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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)

TITLE: A Glimpse of Heaven
By Debbie Roome


My little brother is dying.

It’s not unexpected but my feelings are. Emotions swell like ocean tides and my heart breaks to see him like this. Mom and Dad brought him home from hospital last week after he begged them to.

I push his door open, swallowing hard as I confront the medical paraphernalia that surrounds him. A year ago he was a lively seven year old who tormented me day and night. Now he’s a tiny gnome, shrunken within his skin.

“I’ll go make myself a cup of tea.” The nurse touches me lightly on the shoulder as she passes.

“Hello, Jess.”

“Hey, Ryan, how’s things.”

His shoulders lift slightly as he shrugs, “The same I guess.”

I sit down next to him and he reaches a hand towards me. It reminds me of a starfish; angular, pale and translucent.

“Can I get you anything?” I ask as I cradle his hand in mine.

He’s silent for a while and then turns to me. “Do you still write in your journal?”

I’ve always written in my journal. I want to be a great novelist someday and a girl’s got to start somewhere. “Sure I do.” I manage a smile. “Don’t tell me you want to read it.” In the past, Ryan took delight in unearthing my diary and broadcasting my private thoughts to the world.

“Jessica loves Damien.” he would announce at dinner, or, “Jess thinks her butt is too fat.” I was an immature thirteen year old back then but I still consider my journal private.

“No.” he responds.

“What then?”

“Will you write something for me?”

“What would you like?”

“I’m scared heaven is going to be boring, Jess. Can you write about it - tell me what it will really be like?”

I leave him sleeping and huddle on my bed, notebook in hand. I love writing but this is a real challenge. How can I write about a place I’ve never been to? I pen a few words and scratch them out. Try again and scratch them out.

Nothing sounds right and before I know it, light has faded and Mom calls me for dinner. None of us eat much and I’m soon back on my bed, struggling for words. Eventually I close my eyes and ask the one who created the heavens and earth. “Can you help me out, God? I’ve got to do this right and I’m not sure how.”

A few minutes later I have an idea. Heaven is meant to be a place of joy and celebration, a place where kids can have fun. Words start pouring and I scribble furiously, smiling through tears that stream unchecked.

Ryan is awake and turns as I push his door open. “Did you write it, Jess?”

I nod. “I’ve come to read it if you’d like me to.”

A smile circles his face as I sit next to him.

“It was challenging writing about a place I’ve never been to,” I say, “But I believe God gave me these words.”

“Read it, Jess.”

I look at my brother, lost in a sea of sheets, head shielded by a knitted cap, ghostly skin laced with blue veins. “Heaven is the best place ever, Ryan. It’s better than the most wonderful place on earth and everything is perfect there. Sometimes children get sick and go to heaven early but God has great plans for them.”

I squeeze his hand gently. “This is what I believe heaven will be like for you.”

His eyes widen like luminous circles as I continue reading. “Jesus will meet you in heaven and your body will be made strong again. I see energy bursting in every cell, strength exploding in your bones and life pouring into you. Your hair is thick and strong and your skin glows with health. Then Jesus will take your hand and lead you to other children who’ve been waiting for you. There’s a giant football field and a crystal pond full of frogs and worms. Schools don’t exist in heaven and you can run faster and jump higher than ever before ...”

I make it to the end before sobs close my throat.

Ryan is crying too but his tears are rimmed with hope. “I’m not scared anymore, Jess.” His cheeks transfuse with colour and I sense he’s seeing something I can’t. “I’m not scared,” he repeats and I watch in wonder as peace washes away pain and fear.

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This article has been read 806 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Burkum06/17/10
Gave me chills as tears entered my eyes. Comforting, hope-bringing and inspirational.
Patsy Hallum06/17/10
Well written thoughts on a very sad subject..A big writers challenge indeed. Keep Writing.
Lori Othouse 06/18/10
So sad, but beautiful and inspiring.
Ruth Clowater06/19/10
Poignant but not sappy, and both characters are very realistic. The sister confronted a true writer's challenge, and ministered to her brother with her art. That's what it's about!
Colin Swann06/21/10
An absolutely wonderful piece. Definitely my favourite this week!
Thanks so much - Colin
Rikki Akeo06/21/10
This is simply beautiful!
Congratulations in advance, if I may guess!
Ann Grover06/21/10
Tender, gentle, and realistic. I enjoyed it very much.
Joanne Sher 06/21/10
Sweet and tender. Lovely piece that tugged at my heart.
Susan Montaperto06/21/10
I confess I was crying when I read this. It is a sad story, but then the sister prays and discovers the words to take her brothers fears away and hope is indeed renewed. Thank you. Keep writing. God Bless.
Catrina Bradley 06/22/10
You are an expert at combining joy and sorrow. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/22/10
This is so beautiful. I really liked the honesty of the little brother. The fact that he feared Heaven might be boring is a thought I've had too. I often will picture it like church, quiet and solemn and sometimes with a boring sermon. This is a fresh take on the topic and done quite masterfully.