Authors: Gina Holmes
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #General
Advance praise for
“Gina Holmes explores the beauty, tenderness, and tenacity of mother love in
with marvelous skill and insight. An outstanding debut from a gifted storyteller. Bravo!”
Susan Meissner, author of
The Shape of Mercy
“Moving, heartrending, and poignant—a stunning debut. Holmes returns us to what matters in a too-short life—what it really means to come home.”
Tosca Lee, author of
Havah: The Story of Eve
“What a touching story! Beautifully written, it is a lyrical testament to the hope we have when we believe.”
Deborah Raney, Author of
is a confident debut, understated yet powerful.”
New York Times
best-selling author of
“This story will wring you out and hang you up to dry. It’s beautifully written and deep as a river.”
Lauraine Snelling, author of
A Measure of Mercy
“A stunning debut novel about love, loss, and the circle of life. Gina Holmes knows how to find laughter in tragedy. . . . Her characters will grab you by the heart and have you laughing, crying, and holding your breath.”
Marshall Karp, author of
The Rabbit Factory
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Copyright © 2010 by Gina Holmes. All rights reserved.
Cover photo of woman copyright © by Image 100 Limited/photolibrary. All rights reserved.
Cover photo of girl copyright © by Masterfile. All rights reserved.
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Designed by Jennifer Ghionzoli
Edited by Kathryn S. Olson
The author is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, 2373 NW 185th Avenue, Suite 165, Hillsboro, OR 97124.
Scripture quotations are taken from the
, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crossing oceans / Gina Holmes.
ISBN 978-1-4143-3305-2 (pbk.)
1. Self-realization in women—Fiction. 2. Life change events—Fiction. 3. Family secrets—Fiction. 4. North Carolina—Fiction. 5. Domestic fiction. I. Title.
For my sister, Jodi, who has already crossed.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
I’ve been on this journey toward publication for something like a decade. Along this path were many who have encouraged and taught me. So many, in fact, it would take an entire book just to name them. My dear friends, you know who you are, so if I fail to mention you, it’s not for lack of appreciation, but for lack of brain power and white space. Forgive me.
Before anyone else, I must thank my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. May my meager words always point to Your divine ones. You’ve picked me up, dusted me off, and kissed away my tears again and again. I hope this novel gives a glimpse of the grace You give and the future awaiting those who believe. What sting has death?
Thank you to my dear friend and biggest cheerleader, Cindy Sproles, and to the two very special ladies in my “strand of three threads”: Jessica Dotta and Ane Mulligan. We began this path together, admonishing, uplifting, and teaching one another without ceasing. You have almost as much time and effort invested in my writing as I do. Thank you for reading, rereading, and reading again. You are not only amazing writers but as close as sisters. I love you!
No one suffers the obsession of a writer more than her family. My parents—Nancy and Alberto, and John and Mary—don’t get nearly as many visits or calls as we’d all like because of my obligations. Thanks for understanding and all your years of love, sacrifice, and believing in me. Thank you to Gordon for keeping the children so I could attend writers’ conferences. My sons, Jacob and Levi, know the top of their mother’s head as much as her face. I couldn’t ask for two sweeter, more wonderful and understanding boys. You’ve never complained once over the years. Thank you, babies. I love you so much. And to my three beautiful and ridiculously lovable daughters by marriage—Catherine, Jessie, and Becky—your grace inspires me. I cannot, of course, forget my biggest supporter, best friend, and the love of my life: my amazing husband, Adam. He brings me coffee with kisses, gives me time and space to write, then gushes over me and my writing. Words are inadequate to describe the depth of my love and appreciation.
Thank you to my agent, Chip MacGregor. I hit the lottery when you took me on. Your friendship and confidence in me has made all the difference. Also, Karen Watson and the fiction team at Tyndale. You’ve taken a chance, believed in my writing with an enthusiasm that has humbled me. Kathy Olson, my editor, made this novel so much stronger, thinking of things I hadn’t even considered. I cringe to think of what would have slipped by without your eagle eye and insight. Of course, I can’t forget our fantastic publicity and marketing team or the bookstore owners, sales reps, and book distributors, who are all the unsung heroes of publishing. Thank you so very much.
A special thank-you to Sue Brower for her suggestions and encouragement in the early stages of this novel.
