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don't count on tomorrow
by collette mcfarland 
01/15/10
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Don’t count on tomorrow

Well, I gambled and lost. That teaches me a lesson about gambling, unfortunately I’m a slow learner, I thought as I hung up the phone, the phone I shouldn’t have answered.  Now my day is shot, caput, gone to the dogs. I had such wonderful plans for the day, too, what a shame I answered the phone, if I was flexible enough I would kick myself in the behind.

 I looked at my Papasan chair, near the end table loaded with reading material, a hot carafe of coffee brewed fresh at the local trendy coffee shop (sorry, no free advertising) and the remote control in case I got tired of reading, which I very well would, especially if the books and magazines had too many multi-syllabled words. Well, it all would still be here later when I got back, except maybe for the hot coffee which would have cooled, allowing the cream to rise to the surface producing a lovely sheen, similar to oil on a lake’s surface.  I poured some coffee into a carry along cup, no sense in wasting good coffee, and I would need something to give me an artificial high, because this afternoon was going to be boring.

Sighing, I headed to my friend’s house to pick her up on the way to the hospital; Charity had called to inform me a mutual friend, Faith, was on her death bed and requested we come by to visit….one last time.  How melancholy can you get? They say misery loves company, well, apparently that’s true but they don’t say that company loves misery! What’s the point in seeing someone right before they take their final bow? Why bother your healthy friends and put the burden on them of seeing you one last time before you die? Do you really think you’ll wake up in eternity grateful for that last visit? Give me a break!

I had hoped Charity had just called to inform me she had done some weekend cooking, which usually led to refrigerator overload at her end in which case she insisted I come by and stock my refrigerator with some casseroles, meatloaves, stuffing, etc. And being cheap and a lousy cook to boot, I was more than willing to help alleviate her burden! Generosity was one of her imperfections. I had always admonished her to spend less money on food and put more in the bank since she seemed to overdo it. Money I had hoped she would leave me in her will as I was her closest friend, actually I was her only friend, and her relatives were greedy money grabbing inconsiderate users.(No, I don’t see any similarities between me and them, don’t you even try to suggest it!)

I got Charity to the hospital as quickly as I could so I could return home early  and pick up where I left off; chillaxing in my den. Did I say hospital; this structure could have applied for a place on the map as a township; gift stores, coffee stands, water fountains filled with coins {with wishes attached to them}, tree and bush filled malls where people sat on leather chairs with wireless computers, several eateries (with well known names,) and a fitness center (though that was a hard one to explain, oh wait, it must be for the employees), and a rehabilitation center with a pool! People had to be praying to get laid up in here! They wouldn’t have to leave for anything, except in Faith's case, death.
We stopped at the information desk where we were supplied with a map to Faith's room. A map! It turns out we actually needed it (even though we still got lost using it.)
If we were in the correct tower, on the correct floor, we were now standing in front of Faith’s closed hospital door which I gently tapped on since Charity’s hands were filled with an enormous gift basket crammed with her (Faith’s) favorite chocolates, candies, lotions, gowns, novelty  socks, cross word puzzles, sudoko books, gossipy periodicals, and DVD’s;  if Faith really wasn’t long for this world her family would be finishing off the contents which were paid for out of my inheritance! I hoped Faith would open the basket while we were here and offer us some refreshments, at least I could benefit from my losses.

A diminutive voice invited us in; at least I assumed that was what I heard. Shrugging to Charity I pushed the door open and almost retreated apologetically, fearing we had intruded into the wrong room when I spotted the small white face which appeared even whiter due to the toxically purple lips and grossly sunken eyes. My gosh, Faith had once been a well nourished (read pleasingly plump) healthy woman just months ago, now her congenital heart problems have made her so frail I could barely see her chest rise and fall with inspirations and expirations. Okay, this visit better not last too long, no way had I wanted this pitiful picture to be permanently whittled in my memory. I was astounded at how well Charity reacted, she didn't seem to notice Faith's exterior shell as they chatted about old times, (and chatted and chatted) while I kept a discreet eye on my watch, occasionally being drawn into the conversation. I tried not to talk too much fearing I’d reveal my personal opinions about Faith’s grotesque appearance.

Come on, Charity, I thought, Faith needs her rest, you'll wear her out, I have a feeling her batteries are  winding down and I don't want to be here when they do because I don't plan on recharging them!  I'm not going to put my lips on those purple lips to force life back into anyone. I fidgeted nervously. Thank heavens I have years to go before i start decomposing and I certainly plan on making the most of my time; believe me, I won't call old friends to come witness my final agonizing breaths! God, if I can't glamorize myself for company stay away from me! It's all about presentation.

The conversation took the turn I dreaded. Death. Death and God. Faith and Charity comforted each other with scriptures I've heard before when I was forced to Sunday school. Fairy tales of happy ever after. Geez. No way we can know what'll  happen when we die, since no one has come back to tell us anything. Okay, no one in the past two thousand years. Things can change in two thousand years! Things can change between sunrise and sunset. If there is life after death I want proof!

Finally, the meeting for the Adoration of God Club ended and I dropped Charity back off at her house and pointed myself home. The heavens opened and rain poured down in layers just as I crossed a busy intersection where some jerk ran his red light and nearly t-boned my car. I pulled myself out of the inevitable tail spin barely clipping five other vehicles and cursed at the retreating truck in my rear view mirror. That was close i thought just before I unexpectedly sailed off the overpass....So much for luck!

