The stars shone brilliantly above, sparkling through the moon roof of the Mercedes, the countryside speeding by as the car hugged the road’s twists and curves neatly and tightly. The benefit event Victor and Vivian had attended, and hosted, had been a huge success, and they were both reflecting upon the amount of money they had raised for the cause of feeding the poor. A cause they both cherished and held near to their hearts. The outpouring of kindness from the hearts of so many strangers wanting to give to something other than their own bank account had astonished them.
Victor’s mind traveled to his beloved wife of 36 years. The way she gracefully made her way through the crowd of those eager to get their chance to speak with her. The way she so eloquently spoke at the podium, moving the hearts of everyone in the room as she spoke from her heart, creating a visual for them of her trips to third world countries to work with so many children living in such devastating poverty.
He had never seen her look more beautiful than she had that night in her simple black dress that fit her curves so perfectly, her shining black hair cut to a length just below her chin, shining radiantly in a halo of soft hues beneath the overhead lights that had been dimmed to create the perfect ambiance.
Vivian had been the love of his life since high school, and when she finally agreed to go to a movie with him in their junior year, it was based on the condition that her best friend and beau could go with them. He had agreed, happy to have any opportunity to spend time with her. He recalled how nervous he had been on his way to pick her up, the movie and dinner he had been saving for in anticipation of this event a distant thought.
His thoughts traveled to how far they had come from that day. The journey their love had taken. The private practice that had netted him more money than was even fair for one person to earn, Vivian’s love for art and her pieces she was able to sell for a handsome amount, their travels to other countries, visiting those so much less fortunate than they, placing into perspective what life is really about. An experience that changed the entire way they lived their own lives. They had managed to put away a considerable amount of money for each of their three children, but it was there that his thoughts became more clouded. Stormy clouds after the brilliant sunshine.
Vivian studied the lines of her husband’s handsome face, noticed his furrowed brow, the seriousness, almost sadness that seemed to settle there. She suspected he was thinking of their children and her heart ached for him. She knew Victor assumed it as his personal failure that their children had become so estranged from them, from each other, and from God, each so lost in life, on a road that would surely carry them through so much heartache.
She placed a warm hand on his leg, simple, yet solid, assurance they were in this thing called life together. Though it looked more like a deep valley than a mountaintop at times, especially lately, they were still in it together. Good times and in bad. Sickness and in health. They had weathered a lot of storms throughout the years, and this is one they would survive as well. As long as they had each other.
It was at that moment that Vivian and Victor looked at each other. And it was at that moment Victor saw Vivian smile warmly at him and look forward, the headlights from an oncoming car illuminating her face. He didn’t see the car itself that came careening around the corner, taking that corner entirely too fast. Too fast to be able to stop. What he did see was the look of surprise on Vivian’s face as she looked ahead, saw her reach for the dashboard in front of her, and as if in slow motion, turned his head to see the oncoming car right before it crashed into his. The sound was deafening, metal on metal, screeching, sliding, Vivian’s screams and the feel of her hand grabbing his arm in panic, then a pain beyond anything he had ever known as his life broke into a million pieces realizing what was happening. And just like that, there was nothing. Nothing but silence in the dead of night. The ink black that covered the night sky was now overtaking his mind and body, as he drifted away toward the most penetrating, whitest light he had ever imagined. Something so beautiful it couldn’t possibly be real. And he couldn’t possibly resist it. Especially when he saw his beloved Vivian standing there, holding out her hand, beckoning gently, for him to join her.