“She’s awake now Mrs. Stevens” the nurse said, as she signaled for a woman sitting inside the hospital waiting room.
The woman followed the nurse to room 324. She froze for a moment just outside the room’s doorway. It had been five years since Renee Stevens had seen her older sister Claudia. Problems and disputes had caused division between the siblings, but news of Claudia’s declining health had prompted Renee to quickly get on a plane and visit her.
“Lord, I need your strength to get through this”, Renee prayed under her breath, as she took slow careful steps into the room. She approached the hospital bed and placed her hand on the railing. She whispered:
“Claudia……It’s me Renee. It’s your sister Claudia.”
Claudia opened her eyes and was met with the vision of a beautiful woman with long brown hair and deep blue eyes.
“Renee. I’m so glad you’re here. I was afraid you wouldn’t come” Claudia struggled to say in a low raspy voice.
Renee fought back tears as she peered down at the small frail body that represented her once beautiful sister. Claudia’s soft golden locks had become brittle and began to fall out. The beautiful creamy white skin she once had was now wrinkled and dry. Her rosy red lips had become pale and cracked. She had experienced significant weight loss and was nearly half the person she once was. It seemed as though she was already dead.
“I…….I am glad to be here with you Claudia” Renee stuttered.
It was extremely difficult for Renee to formulate words after all that had taken place during her forty year lifetime. The years had amassed a collection of hurtful words, quarrels, and painful memories that she was still in prayer about. She knew that God required her to forgive. She was trying her best to forget the past. She felt as if she was lying to her sister, and yet she really was glad to be there.
“Please sit down” Claudia said as she placed her bony hand onto her sisters.
Renee sat down next to the bed and looked into her sister’s eyes.
“I need you to do me a favor Renee.”
“What would you have me do?”
“I don’t want this disease that I have faced to spread to my nephew and niece. I need you to protect Cody and Chelsea from this. Don’t let them end up like me.”
Claudia’s words confused Renee. She thought that her sister had become delusional and was not speaking coherently.
“Claudia, the doctor said that your disease is rare and that it can only be spread to other’s through your blood. Cody and Chelsea are going to be safe. Don’t worry.”
“No Renee” Claudia hoarsely exclaimed. “I am not referring to this physical disease. I am speaking of a much more fatal disease that I have carried with me, the disease of jealousy and bitterness that I have held in my spirit towards you Renee. I blamed you for mother’s death. She died giving birth to you, and I felt like you had taken away a very important part of my life.”
Renee was shocked and speechless. She had never really understood why her sister disliked her. Claudia continued to speak.
“My goal was to be better than you in every way that I could. I lied about you to get people to like me instead of you. I stole from you thinking that I was gaining something at your expense. “
Renee began to cry as she listened to her sister speak.
“Someone once told me that being bitter is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person will die. I now believe that to be true. The feelings I had towards you did more damage to me than they did to you. My entire life, I was slowly killing myself without realizing it.”
Renee wiped her tears as she continued to look into Claudia’s eyes.
“The good news is that I found Jesus because of you. A pastor visited my home six months ago after I had first been diagnosed. I told him about you, how you always reacted to me with love and kindness despite the hurt I caused you. I saw Jesus’ light emanating from you. I am so very sorry Renee……….Thank you for leading me to God.”
Claudia’s eyes began to sparkle. Her cracked lips formed a smile. The two sisters shared a warm embrace and rejoiced. The disease had been cured.
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