Friday, June 29, 2012

The Last Chapters




My old friend Comer looked pale and awful when I showed up to visit. I had called in the morning, and asked if he wanted me to come right away or that afternoon.
"Now," he said. At his age and failing health, "now" is all he may have. But I had two more chapters to read to him of the book I am writing of his WW2 experiences. He had wanted very much to read "his" book, but all I had was the rough draft thus far. I praised God that I had been writing so feverishly for the past few months, or I would not have even had that.

I hurried over and found him in his recliner, covered with blankets. He could barely muster a smile.
"Are you ready to hear the last two chapters of your story?" I asked, settling into my 'reading chair.'
"Ready," he said quietly.
As I began to read, he closed his eyes. I wasn't even certain he was awake. But I kept reading. If he sleeps through it, I will just read it again, I thought to myself.

However, then I hit a very grim story, perhaps the grimmest of all the war stories, and he opened his eyes. His face looked very sad, and very serious. I knew the end of the chapters about him had a hopeful, triumphant passage, a cathartic turning point...but I wondered if I was doing the right thing reading through this deeply troubling section. When I came to the line that always makes me cry ( I often move myself to tears with my writing), I saw his face contort and both of us were then choking back sobs. I read with a breaking voice. And then I came to the triumphant section, and the close of the Comer chapters of the book. He smiled at me as I closed the book. I had worried he would tell me to strike out the grim section, but the ending would not have worked at all without that part. I held my breath, awaiting his verdict.

"I like it very much," said Comer.
I released my breath, "You see why I had to write it that way?"
"Yes I do," he said, "It is a work of art....What a wonder. I didn't think I would ever get to hear our book."
"I can read more if you like," I said, "The other chapters, though they aren't about you directly."
"No," he said, "I am very tired." He leaned his head back and sighed deeply.
"Well then I will leave you to rest, " I said. But I took his hand and asked if I could say a prayer with him.
"I'd like that," he said.
I prayed for his comfort, his peace, and thanked God for the time we had spent together. His eyes were already closing as I tiptoed away.

Isaiah 26:8-9,19 (NIV)
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. [9] My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
[19] But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise---let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy---your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.


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2 comments:

  1. What a gift you have! I have come to love the old man I only met in person, once, many years ago. I fear the next few days of your blog, although as you have oft stated, I know how it all ends. These last few blogs have touched me mightily. Tell Comer he he's a Texas fan.

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  2. we leave soon for ny to see mom and dad, i told comer i might not see him for a couple of weeks. He told me he will be waiting... I hope so.

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