Charlie was beginning to come around again. The heavy medication was wearing off; he would be lucid for awhile, then the pain would be too much. The nurse would return with more meds, and the cycle would repeat itself. It had been 4 days since Charlie was admitted in Intensive Care. Corinne had sat by his bed most of that time, praying for one more rally. She loved her father deeply, and had prayed for him even when he was well. He had never chosen to follow Christ, and Corrine feared for his soul. Her fear intensified with each decline in his health. He was running out of time.
She moved out of the brown lounge chair that had been her home these last few days. Approaching the bed quietly, she put her hand on Charlie’s chest to let him know she was there.
“Hi, Dad. You had a good long nap,” she managed a smile, knowing he was not really napping, but had been medicated into a numbness, a nothingness that was the only escape from pain.
Charlie found enough energy to grunt and mumble a ‘hello’. He laid his hand over his daughter’s, feeling its coolness, sensing the care and love in her touch. They both knew he probably would not survive this time. The cancer had taken too much, too many organs had given in, he was simply too sick to carry on.
“Have you been here all day?” he asked her, scowling. “What time is it?” He hated being so disoriented and foggy.
“I went out for lunch while you slept. I want to be here when you are awake. I’ve taken time off work so I can stay with you.” ‘Before you die’ went unspoken but understood.
Dr. Kane entered the room with his usual quick knock and quicker footsteps. Always a man on the run, he was the hospital’s chief oncology expert. The white lab coat was never buttoned so it floated around his tall, thin frame like a cape. He stopped at the foot of the bed, read the nurses’ chart entries and moved up the side of the bed to face Charlie.
“Not much change, my friend.” He had a reputation for treating his patients warmly, helpful when the news was not good. “I wish I could give you some encouragement or offer you something more in the way of treatment. But I can’t. We’re going to keep you comfortable. Ask the nurse for anything you need to control the pain. I’ll stop and see you again in the morning.”
Corrine’s eyes pooled with tears that didn’t fall. She knew what she needed to do. She sent up one more silent prayer, went to the bag she kept near the brown lounge chair and brought out her Bible. When the doctor had left the room she pulled up the folding chair that was kept nearby, sat as near her father as she could get, and began reading aloud from the worn and highlighted pages of the New Testament. As she read the verses telling of Jesus’ sacrifice, His love, His resurrection, her father listened intently and patiently as he had never listened before. Corrine was encouraged, since he had usually cut her off and made excuses to end the conversation. But this time he looked at her intently as she read. He listened to the words of invitation, to the promise of salvation, and wondered why he had never really heard these words before. Tears of understanding filled his feverish eyes, and warmth he had not felt before covered his body like a blanket.
“Corrine, can you help me pray the words I need to pray?” His voice was weak but he spoke with purpose.
“Of course!” she replied joyfully. “Oh, Dad, I’ve wanted to do this for so long.”
After they prayed together Charlie knew he would soon need more pain medication. He knew that one of these times of deep darkness he would not waken. He came into this hospital a sick and dying man. When he went out it would only be his body. The real Charlie would be going out in glory to a heavenly home.
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