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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Only One Dimension Away
By Noel Mitaxa


“Dot’s very low … We’ve called the ambulance!”

Bert’s normally strong voice was quivering as he broke the news he’d been dreading.

“I’m on my way, Bert.”

I put down the phone, picked up the car keys and headed for the door.

Driving out to their farm, my mind was a whirlwind of gratitude, curiosity, anticipation, pain and the repeating questions and prayer: "LORD, how can someone who has lived so well; and been so healthy; get struck down with liver cancer? What can I say to these dear people? Please give me the words. . . “

Bert and Dot were pillars of the church; a chalk and cheese match that declared to the whole world that opposites attract. They had opened their hearts and their home to a whole spectrum of people who sat somewhere and everywhere between their own extremities. For while Dot was quiet, even-tempered and organised; Bert was – to quote his family doctor – “always jumping on a horse to ride everywhere at once!”

After completing his war service in the air force, Bert and Dot settled onto a virgin acreage of tall hardwood forest interspersed with coastal scrub; and they carved out a farm.

After about ten years of struggle; as materials and services eventually shifted off wartime rationing; they began poking quite large holes in their financial horizons. Raising beef cattle; with a few varied crops as a sideline; gave them a secure, profitable base for a hard-won, hard-working idyllic environment of love that pervaded their household while their kids grew in size and in numbers.

Now their nest only refilled for family reunions, but they had kept the farm going, as Bert learned how to work as smart as he had earlier worked so hard.

But today I had an ambulance on my radar, and my car was not equipped with flashing lights or a siren to clear my path. It normally took about fifteen minutes to drive to their farm, but today the trees and clearings swept past me. The car was gliding through the ceaseless stroboscopic blur of sunlight and shadows that were dappling the road front and rear; but I still ran a very poor second.

The ambulance had reversed up to the back gate by the time I arrived, and I raced up the path to the back door. It swung open, and I stepped aside as the blue-uniform of a paramedic backed towards me, gently guiding the gurney out through the doorway.

Strapped in, beneath a blanket, Dot’s yellowed eyes shone a strained smile in my direction. I reached across and gave her hand a brief, gentle squeeze as she passed me. I waited as Bert followed her out; flanked by Dot’s sister Lucy and her husband Alex; then us four fell into line, out to see the gurney’s wheels telescope with a clatter against the ambulance’s bedframe as Dot was gently slid inside.

A final kiss and a brief hug before the door was closed; and in no time the lights and siren were back in action as the vehicle raced back towards the highway.

The rest of the afternoon is a blur of going back into town and waiting at the hospital for an incredibly short time before Dot was gone. We wept, we prayed, we wondered. But we thanked God for his grace, as he had touched us in so many ways through her.

Later that night is etched into my memory. I went back out to the farm to see how they were. The phone was running hot as they contacted friends and relatives and made some basic arrangements.

Then, as we sat around the kitchen table and held hands in prayer, we sensed a move to celebrate communion together. With no formal rituals or sacramental elements, we paused – just as Jesus had done at his last supper - to ask God’s blessing on what we were eating and drinking, as we gave thanks for his doorway through the barrier of death because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.

It was a blessed moment; all the more because we knew that while Dot was no longer with us physically; we only had symbols of Jesus’ love-offering; instead she was face to face with him in all his eternal reality.

Still so close, yet in a deeper dimension of God’s grace.

Bert, Lucy and Alex have all since joined with Dot.

I’m still here, for a who knows how long...

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This article has been read 550 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 07/22/11
This is a beautifully written and moving piece. The first few lines grabbed my attention and made me want to read on. The ending was very comforting and reassuring,
'Face to face with Him in all His eternal reality,'and 'Still so close yet in a deeper dimension of God's grace.' ... profound!
You portrayed Dot's character so well with the smiling eyes as she was being
taken into the ambulance. She was telling you that it was ok. She knew she was going home.
Kimberly Russell07/23/11
Your opening lines made me want to read on and find out what happened. Not sure how strong on-topic it was but I really enjoyed the story, which progressed nicely.
Laury Hubrich 07/23/11
I am rejoicing for this woman's life and I don't even know her. You painted her picture very well! Wonderful story of earthly life and eternal life!

(I have a typo at the very end of my entry, too. It's humbling, eh?)
Eliza Evans 07/23/11
Thank you so much for sharing this.

The paragraph about communion was especially lovely and real.

Great job for a "one sitting" write.
Juliette Chamberlain-Bond07/24/11
This story has the ring of truth about it.
You write with sensitivity and love of this family who are losing their wife and mother.
I like your reflections that whilst we only have the elements, she is now in the presence of our God.
She has already met Him face to face...
Joan Campbell07/24/11
This is very touching, particularly the deep moment of shared communion. The account captures both the sorrow and the hope in death. Thank you for sharing it.
Edmond Ng 07/24/11
A well expressed and moving piece. I was able to feel the emotions and moods within your writing. Thankfully, in times like this, knowing where we will go with Christ in us is a deep assurance that brings comfort and healing to the soul. God bless.
Edy T Johnson 07/25/11
This is a poignant tribute to some salt-of-the-earth friends. I like how naturally you wove Jesus into the narrative, just the way it should be as we walk with Him through the valley of the shadow.
Linda Goergen07/25/11
You so powerfully show, and emotionally bring us into, the heartache of facing death we have on this side of Heaven...
but you also powerfully show and remind us of the hope we have on the other side - where there is no more death or heartache, but where an eternity of joy communing with Jesus awaits us!!!

You show strong visions of both sides and I love how you reflected the differences, even in the act of communion, with symbols of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on this side but Jesus Himself on the other.

Great job and this emotion provoking piece!
Virgil Youngblood 07/26/11
A fitting tribute to a wonderful friend and a blessing to all who read it. Great writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/27/11
You pulled the readers in and let us feel the grief that occurs when one prepares to leave this side of Paradise. Excellent writing.
Kim Hamlin07/27/11
Love the hope in this story, very well-written, thanks for sharing this!