"Hey Dad!" Jules put her phone in her back pocket and reached up to give Kevin a hug. "Grandad is sleeping now. He fell asleep maybe ten minutes ago. Do you want us to bring you dinner or anything before we leave?"
"No, thank you, I grabbed something right before I left. I'll see you later, Sweetheart."
Miles took Jules' yellow flowered backpack out of her hands and put it over his shoulder with a quiet smile. "You ready?"
"Yep. See you later, Dad."
They walked down the hall together. Right as they were stepping onto the elevator Jules stopped. "Oh no! I forgot I told Lydia I'd sing to her."
Jules smiled. "Follow me and see." She led him down the hall and knocked at Lydia's door.
"Come in! Joanna smiled.
"This is my friend, Miles. He goes to my church."
"It's nice to meet you." He shook Joanna's hand and then retreated to the corner of the room.
"It's nice to meet you, too. This is perfect timing! I was just telling Lydia she should try and get some sleep."
"In that case I'm glad I remembered." She smiled brightly. "What would you like for me to sing, Lydia?"
Lydia signed to her mother. "She would love it if you would sing Baby Mine," Joanna said. "If you know it."
"I do." Jules smiled. "Grandad sang it to me when I was little." She sat down on the edge of the bed and held Lydia's hands. Her voice rang soft and clear for several minutes, stretching the song out as long as it would go. Jules sang the last note after she observed Lydia's closed eyes and easy breathing. She stood up and released her hands.
"Thank you so much, Jules."
"It's my pleasure. I'll be back tomorrow evening. For now I'm going home to sleep in my own bed." She smiled again and happily received Joanna's warm hug.
"Then I'll see you tomorrow evening. God bless you."
"God bless you too, Joanna." Jules turned towards the doorway. "I'm ready now, Miles."
They walked back down the long hallway in silence. They were almost to the car when Jules spoke up. "Penny for your thoughts?"
"I was just wondering where you learned to sing like that."
She laughed. "I grew up listening to music almost constantly. I suppose the music taught me to sing."
"Interesting. You never took voice lessons?"
"Oh, no. I spent my time and money on my art more than anything else. The music and singing just served to fill the silence while I painted."
"Well, you have an amazing voice."
"Thank you." She smiled. Miles opened the door for her and then walked around to get behind the wheel. "Are you hungry?"
"Umm, a little. Actually, yes. I hadn't realized how late it is." Jules grinned. "Sorry."
Miles laughed. "There's nothing to be sorry about. What sounds good?" He pulled out of the parking garage and made his way towards the access road.
"Ugh, I don't know. I'm terrible at making decisions all on my own when it comes to food. Are you going to eat?"
"I figured I would. How does pizza sound?"
"Pizza sounds awesome."
"Good. Oh, and I wanted to apologize for my attire. I was on my way home from the gym when your dad called me."
Jules observed him for the first time, and noticed that he was wearing gray shorts, Nikes, and a black tee shirt. She laughed. "If you're apologizing for that I should definitely be sorry for what I'm wearing. Just look!" She gestured towards her old, blue tee shirt and faded denim skirt. "I decided to wear my comfy clothes today, so at least neither of us will feel over-dressed."
Miles grinned over at her. "I guess you're right."
"Do you mind if I take my shoes off? My feet are killing me."
"Go right ahead. Won't bother me any."
"Thanks." Jules kicked her shoes off and pulled her feet up into the seat. "I love my converse, but since I've been wearing them for the last several days I should probably switch to something else."
"I'd say that's a good idea. What kind of pizza do you want?"
"Just some plain old cheese sounds good to me. I've been eating so much junk food lately that I don't know if I could handle the extra grease from meat."
Miles grinned. "That's totally understandable. I like cheese pizza, anyway. Do you want anything to drink?"
"Sprite sounds good."
"Okay. I'll call it in real quick. Is carry-out okay?"
"Oh yeah, that's fine."
While Miles was on the phone Jules loosened her hair and then braided it again, trying to make it sleek and smooth. She sighed when she felt the rebellious curls peeking out around her face and above her ears.
Miles hung up. "We'll be there to pick up our pizza in about ten minutes."
"Awesome. I should have eaten before y'all got here, but I got caught up with... well, other things."
"Duncan is very blessed to have you. I hope you realize that."
Jules blushed. "That's very kind of you to say."
They fell into a comfortable silence. Buildings and signs flew by along the highway, making time appear to fly by with them.
"Here we are," Miles said. "You can sit tight while I run in and grab our food."
"Okay." Jules smiled. "I won't argue with that since I'm barefoot."
Miles grinned and got out of the car, shutting his door carefully behind him. He disappeared into the building for a few minutes, then walked back out carrying a pizza, a box of breadsticks, and two drinks. Jules leaned across the seats to open the door for him. "Thanks! I was all out of hands." He laughed. "Here's your drink." The door swung shut behind him.
"Mm, it smells good."
"It's does smell good. Let's pray."
