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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

TITLE: One Angel of Mercy
By Linda Germain


I can tell who is in this room before a word is spoken. I know the sound of each step, the scent of soap or a lunch just eaten, the clearing of a throat--whatever agenda sends any person to my rail-protected bedside. I have gathered and stored, listened and wept, laughed and danced--all in my head.

In the reassembling of this giant puzzle, it is my deduction there was an accident. My body has survived and is healing. The thing I cannot convey to my shrunken world is: I hear. I know.

I am present…not lost in a fog on some distant shore, unaware. The nuances of reality have never been so acute, so undeniably sobering. I am alive. I am in a coma.

“Good morning, Liza dear. The sun is shining today and the air smells like spring.”

I am relieved to hear the happy greeting of my favorite caregiver, Greta. She speaks to me as if we’re old friends, just meeting for tea and crumpets. I feel the lovely warmth of a well-wrung bath cloth on my face, and then the gentle tug of a comb through my short hair. She hums an old hymn as she gently applies the soft bristled toothbrush to teeth that never tastes food or drink.

Her gentle ministering is a balm to the bruises in my unacknowledged prison. Although she is a blur, I would know her in an instant from that reassuring voice and baby powder freshness, those deft hands that keep me clean, her genuine kindness.

“Remember, Liza girl, how I told you about my oldest walking into church and giving me such a surprise?”

She realizes I cannot respond, but still she speaks. I never knew what a real blessing was until she was assigned to care for me. I know about her deep Christian faith that encompasses every aspect of her life, her beloved child who wandered from the fold and apparently has now returned. She has quoted scripture, quietly sung her much practiced Easter solo, recapped sermons, and soothed my ravaged soul with thirst-quenching living waters. She has saved my life.

“As soon as we finish up here, my dear, you’ll be getting a portable x-ray. They probably want to see what’s going on in that smart brain of yours.”

She lowers her voice to an exaggerated conspiratorial whisper.

“Between you and me and the bedpost, I know for sure there’s more in that pretty head than you’re lettin’ on.”

She chuckles and pats my arm—very much like my precious grandmother used to do.

“X-ray folks have arrived. I’ll be back in a while.”

I hear the door close. Two voices I do not recognize chat as they throw back my covers with immodest abandon and position me for the picture. Their approach is rough and insensitive. I feel exposed and vulnerable.

“So…what’s this veggie’s tale? Was she in that big wreck last month?”

“I think so. I remember everyone was killed except this one.”

WHAT? Oh no, no! That’s the reason I’m in this place.”

“Hey man, look. Why is she moaning so loud and moving around like that? Hurry, get Greta back in here.”

I feel the comfort of strong arms around me and then the familiar voice, firm but gentle. She turns me on my side and places pillows around me. She says to keep fighting to come back. I don’t have any inclination to do much of that now. As I close my eyes, wanting to sleep forever, she bends close and speaks in my ear with unmistakable authority.

“Listen to me, Liza. I know you cannot talk…yet…but I also know your spirit can hear just fine.”

Greta’s voice is trembling as she holds my hand. She is my lifeline.

“Just as Holy Scripture commands, I have tried to live my witness in the weeks I have been assigned to care for you. In your heart, right this minute, you can ask Jesus to forgive you and accept that He is the son of God and that you will stand before him someday.”

My friend, my angel on earth, prays as if she is on intimate terms with her maker. As she starts to leave, I am aware of a new and unexpected strength. She pats my arm again and slips away. Her soft tread takes her toward the door. I hear her pause before exiting.

“Thank you, Jesus. Praise your Holy Name.”

I can feel my eyes open.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness, and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (Colossians 1:13 NKJ).

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6 NKJ).

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This article has been read 603 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/09
I love the servant's heart of the caregiver and the "silent" voice of the patient. Your message is clear and wonderful.
Joanne Sher 03/22/09
Oh, this is marvelously done. Love Greta--and what excellent characterization of this woman in a coma. So creative.
Bryan Ridenour03/24/09
Wonderful and moving piece. Loved the caregiver! Well done!
Mona Purvis03/25/09
Ohh, I love this piece and the caregiver! Written from a love-filled heart. Outstanding! Intense! I felt like I was in the room. Truly an inspiration. Masterful writing.
Gerald Shuler 03/25/09
You have revealed the plight of the coma patient. If only people would treat loved ones with this kind of love, whether they are in a coma or not. What a refreshing entry this is for my spirit.