Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RELEASE (08/02/18)
- TITLE: A Chance to Say Goodbye
By Sherry Brock
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I head to the viewing area while sweaty fingers massage my temples and frustrated air blows one long sigh from my lungs. It's our first meeting since his conviction a few weeks ago and, honestly, seeing him again so soon under these conditions is overwhelming.
His head's forward with downcast eyes that appear to be focused on the chains around his wrists and legcuffs. The shif shif of county-issued shoes echo on the tile as choppy steps propel him toward the casket.
My sorrow filled soul fights to hold back sobs. How did we get to this place?
“Thank you, officer,” slips from my mouth as I move toward my son.
“I'm sorry sir. The prisoner is not allowed contact.”
I stare at my son who is staring at his. A lifetime of regret creeps across Kalen's face and he reaches to swiftly remove the tears, but the restraints hold his hands back and the drops fall to his shoes.
A unified moan emerges at the sight of Charlie, Kalen's son, and my grandson, lying in state dressed in his high school baseball uniform and surrounded by red roses. The scene is surreal causing me to instinctively wrap an arm around Kalen's shoulder.
The guard takes a step closer but doesn't interfere. I'm grateful for his mercy.
“The doctor's say he died on impact. At least that's somethin' to be grateful for, I guess.” Both of my arms now embrace Kalen but my words force a low groan from within as Kalen's back stiffens with resolve. He steps forward to directly confront his demons and plead with his son.
“Oh, Charlie. I'm...I'm...so...sorry.” This time Kalen lowers his torso deeply enough to cover his tear stained face with his bound hands. The shif shif of his legcuffs reverberate through the empty room as he inches closer to Charlie; as if the nearness will give his words more validity.
“He knows you love him. He always knew that...even when...”
“Even when my love for booze and drugs came first? How could he know? I should have...” The words cannot come and Kalen's eyes are hard now with jaw set.
This life moment, one none of us could have imagined possible, is clarifying the reality of Kalen's choices. His words and thoughts are left unsaid because he realizes there are no more chances for him to make things right with Charlie.
“He loved you too...you know...you know that right?”
Eyes of stone meet mine and I want nothing more than for understanding, love, and forgiveness to flow freely from my heart to his, but it's clear his addiction severs him from all self-respect or that redemption is possible.
The guard seizes the moment and taps Kalen on the shoulder. “I'm sorry but it's time to go.”
Grabbing Kalen by both arms and hurling him into a huge bear hug I slap his back and hang on for dear life. “You take care of yourself...we...we'll be here when you...”
“Thanks, Dad...thanks for getting me here. I'm not sure how you managed a release...you must've pulled a lot of strings to make this happen...to give me a chance to say goodbye.”
“Kalen...you're my son. You'll always be my son...and remember you can see Charlie again someday...you know the way, please son, just give God a chance...give forgiveness a chance.”
Kalen pulls back, makes an awkward shuffling turn and nods to the guard.
There's so much more I want to say, but there's no time.
Just as they enter the exit doorway he stops and turns his head. For the first time in ages, his eyes are soft. “Do you really think so?”
“You can't do this son, but Jesus CAN...just give him your heart.”
His head shook from side to side in disbelief, but then, just as he went to move out the door his eyes turned in my direction and behind the guilt, the pain, and all the disappointment I saw it- a small glimmer of hope.
“Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)
Note: fiction inspired by actual events.
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