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He Died on the Way
by Rosalind Morris
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© 2003 by Rosalind Morris

Cyma Jones stood with her head facing up as if she was trying to will herself into the air. Hot tears trickled down her face, dripping off her chin, landing on her shirt, her shoes, and the dark gray asphalt. She had promised herself that she would not cry, but seeing the only person who was there for her fly out of her life was harder than she had imagined. He is not gone, forever, she told herself. Something deep within her knew otherwise.

Jared had explained it to her many times. He needed to go to Boston to finish his graduate studies, but after that, he would come back. When he came back, they would finally set a date for the wedding. He knew that he had been saying that they would set the date for the past two years, but the graduate studies would definitely be their last hurdle. It was simply a short-term necessity that would benefit them both for years to come.

Having watched the plane go from a full-sized jet to a small speck in a distant sky, she turned for home. Home, she thought, if I never see him again, I will always owe him for home. Before she met Jared, Cyma had lived nomadically. Her mother, the only parent she had known, died when she was twelve years old. Everything about her day, saying goodbye to Jared, the sticky summer air, the feeling of uncertainty that surrounded her spirit, forced her to reflect on her mother’s death.

Rita Jones had promised her daughter that though she had to be in Seattle, she would be back in time for her recital. Cyma’s first reaction to the promise had been cynical at best, but after her mom’s repeated reassuring, she finally took Rita at her word. When the young pianist dared to hope, she put her whole heart into it. Sure, her mother had showed in the past that her career held top priority, but this time she had promised. This time she would have to show. Cyma’s concentration was weak from watching for her mother. She missed three notes on her G –minor scale, and suffered through what she would always see as her worst performance. Having finished the last note, she sat there with her fingers on the keys lamenting her mistakes. When Mrs. Leen, her instructor, touched her slumped shoulders, she rose numbly and walked off the stage. Her muddled thoughts drowned out the thunderous applause of the audience. How could she do this to me? She promised she would be here. She knew how much this meant to me. Mrs. Leen interrupted her thoughts with news that would change the way Cyma viewed everything.

“This is Officer Lancaster,” she said referring to the young black guy in the blue uniform. “He has some bad news about your mother’s plane.” She had seen enough movies to know that she would not like what the officer came to report.

“Is my mother alive?”

“I’m sorry sweetheart, but she is not. Her plane crashed in Illinois,” the officer replied. Cyma did not cry then. She just got angrier. Her mother had promised to be there, and she had no business dying in a plane crash. The officer seemed puzzled by her lack of tears; nevertheless, he continued his duty. “You will have to come with me, sweetheart.”

“Where am I going?”

“I am taking you to get your clothes, and then we will take you to relatives. Do you know where any of your relatives live?”

“I have no one. My mother and I only had each other.” Her voice was stoic as she barely opened her mouth to speak.

“Cyma, why don’t you stay with me for a while?” That came from Mrs. Leen. She took the stunned child’s hand, thanked the officer, and led the way to her car. Cyma clung to her anger only until her head hit her pillow later that night. Then suddenly as if someone had turned on a magic switch in her head, her mother’s death was real to her. The revelation hit like a bolt of lighting, and her screams woke up the neighborhood.

Between comforting Cyma and apologizing to her put out neighbors, Mrs. Leen came close to an emotional breakdown. It was the toughest night of her entire life. When the little girl was spent, she held her as she slept, her heart melting at the thought of sending her to a foster home. She was a mature lady on the brink of her twilight years. Lord, what am I going to do with a twelve year old? She never received a verbal answer, but somehow she knew that if it pleased the courts, she would raise Cyma as her own. Cyma, though she hurt for months, began to adjust to her new home and her new guardian.

Mrs. Leen raised her through her tears right to the edge of womanhood, but when Cyma was seventeen years old, Mrs. Leen passed away. She had gone by Grey Hound to visit her sister, and her heart stopped on her way back home. The news came at a time when everything in Cyma’s life felt good. She was popular, smart, and on her way to a bright future. She was three months away from graduating, yet once again all alone. She spent her next six months, until she left for college, moving from house to house. Several friends invited her to stay longer than her customary two weeks, but that was the last thing she wanted. Better not to get too close, she often reminded herself. She thought it practical since she would soon be moving into Brittany Hall at NYU. Soon she would be on her own for good, and that suited her just fine.

It was at NYU that she met the love of her life, Jared Jakes. He pursued her stony heart persistently until he chiseled away all walls. Her man was not without his faults, but he had reaffirmed his love repeatedly. He even made sure that if they did not work out or something happened to him, she would never again be without a home. As a graduation present, the kind young man gave her the deed to her very own two story colonial house. It was a most precious expression of his heart toward her. If at any time before she doubted his love, she knew she would never doubt it again.

The emotion of the day had worn weighty on Cyma, and she went to her bed as soon as she made it home from the airport. Her trip down memory lane, she knew, had been even more draining than saying goodbye to Jared. As she lay on her bed, her heart spoke to her Heavenly Father, the God that Mrs. Leen had introduced. If there was one defining label that applied to her second guardian, “Woman of Prayer” was it. Many times during her teens, that woman’s prayers had sustained her. Three weeks before her death, Cyma too came to believe in the God she served. Cyma’s faith wavered when the aged woman passed, but she still prayed. When everything was quiet, her spirit drew near her God.

While Cyma waited for Jared, she called on her God more and more. She started every morning with Bible study and prayer. She read devotionals on her lunch break, and she spoke of her love for her savior in every letter that she wrote to Jared. He would always write back, but he never acknowledged the things she wrote about the Lord. His conversation was always about his studies, his longings, and his love for her. More and more, that was not enough for Cyma. She wanted her lover to love her God. She was not sure when it happened, but one day it was painfully apparent that she could not marry Jared. In the months that followed, she wondered how she would tell him of her epiphany.

Neither of them had much contact during the last months before Jared’s return. Jared fidgeted in his seat, trying to settle in for his flight home. He had been aware of his fiancé’s anxiety over him leaving for nine months. She thought that he would never return. Jared smirked over the realization that the young man that left on the plane to Boston was indeed gone forever. He had plenty of time to reflect on the difference between him and the other guy, and by the time he got off the plane at LaGuardia, he was more than ready to explain everything to his future wife.

She met him at the luggage corral with tears in her eyes. “Honey, it is so good to see you!” As he spoke, he pulled her into his arms and squeezed. She cried harder. He loosed his grip to look into her eyes. He thought her tears were joyful, so he opened his mouth to speak.

“I have something to tell you.” Both halves of the couple simultaneously blurted the phrase.

“Let me go first,” Jared insisted. Cyma conceded to the man she still loved.

“When I left, you worried that I would not come back. You thought I might die or fall in love with someone else. I told that would never happen, but I was wrong. Last week, I did both. I died on the way home to you, and I have given my heart to someone else. What I am trying to tell you is: I fell in love with Jesus Christ.” Cyma stared at him for a long moment before she began to bawl again. He thought he heard her thank God amidst her tears and his new heart did the same.

The End

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Member Comments
Member Date
Devonn Rider 25 Jul 2003
Fantastic article. Certainly the type of material that I enjoy reading.
David Doyle 30 Apr 2003
Cute story; well written. The ending was a little too cute for my taste. David


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