CREDOS : A new start — I

Denise loved watermelon. As a little girl she couldn’t get enough of it come June. Her father and I always had to keep an eye on her and those sticky black seeds. Denise was known to spit them at her brother and sister. “Denise!” I’d scold when I caught her in the act. Denise would giggle and flash her trademark grin.

At 16 Denise had lost none of her mischievousness. Not even when she was diagnosed with cancer. She had a kidney removed, then radiation treatment. My heart broke, but through it all Denise put up a brave front. The cancer came back, and exploratory surgery was our next course of action. I dreaded what it might reveal. “I’m not afraid,” Denise kept insisting. “I know God is with me.” As playful and fun-loving as Denise was, she had a deep, serious faith. We went together to the revival at our church just before her surgery. I hoped the visiting minister would have fresh words of reassurance for us.

Denise and I sat down and the minister took the podium. He let a moment of silence go by before he began. “I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like,” he said. “But there’s one thing I’m sure has got to be there.” He looked from person to person. “Watermelon!” he said with delight. “Sweet, juicy watermelon, fresh from the patch. When I get to heaven I’m going to have as much watermelon as I want.” Everybody laughed. Denise nudged me with her elbow. “Me too,” she whispered. She gave me that grin. —