I entered Willard's room. He looked like he had worked outside most of his life with leathered skin and deep wrinkles. But he was more soft-hearted than I would've ever guessed from outward appearance; a man worn soft like old cowboy boots.
Tears streamed down the furrows in his face as soon as I began playing. When I paused he told me he had lost his son, Rich (RJ), last year. Then he shared a remarkable story, the event that had brought him to assurance of eternal life.
"My son had a best friend all through school named Chuck. Chuck's dad, Bill, was diagnosed with cancer about eight months ago and declined very quickly. One day Bill said to Chuck "I saw Rich."
Confused, Chuck replied, "Yeah, we saw your cousin Richard yesterday."
"Not Richard,....Rich," his Dad retorted.
"Yes we did see your cousin Richard yesterday," Chuck repeated.
"Not Richard, RJ! He wants you to call his Dad and tell him he is fine and happy."
"But RJ isn't dead!"
"You better call his Dad."
With some trepidation Chuck dug up Willard's phone number and called him. "Hello, Will? This is Chuck. Is RJ okay?"
"No he's not. He was killed in a car accident several months ago."
"Well, I wouldn't have believed it, but my dad is dying of cancer and he told me RJ came to him. I am supposed to call you and tell you he is fine and he is happy."
Willard broke into tears at this point in the retelling of his story. Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I have never really been a religious man, but I no longer have any doubt that there is life beyond this one and I am not afraid to die!"
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