Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Deep End (03/06/14)
- TITLE: The Treasure Of Time
By Pauline Carruthers
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There was nothing distracting in that tiny room, nothing to grab the attention. As if its bland cream walls and insipid coloured carpet were designed to keep the focus on the voice. Yet I still heard it as if from a distance. Unreal, like an echo in a dream. Persistent, intrusive, unwelcome. A glimmer of silver white frost etched patterns on the small window, freezing my heart in the moment.
“Six to nine months.”
My husband’s face remained passive, as if prepared. He asked me to take off my brave face and confront the future, though silent tears were already pouring unhindered from eyes that didn’t want to see. For the past year we had been wading in the shallow end of his terminal cancer. A major operation, winding down the business, trying to sell our property. Taking time out just to be together. Our plans to move back home to the seaside were falling like crushed roses at our feet. Sweet perfume evaporating in failed plans. In the middle of a recession there were no buyers for a large house with a business on the ground floor. We prayed for healing, yet still prayed, ‘Thy will be done’.
The waves of time were now lapping at knee height, as an enemy closing in, deepening like an ebbing tide. Hand in hand we silently made our way out of the hospital towards the town centre. It was the twenty-third of December. Last minute shopping, fingers intertwined, drowning in love. Suddenly David asked me,
“Do you still want to buy me that special watch for Christmas?”
I nodded an affirmative. Words had dried up, the lump still stuck in my throat. Time was something we didn’t have. We had stepped out of the shallows into deeper water, a step closer to the inevitable. We needed to make the most of the time we had left. The watch was the only thing we bought that day.
Whirlwind months like dancing in a mine field. Weekends at the seaside. Afternoon tea at the Ritz in London, with me sweating in my fake fur jacket on an unusually warm February day. We laughed like teenagers, swinging down the street as if we didn’t have a care in the world. Cancer was winning the battle, but would never take away our faith and joy in the Lord, who is our strength and who had joined us together and given us twenty-four glorious years. One beautiful summer evening we saw The Glenn Miller Story at our local theatre. Towards the end of the performance I became aware of his shaking shoulders, suppressed sobs, his hand desperately clasping mine. The fact that he was leaving me alone, like the wife in the story, had hit him like a sledge hammer crushing his heart.
His strength ebbed away a little each day. Though my mind cried out to prolong our time together, my heart sang a different song and I prayed the Lord would not allow him to suffer the pain and indignity, but take him quietly and peacefully. The tide of time was rising rapidly and before I knew it I was in the deep end. We prayed together, read together. He still made silly jokes and I still laughed. We listened to our favourite songs and whispered precious words in the darkness.
“Who will make you laugh when I’m gone?”
“You will, because I will remember all the silly things you said and did to make me laugh. And all the lovely things you did to make me happy.
I held his big capable hands in my small ones as he quietly slipped away from me, an enigmatic smile lingering on cold lips, tired grey eyes meeting heart broken blue. His faith and trust still anchored firmly on the rock that was His God and Saviour.
I floundered in the deep end, but Jesus called to me as He called to Peter.
An early spring breeze gently ruffles the tiny delicate pink blossom on our flowering plum tree. A dove grey sky stretches down to earth still sodden from winter rain. Tiny white snowdrops sprout between long blades of untended grass. The rain begins again, but I’m walking in the deep end, my hand clasped firmly in the hand of Jesus. The watch nestles like a pearl in the ocean, caressed amongst the treasures in my memory box. But one day time will take me to the shallow end again.
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