Every Sunday at Table 19

table 19

© Dawn M. Miller

Dave closed his soda shop on Sundays for two reasons. As a devout Christian, he believed Sunday was the Sabbath and he refused to do business on Christ’s holy day.

The second reason was more complicated. He knew they needed to have some time just the two of them. Each Saturday night, right after he closed, Dave put two empty paper cups at their favorite table, number 19. When he opened up Monday morning, the cups were disposed of in the trash, one cup containing the residue of cherry soda, and the other an orange crush.

Nine-year-old Sara and her six-year-old sister Leigh died ten years ago in a car accident just a few blocks from their Grandpa’s soda shop. Weeks later, Dave noticed his supply of cherry soda and orange crush diminishing. Paper cups went missing, and the chairs at table 19 kept moving around.

Dave asked why they weren’t in Jesus’s loving hands but Heaven didn’t answer.

Maybe they missed their Grandpa and his sodas too much to go, at least for now.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of April 25, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 173.

I’ve been thinking of my Dad’s passing recently and am very happy to be back home to be with my two grandchildren. I suppose that all got woven into the fabric of this tale.

To read other stories inspired by the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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15 thoughts on “Every Sunday at Table 19

  1. The notion of the deceased returning to visit and consume snacks in an old familiar venue may be touching and tantalizing, but it falls rather short of the glorious future projected in the biblical cosmology. Such a notion has impelled a false form of spiritualism over a long period, which has had to be debunked repeatedly to counter fraudulent schemes soliciting contributions from those who are vulnerable due to their sense of loss after the decease of a loved one. However, if we credit the views cited by Rav Shaul, a human neshamah that is no longer insulated from greater exposure to the cosmos beyond the confines of mere time and space, by being housed in a fleshly shell, finds itself instead in the presence of the unshielded light of HaShem, thus becoming aware of its own shortcomings and smallness — and confronted with unvarnished reality. Those who accept it and align themselves with that reality in obedience, get to enjoy its benefits in a kingdom ruled by enlightened government on earth, in resurrected/reconstituted bodies, re-entering time and space in a timeframe that is still future from our present perspective. The alternative is much less pleasant, and ultimately quite self-destructive, but nonetheless avoidable (particularly by advance preparations in the present). However, neither of these options is as trivial or potentially boring as merely hanging about in some disembodied form to haunt friends and family or visit former favored locations. Rav Shaul didn’t seem to think that it was even an option (not even briefly) — that the only possibilities were either to be housed in a physical body isolated from HaShem’s direct Presence, or present with HaShem in a “spiritual” one — with a subsequent positive outcome that would include a return to an improved physical body.

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      • That’s all very well, but fiction can be situated in either a realistic or an unrealistic cosmological setting. The question that a responsible author must address is what sorts of ideas, ideologies, or moral messages he or she wishes to foster via his or her story. Occasionally a story may seem to take on a life of its own and get away from any premeditated expression of the author’s; but then how does the author respond? What might the author do upon discovering a unexpectedly rogue storyline? What can be even more interesting is how a story may develop when it is set within a cosmological environment that challenges the common assumptions or presuppositions that many readers may hold.

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  2. …. a human neshamah that is no longer insulated from greater exposure to the cosmos beyond the confines of mere time and space… finds itself instead in the presence of the unshielded light of HaShem, thus … confronted with unvarnished reality. Those who accept it and align themselves with that reality … [will] enjoy its benefits in a kingdom ruled by enlightened government on earth, in resurrected/reconstituted bodies, re-entering time and space in a timeframe that is still future from our present perspective. …..

    I was crying again last night, at dinner, missing my dad and looking forward to seeing him again someday. It may have involved the wine to some degree, switching my thoughts to something far better than all the stresses that have come with his death. Sitting there in the company of my mom and my oldest son, I also talked about the beautiful yard he kept (which we were looking out over as thunder and rain rolled in), that it probably gave him a sense for his view of heaven. Just a euphemism, as a perfected earth won’t be “in heaven.”*

    So, I had brought up the topic of where he is now. Not intellectually or fantastically, more just about how I hope for both of our futures — and miss him. Of course, I’m crying now too as I think of it. My son said he tries not to think about it a lot, and that when he started telling stories about his grandpa to people at work he had to decide not to connect to it at a certain level or he’d be crying or leaving the room. I said I don’t try to think about it all then time, but that when it occurs to me I let it because I like to think those things through.

    Those two statements were in reverse order. At work, I’d probably do the same thing he did. But back to the reverie: Where is he, my dad and his grandfather, now? Beyond time and space, no longer insulated from greater exposure to the cosmos, in the presence of the unshielded light of HaShem, confronted with reality. Amen. {* Earth is in the heavens, part of the cosmos, but we won’t be floating in heaven so to speak.} I appreciate your concern, PL, for those who are in grief. And fraudulent schemes denying a glorious future cosmology.

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    • Why, thank you, Marleen. You raised the right question when you asked about where is a departed someone *now*. I hope I made it clear enough that the notion of “now” was precisely the one that doesn’t apply, because effectively slipping outside time and space to meet HaShem face to face is a brief interim step to re-entering space-time at a point in our future when the messiah’s kingdom is being established on earth. Remember that Rav Shaul described the first resurrection as immediately preceding the “rapture”, when armies of angels are approaching earth with the messiah in preparation for the battles that usher in the kingdom. Consequently when we think of a “now” in this context, we’re actually thinking of a future “then” and a great deal of excitement as the dearly-departed all converge on that time period; which would have to be described as having a definite sci-fi flavor to it even though, as you recognized, I don’t expect (on biblical grounds) to see anyone free-falling weightlessly (or, “floating”) in the heavens. [:)]

      Of course, as comforting as it can be to envision the excitement that the dearly-departed must be experiencing in this future scenario, those who are left behind in the present still must cope with the phases of grief and feelings of loss for the “missing” one.

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  3. Well, PL, I’ll be thinking about that (where/now) some more.

    As for the “heaven” aspect, I agree with you — I don’t expect … to see anyone free-falling weightlessly. Beyond that, it’s a little bit daring to hold onto thinking the ideal (for a future plan) is earthly when everyone around you who call themselves right is saying you have to believe certain things — and one of those things is about going to heaven (in another, non-euphemistic way). I doubt he ever told anyone else to look forward to returning (or, alternately, being transformed) for an earthly future, but he will be glad to find out that’s what’s going on.

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  4. I’m thinking wormhole or something, but I’m not a physicist or even enough of a sci-fi fanatic to be sure of terminology.

    Anyone can think philosophically or spatially or the like though. Yet, I don’t think my dad and I ever talked about it.

    I had significantly stepped away from common beliefs [including what we are discussing, whether he knew that particular about me or not], and it kinda annoyed him (probably because he felt like he was towing the line on what people were supposed to do/believe, although, in earlier years, he was an example to me of being willing to think more freely). He did what he could, still, to be respectful of tolerable difference.

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