Room 777

April 13, 2012
I want to warn you before you read any further that most people will find the end of this story very sad, but a select few of you lovely people will find the joy in this story. The hope. The love. The faith.

There was a girl named Carly. She was beautiful, innocent, and had a great future ahead of her. Like any 18 year old, she was excited about going off into the world and discovering all that she could. It was the summer before she went off to college and she had really hoped to get a job at the local coffee shop down the street, but they weren’t hiring. They told her to try back in a few weeks and so she decided she would keep looking in case they didn’t end up hiring her. Her mom had told her a few weeks earlier that there was an opening at the home down the street that assisted the elderly who couldn’t take care of themselves. “Like a hospital?” Carly had asked when she heard. She didn’t like sick people. It made her uncomfortable and scared.
“Just try it for a week” her mother told her.

Monday morning Carly walked into the home and asked for an application. The lady behind the desk said that she was the manager and she would give her an interview right then. Carly was caught off guard, but accepted and before she knew it, she had the job. “We have a special assignment for you” said the manager. “Oh no!” thought Carly, “it’s going to be cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors or something awful like that.”

“His name is David” said the manager. Carly followed her down a long hallway and found herself at room 777. When they walked into the room, the shades were drawn and it was quiet except for the sound of a machine that helped David get the nutrients he needed since he usually refused to eat or drink. “Cancer” said the manager as she left. “Talk to him. He doesn’t have anyone left.” The manager introduced her to David as Jill and Carly started to correct the lady about her name, but was stopped when she gave her a stare that told her to not say anything.

Carly went to the side of the bed and could see that David was just laying there, awake, looking numb and unaware of his surroundings. Carly introduced herself and asked how he was. “Terrible” he responded. Carly tried to tell him about her day and her plans for college in the fall, but his only response was “there’s no point”. After a few hours, Carly went home, frustrated and defeated. She told her mom that she hated her job and was quitting tomorrow. Her mom reminded her that she had agreed to a week. So Carly went every day for a week and each day she tried to talk to the man but he refused to listen. On Friday she asked if he would like her to read to him and he said that the only book he had was in his night stand and to not bother. She was almost done with her week and was glad to be leaving. She didn’t want to spend her summer with a grumpy old man who didn’t appreciate anything she did for him. As she said goodbye on her final day, she heard him quietly say “I’ve missed you, Jill. Grandpa has missed you.”

Carly didn’t sleep most of the weekend, for she kept replaying what David had said as she left on Friday. She wondered why he had called her Jill and why the manager had made it a point to introduce her as the man’s granddaughter. She didn’t sleep Sunday night and when 6 AM rolled around the next morning, she found herself pulled out of bed by a feeling that she was unfamiliar with. She walked to the home and straight to room 777, just like she did the previous week. David was asleep when she arrived; he usually didn’t wake up until around 6:30, sometimes even 7 if it was a good day. She took this opportunity to look around his room, discovering that there was one picture on the table in the corner of a young girl, about her age. She wondered if that was Jill. After observing everything in the room closely, she found herself in front of the bedside table with one drawer. Remembering what David had said, she opened it and found a Bible inside.
Carly continued to go and visit David. He started opening up little by little, but Carly could tell that he was sad and lonely behind the walls he had put up around his heart. One day she decided to ask him why he had a Bible if he didn't read it.
“Waste of time" answered David.
"What do you mean?" asked Carly.
David explained that he spent his whole life reading that book, doing what it said and living a life of fulfillment, but then he got sick.
"If God really meant what He said, why did I get sick and why is everybody I love gone?" Carly understood. She had heard that a million times from people at school, church, and even from strangers.
“But God doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that hard times won't come. In fact, He promises they will." said Carly.
David thought a moment and then told her that she was just a kid and didn't know real troubles. Carly left for the day and promised to come back tomorrow. When she returned the next morning, room 777 was empty. In a panic, she started asking anyone she could find where David was. “We had to move him to critical care" explained a nurse. Down the hall. Room 77. Carly knew that she was running out of time, so she spent that Sunday reading the Bible to David, who listened with closed eyes and little sound. Carly looked up as the day was drawing to a close and saw a tear running down David's cheek.
"Carly," he said,” read me John 3:16 please."
"Why did you call me Carly?" she responded.
"My granddaughter would have started with that verse first" answered David.
Carly read the verse to David and she knew that he had come back to God. He fell asleep towards the end of the book of Revelations and Carly decided it was getting late and she would be expected home very soon. She opened his drawer, smaller than the one in the previous room, and had trouble fitting the Bible inside. As she fumbled with the Book, a sheet of paper fell out. It was a bucket list, neatly listed and checked off, except for the second from the bottom which said "change someone's life". Carly took a pen out of her scrubs and placed a neat check mark beside it, kissed David's cheek, and then turned out the light. As she left, she paused and prayed over David and then headed home.
When she returned the next morning, she found that David's room was empty and this time she knew. There was no panic inside her, but instead a peace knowing that David had passed with no pain and that he was up in Heaven looking down on her. She went on to love her first year of college, but whenever she struggled and questioned if God was really on her side, she would look to the sky and see the stars, knowing that David was up there telling her to hold on, for God so loved her that He sent His only son. She would read David's favorite verse and remember the summer that she spent learning something far more important than how to take an order at a local coffee shop.

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