The Healing Trees (chapter 3)
Maya opened the car door and slid her way into the seat, throwing her backpack in the backseat.

“How are you feeling?”, her mother asked.

“It’s been a long, scary day, but Mrs. Thompson helped me understand a bit about what happened. She shared with me her own story of when she had panic attacks. I had no idea. Looks like I’m not the only one, which makes me feel kinda better.”

“I’m glad she was able to help you." 
“Me, too.”

Maya wanted to relax on the way home, so Ms. Bennett turned on some soft music and pulled out of the school parking lot.
Before long, they were pulling into their driveway. Maya grabbed her backpack and followed her mom into the house. Ms. Bennett asked Maya to join her in the kitchen to prepare some snacks, which gave them time to talk.

“Mom?” “Yes, Maya?” “Mrs. Thompson said panic attacks happen when someone is anxious or stressed, or when they’ve had a traumatic event.” Ms. Bennett nodded, and Maya continued. “I don’t know what all this means yet, but I feel like I need to spend more time with Mrs. Thompson to figure it out. Is it okay if I stay after school again tomorrow to talk with her?” 

“Sure, honey, that’s fine. Just call me when you’re ready to be picked up.”

 “I will. Thanks, Mom.” 
“You’re very welcome.”

Maya and Ms. Bennett enjoyed their snacks and then sat on the couch to watch the television. About an hour later, Maya went upstairs to work on homework while her mom made dinner. Opening up her laptop, Maya began working on the day’s assignments. 

After just a few minutes, Maya felt herself growing increasingly warm. She walked over to her window and cracked it open. A minute later, her left arm felt a bit weak. Her heart began racing. Pounding. Dread overtook her. She raced downstairs and called for her mom to come with her outside.  

Ms. Bennett ran to the front door to help Maya get outdoors. Not able to speak, she started inhaling the fresh air the way Mrs. Thompson told her to. She focused on her breath. On the air filling her lungs. What did Mrs. Thompson say about God’s goodness? Maya couldn’t remember exactly, so she just kept breathing slowly. 

Breathe in his goodness. Breathe out the fear.

That was it! Maya began focusing on God as she breathed in, thinking of how he had brought her this far. As she exhaled, she told the fear to leave. A few more breaths, and her heartbeat returned to normal and she felt better. 

Turning to her mom with tears in her eyes, she collapsed into her arms and sobbed. “Why does this keep happening?” “I’m not sure, dear, but maybe Mrs. Thompson can help us figure it out.” “Will I need to be put on medication?”, asked Maya. “I hope not, but let’s wait and see what Mrs. Thompson has to say, and we can go from there.”

Ms. Bennett offered to help Maya back into the house, but Maya wanted to stay outside for a while longer. The fresh air felt good to her, much better than the stuffiness inside her home. Outside she could breathe better and more deeply. She could process her thoughts and emotions in a way she couldn’t do in her room. 

As she stared at the one lonely tree in her front yard, she felt a peace wash over her. The same peace she felt earlier in the day when Mrs. Thompson took her outside to the bench between the oak trees. 

In the kitchen, Ms. Bennett was working away at getting dinner ready for her and Maya. As she prepared the salad, she started to cry. “God, why is this happening to my little girl? Why is she struggling? Please show me what’s causing this. PLEASE!”. Ms. Bennett knelt down on the floor and wept for several minutes, begging God to heal her daughter. 

After she collected herself, she got back to working on dinner. She wasn’t sure if God heard her prayer, but she hoped he did. For the sake of her daughter, she really hoped he would hear and answer her prayer.

Ready for dinner, Maya walked back inside and headed to the kitchen. She found her mom setting the table. Maya and Ms. Bennett sat down and prayed over their meal before digging in. It was a somewhat quiet meal, other than a brief conversation about Maya’s homework and the upcoming Math test the next day. 

After dinner, Maya cleaned up the table before heading upstairs to finish her homework while Ms. Bennett washed dishes. Upstairs, Maya again opened her laptop and began working. She immediately got nervous, preparing for another attack, but thankfully, it didn’t come. 

She finished the math problems and studied for her test, and then closed her laptop for the night. She then grabbed her phone and started scrolling Instagram. One of her friends posted a picture of her and her parents, which felt like a stab to Maya’s heart. Why does SHE get to have both of her parents? It felt unfair. 

After Maya’s dad left her mom for another woman when Maya was 7, Ms. Bennett was angry and bitter for a long time, and so was Maya. Her heart hurt. She couldn’t believe her dad could just walk out of her life, just like that. What kind of man does that to his child? No visits. No calls. No letters or cards in the mail. What a worthless piece of…

“Maya, can I come in?” Her mom interrupted her thoughts.

After putting her phone under the pillow so her mom wouldn't see the picture, she answered. “Sure”. “I’m going to the store. Do you want to go?” Ms. Bennett asked. “No, thank you.” “Okay. Do you want me to pick up anything for you?” “Not really. I’m not in the mood for anything.” “Okay, honey. I’ll be back in a bit. Love you.” “Love you too, mom.”


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