18, No Time to Waste
WE DROVE UP THE LONG winding road to the hospital in Salinas and stepped into the coolness of the reception room.
The girl at the switchboard turned to greet us.
"Dave Wallis," Vern's voice was husky. "How is Dave Wallis?"
The girl at the switchboard turned to a nurse standing nearby. The nurse shook her head.
"Very bad. You won't be allowed to see him, but there is a number here for you to call. His sister Ethel has arrived."
With shaking fingers I called the number on the telephone pad.
"This is Pastor Wilson's residence," a strange voice said. I asked for Ethel Wallis.
"Oh, Ethel," I began to cry, "I'm so sorry."
Her voice was steady, "You know, the Lord is with us." Ethel, the same age as my Cindy, had already settle the matter in her heart. She had committed Dave to Christ. Her courage undergirded my own. I told her we would be there right away.
Pastor Ralph Wilson opened his heart and home to our families so graciously that day after the camp director had phoned him about the accident.
We drove to the Wilson residence and straight into the concern and love of fellow believers. Joe Quatro stood there grief-stricken; Ethel was waiting to put in a shortwave call to her parents in Brazil. Jim Montgomery, chairman of our deacon board and a long-time friend, stood there with Joe.
Already the Saturday morning paper had headlined: "Three die in Greenfield crash."
I read the news report and could hardly believe that was my Kathi they were writing about.
We stood there together in the dining room of the Wilson home, each giving strength to the other, and each receiving strength from the Lord.
When we called the hospital again, Dave had been taken in for emergency surgery.
"Dave must live," I said to Ethel.
"He will," Ethel smiled. "I know he will."
At last it was three o'clock and the shortwave call could go through. Ethel had promised her father she would be calling him that day to wish him a happy birthday. Instead, she must tell him of John's death and Dave's injuries.
The radio message was blurred. Ethel had to shout to be heard. Each word was like a fresh stab of pain to me. "John killed," she said loudly and clearly, "Dave injured. Make arrangements to come home."
When she finished, she seemed drained of all strength.
"They will try to get permission to leave the country immediately," she said.
Heavy, heavy hangs over my heart . . . . I looked at Joe who was deep in his own thoughts. But all the time I was thinking of the child of my own heart, Kathi. I kept hearing her voice the day I handed her my car keys.
"Thanks, mom," it was ringing over and over in my ears.
"Honey," Vern told me, "I'll drive home with the boys. I want you to fly home with Joe and Jim."
I readily agreed.
"Do you realize," I leaned over to talk to Joe in the plane, "that we all had five children?"
Joe nodded, "I thought of that. And it was our second sons and your second daughter who were taken."
We were silent the rest of the short flight.
My thoughts began to center on one plea. If only there were a letter from Kathi at home, just a short note telling us about camp. If only . . . if only . . . . It repeated itself like a broken record in my head. If only a short note if only a letter . . . a letter . . . a letter . . . .
At last we landed at the Los Angeles International Airport, and I phoned my mother. She had been waiting for my call.
"I'll meet you at your house." I knew she had been crying.
Jim drove me home, and standing on the driveway just waiting was Cindy. We walked into a wordless embrace. There were no words that could express our grief. We had lost kathi just when we had found her. Cindy understood that only too well.
I walked into the house and sat heavily on the sofa. Cindy turned on a light. Our eyes were swollen; sorrow lay out in the open to be shared. We had both loved kathi and neither of us had understood her.
I voiced my thoughts then. "If only . . . if only there had been a short note a letter from Kathi." I looked around the house as though I expected to find one.
"Well, mom," Cindy sat forward, "I went to see Felicia this afternoon to tell her, and she did get a letter from Kathi. I thought you might not want to see it just yet." She opened her purse.
I reached for the two pages Cindy was holding.
"Oh, yes, yes, I do."
I closed my eyes a second before I began to read the familiar handwriting. Felicia had received the letter Friday. Kathi must have written it Wednesday, just three days before the accident.
It was written on the back of some notes, half-written, half-printed, as though she had so much to say and had to say it all right then no time to waste.
I opened the letter and began to read, and the tears sprang to my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.
This is the first chance I've gotten to write. I've been so busy studying God's Word. This place is the greatest. I have really great times with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm learning so much, and yet I know nothing. Felicia, I wish you were here right now. Christ is the only answer and no matter how much Jon, Sharon, Brad, or you think this makes no sense, man, it is the greatest. I've really missed out on a lot because I'm living as the world lives. Oh, if only everyone had my Jesus. I just can't believe how much there is to know and learn. The Christian life is the only life. I don't mean the hypocritical life such as I was living, but being close to the Holy Spirit, trusting him.
Felicia, I'm not gonna fool around with you anymore. You need Jesus. I don't mean as you have him now. You need to walk and talk with him everyday. As your best friend it's my responsibility to see you are not lost. Believe me I know this world has nothing to offer. You may think Jim is the only answer, but he didn't die for your sins. I can't stress enough your need for God. Do you realize what we could achieve together. When you really have Christ in your life as your Master, I guarantee you change. I have failed as a Christian, but believe me, for every person I've failed, three more will learn to trust in Jesus. I know the first thing you'll say is "There she goes again with her religion." I'll tell you something. I don't care what anyone thinks, because everyone needs Jesus. Take time to pray, talk to God, ask him his perfect plan for your life. He has one for everyone, but it's up to you to find out what it is.
Read the Bible. You'll never believe how great it is. Even I can't comprehend its greatness. I can't ever wait until I can read it more. There's no time to waste because God is going to judge us and we have to give an account. What have we done for Christ. There are a lot of things we have to discuss when I get home. I'm so excited to tell you. Please don't ignore this. Felicia, pray to God. Ask him to come into your life. Don't be selfish like me, and don't say I won't give in because materialistic things of the world will all be past, but what you do for Christ will last. And you know why you never grew in Christ after you walked up the aisle. Because everyday you must read God's Word and pray. Christ is the answer, and I thank God every time I pray up here for giving me his Son and eternal life.
Felicia, I'm praying for you along with my brothers and sisters up here. I hope that soon you will be my sister too. It's going to be hard for me to go back to the apartment because the Bible says we need Christian fellowship and it's hard for me there. We need to have a heart to heart talk, and I really want to listen to what you have to say. Felicia, I'm out for the world, and if I can't even make my best friend see this way, then I see how difficult the job is. Be good and when I get home we've got a lot of talking to do, I hope.
In Christ's love I write this,
Table of Contents || Chapter Sixteen