Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Ich sterbe, Sonnenschein.”
Arielle felt all the air rush out of her lungs. Her beloved Opa was dying. How could this be happening? All that she’d been through, then her grandfather shows up like a glimmer of hope, now this? He laughed like all was well, smiled like life was good, but he was dying? He came all the way there to tell her that he was dying? Why?
“Sunshine, don’t be troubled. I shall be with the Lord soon. That is something to rejoice about. I needed to tell you because once I die, all of my worldly possessions will belong to you. The estate in Berlin, the money. You will have all you need to have a normal life in Germany, or live safely here. Do not think that I only wanted to hand all the riches over to you, I wanted to see you even before I discover I was dying. Please, just think about what I have said. Sunshine, I love you very much," Opa said.
Arielle didn’t know what to think, but she did know she needed a moment. A long one. She rose from her chair and left the room. She needed time to think. She walked outside and up to the top of the lighthouse. Arielle released a sigh. Breath. Just breath, she told herself in her mind. Opa’s announcement was an enormous surprise. A not-so-good surprise, at that. For a long moment Arielle just stared out into the abyss, hoping to wake up, and the whole last seven years would’ve been a dream. Every morning she wished that. Wished Vater and Mother were still alive, that she was still a little girl, and that God still cared. Because it certainly didn’t feel like it. Was He really there? Did He really care? The passage from Psalms that she had read earlier that morning made it out like He did.
Arielle thought back to the scripture.“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold on me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.”
Did God really hear her? If He did, her parents would't be dead, would they?
“Do You hear me?” she whispered, hoping for an answer. “Do You care about me? Are You there, listening to my prayers? Or are You to busy helping more important people? Am I just like a little ant to You? Not worth Your time?” she asked as tears started rolling down her cheeks. Arielle wiped a drop off her face, then buried her head in her hands and cried.
A verse from Deuteronomy that Opa had always said was his favorite came to mind. “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Opa had made her memorize the verse so that she would always remember that God was with her. Then why didn’t she feel Him?
“Arielle?” came a voice from the doorway. Arielle half expected Opa to be there, but it was Cade. He walked up to her, and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his arms.
She laid her head on Cade’s chest, and relished the comfort he gave, just like when they had first met and she had fallen into his arms, crying.
“It’s okay,” Cade whispered into her ear.
Arielle pulled away. “No, it’s not okay, Cade,” she said, swallowing the lump in her throat. “It’s not okay!” The tears started falling harder, and Cade wiped a few from her eyes. “My parents are gone; Opa’s dying. How is that okay?! God obviously doesn’t care about me, seeing how my whole world just continues to fall apart. Tell me that’s okay!” she yelled before collapsing back into Cade’s arms.
“God does care about you, Arielle. If He didn’t think about you and care about you, you wouldn’t be here. You would’ve died in that fire or wouldn’t have existed to begin with. He is right here, holding you in his arms, wiping your tears away,” Cade told her, lifting her face to meet his eyes.
“You mean you’re God?” she questioned, sniffling.
“No. I meant that spiritually speaking, not physically. Physically, I’m holding you and wiping your tears. Spiritually, God has given you the Holy Spirit to comfort you.” Cade gave her a slight smile.
“Then why don’t I feel that comfort? Why do I hurt on the inside? Where is this comfort you speak of? ‘Cause I certainly don’t feel it.” She stepped back and leaned up against the wall. The last of her tears trickled down her face and Arielle wiped the salty liquid from her cheeks. The only comfort she felt was the comfort in Cade’s arms. Where was the heavenly peace she was supposed to have? Peace that passes all understanding?
Cade leaned back beside her and sighed. “You know, I felt the same way when my mom died, and then when my dad started drinking. I questioned God. I wondered why didn’t I feel Him, why I felt abandon, and like God didn’t care. But I remembered something my mom said once, ‘you don’t feel Him ‘cause you’re too focused on the pain, not the comfort.’ I didn’t really get it until I had pain. I was only thinking how much I was hurting, all woe is me kinda stuff. I shoulda been thinking about how God was still there and wasn’t gonna leave. Bad things happen sometimes, we can’t change that, but we can change the way we deal with those bad things.” He stood up straight and walked down the stairs, leaving Arielle to think about what he had said.
Maybe he is right.
Peter sat in the dining room when Cade walked into the room and sat beside him.
The young man released a sigh as he turned his head to face Peter. “Mr. Myers, I haven’t known Arielle for very long, only fifteen days actually, but I can see that she’s hurting. I think your announcement added to that hurt. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she’s depressed. She really needs comfort and peace, but she’s having a hard time finding it. So don’t take her bolting personal. She’s done it ‘round me as well. Some things are kinda touchy, if you know what I mean,” he explained, though Peter already figured as much.
