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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: The Homecoming
By Mandy White


“It won’t be long now. Nell’s breathing is becoming shallow and her heart rate has slowed considerably. We have made her as comfortable as possible. I assure you she knows you are here.” The doctor’s words coursed through Lillian’s being like a raging river. The news was expected, yet something she could not prepare for. The methodical rhythm of the machine monitoring the faint heartbeat was a strange comfort - the only evidence she had that her mother was still with her.

Lillian sat down and wrapped herself up in a soft, warm blanket of cherished childhood memories. Picking up a hairbrush from the bedside table, she began to brush the 90 year old woman’s silvery strands that cascaded over the pillow - the last time she had brushed her mother’s hair, it was fiery auburn. As a young girl, Lillian was fascinated with that long, beautiful hair. It was worn in a bun during the day, but each night before bedtime, she would let it down so Lillian could brush it. That was their special time. As the tot brushed the silky locks, Nell would sing her favorite hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.”

Lillian let reality sink in for a little while, then closed her eyes and thanked God that the rest of the family had made it in time. Mama Nell, as she was affectionately known, was a no-nonsense woman. She always looked out for her family, and they loved and respected her deeply. Lillian felt a gentle touch on her shoulder. “The chaplain escorted us down, mom.” She turned to see her daughter Melissa, two of her grandchildren and several other family members. Tears flowed freely as Mama Nell took her final breath.

Melissa pulled a sealed envelope from her pocket. “Mama Nell seemed to know her time was near. She gave me this last month and asked me to read it to you all after she was gone.”

My precious family,

You know I’ve never been much for crying and carrying on when a child of God is called home. Now don’t get me wrong - I would be a little perturbed if you didn’t shed a tear or two. What I’m saying here is I accepted my Lord Jesus when I was 12 years old. I lived 90 blessed years on this earth serving God and raising most of you all. I’ve lived without my Charles for a good, long while now too.

This old body has served me well, but I’m a weary traveler looking forward to resting in the arms of my Jesus. My house is getting real run down. I have a mansion waiting for me!

Lillian, and whoever else is hearing this, I want you to praise God right now. This is a homecoming celebration! I love you all.

‘Till we meet again,
Mama Nell

The bittersweet words of Mama Nell caused a mixture of sniffles, giggles and tears to erupt throughout the room. Lillian walked over to the bed. One by one the others joined her. Four generations stood hand in hand around their beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

The singing began softly with one of the children - “When peace like a ri-ver” . . . A few moments later, with hands still clasped, the entire group was singing Mama Nell’s favorite hymn. With tears running onto smiling lips, the chorus - “It is well, it is well, with my soul” - swelled into an astonishing crescendo. What started out as a small sacrifice of praise from a child had become a joyous, heartfelt time of worship.

Lillian walked over to the window and looked up at the cloudless, blue sky. Thank you mama, you’re still taking care of us.

Author’s Note: “It is Well with My Soul”, Horatio G. Spafford

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This article has been read 655 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 03/08/08
A touching story, and very well written. A writer that can bring laughter or tears from their readers (in my estimation), is a Writer that's going somewhere. Bringing out emotions is a #1 sign of a brilliant writer...and believe me, I wept. Good Job!
c clemons03/08/08
Joanne Sher 03/08/08
You did an amazing job with the descriptions on this piece - you definitely put me right there with you. The emotions are so clearly shown as well. This is just first rate, in my opinion.
Seema Bagai 03/09/08
Vivid descriptions and powerful emotions in this piece. Keep writing.
Henry Clemmons03/11/08
Very poetic and soulful. You touched me. Thanks for sharing.
Celeste Ammirata03/11/08
Very touching story. Nicely written.
Beckie Stewart03/11/08
This was beautiful.
LauraLee Shaw03/12/08
Amen, and AMEN. Wow, what a gift you have! This line tugged at my heart strings:
What started out as a small sacrifice of praise from a child had become a joyous, heartfelt time of worship.
Chely Roach03/12/08
I loved this...just beautiful.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/12/08
Nice take on the topic. Such a heartwarming and touching piece - it truly warmed my soul. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Oh, this is great! I liked how it became a happy time, even though bittersweet. THe touch with brushing her long hair at night was something that made this real and special at the same time. Great job! ^_^
Celeste Ammirata03/12/08
Wonderful, heartfelt story. Very well written. It's a nice reminder of what we have to look forward to after this life. Thanks for sharing
Debbie Wistrom03/12/08
Absolutely beautiful, well done, thanks for the emotions.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Lovely story--this would be a comfort to others in a similar situation.
Joshua Janoski03/12/08
You have such an amazing writing ability. The letter is what really got to me. Wow...

I want to live a full life on this Earth, but to get to be with Jesus someday? It's what keeps me going each day.

Thank you for blessing me with this one.