The warm summer breeze swept through Sue’s hair as she sat on the deck of her childhood home and gazed at the lake below. She sipped her coffee, opened her Bible, and read from the gospel of Luke.
“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!’ “
Sue leaned back on her chair, closed her eyes, and allowed her thoughts to drift to a year earlier. The phone awoke her from a light sleep at 3 AM. Her mother answered it and made her way to the room Sue stayed in at her mother’s home. Her father passed away, and the hospital requested her presence as soon as possible.
“You’re not driving. I’m taking you,” Sue’s mother insisted.
“Will James be okay?”
“He’s sleeping. I’ll try to wake him or leave a note for him incase he awakes up before we return.”
Sue agreed to her mother’s offer for the ride and quickly dressed. It normally took forty-five minutes but the heavy fog added ten minutes to the trip. The silence increased the agony within Sue’s heart. She longed for a closer relationship with her mother as she anticipated seeing her father dead.
Upon their arrival Sue led the way toward her father’s room. For ten days her father’s life ebbed away. The moment she dreaded had now arrived.
“You may come in the room to say goodbye,” the nurse said.
Sue glanced at her mother and with trepidation walked alone into the room.
“Would you like a chair?”
Sue shook her head and watched as the nurse left.
“Oh Daddy!’’ She whispered as she stood beside his bed. She felt paralyzed as anger grew in her heart. The nurses had placed her father’s body in a bag with only a sheet covering him.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Sue stood still as the tears tumbled down her cheeks. Suddenly, as if she was a small child she climbed on the bed, wrapped her arms around her father, and wept bitterly.
“Please don’t leave me with her again, daddy. She doesn’t love me like you do.”
No answer came. Sue sobbed and desperately yearned for the comfort of her father’s words that all would be fine, but his assurance never came.
“I don’t want to be alone, Lord. I’m scared. Where are You? I need to see You. Please, help me.”
Her crying overwhelmed her and all at once she found she couldn’t breath and began to cough. She held her father tighter and buried her face deeper into his cold chest. She begged the Lord to ease her pain.
At that moment warm, tender arms enveloped her, and she heard the soft, gentle whisper of her name. She turned toward her Comforter expecting an angel and gasped with surprise to find her mother with tears rolling down her face.
“I’m sorry, Sue. I’m right here. “
“Oh mom, do you love me?”
“Yes, I do. I always have. I just don’t know how to show it like your father.”
Sue opened her eyes, finished her coffee, and read the rest of the passage in front of her. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.”
She smiled at the blue jay perched on the large tree near the edge of the lake as she remembered them being her father’s favorite. She missed him and ached to talk to him again.
Suddenly the doorbell rang, and Sue hurried to answer it. With open arms, she hugged her mother and gave her a peck on the cheek.
“Are you ready to go?” Her mother asked.
As they drove toward the cemetery they chatted about the latest novel they read.
“Do you want to be alone?”
Sue reached for her mother’s hand and strolled toward her father’s resting place. They knelt down at the head stone as Sue traced her father’s name with her finger. She pulled some of the weeds and placed the collection of daisies near the foot of it.
“I love you, daddy. I miss you, but I’m doing fine.”
Sue leaned on her mother’s shoulder as they walked toward the car to drive to church. It would be another Sunday spent together in the Lord’s house.
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