The bedroom door swings open and slams against the wall. His voice is cold.
"Get up it's 4:30. There are chores to be done."
The little girl springs out of bed, clutching the Bible her mother gave her. "Yes Daddy." Eleven-year-old Becky looks at the silhouette of her father in the doorway. They stand in silence. He turns and walks down the hallway to the kitchen while Becky lays her Bible on the nightstand and starts changing into her work clothes. Becky thinks back to what happened yesterday morning with her father. He came in and woke her up. But she fell back to sleep. She wakes up because someone is pulling her up to a sitting position by the arms. It's her father and his grip is getting tighter.
"Daddy you're hurting me!"
He looks at her and she sees the hatred in his eyes, it's there all the time now.
He's furious with his daughter. He hates the world. He hates what his life has become.
"When I tell you to get up; Get up!" He lets go and walks to the door.
Becky is shaking and the tears slide down her cheeks. "I'm sorry daddy." He says nothing, turns the light switch on and closes the door. Becky picks up the Bible and with watery eyes looks to heaven. "Mommy I miss you so much."
Becky slips on her wool socks and walks down the hall to the kitchen. Her dad is not in the house. After the scene in Becky's room he went outside to get some air. The hatred is taking control of his life. He gave up fighting it, let it run his heart. Inside Becky looks around the house. The lights are on but there's darkness. The only light is the pictures of her mom on the walls. The darkness surrounds her. She can feel it. Not long ago there was a different feeling in the house. There was laughing and hugging, praying and reading God's word. The feeling of love used to be in their home. She knows her dad has changed. His love is gone and something else is there. But she remembers his hansom smile. It faded fast when mom left.
Sarah left Becky and John three months ago.
Ten months earlier. Sarah stands in the upper bedroom window and looks out onto the farm. How much she loves this place and working side by side with her husband. She watches as John and Becky come out of the barn and get on the tractor. They head to the fields. Sarah lies on the bed and rolls herself into a ball. Earlier this morning while in the bathroom she found a lump on her chest. Fear strikes fast. Has no mercy on the mind. The most evil of thoughts creep in when we feel we have no hope. Sarah closes her eyes and prays to Jesus for strength and guidance. She awakens when she hears the tractor coming up the drive. Sarah stretches and sits on the edge of the bed. She has to go tell John about the lump.
John and Becky are climbing off the tractor when Sarah walks up.
"Hi mommy, we worked in the field."
"I know, that's mommy's big girl." Sarah gets down on one knee and hugs her daughter and looks her in the eyes. "You go inside and get some lunch. Mommy needs to talk to daddy."
Becky skips toward the house. For the longest time Sarah and John look at each other. Finally John breaks the silence. He can see the fear in her. "What's the matter Sarah?" He grabs her by the hand and brings her into his chest and kisses the top of her head. Sarah holds on tight and feels secure in the arms of her husband.
"This morning I found a lump on my chest."
John's heart jumps from first gear to forth. But he responds like all men do. "It will be fine honey, I'll bet it's just a cyst."
"Oh John I pray your right."
"Sarah did you call Doctor Simpson?"
"No, not yet. I wanted to tell you first. John I'm scared."
John brings his wife face to face with him. "Everything is going to be fine. Get
in there and call the doctor." He smiles and kisses her. "I love you Sarah."
Sarah looks up into John's eyes. "I love you John."
They walk hand in hand to the house to make the phone call. That night they both
put Becky to bed. John bends down and kisses his daughters check. "We love you so much sweetie. Good night."
The next day they drive to the hospital. The mammogram test is over fast. The doctor looks at Sarah.
"I am not going to candy coat this situation with you Sarah. The mass on your chest is big. I want you back in here tomorrow morning. We need to do a biopsy on this right away."
John and Sarah drive back to the farm in silence. This night is quiet in the Wright household. They hold and express their love for each other without a word spoken. The next day the biopsy is taken from Sarah.
"I will call you two as soon as I have the test results."
Sarah forces a smile and John shakes his hand. "Thank you doctor." John and Sarah walk hand in hand down the hallway to the exit. Doctor Simpson stands and watches the two walk away. They exit and head to the parking lot.
Inside, Doctor Simpson is still standing, looking down the hallway.
