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Crossing the River
The weight of anxiety and tension seemed to be tearing at the very soul of the small child. The time seemed endless as the little girl watched the strength drain from her dear mother. She was always at her side, silent, watching, not ever wanting to leave.
The complexion which had once been sweet and rosy was now a ghastly white, horribly contrasted against the mat of tangled black hair, the same hair that had once been her glory. Her eyes, once bright and gentle, were now haggard and empty.
When she had become sick, he husband had packed up his things and left her alone with their three young daughters. The doctor or one of the nurses were always present, but paid little heed to the silent watcher and the dark phantoms of the two others at her side. They watched, with wide, eager eyes, hopeful that the presence of these official-looking adults would bring about the healing of their mother.
But things did not happen the way that these naive young minds had so trusted that they would.
After four to five months that felt like an eternity had passed, then came the day when all of the accumulated tension, and vain hope was brought to a sudden and bitter end.
It happened early one morning in April. It was before the sun had yet captured the sky and lamps were still needed to illuminate the room, she heard the doctors voice strained, and urgent as he spoke to a young nurse. The young girl threw aside her blanket and scurried to the bedside in an instant, the doctors attempted to chase her away, but she would not move.
The mother lay so still, so pale, the eyes stared vacantly at the doctors and fingers traced a pattern on the quilt, aimlessly. A slight smile haunted the mouth, an eerie, portentous smile, such as Rachel had never seen.
“Mama,” she whispered,
The slender, wasted hand reached for that of the little girl and Rachel gently caressed it, tracing the blue lines that ran through it.
With all the effort she could manage she spoke, “Dear Rachel,” she whispered earnestly, her eyes gazed beseechingly into the child’s, “you have stayed by my side all these long months, don’t think I didn’t realize that, you have been such a great comfort to me. You’re old enough to understand what is happening to me, I am going to have to leave you, I know this is hard for you to accept.”
The child stood, apparently calm and restrained, but inside falling apart, broken.
“I have several things that I must tell you before I leave. First and most importantly, I love you and Jesus loves you. I want you to remember that for always. I love you more than words can say, but I am now leaving you, it is time for me to meet Jesus.”
The smile broke over the face again, this time real, this time genuine.
At last Rachel spoke, her voice broken in on by a sob of despair, “mommy?”
She sniffed piteously, “Will you be in heaven waiting for me when I die and come there to?”
“Yes Rachel, I’ll be there waiting.”
She took a shaky breath and pushed the question an inch further, “What if I don’t come for a hundred years, will you still be there waiting?”
She smiled slightly, “and after that will we be together for always?”
“And will Jesus be there too?”
“Yes, Jesus will be there too.”
The little girl closed her eyes and lay her cheek against her mothers arm.
“Will you still love me when I come to see you again?”
“Of course I will darling! I will never stop loving you, forever and always.”
There was a long silence and then the mother spoke again. “As long as you live, remember that Jesus loves you. Find out more about Him, and make Him your best friend. Do you promise me?”
Tenderly Rachel kissed the tired face lined with exhaustion, knowing this was the last time she would see the face that was oh, so dear to her.
“Good bye mommy, I love you.”
“I love you too darling, never forget that as long as you live. And good bye, for now.” After that she couldn’t speak again for a lump arose in throat and choked out any words. She watched through tear-blurred eyes as her daughter turned and left the room.
“Good bye darling,” she whispered, “I love you.”