‘Faith, Hope and Love’ Part 28

Gradually, the story of Arthur’s time in hospital came out, in bits and pieces, as we were making cups of tea or gathering up armfuls of laundry.

Arthur moved back home, after a fashion, to collect his mail and have his own space from time to time. But most days, we were together. I knew that Arthur might have forgotten a great deal about his life before his heart attack, and that he might feel confused or emotional. I was prepared for that.

 

So I was a bit taken aback by his calm silence and sheer agreeableness. I expected that cardiac convalescents were supposed to be tetchy, variable as the shade by aspens made but no, Arthur was the soul of peaceful gratitude.

“I went to heaven, you know, when I was asleep in the hospital. I just floated away – I could see them all around the bed, working so hard on my body, and I wasn’t there.” Sipping tea, Arthur shook his head, mildly incredulous. “I was watching the whole performance, somewhere up near the light fittings, probably. I could see the nurses’ pins in their hair… Lilian met me when I arrived in this place filled with white light. She looked radiant, so bright, filled with joy. She showed me where she was living, and how she was still around to help, often, and that there was nothing to feel sorry about. She says she visits, and helps to make sure things work out. She likes to remind me to water the plants, because she can hear them screaming when they get thirsty, she says.”

I was surprised, but his explanation answered a few of my own questions. “Yes, I can see that meeting Lilian again would make everything brighter.”

“Yes…” Lost in his memories, he abruptly resumed, “But you see, she also showed me that we visit Heaven all the time, in our dreams. She showed me how light moves, so powerfully. When we are happy, we light up with the same kind of light. Such colours! Everything is very intense, so bright. She knows how hard it was for us both, all those years. She also said,” he paused, almost embarrassed, “She said we can make heaven here, too, and that she wants us to be happy.”

“That feels about right,” I answered, though my words came out muffled. Impulsively, before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “Arthur, I was wondering… I was hoping that maybe we might…get married some time. Would you like that?”

The silence stretched for so long that I was unsure whether he had heard. When he finally looked up, his eyes were brimming with tears. “I thought you might not want to. I thought that perhaps… you would feel…”  In answer, I just gripped his fingers tight.

We have our family now. We see Jamie often. He comes up to visit when he can. Jamie’s habit of ignoring playground jibes seems to have rubbed off on Elaine. Though she remains hesitant, she can hold her own in a playground spat. She is also helping the school to set up a playground buddying scheme so that bullying gets spotted early and is reported to the school.

We have been down to visit Vivienne. I wish you could have seen her face when Arthur said, “I’d like you to meet my wife.” She is very ill now, though. The years of alcohol abuse and not eating properly have caught up with her. Though we help her when we can, we don’t feel guilty about leaving her. We just do what we can, and frankly, Vivienne has had to grow up a bit. It is an enormous weight off Arthur’s shoulders and I can see him looking younger every day, without that to worry about.

We are keeping both of our houses, just for now. There’s no hurry to sell up.

***

THE END

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