The old man lay on his back-shivering a bit.He knew he had run out of time,and he wondered what the final moments would be like.
"Don't worry", said a voice. "It will be okay."
The old man looked around the hospital room: seeing only the purring,clicking,surging equipment.
"Who's that ?"
" It's just me. God or Allah,or Jaweh---or Flying Toaster.Whatever you want to call me is all right."
"No ! Don't try to get up !! I don't need gestures of submission, or reverence,or any of that stuff --no matter what the pious and well-meaning may have told you. If I did, I wouldn't be very powerful now, would I ? "
" Okay: listen carefully. The act of dying can be a little rough, so - before that starts, I'll be leading you out of here to that very special place and that very special time of life you've always dreamed about: a happy time you can never quite remember. You'll be radiant with joy - even as your body tries to fight off being shut down."
"Sweet !" , said the old man. He was silent for a while, then: "Where were you when I was younger and I needed your help ?"
Tears came to his eyes. " I was feeding my family on fish I caught in a little lake near our house,and the mortgage was overdue,and we were burning wood in the fireplace to keep warm !"
"I remember that", said God. " I also remember you managed to work your way out of that situation - and you actually improved your lives soon after . Right ? "
"You did that", He continued,"Because you had learned to overcome adversity."
"Adversity was one of the most important gifts I gave Man - back when he was a vague, unspectacular member of the Primate clan."
"That ancestor of Man had -even then - an incredibly brilliant brain - but there was little for him to use it on in that ancient "Garden of Eden"; so - instead of giving him a nice comfy fur coat, I shaped him into Desmond Morris' "Naked Ape" : a creature that would be forced -because of his nakedness- to build shelter (using his wonderfully opposable thumbs), and to think about-and design and build hunting and defense weapons and tools of all sorts ---every reluctantly undertaken step requiring heavy use of his brain."
"Had Man NOT been so challenged, would he not have wasted his intelligence on fooling rabbits-until the rabbit supply ran out ?"
"Moreover,as the good Dr. Morris used a whole very long chapter to point out, Humankind was given extraordinary gifts which have a wonderfully incredible effect oh Human sexuality. "
The old man smiled through his pain. " Amen to that, Lord !"
" Time to move on ", said God. " Let's get out of here !"
Strong, gentle hands helped the old man out of bed , and onto his feet; then guided him to the glory of an early summer day.
" My God !", the old man exclaimed. " I can see the mountains ! There's Sam's Point, and Tillson Lake, and the roller skating rink; and that's...that's Ellen ! Lord, she is a pretty girl ! Hope she'll skate with me....."
Back in the room, the machines purred and clicked and surged - sending out a message the old man could no longer hear :
"CODE BLUE. CODE BLUE. CODE BLUE."