The ride home is different this time. John reaches over while he's driving and holds Sarah's hand. He brings her hand to his lips and kisses it, then tells her how much he loves her. He pulls the truck over on the side of the road. He pulls Sarah in close and they hold each other tight. They weep without shame in each other's arms.
Two days later the phone rings. It's Doctor Simpson. "Hello Sarah, the test results are in. Come in as soon as possible. Bye."
Sarah hangs up the phone and sits in her favorite chair. She reaches for her Bible and brings it close to her chest. "Jesus I'm so afraid. Please give me comfort. May my faith not falter in You. But fear has engulfed me. Help me Jesus!" Sarah gets up and puts her Bible back. She walks out the front door to the barn to tell John. He's working on an old trailer. He looks over at her when she walks in.
"They called and the test results are in."
They sit in the office waiting for the Doctor. Their nerves are at whit's end. They hold each other's hands and pray the test comes back negative. The door opens and the Doctor comes in. He sits down at his desk and looks across at them. He searches for the right words but he can find nothing. He has to tell the truth on all news, good or bad.
"The first thing I want to say is, get a second opinion and get more tests done. But this will be your choice." The doctor pulls his glasses off and rubs his eyes. "Sarah the test came back positive. You have breast cancer. The worst part is, I can do nothing for you. The cancer has spread to fast and to far. I am sorry but any kind of treatment would be of no use."
The shock is in their eyes. Neither one says a word. Finally Johns speaks.
"How much time do we have a year or two?
The doctor looks at them. The silence in the room is deafening. He speaks and breaks the silence. His voice softens. "Sarah has four to seven months left. John and Sarah, I'm so sorry."
Sarah grabs John's hand and squeezes it tight. "John my poor little Becky. I want to go home now."
John and Sarah get up to leave. John looks at the Doctor. He speaks to John.
"I will call you two soon."
They look like two kids lost in the woods at night. The door is shut slowly and gently. Doctor Simpson presses the intercom button on his phone. A voice answers.
"Yes Doctor Simpson."
"Mary no phone calls and no one comes near my door for ten minutes."
He looks down at his hands. He knows these are instruments for God. He believes in a God that gives life and takes it away. He's seen to many miracles not to believe in an ultimate power. But there is no comfort in what he just had to do. He turns in his chair and looks out the window. The sun shines in and glistens off the tears on the Doctor's face.
John and Sarah did as Doctor Simpson advised. They had more tests done up in Hayward. But the test results came back the same; Positive. They decided not to tell Becky anything about her condition. As a family they would deal with the bad times when they hit. Sarah's attitude was like the test result; Positive. But the first couple of days after hearing the test results in Hayward Sarah was not positive. She stayed in bed for two days. Asking God over and over why he was doing this. The answer was not there for her. But she loved God so much, she would ask him when it was her time to be with Him. After time the tears stopped. Sarah prayed and prayed that God would fill her with nothing but love for the time that was left.
She came out of the bedroom with a shine in her eyes and love in her heart. John was a different story. He was furious with God. She was everything to him. Sarah was the only woman he had ever loved. Now God was taking her from him. Why? He saw how strong Sarah was in the Lord. But his Christian foundation was starting to fall apart. Inside hatred started spreading like a bad virus. John prayed and prayed for his wife. But now it felt like God was not listening. Lies, all lies.
There are times when everything is so clear and we think we have all the answers. But the truth is, we're lost in the tricks that the Evil one throws at us. John is lost. Someday he will come to realize how lost he really is in the darkness. But the light is always there. Sometimes we have to crawl to it.
Time is not their friend. As a whole family they have so little left. But the days are flying by. The three of them do so much together now. Each day Sarah takes her body to exhaustion. Day by day she grows weaker and weaker. Then it finally happens. Sarah collapses in the bathroom. She was feeling extra sick today, like there was no more strength left in her. But there's too much to do. Now she lies on the bathroom floor on her side. Out of nowhere it felt like someone dropped a thousand pounds on her shoulders. And it still feels like it's on her. She tries with all her being to move but cannot. So she lies on the cold tile waiting for John to come home. Or hear the school bus pull up and drop Becky off. She knows her time is running short. The tears run down her cheek and splash on the tile floor. She will have all afternoon to think about her life, family and her faith.
