Who Is This Coming?
It's almost six in the morning and it's still dark outside. She's nearly comatose, but not quite. She hears although she seldom speaks, she sees although she does not acknowledge, she thinks but she does not share her thoughts.
Mostly she just ignores the world around her. She's spent a long time, almost 86 years, in this world - she thinks that maybe she's ready to leave it behind. It's not what lies beyond life which frightens her - it's the act of leaving that she's still a bit uncomfortable with.
On the other hand, there's nothing holding her here. Everyone she knew once is gone. She's buried her mother and father, two good-for-nothing husbands, a son, a daughter, one tiny unborn grandchild and an untold number of friends and lesser family. She's outlived every one of them. They were weak, the whole lot of them - not one of them was as strong or as tenacious as she.
The thought makes her smile.
Suddenly she hopes there's an afterlife. God knows this one hasn't been all that good to her. But then again, maybe the next one won't be, either. She's always believed in both God and science and she knows that for every action there is a reaction. If there's a heaven then it follows that there's also a hell.
She quits smiling then and fumbles for the rosary that the nurses let her keep underneath her pillow. A little insurance praying never hurt anyone. Even though it's almost morning and shift change she's still tired and praying always puts her to back sleep.
She hopes that damn hospice woman doesn't show up today. All that talk about relaxing and closing her eyes and going towards the light makes her skin crawl. Oh sure, they mean well, but she wasn't born yesterday, you know. There's no long tunnel, no longed-for family waiting at the end, no golden light beckoning. She's seen enough of life to know that just as there's only darkness when you close your eyes there's also only darkness when you die.
By the third Hail Mary her mind begins to drift. For some reason, even thought she hasn’t thought about him in years, she remembers the man no one wanted her to love; the soldier she'd sneak out of the window to meet when her parents thought she was safely sleeping. She remembers the ring he gave her before he left for Normandy, the one she wore on a silver chain around her neck where her father wouldn't see it. She remembers the plans they had for when he returned. The ones where they were going to run away and be married and live happily ever after - just him and her and damn the differences in faith and family.
She smiles a sleepy girlish smile and suddenly her heart beats faster, her respirations increase. She drops the rosary and tries to sit up but the old familiar pain in her chest suddenly hurts too much - she thinks about ringing the bell for the nurse, she thinks about the soldier who never returned, she thinks about how easy it would be to let the pain consume her. She struggles to reach full consciousness and wonders if it's turned into morning yet.
She forces open her eyes and turns her head to look out the window. Ah, thank God, the sun's coming up, bright and beautiful as always - it's time, the day nurses will be here soon enough. She's made it through another night.
Thank God for the sun; she loves the sun - there's safety in the sun. Bad things only happen in the night, nothing bad ever happens when the sun is shining.
Mindful of the ache in her chest, she slowly raises her head to get a better look as the last few bits of sunrise break over the horizon. But wait - what's this? How strange. Is that a young man in an old fashioned uniform smiling at her, holding out his hand? It almost looks as though he's in the center of the sun, waiting just for her. How can this be? She thinks she might be dreaming. She forgets her pain and fearlessly struggles to a sitting position. What is this speck in the familiar morning brightness? What sort of man could stand in the hot hot heart of the golden orb? Could this be Him, coming out of the sun?