Atonement: A Story of Forgiveness
The overall noise was deafening. There was a combination of sounds from the environment. The savage wind gusts, the distant car engine revving, the nearby explosions, and the unforgettable screams from terrified people. The day had come. This was the moment that was predicted since the year 2000, the year it was discovered. SG344 is an asteroid with approximately 121 feet in diameter. And although it had been distant and relatively safe from any threat, it was clear and easy to project that its orbital trajectory of 354 days, would eventually coincide with Earth’s. From the day it was discovered, there was a mathematical certainty that it would make an inevitable impact with our planet. The area of impact: The Caribbean. The exact coordinates: Latitude 18° 19’ 48.22” North and Longitude 67° 54’ 39.08" West. This data pinpoints to an ocean impact in a zone called The Mona Passage. The estimate date: September 21, 2030. That is today!
The depths in this region of the Atlantic Ocean represent the potential for catastrophic losses and destructive forces of biblical proportions for the islands nearby. The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, and of course, Puerto Rico are in the path for a potential killer tsunami that will measure hundreds of feet in altitude. The South and North America continent shores will also feel the effects of this event. The Mona Passage is located in an area of waters as deep as 16,400 feet. Ideal for massive water displacement. A perfect recipe for disaster!
And so, the information had been out there. Newscasts and papers all over the world alerted humanity of this pivotal moment in our history. They were expecting casualties of course. Too many for the heart to bear. And now we found ourselves in ground zero, ready to see everything unfold feeling completely helpless, and utterly useless to do anything about it. And as I reflected upon all this, I was brought back to the nightmare, and the town that saw me grow up, Humacao. I saw children running scared, crying as the sky suddenly changed color, and the winds that move the will of men suddenly brought a foul smell in the air. The smell of uncertainty, of despair; it was the smell of death.
People threw stones at windows and ran with groceries, particularly water, as they tried to escape the inevitable. SG344 was going to make impact at any given moment now. It had become visible in the sky. The brightness of his aggressive approach was both beautiful, but lethal! “This is it”, I suddenly thought to myself, with an irrevocable desire to cry. I suddenly felt a guilt that I had never felt before. A sudden burden that sat on my shoulders radiating its weight all the way down to my feet. They say it takes moments like this for men to really change. It is usually the darkness and silence of the approaching demise that breaks the rebellious heart. And somehow, I found myself there. I began to cry, and I began to ask for forgiveness. I wept like a child seeking his mother, like a man that was about to lose it all!
And in the middle of these events, precisely in the moment where the brain succumbs to spirituality, God provided me with a last message. As my knees began to feel the rough texture of the asphalt in pain, from the distance I heard a recognizable voice. This voice was yelling my name. And feeling a degree of fear, feeling shaken by the moment, I took courage to stand on my feet to see who was calling me. My heart stopped briefly, as I turned behind fast enough for my eyes to gaze upon her terrified look. It was her! Cynthia.
The girl that I had fallen in love with back in junior high school. The same one in the volleyball girls school team, the one that taught me how to skate; the very first one to kiss my lips. Many years had passed from those school days, but the memories were all too vivid. They always were! I always thought about her. I can honestly say that I never forgot her. And as we both recognized one another, we began to run towards each other, to the moment of crashing into each other’s bodies in a strong and meaningful hug!
She wept. Her sobbing was loud. She cried as the circumstances around dictated. SG344 was closer, and so was our end. Cynthia’s eyes were so red! It was obvious that crying had been happening for a while. She had been disoriented, walking through the mayhem of the streets, and the complete anarchy that the moment provided. She did not know what to do, and she did not know where to go. So, it was natural to feel somewhat safe, and comfortable in my arms…the only place she had always belonged. In a nearby store, a radio could be heard, and we both sat in tears and incapable to do a thing, as the newscast tried to keep the listeners informed.
“What are we going to do?”, she asked me.
“Nothing. There is nothing we can do Cynthia.”, I responded gasping for air, as I lacked power to hold my tears back and the soon-to-come closure of it all.
“I am so glad I found you! Everyone is gone, I do not know where my parents are, my children are with their dad in the United States, I was feeling so lost!”, she continued. “And here you are, as always! I am so sorry.”
“What are you feeling sorry for Cynthia?”, I asked feeling an overwhelming sense of hope to hear what I needed to hear.
And as small fragments of SG344 began to hit the ocean and parts of random cities in the island, I remembered the last time I saw Cynthia. I had just finished the Mathematics class in school and was happily on my way to meet with her at the park to walk her home like I always did. Cynthia and I did just about everything together! Although we were both young, we somehow held the intellect to understand who we were, and the importance of what we were doing. We somehow possessed a degree of maturity that was rare in those days with kids our age. I felt blessed to be her boyfriend because I knew we understood each other, and we loved one another. That is at least, what I thought.