The school bus pulls up to the farmhouse. Becky jumps off the bus and waves bye to the driver. She looks up to the sky and thinks to herself as she's walking up the driveway. "What a beautiful day you gave us God." She skips up to the porch and goes into the house.
"Come upstairs honey."
Becky puts her books down on the counter and runs upstairs. She looks around her parents' bedroom. "Mom where are you?"
"I'm in the bathroom."
Becky opens the door and sees her mom lying on the floor. "Mom are you all right?"
"Sweetie get your father. He's in the north field. Hurry!"
Becky runs to the barn and gets her bike. As fast as she can peddle Becky heads to the north field. John turns the tractor and catches something out of the corner of his eye. It's Becky coming down the dirt road flying on her bike straight towards him. John knows something is wrong. Sarah! Fear jumps on his back. Fear makes the strongest of men weak. John brushes it off and jumps down from the tractor and runs toward Becky. He stops Becky from running him over by grabbing the handlebars.
"What's the matter honey?"
"Mommy's lying on the bathroom floor daddy!"
John just starts running back to the house. The tractor would just slow him down.
Becky turns the bike and takes off after her father.
John hits the porch and slams through the front door. "Sarah!'
He finds her lying on the bathroom floor. "Sarah are you alright?" John picks up his wife, he's shocked at how much she weighs. It was like picking up Becky. He lays her on the bed and tries to hold back the tears but he can't. Becky comes onto the room. The three hug and hold each other on the bed.
Sarah whispers in John's ear. "It's time to go to the hospital and call Doctor Simpson."
Sarah lies in the hospital bed looking out the window. This will be her home now till she passes away. Her body is now slowly shutting itself down. There's not much time left. She could have stayed home until her last breath, but did not want her husband and daughter to go through that. She asks God if she can die in her sleep. That way John and Becky will be at home. Marsha is Sarah's day nurse. She walks in and the two smile to one another. They hardly know each other but have become very close. Sarah knows she has only days left.
"Marsha will do me a favor?"
"Will you write a letter to my daughter for me?"
Marsha smiles at her. "Of course I will." Marsha goes to the nightstand and gets the writing pad and a pen. She sits and Sarah tells her the words from her heart. When they were done Sarah asked for one more favor. "Will you put the letter in my Bible and keep it with you. After I'm gone will you take the Bible to the farm for Becky? Please tell her about the letter inside."
Marsha walks over and leans down and hugs Sarah. "I promise Becky will get the Bible and the letter."
John and Becky are driving down the road to the highway to get to the hospital. The last couple of days her dad has been quiet not saying much.
"Daddy is mommy dying?"
The question hits him like a lead weight. It knocks all the life out of him. He knows Sarah's leaving them soon. But he still cannot tell Becky the truth. John reaches over and holds his daughters' hand. He can't even look at her, and he keeps his eyes on the road. The rest of the ride to the hospital is quiet. Both are in their own thoughts now. Becky is praying to God that her mommy will be all right and get out soon to come home. But John gave up on praying to God. He wants to know why God is doing this to his wife. She has done nothing but love Him and live by His word. Now she lies in a bed close to death. He asks God, "Where are you now? It feels like you have forgotten us and you don't care." The anger has been let loose. John feels like he's going to fall apart. But he has to stay strong for Sarah and Becky.
They spend all day with Sarah. She can still talk but very softly.
The next day is the same. They spend all day loving and holding her. Outside the sun is setting, this day is almost over. Sarah brings Becky close to her.
"Remember how we used to always lay on the couch together? Come here sweetie let's do it now."
Becky climbs in bed and lies with her mother. She brings her daughter close and whispers in her ear. "Mommy is going to heaven to be with Jesus soon."
"But I don't want you to go mommy!"
"I know sweetie but I will always be with you." She puts her finger on Becky's heart. "I will always be right here honey, in your heart, and the same with your father. I will always be in his heart. You two will always be with me."
All three are in the bed now. Tears have become a part of their lives now. They all gave up on trying to hold them back.
"Does God need you in heaven mommy?"
"Yes he does honey very much."
That night God answered Sarah's prayer. She died in her sleep.
