“Last one in is a rotten egg.”
We all charged down the hill and stepped off the big rocks at the rivers edge into the cold, rushing water.
As usual someone’s voice cautioned me, “Stay close to the edge, Julie”.
Just because I was small for my age did that mean I always had to be careful? What did they think I was; a namby-pamby? I would show my cousins how tough I was. I could make it across the river and back just like the rest of them.
I started confidently across when I thought none of my cousins were looking. Stroke, stroke, stroke. My breathing got heavier and I attempted to rest on a boulder, but I couldn’t get onto it. I struggled against the current.
I told myself to stroke harder. Grabbing at the rocks my hands kept slipping. The current was winning and pulling me away. Panic filled me.
“Help” burst out of my mouth.
I felt Jack’s strong arms grab me and pull me back to safety.
I saw his scared eyes as he said to me, “what did you think you were doing? Didn’t we tell you to stay at the edge?”
“I’m sorry Jack, but thanks for pulling me out” I squeaked out.
“Ah, it was nothing, what are cousins for anyway?”
The cousins had gathered from various parts of the river to make sure I was alright. I felt embarrassed and loved. A ton of close cousins seemed to make up for not having any siblings of my own.
From up the hill we heard the call, “Ice cream’s ready.”
We all went running to get bowls of fresh, hand-cranked, peach ice cream. We sat savoring every delicious bite.
I woke earlier than needed, prayers for Jack ascending to God.
“Please keep him safe today, Lord. Give me an opening to speak of You, he’s turned You down so many times. Guide the surgeon’s hands.”
I would be on my way to the hospital shortly to see Jack before he was rolled into surgery for a risky procedure. Fear twisted my heart. If he died he wasn’t going to heaven.
At the hospital I paused before I went in to see him. “Lord, open his eyes.”
Jack’s eyes brightened when he saw me come in, but underneath there was a fear I could feel.
“Hey, Julie, can you help me please?”
“Of course, Jack, what can I do for you? Need your pillow fluffed or an escape route out of here?”
We both laughed and then were silent.
“Help me Julie to turn my life over to God. I know I’ve blown it with my life and I’m scared to face death. Will you pray with me?”
My heart soared as I reached for his hands. Jack was joining my heavenly family. Tears ran down our faces as we both broke into broad smiles.
My words were accompanied by a wink. “Ah, it was nothing, what are cousins for anyway?”
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