“I’ve turned your bed to face the window.” A simple statement that changed my life. At the time, though, I was angry.
“I don’t want to look out. I want to die.”
“It’s the first day of spring, Corrie. Your husband says you love photography and I thought you could take some shots through the window.”
“Not interested.” I pulled the covers over my face. Every part of me ached and I really did want to die. Pneumonia and pleurisy had ravaged my lungs and every movement, every word was an effort.
Sharmaine didn’t give up easily. “It must feel good to be home. Why don’t you peep through the camera at the tree out there?”
“The tree is a Magnolia.” The nurse was so positive she made me sick.
“A magnolia? Aren’t they the ones that have those amazing big blossoms? Come on, Corrie, just a quick look.”
I weakened on the third day, partly because I didn’t have the strength to argue.
“I’ll help you support it.” Sharmaine placed warm hands under my shaky ones as I zoomed in on the tree. “Are you happy with the focus?”
I clicked the shutter and pulled my hands out. “There you are.”
A few minutes later, she placed my laptop in front of me. “That was a wonderful shot. Why don’t we take one each day and record the onset of spring.”
In spite of myself, I leaned forward and looked at the image on the screen. I’d captured a slender twig with a swelling on the tip; a brown-sheathed promise of life.
It became part of my morning routine. Sharmaine would bring the camera through and together we would take a new shot. The backgrounds were different each day - an icy frosting, blue skies, a sparrow in flight – but the focus was always the magnolia bud. It clung to the end of the branch, pregnant with promise, swelling, splitting, transforming.
“I’m making your pictures into a slide show.” she informed me after a fortnight. “Would you like to have a look?”
I shuffled my way upright and allowed her to place the laptop on my knees.
“Here we go.”
I watched as the pictures moved slowly past; a collage of silvery bark and taut skin. Then a new look as the tan blanket dropped away revealing a creamy velvet bud. Each day the tightness relaxed as petals stretched and grew. “It’s awesome watching it like this.”
Sharmaine put the laptop back on the table. “It certainly is but it’s even better outside.”
I held up a hand. “Don’t even start that conversation. I’ll go out when I’m ready to.”
The next day was warm and Sharmaine opened the window. The bud was even looser now and a waft of sweet perfume followed the breeze. “If only we could capture the scent.” she mused. “I imagine heaven must be like that; fragrant with the presence of God.”
Her words stuck with me and all day, I watched the bud, willing it to open out fully. I even took a couple of extra photos. It was a slow process, though, and I had to wait another four days.
Sharmaine woke me up that morning. “Corrie, it’s open! Look!”
It lay against silvered bark, relaxed, unclenched, magnificent. “Please open the window.” I whispered. “I want to breathe heaven’s air again.”
“I’ve got a better idea.” She pushed my wheelchair over to the bed. “Climb in. I’ll take you for a ride.”
It must have been spring fever as I obeyed without a peep. She helped me into my robe and then wrapped a soft rug round my body and tucked a scarf round my head and neck. “Ready?”
As she pushed me through the doorway, my window view unfurled to encompass dew-soaked lawns, daffodils and snow drops, and trees trimmed with fine green fuzz. The beauty was such a contrast to my stuffy room that I almost wept. “It’s so fresh, so alive.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Sharmaine pushed me along the concrete path to a spot next to my window. The magnolia blossom was surrounded by dozens of others; a royal display of splendour. The air was laden with their scent, sweet and heavy, laced with citrus.
I closed my eyes and inhaled the fragrance of heaven, the promise of hope and the faithfulness of God. Then I reached out to Sharmaine. “Thank you,” I said, “Thank you for turning my bed to face the window.”
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