When my first record went platinum, I couldn’t keep them away. They pursued me with fervor, and publicized every bad decision I made. Late in my career, I found Christ. It was my finest hour, a turning point, and the day the airwaves fell silent. As I grew in Christ, my fame withered, the paparazzi lost interest, and my name plunged into obscurity.
That was thirty years ago.
Today, I lie on a pallet-framed bed, fresh white linen draped loosely across my chest. Dark cinnamon bodies, glistening from the heat of the day, tend to my needs. They are villagers, my friends, and my adopted family.
“Looking good today, Mr. Rock Star,” the cinnamon bodies say.
The cancer has won. Though I am lucid, I’m unable to eat, speak, or move.
The most poignant event of my life approaches and absence of paparazzi is deafening. The past is gone, and I ache for what comes next. I miss my beautiful wife, who died three years ago from an untamable infection.
A wrinkled cinnamon woman wipes my forehead with a cool, soft cloth. I drift off, dreaming of Malaya, and the morning she found me bleeding, and reeking of indulgence. I see Malaya’s perfect cinnamon skin and her sparkling chocolate hair. I whine about my life as she hovers over me, tending to my wounds.
I was a rock star, famous in the eyes of the mob. Fortune enveloped me. I could have anything I wanted, as long as it wasn’t privacy, compassion, or normality. The night before Malaya had found me, I had been a victim of my fame, mauled by a swarm of rabid fans during a party backstage.
Malaya’s big brown eyes swallowed me whole as she soaked in my story, but she saw straight through my shield. She saw that in truth, I was a victim of self gratification. My superficial wounds were bandaged within the hour, but Malaya would spend the next several months fighting to save my soul. I once asked her why she would waste her time. She answered that the same had been done for her.
At the tender age of nine, Malaya had been stolen from the village of her birth. She was sold like chattel. Several years later, Malaya encountered a policewoman who happened to be Christian. This woman helped Malaya escape her physical bondage, and then taught her how to escape the bondage of her soul.
Malaya found life through Jesus Christ, and helped me do the same.
We married and loved each other fiercely, but it wasn’t enough. Damage done to Malaya during her years of slavery had left her barren, and she wanted to return home. At first, I wondered how long I could last in a parched, foreign land, eight thousand miles from the United States. More than two decades later, I’m still here, where need is great and the grace of God abounds. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. From the moment Malaya and I returned to the place of her birth, Malaya had been surrounded by family, and children who relished her tenderness. As much as Malaya and I have given, the villagers have given us more.
I wake from my semi-conscious dream to the sweet voices of cinnamon children. Malaya’s children. Our children. They surround my bed, singing Amazing Grace, my favorite song. Their precious faces are streaked with tears, and I’m hoping it’s from joy.
The walls open up and the weight of the open sky presses against my skin. I close my eyes and slip into a warm, radiant light.
Malaya stands at a distance, smiling, and surrounded by hundreds of children. Malaya and the children rush toward me, embrace me, and cheer. Infinite joy replaces the ache of missing my wife.
I move through the pearly gates, and into a dazzling brilliance. Music is everywhere, but not like any sound on earth. It is the sound of praise, thousands and millions of angels and living beings, an infinite number of voices, harmonized as one.
It is the most dazzling show imaginable, a celestial concert, staring the greatest rock star of all time. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty and there’s not one photographer in sight.
I had once been called Rock God, but there is only one true God, and he is Glory.
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