David sighed as he trudged up the cracked cement driveway. Pine needles swirled around him in the gusty December air. He scowled as he stepped over his son’s bicycle on the way to the door.
Rory almost bowled him over as he entered the house, her long, yellow tail smacking indiscriminately at the photos and keepsakes that liberally covered the coffee and end tables. He scratched her head absently and opened the back door. The dog bounded outside, barking gleefully.
Setting the unopened mail on the kitchen table, David was surprised to see dishes piled in the sink. Emily was almost religious about keeping the kitchen clean. He’d surprise her, he thought. He’d clean up and prepare supper; perhaps afterward they could purchase a Christmas tree. The holidays seemed to sneak up on him every year, but there was still plenty of time to decorate a tree for the holiday. Jonathan would love it.
He was putting the last of the dishes away when he noticed the blinking light on the answering machine. Perspiration broke out across his forehead as he looked at it. He wasn’t sure why the innocent light was affecting him so.
Reluctantly he pressed the button. “Hey David, it’s Mike…I…wow. I really don’t know what to say, man. I just wanted to check on you. I hope you’re okay. Call me, man…if you, uh, need anything.”
David began wheezing erratically. Why did Mike sound like that? Why wouldn’t he be okay?
He staggered to the couch, nausea and dizziness threatening to overwhelm him. For a moment, he saw clearly. The house was dark and the furniture was coated with a thick layer of dust; there were take out containers and toys scattered haphazardly about.
Gradually, he drifted into a light slumber, his mind replaying happier times. Cozy nights spent cuddling with Emily, reading to Jonathan, playing catch with Rory.
A pounding awakened him. He fumbled for the door in the blackness.
“David,” Mike whispered, engulfing him in a hug.
“Mike? What’s going on?”
“Hey, Dave,” said another voice. He looked over Mike’s shoulder to see Melissa smiling at him, her eyes brimming with tears.
“Mel...what are you doing here?”
She shook her blond curls vigorously. “As if we’d stay away…it’s your first Christmas since the accident.”
David just looked at her, his face a mask with cold, empty eyes.
“Let’s turn on some lights, Dave,” Mike suggested, helping his brother across the threshold.
They all sat down.
“Why are you here?” David asked.
Mike cleared his throat. “We’re here because I can’t get you out of my mind. Every time I pray, I see your face. I had to come. Do you remember the accident, David?”
David nodded mechanically, his hands trembling. He found it difficult to see through the tears that flooded his eyes. “I remember,” he whispered. “They’re gone.”
Melissa shook her head emphatically. “No David. They’re not gone, they’re home.”
“Home?” he repeated dully. He looked around the messy house sadly. “Where is home?”
“You know the answer to that Dave, you know you do,” Mike answered. “2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…”
“…For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” David continued hoarsely. “She…they…just seem so horribly far away. It’s easier to pretend they’re still here.” He shook his head sadly, “Sometimes I believe it.”
“We’re here to help you,” Melissa said softly. “We’ll stay with you until you get back on your feet.”
“Thanks,” he whispered. “I need help.” He shuddered recalling the nights he’d spent helplessly sobbing in the empty house. Even worse were the many nights he’d spent pretending it hadn’t happened. He was cracking up.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, Dave. We’re here for you and we won’t leave until you’re ready. I’m sorry that it took me so long to realize I needed to be here. This life is short David; never forget that you will see them again.”
A weak smile graced David’s features as he felt a wave of Heavenly comfort wash over him. He couldn’t deny what he knew was true. “When I go home, we’ll have forever,” he agreed. “And in the meantime, there must be something God has for me to do.”
As he spoke the words, a sense of peace welled up within him. It was his first step back on the road Home.
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