They bowed their heads, and Miles offered up a short yet sincere prayer of thanks and blessing. He handed Jules the first piece of pizza and they ate in silence for a few moments.
Jules wiped her fingers on her napkin and took a drink of her soda. "Hey Miles?"
"I just remembered that I've met Charlie before."
"He joined our church a couple of weeks before Grandad and I moved away. At least I'm pretty sure he did. So we met briefly and talked maybe once or twice."
"That's really cool. I think I joined a couple of months after y'all left. It seemed like everyone was always talking about y'all." Miles chuckled and took a drink of his Dr. B. "It feels like I've known you and Duncan for a few years because of that."
Jules smiled. "Grandad liked to talk to the 'younger guys' as much as he could. He was always so impressed by their maturity, and loved to talk theology with them."
"That first Sunday when I met him, he seemed so happy to visit with me. He's so full of life, you know."
"Yeah, well, I think that makes his illness even harder on him. Not that I wish he wasn't so full of life and love, not by any means. It just makes it more difficult to watch him suffer like this. He wants to talk so badly."
Miles nodded, rubbing his forehead with his fingertips. "It'll get easier for you both, I think. Not because you'll get used to it, but because you'll learn to love the will of God more and more as you grow in His grace."
"I feel so inadequate."
Miles sat still for a moment. "That's because you are. Listen, God told us through Paul that we are unable to have faith on our own. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and His grace is sufficient for us."
"'Lord, I believe,'" Jules whispered. "'Help Thou my unbelief.'"
They sat quietly for a few minutes. The cars whizzed by on the highway while they ate. Jules looked out her window and watched the darkness creep slowly across the sky, chasing away the thin fingers of light. Miles stared thoughtfully at the steering wheel. He shook his shoulders. "I guess we should hit the road again."
"Okay. Do you want this last slice?"
"Only if you don't."
"I'm stuffed." She handed him the piece of pizza and put the empty box in the back seat next to her backpack. She checked the outside pocket of her bag and grinned. "I've got jellybeans if you want any."
Miles laughed. "I can't believe you share those with anyone. You seem to hoard them so carefully."
"Well you're sharing your car and time with me, so I figure it's only fair if I share my jellybeans." She laughed and poured a few into his outstretched hand. "There ya go." Jules shifted around in her seat, moving to sit cross legged. She munched on her jellybeans, occasionally refilling Miles' hand. "So..." she broke the silence tentatively. "I shared my art with you, so it seems only fair that you recite one of your poems for me."
Miles glanced over at Jules, his face a little pink. "Oh, umm, I guess that's fair. Let me see...oh, here is one of my newest poems;" he began to recite slowly, and Jules closed her eyes to let the words wash over her.
"Like a tiny spring
From an everlasting River
Lord let me be
A gift for the Giver
So little You've asked
I've failed so much
My face unmasked
By Your lawful touch
I've stumbled so often
Complained with disgruntle
Yet You my heart softened
Won over my struggle
Please empty this spring
Sweet merciful River
Let joy now careen
As a gift for the Giver"
Jules let out a long breath. "That was beautiful, Miles. Would you care to enlarge a little on the message?"
"Sure. When I wrote it, I had been thinking about how every thing we have in this life is a gift from God. Our obedience to Him isn't to earn our salvation; you can't earn something that's already been granted. Yet He told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. But even that, the strength to follow His commands, comes from Him. My thought process was that because He has given us everything we have, we should be able to willingly give back to Him. If that makes sense..." he trailed off.
"That makes perfect sense. Such a unique thought. I'd like to frame those lines and hang them where I could see them every day. It's a reminder we all need, I think."
"Thank you, Jules. That's kind of you to say."
"Thank you for sharing with me."
"Any time," Miles smiled. "I don't know why I always get so nervous about sharing my works."
"It's always a nervous thing to share our art. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. In fact, we put our love and our time into our art. That's almost everything. When we share it there's always the fear of it not being enough for someone."
"We just have to remember that our gifts are from God, and they are not to be kept hidden away."
"Exactly. We're supposed to give the gift back in another form." Jules grinned. "As a 'Gift for the Giver.'"
"Exactly." Miles repeated with a laugh.
Jules looked out the window again. "Oh," she noticed the street signs. "We're almost home."
"You almost sound disappointed."
Jules grinned a bit sheepishly. "I guess I was enjoying our talk. When I go home it will be quiet and empty, like it is in the hospital room."
"You could see if Greta is free. I know she gets lonely a lot, living alone like that."
"She'll be out of town until tomorrow afternoon."
"Oh, gotcha. Well, you could come over for a few hours this evening. Gramps would love to visit with you." Miles smiled. "In fact, he'd be tickled pink, as he likes to say."
"If you're sure I wouldn't be in the way..."
"Of course you wouldn't. We live right down the street form you, so we'll be there in a few minutes."
I feel like a goof for quoting my own poetry, but it just seemed so fitting and necessary. :)