Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: A River of Black Tears
By Lisa Johnson
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Jade put the finishing touches on her makeup, smoothed the wrinkles out of her shirt, and went downstairs.
“Young lady, I know you don’t intend to go see your grandmother looking like that!”
Jade’s mother stood between Jade and the door with her hands on her hips. Jade turned to look at her reflection in the hall mirror.
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” she asked, her glance revealing the dyed black hair, heavy black eyeliner, black lipstick, black fingernail polish, and gothic black clothes.
“Jade, honey,” her mother pleaded, “You know how upset Grandma gets when she sees you dressed like that. She doesn’t think that it’s proper attire for a young lady.”
“Whatever,” Jade said blandly as she pushed her way around her mother and out the front door.
Jade’s dark appearance stood in stark contrast to the antiseptic white hallways of the ICU unit. Her grandma looked almost as white as the walls, but smiled warmly as Jade slumped into the chair at the bedside.
“My sweet Jade, I’m so glad you came,” her grandma whispered. Her words seemed to take all her strength, but she continued. “I wanted to say goodbye before I go…”
“Oh, Grandma… don’t talk like that… you’re gonna be okay.” Jade took her grandma’s hand and patted it uncomfortably. Jade felt her grandma squeeze her hand gently.
“No, Jade, I’m going home to Jesus soon. Don’t be sad for me... I know where I’m going, but before I go, I need to know that I’ll see you again someday. If you died today, do you know for sure that you’d go to Heaven?”
Jade hung her head, not wanting to hurt her grandma, but unable to meet her piercing gaze.
“Grandma, I know you believe all that Jesus and Heaven stuff, but it’s not my thing… look at me, I’m not even sure I believe in God.”
“Honey child, God can love even the blackest heart, and I know He loves you very much, and wants you to be a part of His family,” Grandma whispered, her voice so soft that Jade had to strain to hear it.
“Grandma, I don’t really want to talk about that right now… how ‘bout I just sit here and hold your hand for awhile… you seem really tired.” Jade gave the frail hand in hers a gentle squeeze.
Thinking her grandma had fallen asleep, Jade let go of her hand and quietly stood to leave. As she reached the door, she heard a soft sigh. Turning, she saw a sweet smile spread across her grandma’s face. The next few minutes seemed to be in slow motion as she realized that her grandma was no longer breathing, and called a nurse to the room.
“Aren’t you gonna call for help or something?” Jade asked anxiously, as the nurse listened with her stethoscope and felt for a pulse.
The sympathetic nurse answered very carefully. “Your grandma’s been sick for a long time. She wanted to be a 'Do Not Resuscitate.'”
“Why would she do that?” Jade was horrified at the thought.
“She told everyone she was a Christian, and didn’t want anything to keep her from going home when God called her.”
Jade watched sadly as the nurse flipped a switch, and all of the monitors slowly faded to black.
“Do you think that my grandma’s in Heaven?” Jade asked.
“Yes, I do… I believe in God, and I know your grandma did… just look at the smile on her face… I think she knew she was going home.”
The day of the funeral was dark and dreary. Black thunderclouds hung low in the sky, threatening rain. For once, Jade’s black clothes were appropriate, and blended in with the black clothes of the other funeral goers.
The service was not like anything that Jade had expected. It was a celebration of her grandma’s life, and a celebration of her home-going. One thing that the minister said kept going through her mind… when a true believer dies they are absent from the body… present with the Lord.
Jade finally believed that her grandma had gone home to be with Jesus. She desperately wanted to know that, if she died, she would be with Jesus, too. A soft rain started to fall as Jade lifted her face to Heaven. As she prayed, a new Jade was born… and the old Jade was washed away in a river of black tears.
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