Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: RAIN (04/18/19)
TITLE: Sweet Caroline
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“Looks like a bad storm, Sweet Caroline,” He let go of the blinds he’d been peeking through and turned to his wife. “It’s really coming down out there.”
She didn’t answer. Only the sound of the steadily beeping heart monitor and her slow breaths could be heard in the room they’d called home for the last few months. “I’m going to get some coffee, Sweetheart.” He leaned over her bed and gently kissed her forehead, whispering, “I’ll be right back.”
The long walk to the cafeteria was filled with memories of their fifty-two years together. Forty of them included carrying her to bed each night, dressing her, and helping her in the bathroom. He’d brushed her hair and teeth every morning and even learned to do her makeup. He and Caroline had done everything imaginable to help the healing along: diets, specialists, prayers, and even healing conferences in-between their work with pastors throughout the country. But Rheumatoid Arthritis was a formidable foe.
With an excruciating pace, the disease took Caroline’s movement and left her in agonizing pain. Still, she’d praised the Lord with her whole being. She was a champion of the faith, devoting all her time to work, prayer and Bible study, and teaching the younger women in the church what it meant to love the Lord with heart, mind, soul, and strength. I’ve loved her for so many years, Lord. I don’t want to lose her, but she’s suffering now more than ever. Please God, take her home.
When Hal got back to the room, his coffee fell to the floor splattering hot black liquid over the speckled-white floor. All around her bed, hospital staff were fighting to save his Sweet Caroline while outside the wind whistled and rain hampered the windows. It looked as though the Earth itself was fighting for her, too. The tumultuous battle between life and death raged on for the next eighteen minutes until, “Time of death, 11:01 am.”
Months later, he got a call from an out-of-state pastor he and his wife had worked with over the last few years. Hal informed the pastor of the date of Caroline’s passing which was met with silence, then a strange response. The sound of drawers opening and slamming shut and the ruffling of papers could be heard through the phone.
“Hal,” the pastor sounded out of breath. “On that day, I was in the diner where you, Caroline, and I used to meet for business and was having brunch with a few members of our church leadership. It was raining and very windy, and we were commenting about the surprising weather. Rain wasn’t on the forecast that morning, but it hit us hard. Suddenly, the rain stopped, and the clouds parted. The sun was shining through so beautifully and I felt something in my Spirit. I said, ‘Take note of this moment, everyone. Look! The heavens have opened, and a champion of the faith has just been welcomed home.’ I wrote it down in my notebook to always remember it. I even wrote down the time. I’ve got it right here. The time was 11:01 am.”
Hal could barely get the words out for the lump caught in his throat, “11:01 am was the exact time of Caroline’s death.”
“Hal,” the pastor replied. “I believe the moment your sweet Caroline left this Earth she was ushered into heaven with such a welcome that even the Earth had to rejoice. Praise God, she’s home at last in a new body with the Father, reaping her well-deserved reward.”
Hal hung up and thanked God through tears mixed with grief and joy. He walked into the kitchen to get a second cup of coffee and turned on the radio. Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” was playing and the clock on the coffee maker was flashing 11:01.
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