The last twelve hours

The last twelve hours

Haeleigh Bayle, Editor

Twelve hours. That’s all the time we had left on this earth. Everybody who lived on the block was crammed into my neighbors one-room apartment. We were all fixated on the small television that broadcast the news. The End Times were here–had been here–and the signs were evident. What else was there to do?

The news anchor signed off with a simple, “Every country has declared war on us. There is nothing we can do but pray our front lines hold somewhat. There is nowhere we Americans can go, so enjoy what freedoms you do have. Everyone, have a blessed twelve hours, and I hope with everything in me you will be watching me again soon. But folks, things look very grim.”

He gave a sad smile and the news was shut off. Childhood cartoons started rolling, and I wondered how in the world someone could broadcast such a happy show on such a depressing and day of anguish. Mr. Petronelli got up swiftly for someone of such an old age and shut the TV off.

He turned around slowly and faced us all. “I think we should all get together for a marvelous feast, what do you say?” Though the circumstances were less than ideal, everyone momentarily let go of the fear and let out a joyful holler. “Let’s all go home and see what we can whip up together, eh?” Another chorus rang out and I saw how one man, frail and thin as he was, could bestow such peace upon paranoid people. He met my incredulous eye and gave me a smile, and unexpectedly, I found myself smiling back.

My children are gone and grown up, not living anywhere near me, but I still took the time to call each of them and ask that they try to spend their last hours as close to their community as I was. “Mom,” my oldest son Jonah said, “please don’t worry about me. I will be fine, I’ve got an army on my side, remember?”

I smiled through the tears, “I love you,” I whispered, and hung up the phone to call my spunky twenty-year old daughter. “Mom! Oh, I am so glad to hear your voice. I am terrified, I can’t do this. Why is all of this happening to us?”

“Honey, please relax. I need you to remember all of the things you have learned over the years. Our hope is not in this world.”

“I love you, Mom, and I’ll see you later.”  Once again I found myself smiling though I was utterly terrified.

The feast was amazing, and we spent all night talking about our childhoods and the spunkiness of our youth. The younger couples sat amazed and laughed hysterically when they heard of the pranks we pulled on the teachers. The closeness of the community was breathtaking, and I found myself beyond blessed to spend these last few hours with people whom I now call family.

At one point I happened to look at the clock and saw we had a mere hour left until our country was invaded and left in utter chaos. I could hear murmurs as people looked out the window and saw a bright light enveloping the sky. I knew exactly what was happening. I ran down the stairs and to the quiet street outside, spreading my arms wide to welcome in the warmth of the light. Before I knew it, I had closed my eyes with a smile on my face and felt my spirit being called home. No more fear, only faith.