“Yes, I do understand. And I thank you for talking with her. She needs someone like you in her life, in fact, everyone needs a person that’s always there for them,” Peter told him. He had a feeling about that young man. He was kind, considerate, respectful, and godly, and the fact Peter could see that in Cade after only knowing him for several hours was proof that he was certainly good; the kind of man he would want for his granddaughter, but he wouldn’t tell him that. Cade and Arielle were friends, and hopefully they would always cherish that friendship, for even the Bible said that a good friend would stick closer than a brother. But...if Peter had to perhaps chose a husband for Arielle, it would be someone like Cade Darren.
Aside from that, Peter had prayed for Arielle the moment he’d heard she still lived, but never had he thought that she might still be brokenhearted over the fire, at least in the way she was. Peter was still hurt by the death of his son and daughter-in-law, but he knew the couple was in a better place. Arielle, on the other hand, was dealing with something more, like Cade was saying. She might feel depressed and abandon by God, but Peter knew she wasn’t abandon. Even if there wasn’t a single person out there that cared for Arielle, God did and always would.
“Opa?’ came Arielle's soft voice from in front of him. She came and sat on the opposite side of him.
“Yes, Sunshine?” Peter looked towards the beautiful girl. Goodness, she had grown so much since he’d last seen her, thirteen years ago. She had her father’s eyes and her mother’s smile. She was his sunshine, as he’d called her the moment he’d seen her.
“I’m really sorry about jumping up and leaving. I just feel really sad about you dying. I...uh, don’t know what to say about the whole money thing. I don’t have much use for money here, and even though I really love the estate, I would like to stay here, in America. You know all about handling financial affairs, so whatever you would prefer to do with it, you can. I guess thinking about inheriting all that makes you dying sound so real. I mean, I know it is, but...oh, I don’t know what I’m trying to say," Arielle told him, seeming so much like the kleines mädchen that visited him in Germany.
“Nonsense. Don’t be sorry, Sunshine. I understand how you feel. Now, the money issue I can easily take care of all that. The doctors said that I have about a month left before the disease takes me, so I want to spend the small amount of time I have left with you. That is if you don’t mind me staying for a while, do you?” Peter asked.
Arielle looked to Cade, who nodded his head. “I don’t think you could be any worse than our last visitor,” Cade said.
Peter was slightly confused by his statement. “Should I take that as a compliment?” he questioned.
Arielle smiled at him. “Yes, you certainly should.” She winked at Cade, and he winked back.
Peter inwardly smiled at the exchange. Perhaps there is something between the two, he thought to himself.
Arielle rubbed her forehead. All that crying had given her a headache, and Opa’s news didn’t help. Thankfully, the money thing wouldn’t add to her stress.
She didn’t mind Opa staying for a few days, but she could only hope his visit would be more laid back than the past one. Which, Opa didn’t need stitches and wasn’t an aggravating young man from New York. So it would be a breeze.
Now, all Arielle wished was for her headache to go away so she could fall asleep. She tossed and turned in her bed, then finally decided to get some fresh air. She hopped out of bed and trudged out of the house. She released a sigh once she made it to the chilly outdoors. The October night air rushed over her, sending chills up her spine. I should’ve brought a blanket.
She hugged her arms to her chest when a burst of warm air came close to her ear. “Cold out here, huh?” a voice whispered in her ear. Arielle turned slightly to see Cade behind her, only a mere inch or so separating them. His nearness was overwhelming. Why was it that she wanted Cade to wrap his arms around her and warm her up?
“Yes,” she whispered back, though even she couldn’t hear her voice.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Cade asked, not moving from his position.
“Headache,” she replied.
“Hmm. All that crying, I suppose. My mind just wouldn’t stop working. At least your grandfather’s sound asleep, seeing as how we aren’t,” he said, and then, as if he’d read her thoughts, he wrapped his arms around her waist.
There was something about Cade that made Arielle’s heart leap out of her chest. Cade nuzzled his face into her hair and sighed.
Arielle didn’t know what to think of the moment, only that she didn’t want it to end, she wanted to stay right there in Cade’s arms...forever. And why not? Because they weren’t married, that’s why. Married. That word made her completely self-conscious about their situation. Both she and Cade were unmarried and living in the same place. What would happen if someone found out? Perhaps they would think she was the ghost? No, that was practically impossible. Maybe no one would found out. Besides, nothing had happened between her and Cade, so they were somewhat safe.
Cade turned Arielle to face him, and the sparkle in his cinnamon eyes seemed to erase her worries from her mind. He leaned closer to her, and Arielle had the feeling he was going to kiss her, and she would let him. His gaze was fixed on her lips, and she couldn’t help but study his as well. Cade bent in and let his lips graze hers. Arielle didn’t realize she was holding her breath until she released it against Cade’s lips. She wanted Cade to capture her lips with all the same passion she felt inside her, but, instead, he pulled away, leaving her wishing for something she wasn’t sure she could have.
“We better, uh, get back to bed,” Cade said, ending the special moment between them.
Why do I feel so odd around Cade? What is it about him that draws me to him? And why do I so desperately want to feel his lips upon mine?