My car went airborne down to the freeway below in a perfect nose dive then flipped over to rest on its hood; my seat belt kept me anchored crumbled upside down in my seat, my head grazing the ceiling, and my knees buckling into my face and chest. Not the most comfortable position imaginable. Blood was splashing onto the roof top, pooling in alarming large puddles; my blood. I felt nothing; no pain. This must be shock; or a severed spinal cord. I was slipping away, fading. It's true, your life parades past you rapidly, yet coherently. I recalled every detail in measly seconds. Fifty years of selfishness, greed, and hypocrisy. It was all so clear, so ugly. So wasted compared to Charity’s and Faith’s.
Cars were braking to sudden stops, people were screaming, sirens were approaching, my breath was slowing, my thoughts were withering. Then the hallucination came, probably from blood loss and oxygen deprivation. A view of hell fire burst into my mind so real that my flesh sizzled. I could see eternal torment, eternal punishment, and eternal separation. I could see what I deserved. I shuddered knowing my last words on earth were used to blaspheme God to a careless driver. If I wanted proof about life after death, it had just been hand delivered.

Someone reached into the broken window and clasped my hand, I only know this because I could barely see her through my blood crusted eyelashes, I definitely couldn’t feel her hand. Feelings of comfort flooded my soul. I wouldn’t die alone; I also wouldn’t die glamorously.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be alright,” the stranger said. I’m no fool, after all most of my life was spent lying, only not to make people feel better, but to get away with unlawful or unethical things. I know I’ve bought it.

My eyes closed and my heart beat decelerated even more. No pain, my spinal cord really was probably severed at the neck. I tried to summon up the salvation prayer I had heard so many times from the lips of Faith and Charity as they evangelized around the office and neighborhood and attempted an awkward version of it followed with; “Please God, if you’ll let me live just a little longer…………..” I truly had every intention of doing nothing but good from here on out.

Paramedics arrived, slipped a tube down my throat, started an I.V., hoisted me onto a gurney and sped off with me, sirens wailing. Then….nothing.

Bright lights! I’m in an operating room! They must be able to save me or they wouldn’t have me here, hope is springing up in my soul. Darkness. Sleep.

I stretched and yawned. Wait. I stretched. I could move! With my eyes still closed I tested my right hand and placed it over my chest to assess a heartbeat and respirations. My hand went right through to my back, a neat trick if I had a problematic itch. I lay there, eyes closed, unsure of what was going on, another hallucination maybe.

I hesitated to open my eyes, and then did so one at a time. I could see the clouds and sky, but…even though the sky was above me, the clouds were below me. I seemed to be cradled in someone’s arms, twisting around I met the eyes of ……oh, my gosh, is this who I think it is! It’s definitely not Jim Jones or Jim Baker, not even David Karesh! It’s the real enchilada. No fake, no impersonator, no wan-na be.

I leapt to my feet and praised my lucky stars all the while kissing his hands and feet, thanking him over and over again. Laughing and crying….(fooled you, there is no crying up here anymore!)

Then I apologized profusely for having wasted my life but he cut me off, pointing in the direction of ……What a pearl! It was enormous! So enormous thousands of people, er, souls were pouring through an opening in the center coming to the welcoming arms of …(you know who), as he welcomed each and everyone individually to his kingdom; their new home.

Then, oddly, several dozen of the newcomers promenaded over to me, expressing gratitude for my gifts to them, while others rambled on about some lady named Faith telling them to look me up if they got here first. Faith! She was on her death bed when I left earth? (Yes, that does sound weird!) She of all people, er, souls, should be here, after all, she and Charity had spent hours doing good works for ….Him, I thought glancing shyly towards the welcoming wagon, actually it was a brilliant white throne, surrounded by odd looking celestial beings.

There she was, coming in the pearly gate. How did I beat her here? I know that time is meaningless now so what had seemed like seconds to me were decades down on earth. Boy, that doesn’t sound any more normal the more I say it. She looked fantastic and older but without the geriatric look, you know, sagging face, sagging shoulders, thinning hair. She looked radiant. She must have lived another twenty, twenty five years after me! What luck, but I didn’t end up so bad. She and Grace had been right, death isn’t anything to fear if you know the right people, I mean person.

“Faith, it’s great to see you, and I can honestly say you look better dead than you did alive! But why have you been telling these people to look me up?”

“Well honey, these people were saved by your selfless donations; some got your lungs, kidneys, eyes, bones, pancreas and skin and were able to live long productive lives with their families. And as you can see, if I hadn’t gotten your heart I wouldn’t have survived long enough to be a missionary, the seeds I planted and God watered grew a thousand fold. It was a team effort, thanks, Hope.” Well now I see why she lived twenty five years longer, my heart hadn’t been used much when I was alive, I mean before I died. I wonder how far into eternity I have to get before that just doesn’t sound weird!

As I spotted Charity strolling through the reception line to meet her maker, carrying her trademark basket filled with the crowns she had earned to return to the feet of …Him, I reflected, there is life after death, for those that get the gift of temporal life through organ transplants and those that accept Jesus and get eternal life, no matter how late in the game. God had honored my request to let me live longer, I lived on in Faith and all the others that received parts of me bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase; “Do you want a piece of me, then come and get it,”,

Hey, there’s the lady that held my hands before I died (yep, sounds weird still)…..wait; as she escorted someone to their new home I discovered she was no lady after all. She must have sensed I was watching her because she twisted to look over her star dusted wings and winked at me. She hadn’t been lying when she’d said I’d be alright!




If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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