Death has come to the Wright household. Sometimes you know he's coming and other times he just drops in. But he is never welcome. John and Becky get ready for the funeral. It will be one of the longest days of their life. So many will show up and all talk about how she will be missed and how strong she was in her Christian walk. She had touched and blessed so many. John is devastated inside but he will always be proud of Sarah. Later the snow starts to gently fall and Sarah is lowered into the cold ground. Pastor Steve Persson talks of how she is with the Lord in heaven now. And she will never be forgotten and always be in the hearts of the people that knew her. Becky holds on to her dad a little tighter.
It's over. But John and Becky don't want to leave. Pastor Steve walks up and hugs John. And then, bends down and hugs Becky. He wipes the tears on her face.
"I love you two very much, if you need anything you call me."
John looks down at Becky. "Let's go home honey."
They say their last good byes and everyone slowly starts to go home. John and Becky get in the truck and start to pull away. Becky looks back at the cemetery.
"Daddy we can go visit mommy all the time, right daddy."
"All the time sweetie."
But it will be months before they go back to visit Sarah's grave.
John's sister Debbie is going to stay with them for a couple of days. He will need her support and her shoulder to cry on. Becky is quiet and keeps to herself. John understands her feelings. The house is different now. One person can bring so much sunshine and love to a family. The people in the family grow and prosper in this love and don't even know it. But when that love leaves, some families barely stay a float and some drown. John is barely afloat. When he walks into a room he hopes to see Sarah sitting there waiting for him with a smile on her face. But she is gone. He knows she's never coming back. But he feels a part of her is still here. He tries to sleep in their bed but cannot. He still smells her scent in the bed. Debbie has washed the bedding over and over and it's still present. For now he sleeps on the couch.
The funeral was two days ago and he already misses her terribly. How can he survive through this? He misses her voice. When they were apart he longed for her voice on the phone. He loved how beautiful she was in her sleep. And he misses her soft touch. She always complained about his rough callused hands with a smile. He will miss seeing her with her hair pulled back working in the garden. And the question keeps coming back to him. "Why did you do this to us God?"
John doesn't pray to God. Now he questions God. He's furious with God. He turns his back on the God he has walked with most of his life. Hatred knocks at the back door. John opens the door and it creeps its way in. John grabs the keys to his truck and heads to the liquor store.
The next day there's a knock on the front door. Debbie opens the door and Marsha is standing on the porch. She has a small paper bag in her hands.
"Can I help you?"
"Hi, I was Sarah's nurse. Can I talk with Becky for a minute?"
"Sure, come in."
Debbie walks down to Becky's room and opens her door. "Marsha from the hospital is here to see you." Becky jumps out of bed and runs down the hall into Marsha's arms. The two hold each other and Marsha tells Becky how sorry she is. And she has something for Becky from her mother. So the three of them go sit in the living room.
Marsha takes Becky's hands and puts them into hers.
"I did not know your mother for very long. But in the short time I was with her she touched my life. I know you miss her deeply Becky. She wanted me to give this to you." Marsha reaches into the paper bag and pulls out Sarah's Bible.
Becky's face lights up. "Mommy's Bible!"
Marsha gives the Bible to Becky. "There's one more thing Becky. Take the Bible to your room because there's a letter inside to you from your mother."
Becky hugs Marsha and then runs to her room. Debbie smiles at Marsha. "We have looked everywhere for Sarah's Bible."
Marsha says goodbye and walks to her car. She looks back at the house. Marsha figures she will never see Becky again.
Becky crawls into her bed and clutches the Bible close to her chest. A small bit of peace has returned to her shattered heart. She slowly opens her moms Bible and finds the letter. Becky starts to read and peace and the love that she needs fills her eleven-year-old heart. Then the tears of joy seep from her eyes.
Dear sweet Becky,
When you read this honey I will be in the heavens with Jesus. I will be gone but I will always be there for you. I will always be in your heart and in your mind. And you and your father will always be in my heart and soul. Sometimes we don't understand God's ways. But everything he does has a reason. I know it's hard right now but I love you so much. You have to be strong for mommy. You will go through good times and bad times in your life. Trust in Jesus through all things. Pray for guidance and strength. And pray for your father. I know you are young honey but God is very strong in your life. Keep
my Bible with you always. It will be a light on the path of your life. Always remember how proud I am that you are my daughter. I love you so much. Be strong.
