
Kalai looked up at him in bewilderment. “What is WRONG with you? I just told you my most painful secrets, and all you can do is talk about your stupid PLATE? And WHY in the world would ANYONE have a LAVENDER Christmas tree? How STUPID is that?”
He got angry. “How dare you make fun of my lavender Christmas tree! I HATE green anyway! How dare you throw my best plate across the room, when I brought you up here and saved your life! You ungrateful child!”
Kalai stood up, and yelled back. “I never asked to be saved! I’m a worthless piece of trash – why did you help me – I didn’t want help and I don’t want to be here now. And you must be CRAZY to be on an island if you HATE GREEN!”
“TOO BAD!” the stranger shouted. I guess we’re both stuck! I was ship wrecked, and YOU are a TOTAL wreck! You can’t leave till morning. He stomped out of the hut...
Kalai lay back down on the mat and placed her hands over her ears and screamed.
The next morning she woke up and there was a plate of mangos and tangerines by her head, along with a glass of water. The lavender Christmas tree and its chrome decorations sparkled in the sunlight coming through the windows of the hut.
She heard the stranger’s voice from across the room. “It’s December 22nd.”
There was an awkward pause – it seemed like forever. Then she remembered how angry she was the night before.
“One day after December 21st,” she said sarcastically.
He answered, “I hate sarcasm. The word “sarcasm” means ‘To tear the flesh’ in Greek. It hurts when you aren’t sincere.”
“Thank you for the information. When I leave here, I will be so much better off now that you’ve told me that.”
“I told you not to be sarcastic…please.” He tried to be as nice as he could. Kalai started to cool off.
She took a bite of mango. “The lavender tree is kind of beautiful in the sunlight.”
“Thanks. I enjoy the lavender tree because it’s a shade of violet and violet is a royal color.”
“So…” Kalai’s voice trailed off.
“So that’s like kings and queens and you know…”
“Yes I know what royalty is but I don’t know what you are talking about…”
“Maybe this is kind of silly, but red and blue make purple, and if you have light blue, or white paint, you can lighten up the purple or violet and make a lighter shade - lavender.”
She shook her head, and looked at him, “Yes I know that, because I used to do that in elementary school, but what are you talking about?”
He sighed, and didn’t want to hurry his explanation. He paced back and forth a bit, and stopped. He looked at her and put both hands in his back pockets, staring up at the ceiling. He sighed again, and then looked at her.
“I’m sorry about yelling at you last night,” he said quietly. He looked down at the floor, relieved that he finally had the nerve to apologize.
She was surprised, and looked around nervously at first. She looked down, and then up, and they caught each other’s eyes.
“I’m sorry I was ungrateful.” She looked at her arms, and tried to hide them, embarrassed about all she had told him. She looked at his shirt, and saw some of the blood stains from when he carried her to safety.
He looked down at his shirt, and rubbed on the stains with his hands, trying in vain to clean them off.
“Red is the color of blood, and blue is the color of heaven. Together they make purple, which is the color of royalty. Jesus died for the wrongs done in this world, and He was from heaven. His blood is red, his home is in the blue heavens, and together they form purple, which is the color of a King. Lavender is a shade of purple. Lavender is the color of Christmas for me, because a King came to Earth to die for us so that someday we could be in the blue heavens with Him.”
She was speechless – and surprised at all the depth of thinking that she heard from him.
“I’ve never heard of that before. It’s a beautiful idea. She held up her arms, looking at the scars. But I don’t feel very beautiful. I guess I’ve always thought that I’m garbage and Jesus had to die for me.”
“Are you being sarcastic again?”
“No,” I just figured that God thought I was trash and he had to take a drastic measure to save me. Isn’t that what the Bible teaches?”
“No way!” The stranger shook his head in total disagreement. “I didn’t say that at all. You are priceless – absolutely precious and beautiful in his sight, but you and I and the rest of the world had a great debt that had to be paid somehow. He was the only one who could do that. That’s where the idea of royalty comes in, and that Jesus was from heaven, not the Earth. A mere human couldn’t pull it off – only the Son of God.”
“Am I precious? What about what I did to my child? I could have prevented that. Now my child is gone.”
He looked directly at her. “You’re child is alive. God is not the God of the dead, but He is the God of the living. You will see your child again someday.”
“That may be well and good, but I have to pay for what I did.”
“With what?” the stranger asked. What do you have that is acceptable to Almighty God for the payment of what you have done wrong in your life?”
“I have this!” She held up her arms, showing him the cuts she had made.
He answered her emphatically, “All the punishment in the world was poured out on Jesus. You don’t owe a thing. You are free.”
“But that isn’t just! It isn’t right! I should have to pay.”
“It’s not about you! It’s about what has already happened on the cross! It’s about what Jesus did for you, in your place, and that God has declared you not guilty! There is no need for you to spill any more of your blood! And God is the judge – not YOU! You have no right to be the judge, because you are the defendant here – you are the accused – not the accuser – not the judge – not the defender – you are the debtor – and God has declared you not guilty and debt free – just accept the gift!”
