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Friday, June 29, 2012

Fiction Friday - ONE MORE TIME, Chapter 49A - A Little Faith

Paul found Sarah crying as she watched their convulsing daughter. They had long since moved the pallet to the middle of Tamara’s bedroom so that Tamara wouldn’t slam her body into anything that would hurt her. Wet cloths lay scattered on the stone floor. Tamara’s seizure ended, leaving her limp and unconscious.

Paul knelt and pulled Sarah to him, stroking her hair while she sobbed, her shoulders shaking. When she calmed, Paul said, “I saw Jesus today.”

“You what?” she asked, pushing away from him.

“I saw Jesus. He said to have faith.”

“He wouldn’t come here? Paul, I don’t think she will live until tomorrow. She hasn’t gone more than about 15 minutes without convulsing again. She hasn’t stopped since you left. How can she stand any more? Please, go get Him and bring Him back here to her, please!” Sarah’s eyes held more fear than Paul had seen since Tamara had died the first time, and she gripped his arms.

“I already asked Him, Sarah, but He said you had to come to Him. Maybe because both Tammy and I have seen Him, and you haven’t. Maybe because there is something He has to tell just you. Maybe because He wants you to invite Him here. Maybe because...well, who knows what reason? All I know is that He wants you to come to Him.”

“But I’m afraid to leave her,” Sarah said. “What if she, if she...” Sarah couldn’t finish the sentence. She began to shake again, tears running down her face. Paul held her and patted her back, feeling helpless.

Paul soaked a cloth in the cool water and put it on Tamara’s hot face. “Papa, I’m so cold,” she whimpered in protest, trying to push the cloth away.

“I know, my little love, but we have to get your fever down.” Heat radiated from her body like from a cookstove.

Sarah brought some willow bark tea and held it to Tamara’s lips.

“They’ll quit pretty soon,” Tamara said with a scratchy voice, licking the tea from her parched lips. “Jesus told me so.”

Paul smiled, his mind’s eye repeating the memory, and a small hope began to grow in his chest. “I saw Him today, Tammy. He said I should have faith.”

Sarah, still weeping but under control now, knelt by Tamara’s side. “Oh, Tammy, I’m so afraid, and I don’t feel one ounce of faith. I remember how it was before.”

“Before wasn’t so bad, Mama. Jesus was there, and He held me and warmed me up. I was so freezy, just like now.”

“But you see, Tamara, we didn’t know Jesus, and we couldn’t see him. All we could see was our precious little girl who had...who had...” She couldn’t say the word.

“Mama, it’s okay. Being held by Jesus is like being hugged by everybody who loves you all at the same time.”

Paul cleared his throat and looked at Sarah. “Yeah, I kinda felt that way too. And I also felt like He gave me a second chance to turn my life around. I have to tell you, in those few seconds while I was with the Man in shining white, I could remember hundreds of mistakes I’d made in my life all at the same time. Sort of a startling revelation, since I thought I was pretty near faultless.”

Sarah stared at him, her eyes flashing sparks. “This is not a time for joking! Are you saying Tamara dying would be just fine with you?”

“Yes,” Tamara said softly.

“Not exactly, honey,” Paul said to Sarah, as tenderly as he knew how. “I guess I’m just saying dying might not be so bad for the person who dies. It can be pretty bad for the people left behind, though.”

“But Mama, wouldn’t you like for me to be with Jesus all the time?”

“No—Yes—I don’t know! I guess what I want most is for you to stay with us. You can have an eternity to spend with Jesus—I want to you stay with us now. Do you understand what I’m trying to say, Tammy?” Sarah looked at Tamara and stroked her hair back from her forehead, her eyes willing the child to understand and to live.

“Remember when we were missing Papa so much when he was gone?” she asked. “That is sort of how we felt when you...when you...d-died before.”

“I..,” Tamara began, but a seizure began to rack her body one more time, and she couldn’t finish.

Darkness fell, finally ending the seemingly endless day. Paul and Sarah pulled their pallet into the room with Tamara, and they took turns sleeping and caring for Tamara, who miraculously, it appeared to both of them, lived through the night. The convulsions and fever still attacked her body, and nothing they could do helped. When she wasn’t seizing and was awake, she was too weak to move or talk. Only her chest rising and falling and an occasionally glance from listless eyes indicated the child still lived.
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