Thank you to the critique groups I’ve been part of over the years: Silver Arrows (Elizabeth “Lisa” Ludwig, Michelle Griep, Ane, and Jess), the amazing Penwrights, and the group that gave me my first taste of criticism, Kingdom Writers.
Also to the Novel Journey team, my friends: Ane Mulligan, Jessica Dotta, Kelly Klepfer, Mike Duran, Lisa Ludwig, Noel DeVries, Marcia Laycock, Yvonne Anderson, Ronie Kendig, and S. Dionne Moore. You work so hard for nothing more than a love of words. I appreciate you more than you know. Thank you for all you do.
It also wouldn’t be right not to thank the teachers I’ve had over the years who’ve cultivated in me a love of words. I can’t remember all of your names, but I haven’t forgotten the lessons. You’re getting through more than you know.
I promise I’m almost finished, but I can’t forget the many published and not-yet-published authors who’ve encouraged me and answered my never-ending barrage of questions: Alton Gansky, Sara Mills, Michael Palmer, Dineen Miller, C. J. Darlington, Deb Raney, Don Brown, Colleen Coble, Kathy Mackel, Eric Wilson, Claudia Mair Burney, Robert Liparulo, Gail Martin, Charles Martin, Heather Tipton, Bonnie Calhoun, Nora and Fred St. Laurent, T. L. Hines, Brandilyn Collins, Kristy Dykes, and countless others. Thank you for your open hand. Special mention to a few who helped me with certain scenes: David Rodgers, Mike Bowie, and Dr. Anuj Sinha. Last but not least, thanks to my volunteer copy editor, Randy Hurrt, who found many a boo-boo.
Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross.
Just a few hundred feet away from the home I’d sworn never to return to, I sat on the smooth surface of a boulder. With my jeans cuffed and toes wiggling in the cold water, I reflected on how recent rains had caused these banks to widen and swell.
Perhaps a decent relationship with my father might also rise as a result of the storm we’d endured. Much could happen in six years. Maybe my absence had, as the adage promised, made his heart grow fonder. Maybe my homecoming would be like that of the Prodigal and he’d greet me with eager arms. Together we’d cry for all that had passed between us—and all that should have but didn’t.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
It’s going to go just fine,
I told myself as I traced the slippery surface of a moss-covered branch with my foot.
“What’s funny, Mommy?”
Isabella’s voice startled me. I didn’t dare admit that what my five-year-old interpreted as mirth was really a grimace, because then of course she’d want to know what was the matter. “Nothing, sweetness.”
She threw a pebble at the water, but it dropped inches from its goal, clinking against slate instead. “You were smiling like this—” She bared her teeth in a forced grin.
Gently, I pinched her cheek.
“You’re beautiful, Mommy.”
“Thank you, baby. So are you.”
“Yes, I am.”
I smiled at that. I smiled at just about everything she said and did.
“Mommy, why’d we drive here ’stead of Cowpa’s house?”
was her name for grandparents of either gender. I probably should have corrected her long ago, but I found the odd term endearing. Besides, I reasoned, she’d grow out of baby talk all too soon without any help from me. I found myself wondering what other lessons she would learn in my absence.
The thought overwhelmed me, but I refused to cry in front of my daughter. Unloading my heavy burden onto her delicate shoulders was not an option. I might not be able to control much in my life lately, but I could still protect her. Nothing mattered more.
“This was my thinking place when I was a little girl. I wanted to show it to you in case you wanted to think sometimes.” I breathed in the area’s familiar fragrance—a combination of damp leaves, pine, and earth—and eyed my surroundings. Same trees. Same sounds. Nothing much ever changed in this spot. That, more than any other reason, was why I loved it so much. Especially now.
I’d spent half of my life here, sitting on this unyielding rock, trying to make sense of the world. The loss of my mother. My father’s neglect. The sometimes-sweet, often-bitter, words of my ex-boyfriend, David. It was here I’d first gotten real with God, begging Him not to take my mother. Railing at Him when He did.
Isabella bounced on one foot. “What did you think about here?”
I poked my toes through water, watching droplets glide down my pink toenails. “Well, when I was little, I thought of catching frogs and grasshoppers and wondered whether I would ever have a best friend to share my secrets with.”