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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 13 February 2010 - 11:12pm. | | | |

Promises Kept
Steven G. O'Dell © 2010

Although we may occasionally forget, there is One who never does.

Marco Di Pietro sat silently in his rocking chair, eyes closed and unmoving, as he had for the last hour. Unmoving, that is, except for his breathing, which was slow and shallow. His mind, however, was active as could be, unseen to all but God, who knew the thoughts of all men.

Marco's thoughts were flying rapidly about, recalling everything he could about his life with his dear Francesca, who had now been gone for three years. He and his lovely wife had been sealed as husband and wife in the House of the Lord many years ago and for that he was grateful, but the last few weeks had been nearly as difficult emotionally for Marco as had those first few weeks immediately after her passing from mortality.

He thought of how he had first seen her in the market place as she walked with her girl friend. He had been struck by her simple beauty, but more-so, there was an unspoken attraction that he could not put into words, as if the universe was telling him he must get to know this woman. That came about when her friend informed her that a young man seemed to be following them everywhere they went. Francesca had turned about and defiantly asked him what his purpose was in trailing them all about the market. Marco honestly could not recall what his exact words were, but they seemed to soother her ire and she showed a willingness to allow him to openly accompany them for the rest of that day. And when her friend took leave, Francesca had allowed Marco to walk her home and promised to see him again soon.

He recalled their first kiss, under the moonlight at the fountain in the plaza. He fondly recalled how he had proposed marriage to her only a week later, knowing without doubt that this was the one woman he wished to be with for the rest of his life. There were the memories of each of their three children, filling the house with laughter and running feet and oh, so many questions. There were the times of triumph and tragedy and all the joys and trials common to mankind. The loss of a child, the birth of a grandchild, the illness and death of his wife. And above all was the remembrance of the day they were baptized into the Church and the day they were all sealed as a family in the Temple. Marco was filled with gratitude that these last two things, the most important things, had been accomplished before the separation of any family members. He was truly filled with joy to know that his grandchildren were all born under the Covenant. And yet his heart ached today, as it had these last few weeks. He ached in his soul to be with his dear Francesca again, to hold her as he had when they first danced together in the village square, without music and to the laughter and smiles of the observers who applauded and approved of their silliness in the name of romance.

Marco did not open his eyes, but he stood, slowly and unsteadily, from his rocking chair, and he took the hand of his dear Francesca, present only in his mind, walked her into a distant plaza and took her in his arms as he had so long ago. He basked in her smile, he could hear again the approval of the crowd and he delighted in her love. And then Marco began to weep and as he did, he fell to his knees and sobbed heavily, like a small child whose heart is broken and knows not what will mend it.

At midnight exactly, as the clock struck, Marco awoke. He was not in his bed as usual, but found himself on the floor where he had cried himself to sleep through exhaustion. As he struggled to get to his feet, Marco became suddenly aware that he was not alone in the room. So frightened was he at first that he lost his balance and plopped firmly onto his bottom in the middle of the floor. As his eyes began to focus, the face that took shape was one he knew well, better than his own.

“Francesca! My dearest Francesca!”

“Marco....”

The lips moved and the voice was audible, after a fashion, but it was in his mind and not in his ears.

“Is it really you, Francesca? Can it be true?”

The smile was unmistakable. The eyes were filled with a love that was undeniable and meant only for him. The slight nod of the head was distinctly Francesca, as well.

“Marco, you grieve too much. Do you forget the promises of the Covenant?”

“No. No, my darling....I do not forget the promises. I know them all and think of them each day, several times. My heart grieves to be with you again. I do not doubt the promises. I simply want them fulfilled...I want to be with you again, my love.”

The look of pity and of her own yearning was apparent. He felt her heart poured out to him, as his was to her. He felt again that unspoken bond and invisible cord that would keep them together throughout the eternities. His heart leapt at the sudden inrush of feeling and he saw that hers did, too.

“You have been patient, Marco. Be patient awhile longer. The promises are sure and God is faithful. I am with you always, as is He. The time will not be long and it shall pass quickly, if you will busy yourself in doing for others and not waste it in feeling sorry for yourself.”

Marco hung his head in shame, realizing suddenly that he had indeed been feeling self-pity and not living life as his darling Francesca would have wanted him to do. With new resolve, Marco raised his face to her and made a promise of his own.

“When it is my day to pass from this life and I come to you again, I promise I will be able to hold high my head and proclaim with confidence that I have been faithful to you, have been a good and faithful servant of God in the time of our separation and that I am worthy of you and of a place in His Kingdom. That I promise you, Francesca. You have my word.”

"And give me your word, too, that you will tell our children and grandchildren of my love for them. Promise me that, Marco, and I will rest at peace again.”

“I will, I promise. I will do so this very day. I love you, my dearest....”

Francesca had faded into the shadows of the room and Marco was now alone again. And yet there was no horrid feeling of solitary imprisonment in his own home, as there had previously been. There was a glow and a warmth that attended him now, a peace of heart and spirit that one could not describe, but only experience. Marco knew this had been no trickery of imagination, no conjuring of his wishful thinking, no illusory vapors brought to the forefront by his deepest desires. His heart and soul told him it was real and that his great love was still his and his only.

It was a sunny day when Marco passed away from this mortal realm. He was one minute smiling at a child and making funny faces in the market where he had met Francesca and the next he stared off into space and collapsed with a smile still on his face, reaching his hand toward someone unseen by the still-approving crowd. Marco had kept his promise, no longer feeling sorry for himself, but grateful to the very depths of his heart for the kindness that God had allowed him to recall again the promises that were his under the Covenants of the House of the Lord. And now, Marco was again with his Francesca, just as God had promised.

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