“It was half-dark and yet his luminous face took the breath out of my lungs. He was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I tried to conceal my wide-eyed wonder beneath my bed sheet, but in the end I just gawked like a child. He was looking right at me. His smile alone told of wonders…such wonders, Carrie. And his presence…Why, if Peace were a person, I’d say he was in my room last night. I felt such rock-solid assurance that everything was going to be alright. I was sure He was going to take me to be with your grandfather, right there and then, but He didn’t. I would have gone, you know. And happily! These old bones don’t much want to keep moving around on this cold earth. I’m ready to go now, dear, now that I’ve seen Him.”
Carrie just stood, face down, biting her lip. She’d known her Grandmother was religious, but now she was talking like a crazy person. And yet, something about her calm demeanour said otherwise…Before Carrie could respond, her mother called from downstairs.
“Sorry, Grandma, I gotta help with dinner. I’ll sit with you after? And you can tell me more of your nice stories?”
If she’d thought this token suggestion would cheer her grandmother, she was wrong. She didn’t stick around long enough to see the look of deep sorrow fall across her Grandmother’s eyes- eyes that had moments ago been so full of rapture and wonder as she recalled the image of her midnight visitor.
“Oh Lord,” she sobbed, “I thought perhaps Carrie was the one person in my fractured family who might respect what I have to say, might see the truth in it, but now I see that she thinks as they all do. They think I belong in a mental hospital. They really do- my own flesh and blood! But I know it was you, I know it! I recognised you as if I’d been looking on your face with earthly eyes all my life. Though I can’t now recall what you looked like, I still feel the warming glow of your peace all around me like a blanket. I can smell the perfume that first woke me when you appeared in my room- such an aroma! Oh Lord, you are beautiful. Though my family call me crazy, and though you left me here another day to put up with their rolling eyes and snickers and stares, I will trust that somehow you’ll reveal yourself to them, too.”
A voice called from just outside the door, interrupting Mamie’s prayer. “Mother, are you okay? I heard voices.” It was Fiona, Carrie’s mother, Mamie’s eldest and most sceptical daughter.
“Come in dear- yes, I was just praying.”
Fiona’s quizzical expression turned to concern when she saw her mother’s tear-streaked face. “Mother, what’s wrong, are you ill? Carrie said something about you having an eventful night last night. Couldn’t you sleep?”
Putting one hand out to shush her fretful child, Mamie wiped away her tears with the other and determined to have one last try at sharing her faith with her headstrong daughter. Only this time she would try from a different angle…
“Sweetheart, I know that you’ve been missing you father very much.” She didn’t have to go any further to push the right button. Already tears were slipping down Fiona’s face. “Fiona, I have something to tell you about your father. He’s not in pain anymore.”
Fiona looked confused, but was too overwrought from all the emotion she’d stifled for days, and was now pouring out in sobs after a few simple words from her mother. Her father had just been buried the day before after a long and painful battle with cancer, and now it seemed her mother would not be too far behind him.
Swallowing her reluctance (for she’d tried many times with this daughter to share her faith), Mamie retold the account of what had occurred in her room in the middle of the night, starting with the divine aroma that first woke her, and then the gentle whisper breathing past her ears, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Now there will be no more pain and no more tears…”
Looking up and seeing the rapturous look on Fiona’s face, Mamie felt the courage to go on. In her spirit she fervently whispered, “Oh please, Beautiful Saviour, let my daughter meet with you tonight.”
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