Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: Watermelon And Two Peas In A Pod
By Laura Anne Harrison
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The thought that “something really terrible must have happened this time” skipped in and out of my mind and back again. Stephen and our oldest daughter, Stephanie, raced into my mind. Having left the house two hours earlier to mow Grandmother’s yard, I expected to see Stephen and our vivacious almost-four-year-old galloping through the door, bubbling over with her “grass-cutting” adventures with Daddy, some time ago.
When the telephone rang thirty minutes later, fear wedged a path of apprehension through my body, as I heard the familiar voice of my sister-in-law saying, “Leslie’s been hit by a car, and she’s been hurt real bad. . .” She continued through audible tears, “Oh, Anne, she’s hurt so bad!” . . . Following a brief silence, an unfamiliar voice came on the line, “Anne, it’s pretty bad. I think you’d better come now. . .”
* * * * * * * * * *
A hospital emergency room doctor told Leslie’s mother, Stephen, and I that Leslie was dead. Struck and run over by a car, as she tried to follow her older sisters across busy Highway 127, her brief six years on earth ended instantly. . .
* * * * * * * * * *
Driving home from the hospital, Stephen and I turned our thoughts to Stephanie who had spent the previous day playing with her cousin-buddy Leslie. The two inseparable “cousin buddies”, like two peas in a pod, were closer than some sisters. While Leslie’s death introduced a new dimension into all our lives, for Stephanie “death” was not only a new experience, it was a new word. Leslie’s death was Stephanie’s first encounter with “dying”, and that encounter would affect the way she met, understood, and accepted death in later years.
When Stephen and I explained to Stephanie that, as Leslie ran across the street, a car hit and killed her. . . and that we would not be able to play with her any more, she repeatedly cried, “Don’t’ tell me that about Leslie! Don’t tell me that about Leslie!” However, in the midst of her deep hurt, she listened carefully, responded with compassion, and amazed us with her understanding. Hearing that “Leslie went to live at God’s house in Heaven,” she tearfully smiled, “Like in my Sunday School books?”
“Yes, like in your Sunday School books,” we nodded. “We will miss Leslie, but there will come a day, when we will go to Heaven and play with her again. Until then, Leslie doesn’t want us to be sad because we can’t see her and be with her now. She is so happy playing and “cloud-hopping” in God’s beautiful, big heavenly home, and she wants us to be happy too. . .”
Acceptance began to shape itself in Stephanie’s little mind, and her angel-smile blessed our hearts, as she pensively responded, “One day, we will go to heaven and play with Leslie.” After a thoughtful pause, she followed that statement with one more question: “Are there watermelons in Heaven? Leslie loves watermelon.”
With a smile of amusement, Stephen answered, “Well now, we don’t really know. Maybe there are watermelons in Heaven. We’ll find out for sure when we go to see Leslie in Heaven.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Prior to Leslie’s funeral, a Teddy Bear lay next to her inside her casket, and a peapod was placed in one of her small, chubby hands. . .
Thirty-one years later, Stephanie, now married, has two babies of her own. On a bookshelf in the living room of her home, an antique gold frame surrounds a photograph of Leslie sitting in a green and white checkered lawn chair in her grandmother’s backyard at a Fourth of July celebration. With her mouth sunk deep into a huge slice of watermelon, Leslie’s little angel-face with laughing, deep brown eyes is surrounded with golden curls. Lying on the shelf in front of the old photograph, an aged peapod waits for the cousin-buddies’ reunion in Heaven. . . Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be for the two “little peas in a pod”!
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