Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: A Taste of Heaven
By Kellie Henningsen
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Bright sunlight had awakened him from his troubled sleep when it found its way through the lacy curtains of their bedroom window. He had begun to stretch out his achy body when it hit. The searing pain like a knife stabbing into his chest tore through him making it hard to breathe. Instinctively he reached towards the left side of the bed. What he found there only confirmed the awful pain he was feeling was real. Nothing. Nothing but cold sheets. Nothing but memories. In just a few split seconds his mind flashed through the events of the past two days. The stroke. The doctors. Their last moments together.
Jim sat up and pressed his hands to his head. “Oh, God!” he cried out. “Please help me through this day. Give me strength, Lord, I pray. I feel so very very weak! Lord, I hurt…I hurt so much.” He sobbed into his pillow for several minutes before stumbling into the bathroom.
In a state of numbness, he showered and as he did so, his mind started to clear a tiny bit. His attention began to shift more to Hazel and less on his own pain. This was to be her day. She deserved the best and he intended to make that happen.
With a sudden sense of urgency, he finished getting ready and rushed to leave the room. On his way out, a wedding photo on the wall caught his attention. Thrown off from his mission, he sat back on the bed and gazed at the photo. She had looked so beautiful in her radiant white dress. The joy on Hazel’s face as she walked slowly down the aisle that day just over fifty years ago was no match to his. Both were so deliriously happy and it showed in the photo.
With a sigh, he peeled himself away and set about the tasks at hand. There were final preparations to be made with the florist, calls to the funeral home to finalize the procession after the service, and last minute details to work out with the pastor.
Now as Jim stood at the back of the church, time seemed to stand still once again. “The Old Rugged Cross” peeled across the sanctuary as Hazel would have liked. Lilacs, lilies, and roses bowed their heads in reverence at the front while guests talked quietly amongst themselves or stared off in silent thought.
Jim took a deep breath to calm himself and focused his attention on those in attendance. He could see Pastor Charles and his wife, Kathy, near the front. There was no one else Hazel would allow to marry them than Pastor Charles. The last time Jim had seen the couple had to have been at least thirty years ago! In the second row from the back sat Dr. Rogers nervously reading and rereading the bulletin. How kind of him to come out on this day when he felt so out of place. Jim and Hazel’s three children were welcomed into the world through the skill of the caring doctor. Since the birth of their last child, they had mingled with Dr. Rogers often through mutual friends. Church members, family from both near and far, friends from recent years, and many from years past filled the rows.
A feeling of calm slowly stole over Jim’s heart. To know that these people cared enough for him and for Hazel to come together on this day was truly overwhelming.
Then it hit him. This was Heaven. Yes. This must be a taste of what Heaven is like. He imagined Hazel reuniting with family members and old friends much the same way he was today. It meant so much to him to see all of these people and he wanted to spend time with each one and catch up. He smiled at the thought of the fun Hazel was having at that very moment doing the same thing.
The pastor indicated it was time for Jim to follow him. A smile of peace and genuine happiness spread across his face as this time…he was the one to walk slowly down the aisle…towards his bride…dressed beautifully once again…in radiant white.
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