The rest of the time was spent largely in silence, each busy with their own thoughts. Christine felt a few tears fall down her cheeks as she pictured Charlie in his present condition. If he should die! She knew not what she would do. She closed her eyes and prayed silently. She prayed for his survival through the surgery and his recovery, if the Lord was willing. But if not, she prayed for strength, both for her and for Charlie’s family and friends.
It seemed such a long time before they reached the hospital, but even long times have an end, as did this one. When they arrived, Mr. Brady turned to Christine.
“I will be across the street at that library there. Come get me when you’re ready to go back.”
Christine nodded, afraid to speak. She was helped down from the carriage and then walked into the hospital. She saw in front of her a long desk with a young lady sitting behind it.
“Excuse me,” began Christine. “I am here to see Charlie–I don’t know his last name,” Christine said embarrassed.
“Oh, don’t worry, I was told there would be a young lady coming in to see a Charlie. What is your name?”
“Yes, that’s right. Go to room thirty-two.”
“Thank you!” Christine said as she hurried down the hall. She followed arrows and numbers until she approached the room. She paused in the hall and breathed a silent prayer. Then she walked into room thirty-two.
As she entered, she saw two nurses, both looking extremely busy. But as she smiled and nodded to them, one turned to her.
“Are you Christine?” She asked with apprehension.
“Yes, I am.”
“I’m very glad. The doctor is ready for the surgery and is only waiting on you.”
“I am sorry; I won’t be long,” Christine assured the nurse. She walked quietly over to the bed on the other side of the room.
There lay Charlie. He was surrounded by pillows and blankets and medical equipment that Christine knew nothing about. Charlie’s eyes were closed, but as Christine neared, he opened them and smiled.
“Ah, Christine! I am so thankful you have come. I would ask you to sit, but as I would like to see your face, would you mind standing? I can’t move at all.”
“Of course not,” Christine replied.
“Now,” Charlie went on. “You are doubtless wondering what this is all about. First, do you see that letter on the table there? I have dictated it; it is to my mother, father, and siblings. I remember you saying that your home is in Grandstone; that is where my home is as well. I take the liberty of asking you to hand deliver this letter in case I should not survive. My family lives in the house across from the town hall.”
Christine was stunned once again. “Yes, I will. You may trust that I will deliver it.”
Charlie smiled. “That I do. Now for the second thing. Christine, I have thought of you often since we met a few weeks ago. I did not know that our friendship would be so short, as it seems likely. But in any case, I want you to know that I admire you deeply. Even from what little I know of you, I can tell that you are a godly woman and a dutiful daughter. May God ever grow you nearer to him. You have been an encouragement to me in my walk with God that now seems to draw to a close.” Here he paused.
“Charlie, I thank you for your kind words. But I am afraid the Lord has much work yet to do in me.”
“As in all of us,” he replied. “Regardless, may you be blessed for your love and kindness toward others.”
A short silence followed. Christine felt she needed to say one thing more. “Charlie, are you ready to die?” As she said these words, her heart beat fast and her skin trembled. She placed her hand on the bed for support.
Charlie looked up at her. “Yes, that I am. I feel such peace, peace as I have never known before. Peace that all is well with God and man. Yes, may the Lord take me if he wishes. I am ready.”
Christine wondered if the Lord would take such a willing soul. She dared to hope he would not; not yet.
“But, Charlie, what if you live?”
“If I live,” he spoke with strength. “Then I shall ask the Lord for a heart more desirous to serve. I would strive more earnestly to honor and obey the One who spared my life for his glory.” Christine knew he was speaking with his heart.
Suddenly, a man in a long white coat entered the room. “Excuse me, miss, we must be getting on with the surgery. You may wait in the room down the hall if you wish. We will let you know when it is over.”
Christine nodded. “Yes, sir, thank you.” She turned to Charlie. “I will be praying, Charlie.” She wanted to say more, but tears came to her eyes and her throat tightened. She hurried out and went down the hall to an open space of chairs and tables. She sat down, putting her head in her hands. Tears flowed freely. Now was the time to pray.
After praying for several minutes, Christine thought over all that Charlie had meant to her. True, she knew little about him or his family, only what he had told her. But his personality was so truthful and honest that she could not help but believe his every word. “Oh, that I might have the love for God that he has!” Christine thought to herself. “And he has such joy and trust in God. He makes me feel ashamed at my lack of zeal. Yes, he causes in me a great longing to be more and do more for Christ. But if he should die — I shall find it hard to do anything.” She began crying again and before long had fallen asleep.
To be continued next week…