With shaking hands and tear filled eyes Becky puts the letter back in the Bible and closes it. Becky curls into a ball and brings the Bible close to her heart. She cries herself to sleep.
Now after the work is done at the farm John leaves and heads to the small bar in the next town over. He quit drinking thirteen years ago after meeting Sarah. He knew this was the woman that he had to be with. Through her beliefs John came to know God the father and Jesus his Son. He knows the Holy Spirit is there. But now he wants nothing to do with it. His deep insides tell him to get out of here and get home to Becky. She needs her dad right now more than ever. His mind is a mess and nothing makes sense anymore. The numb of the alcohol helps to cover some of the pain. But it will never take it away. He drinks more to get Sarah off his mind. But she will always be on his mind and in his heart. He needs to go home. He waves the bartender over to where he's sitting.
"Give me another."
Debbie wipes the tears from her eyes as she heads down Route nineteen to Glanville. It will be nice to be home. But she will miss being with John and Becky.
She is amazed at how strong Becky is for someone her age. They say kids are resilient. Debbie now knows for a fact they are. She worries about her brother John. Debbie has never seen John drink like this. She tried talking to him, but he would just say everything is all right. He is lying. He is torn apart inside. He proved it a couple of night ago in the living room. He stumbled in from drinking and started to take all the pictures of Sarah off the walls. Said he can't stand to see her everywhere, and not be with her. Becky startled both of them. They thought she was in bed.
"Daddy please don't, I need to see mommy."
John just looked at his daughter. It's like a stab in the heart. He lays the pictures on the couch. He goes over and puts on his jacket. John walks in the winter night to the barn. Becky picks up the pictures and starts hanging them back on the wall.
"Becky are you all right?"
"Yes Aunt Debbie. But we need to pray for my daddy."
So that's what they did. They prayed for John. Debbie pulls into her driveway. She prays out loud to herself. 'Be with them Father."
The days are long now for John and Becky. She wants to read God's word with her father again. She wants to say grace before they eat. She wants to go to church on Sunday. John wants nothing to do with God. Hatred is a part of John now. He yells at Becky to shut up and quit talking about God and Jesus. He gave his whole being to serve God. Then God just crushed the life out of him.
John grabs the keys and heads to the bar. Leaving his daughter sitting at the kitchen table. She feels her dad hates her now. The way he grabbed her arms the other morning and the look in his eyes scared her. The dad she has known her whole life is gone. Everything is falling apart all around her. She gets up from the table and goes to her room. She picks up the Bible her mother gave her, closes her eyes and prays. "Jesus I'm so afraid, please help me."
John sits at the bar and drinks. He knows in his heart he should not be here. The battle inside John grows between the light and the darkness. He feels dead inside. He wants to hide in the corner like a child. Just give up the good fight. His mind is going everywhere at once. He feels like he's going crazy. Without Sarah he just wants to die. He doesn't want to think of Becky. The shame is too much to bear. He's taken his daughter and made her an emotional punching bag. John fights back the tears and orders another drink. He takes the shot and puts down the glass. John's physically and mentally drained. He's not drunk, just lost. John throws two singles on the bar and walks out to his truck. He just wants to go home and crash.
John takes the back roads home. The roads look fine. Then he hits the sheet of black ice. For a second or two it feels like the truck levitates. John lets off the gas. But the truck goes out of control. He hits the ditch straight on. John's head slams down on the steering wheel and knocks him out cold. He slumbers into a dream.
John's falling through the darkness, reaching for something to grab but nothing's there. He screams in the blackness as he falls and he finally hits the ground. John looks around but can see nothing. He brings his hand to his face but only sees pitch black. Then he hears a faint sound in the distance. The sound gets closer and he can hear it plainly. The sound is horrible and terrifying. It's the sound of Death.
He covers his ears and closes his eyes but the sound gets louder and closer. John opens his eyes and death is all around him. He screams with all his might.
The blackness disappears in a blink of an eye and now there's brightness all around John. A figure in the distant is walking straight at him. It's getting closer and he can see it's a shape of a woman. He can see her face now and warmth runs through his body. It's Sarah. He tries to speak to her and reach out and touch her but he can't.
