THE DEATH OF A MAN
by P. Wanken
The drive home was taking longer than expected. Exhaustion from a whirlwind of activity following Dad’s death doubled each minute, lengthened each mile. I may not have graduated from college as Dad hoped his only son would, but I had always been a sensible and responsible driver and knew that I couldn’t change that now—except the nearest town was still at least two hours away, and I needed to sleep.
Pulling over to the side of the road I made sure no part of my car was still in the road. There wasn’t a lot of space, but I managed; and I left my parking lights on just so I could be seen in the darkness of the night, unlit by the new moon.
Just a short nap was all I needed; reclining my seat back, I quickly drifted off.
Not knowing how long I had been out, flashes of light caused me to bolt upright in my seat. Rubbing my eyes and blinking them into focus, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Fireballs, falling from the sky—more than I could count!
Having seen enough “end of the world” stories played out on the big screen, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was it. This was how it was all going to end. I would die along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Alone.
Pinching my eyes closed in spite of wanting to see what was happening, I prayed. I wasn’t exactly praying one of those “in-the-face-of-doom-bargaining-with-God” prayers. But I certainly saw my life from a perspective of what was important and what wasn’t. I had just buried my father, for goodness sake. Death was very fresh in my mind. I prayed that I would have a chance to make something of my life.
My life mattered and I wanted the chance to live in a way that mattered.
Bird songs filled the silence—beautiful, melodious bird songs. Opening my eyes again I was startled to see the sun had already risen above the horizon.
It was morning? Had I prayed all night long? What became of the fireballs that had rained upon the earth? Had it happened? Or had I been dreaming?
I stepped out of the car and stretched my aching limbs. I listened to the sounds of morning. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There was a light breeze carrying the scent of honeysuckle. The only thing that seemed different—I felt renewed. I remembered my prayer and my desire to live a life that mattered.
Settling back in behind the wheel, I smiled, remembering the care Dad had taken in growing honeysuckle in his garden.