The last thing I remember was looking at the clock. It was 11:32. When I opened my eyes, I was standing before a set of massive white gates. I reached out to touch them, and I heard a voice call my name.
“Paul, what are you doing here?”
I turned around to see a man in long white robes standing beside a huge book that was lying open on a carved white pedestal.
“I think I’ve died,” I answered. “Is this Heaven?”
“Yes. Heaven is on the other side of these gates. However, the question remains: Why are you here? It is not time for you to die.”
“I am so tired of being sick,” I said. “I’ve been on dialysis for so long that I think it would be easier if I just gave up. Can I go in now?”
“You could,” he said, “but before you do, you should know there is no turning back once you enter.”
“That’s fine with me. Let’s get going.”
“All right,” he said. “Are you ready to turn your back on all those people still alive who are counting on you?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “I’ve been a sick man. How can somebody as sick as I was be of any use to anyone?”
“What about your wife? She relies on your knowledge and strength of will to make the daily decisions that are required to keep the family on an even keel. If she didn’t have your sense of humor to brighten the dark spots that come into her life, she would be living a miserable life.
“Your brother is constantly amazed with the things you write. He feels that you are the only real family he can look up to. He will be lost without you there to see and talk to every day.”
“Surely they could get along without me,” I said.
“Perhaps they could, but what about Don?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Early this year he lost his wife. He would have given up if it hadn’t been for you. He made the statement that he would quit coming to dialysis except that he wanted to see what you were going to write next. You are helping to keep him alive.”
“Another thing. Our Heavenly Father has given you a gift of writing, and you have not finished all the poetry and stories and songs He has for you to write and share with this world. God isn’t finished with you yet. Now are you sure you want to give up?”
I bowed my head in silence. Then, with tears in my eyes, I said: “No.”
The great white gates began to fade and grow dim. I closed my eyes for a moment and when I opened them again, the clock read 5:30. Time to get up and go to dialysis.
About the Author
Paul D. Rauch resides in Bolivar, MO. He is the Third Place Winner in the iKidney.com Third Annual Essay Contest entitled, “TOUGH TIMES–A Memory or Dream That Gets Me Through.” The contest was made possible by support from Watson Pharma
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