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marty hadding, flickr

marty hadding, flickr

Put the tiny cup to my lips, father, and I will drink the grape juice, the blood of our Lord. I am too weak to grasp it myself and cannot lift my head from the pillow.

Your kindly, knobby fingers I know so well, and the freckle by your ring finger. The bells of your church in Arkansas years ago when I was a child, the bright green lawn, the white of the walls beyond the gold cross suspended from the ceiling with taut wire. At the front of the church I sing with my friends “So My Sheep May Safely Graze,” our voices reverberating, mother on the second row where she always sits. You in your red velvet chair behind the pulpit. I know where you keep a glass of water, on a shelf just below the Bible, a secret shelf.

Do you remember when I went with you to give a last communion to an invalid lady? You served her from a velvet lined burgundy kit containing the juice and wafers, Jesus’ body. When we were sitting in the car later in front of her house, I stared hard out of the window, afraid to look at your face because you said I was strong. Tears stung my eyes. When you asked me what was wrong I said will that lady be alright? You said nothing. Our experience became a sermon illustration.

I try to speak to you but my words cannot make it into my mouth my body has become slowed and lazy with the sedatives, the morphine.

I love you, father.

You hold my hand, you tell me where to go, you tell me where I will meet you. You ask me to reserve a place.