His whole being stood on tiptoe in joyful anticipation of this adventure, and he was all packed and ready to go. Two other times he had planned the same trip, but factors beyond his control interrupted, making this present expectation all the sweeter.
The old man grinned inwardly, adding a certain softness to his expression not ordinarily seen by those around him. He had bided his time these many years, faithfully enduring life’s challenges, sorrows, loves and joys, and he deserved a long-overdue break!
“I am finally leaving today! And, I’ve waited much longer than I thought possible.”
“How are we doing today, Bill? I’m Cindy, the cafeteria aide, remember me? I understand you haven’t been eating the past several days. Is there something that sounds good to you? I can special order it, you know.”
“Bill, cone on now, sweetie, we have to eat,” she loudly coaxed.
“He’s not interested, Miss. We’ve all tried,” this from his longsuffering roommate, John.
Abandoned by most of his friends and family, either by distance, design, or death, the old man had to plan this journey on his own. The ones who were still alive had stopped coming long ago and he had slowly introverted into the recesses of his waning mind. He was bored, certainly, but too blind and deaf and feeble to do anything about it. His gnarled fingers lay loosely on his blanketed chest, each hand keeping the other company in a desperate attempt for warmth. Long ago memories resurfaced and danced in his brain to the beat of his heart, floating somewhat sluggishly through the dense cobwebs there.
He was cold so much of the time now. But, he had borne that these several weeks, and although still uncomfortable, had grown accustomed to this deep freeze spreading throughout his body.
He knew the hardest thing about his trip was to watch the sorrow and tears of his beloved wife of seventy years, Sophie, as she sat beside him, occasionally pleading for him to delay the inevitable. The die was cast, though, and he could not relent, even for her. He had tasted a glimpse of eternity with Him, whom he had loved and served, and there was no turning back. There would be no resuscitation techniques, no feeding tubes, no artificial means to delay him—he had seen to that when he first arrived at this holding cell.
The betrayal of his body had been the final blow, and even though he had valiantly defended himself, he knew it was a losing battle and that it was time to retreat.
“Maybe I could shake my head back and forth waving my one remaining tuft of white hair as a flag of truce,” he grasped onto a thread of his old sense of humor as he talked within himself.
Surrendering to his heavenly Father was awarding him the greatest freedom imaginable. As he slid gently into God’s awaiting arms, the cleansing and pure heat of His love spread to every fiber of Bill’s being, and he would never be cold again. A gentle breeze wafted through the airless room where he lay, his final whispered words drifting to those there,
“It was worth the wait . . .”
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