Now he sees the tears in her eyes. Sarah moves in close to John and he looks into her eyes. There's a deep flowing love. She is so beautiful. God's love is all around them.
Sarah steps back and her lips move but there is no sound. She tells John I love you. The warmth runs through his body again. Sarah puts her hand on her heart and smiles at John. She turns and then fades into the bright light. John yells her name but there is no sound.
John opens his eyes slowly. Someone was yelling and it brought him back to conciseness. Then he realizes it was himself. The truck is nose first down in the ditch in two feet of snow. John reaches up and feels the knot on his forehead. The truck stayed running the whole time. He slams the truck into four-wheel drive and tries to get out. He's stuck. He remembers the dream now. Sarah. Was it a dream or a vision? John's frantic now and he swings the truck door open and jumps into the ditch. He climbs out of the ditch and moves through the snow into a field with some trees. John looks around and the tears start to flow. His heart is shattered and his legs give way. John falls to his knees in the snow. He clinches his hands into fists and raises his head to heaven and yells. "SARAH, SARAH I LOVE YOU!"
John lowers his head. "Come back Sarah I miss you so much." He knows she will never come back. But the pain inside is too much at times. John wants some of the pain to go away so he can be a better father to Becky. And the hatred toward God is controlling his life. He yells to God in the cold night.
"WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME AND BECKY? Why have you torn me apart God? Help me to understand and bring peace back into my heart. Take the hatred from me. I am lost and afraid. Please help me."
John gives his heart back to God and the hatred is washed away. For some time John kneels in the snow sobbing and talking to God. A big part of the burden is lifted off John's shoulders. His mind is clearing now and he thinks of Becky. She has been so grown-up for an eleven-year-old. Now he remembers how bad he has treated her since Sarah's death. He has to get home to her. He gets to his feet and goes down and turns off the truck. He's two miles from home. John takes off running down the road. He speaks out loud. "My little Becky."
John hits the porch on the run and slides to the front door, gets his keys out and unlocks the door and steps into his warm house. John turns on the light and looks around. He walks over and touches one of the pictures of Sarah on the wall. He feels the love and the peace in his soul and in his house again. John walks down the hall to Becky's room. The quilt and the shame on how he has been treating Becky overwhelm him now. John sobs quietly and the tears run down his checks. He walks into Becky's room and sits in her chair. Softly he calls her name.
Becky stirs and opens her eyes and sees the silhouette of her father sitting in the chair. She springs out of bed and pleads to her father. "Please don't hurt me daddy. I'm sorry if I over slept."
John's heart is pierced by Becky's words. He chokes back from balling and whispers, "Oh Becky."
She can tell by her dad's voice he's crying. Becky walks over to him and stretches her hand toward John's face. The room is dark but she can see his outline in the shadows. Becky's fingers shake a little as they touch her father cheeks. She feels the wet of his tears and starts to cry.
"Daddy don't cry. I'm sorry."
John grabs his daughter and they hold each other and cry. He tells Becky how much he loves her and how sorry he is about everything. The bond between family can be hurt. But it can be mended again with love. The two sit and talk and now the sun shines through the window. John smiles at Becky. "Let's get some breakfast."
"Daddy you're handsome smile is back."
He hugs and kisses Becky's forehead. "And tomorrow we are going to church. We have a lot of friends there we need to see."
Becky prays to herself. "Thank you Jesus for giving me my daddy back."
The two drive down State Street into town. John looks at Becky and smiles. She smiles back at her father. This Sunday morning John's eyes are open. He thinks to himself as he pulls into the parking lot, "She looks just like her mother."
John puts the truck in park and turns it off. Becky breaks the silence.
"Daddy can we talk about mommy all the time?"
John looks at his daughter and smiles. He has to fight back the lump in his throat.
"We will talk about mommy everyday."
John and Becky get out of the truck and start walking up to the church.
"Look daddy! Marsha from the hospital is going into the church. Can we talk to her?"
John pats her on the head. "Of course we can honey."
The two walk up the steps to the church doors. Becky has Sarah's Bible in her hands. John opens the door for his daughter. She smiles at him.
"Thank you daddy."
"Your welcome sweetie."