She looked at him thoughtfully and smiled.
“You mean…accept the gift like we do at Christmas time?”
He smiled back. “Yes. Like Christmas time.”
The next day they were making pineapple fruit salad and small gifts for each other out of wood. Kalai looked up suddenly, and said, “I don’t even know your name.”
“Markell – Bernard Markell.”
“My name is Kalai Taine.” She smiled and they shook hands.
“So do you ever think you will want to get off this island?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Not right now. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I still have a lot of issues to deal with.”
“Maybe it doesn’t even matter for me. But I do wish I was back in civilization, especially when events like Christmas come around.”
“Do you have a family?” she asked.
“No – they are all gone. I was in a sailboat and got into a storm, and now I’m here. I managed to save some of the things I had on board, but that’s all I have left.”
“Like red and blue paint?” she smiled, and they both laughed.
“Actually, I used different parts of what was left of the ship to make this place I live in. I used some of the wooden planks off the deck to make a cone, and then painted it with lavender paint.”
She looked at him and asked, “So the blue means that Jesus came from heaven, and the red is the blood he shed for payment, and together they form the lavender color, which is a symbol of his royal kingship in heaven.”
“Yes! And He was sent from heaven as the only person who was holy enough in God’s eyes to pay for the sins of the world. But you have to start believing that with all your heart in order to stop cutting yourself. It really isn’t necessary and doesn’t do anyone any good – especially you. It was hard enough for God to let his own Son suffer for us; you need to stop punishing yourself because the punishment ended a long time ago. And to prove that the punishment was complete and sufficient, Jesus rose from the dead and went into heaven. The resurrection is the legal proof that we are no longer being held responsible for what we have done wrong.”
Christmas day came, and they both sat in front of the lavender tree and gave each other presents. It was strange – a lavender tree with chrome decorations, and looking out the window over a lush green island. There was even a light on the top of the tree.
Bernard asked her, “Do you know what I want for Christmas?”
“I want you to promise me you will never cut yourself again, and that you will start eating again and taking care of yourself.”
She looked down at the floor. After a long pause, she said, “Ill try.”
“How long have you wanted to take your own life?”
“Never,” she answered.
“But what about cutting yourself?”
“I wanted to hurt myself, but I’ve never wanted to die.”
“I told you – I wanted to punish myself. And I was angry – very angry. Everything in my hut is broken. I smashed everything, and cutting myself was also how I kept from damaging anything else. Before I came here, it would have been very disruptive to others if I had damaged their property or lives. So I hurt myself instead of openly letting out my aggression.”
Bernard cautiously asked her, “Do you know what I saw when you were angry?”
“After you told me what had happened to you, I saw a desperate, angry, frustrated person who was running around in her world trying to go back in the past and change the decisions she had made. I saw someone who was lashing out because she couldn’t control her world or the consequences of her past decisions. I saw someone having a panic attack because her world was completely beyond her reach and control, and you were trying to bring your child back.”
She was amazed at his answer. She walked away and stood in the corner, crying. Then she started groaning in agony. She cried out, “Give me back my baby! They took my baby! They told me a lie! I believed their stainless steel, death machine lies! It was so quick, so fast, and so convenient! If I could just go back and stop myself, if I could just go back and talk myself out of it!” She clawed at the wall, and slid down to the floor, clutching her head in her hands….
Bernard was frozen, speechless, silent for a while. Then he spoke up, and said, “I’m sorry I brought that up – I’m sorry for saying what I did.”
“That’s OK, I know you are right.”
“Do you want to have a memorial service?”
She turned around, looking at him, mystified. “What?”
“We could have a memorial service in honor of your baby, and put up a memorial stone outside. What was your baby’s name?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if my baby was a boy or a girl.”
“Uhh, well, I hope you don’t mind this idea…give it a name that could be a girl’s name or a boy’s name.”
She thought for a moment. “How about… ‘Carey?’”
“Yea – Carey – that can belong to a boy or a girl.”
So the day after Christmas they had a memorial service. They erected a stone, and it said:
“IN MEMORY OF CAREY, MY BELOVED CHILD, NOW IN THE ARMS OF JESUS”
Kalai was crying softly, and Bernard planted some flowers in front of the memorial stone. He read from the old Bible that he had saved from his shipwreck, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I hold the keys of Death; I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in Me shall never die. Thank you, O God, that you are the God of the living, and that you are taking care of Carey. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Bernard turned to Kalai and said firmly, “Now you must have faith, and believe God’s promise to take care of your baby, and believe His promise that you have been completely forgiven.”
And Kalai sat with Bernard in front of the lavender Christmas tree, listening to the sound of the ocean tide outside Bernard’s hut. They talked about Carey, and what heaven might be like, and what it would be like someday when she finally gets to see her child.
And as Kalai started listening to and believing the truth about herself and how much God loved her, and that He was taking care of her child, the dark voices would go away….
By Randy Stahla Copyright 2007