As my walking became a subtle run to get to the park faster, my heart suddenly felt a terrible sharp and foreign feeling. It was as though someone pierced it with a very sharpened blade. This is taking into consideration, that it happened so fast, but also so efficiently. My heart split into two, when suddenly from the distance, my eyes found Cynthia’s lips kissing another guy. He was the captain of the baseball team. The all-star pitcher and heartthrob of the town. I felt dying…slowly.Cynthia saw me standing there. Staring at the situation she was incapable of excluding herself from. She had been caught, and there was nothing she could do or say about it. I know a thing or two about first aid and some immediate intervention in some light emergency cases. I was trained to do so during my military career as a Combat Lifesaver certified troop. And although I am not a Doctor, I know that at that moment of my young life, I was indeed in a bad state of shock. I could not move. My breathing was scarce…and I was shaking!
“I am so sorry for what I did to you, and for what it’s worth, I never forgave myself for having done that to you. I had never—ever—forgotten about you. We are about to die, and I think God gave me this chance to say I am sorry to the only man that loved me and made me feel me like no other.”, she said in a loud voice almost swallowing her tears.
“Cynthia…”, I began to reply, but was interrupted by her next line of thoughts.
“You know I was wrong; I know I was wrong, and I have lived my life in regret because of that! I think hurting you scored my chances for life! I was never happy after that; I had never been a happy woman. I think I cursed myself by hurting you…I ruined everything! Please, please say you forgive me before all is lost!”, she begged projecting her pain with her trembling hands that were now fused to my arms.
The sky suddenly lost its blue. It became whiter and brighter as SG344 entered our atmosphere. The gas compression now evident as the temperature around its composition rose, and began to burn from the friction during entry. Time was up! And as Cynthia’s hands began to hold me painfully harder, I began to speak.
“I hope that you know that love has always been identified as God Himself. In fact, the biblical definition of love is Him. And as we face these last moments together, please understand that Love is incapable of dying if it is God Himself! This is rather hard to explain, but certainly easy to feel. And I do not think I ever stopped loving you either! Time never erased the idea of you in my mind. And although we have been thousands of miles apart, you never really left.
Love is like that, you know. And when it is present, I believe there is nothing to forgive. There is nothing to feel less for. I find it rather interesting that we found each other in a moment when I thought the only person that I needed to feel good with was God alone! I was praying for forgiveness before death. And you appeared here, and came to me asking me to do the same. This is no coincidence.”, I said. Her eyes got bigger, and her stare became profound.
SG344 was not only visible, but we could now hear it! Its sound was like a freight train being pulled over gravel at an exceedingly high rated speed. Loud and steady.
The blinding light reached Cynthia and I very rapidly, and upon impact, we could feel the massive earthquake it produced beneath our feet. Buildings around us began to collapse, and the street right in front of us, cracked into two separate sections leaving a deep hole in between. Cynthia began to scream and hugged me in a terrified embrace. In the distance, I could hear people screaming, and yelling, “run, it’s coming!”
SG344's impact was exactly where predicted. It hit The Mona Passage at a speed of approximately 27,000 miles per hour, bursting into a blinding radiation expulsion of light, and dispensing billions of gallons of water upon impact. Most of the coasts of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba were destroyed. As did some of the closest coasts of the North and South America continents. The island of Puerto Rico lost most of its western seashore, as the devastating tsunami, was now moving at a speed of almost 500 miles per hour towards the southern and eastern region of its coasts. The killer wave was believed to have reached an astonishing 27 miles inland, which upon mathematical calculations, put it at a bewildering altitude of approximately 900 to 1,000 feet in height!
After only 15 to 20 minutes of absolute chaos, a sense of resignation sank into my heart. I was able to see over Cynthia’s shoulder—in the distance—the massive wall of water quickly making its way in, and towards us! I wasted no time to say what I had to say, for I knew time was very short.
“I forgive you Cynthia, I forgive you! And please feel free of that burden. But, I also think that upon the blindness of our human condition, Love and God Himself were stained by our deeds in life, and I genuinely believe that as we come to the end of our existence, we also need to get that corrected with Him.”, I said weeping uncontrollably.
“Let us stand together before God, and ask Him to forgive us both, please!”, I suggested.
“I do, I do! I am sorry Lord, please forgive me! Forgive us both…please—please!”, Cynthia’s must have used the last of her breathing air with that request, as she almost fell off my embrace.
I held her closer to my body, and spoke what were to be my last words., “Amen Cynthia, amen!."
Cynthia looked at me, and nothing else at that moment made more sense, than to seal everything up with a gentle and simple kiss. The same way we used to do it on the second floor of that junior high school's hallway we both loved! And that we did.
As the water neared, building windows began exploding from the air and water pressure. Vehicles were tossed around like toys and began to seemingly fly over the streets. I could not hear people screaming any longer. They must have either fled or died at the hands of this beast. For one thing was certain, it was now too late to try to run for safety. The sky slowly disappeared from sight as the wave grew higher and higher, covering everything!
And as I felt the texture and sweet flavor the lips I once kissed before, another blinding light came to us both. It surrounded our bodies and became like a blanket covering us. But this light was different. This phenomenon brought a pleasant feel within it. It was not destructive, but rather liberating! I opened my eyes to try to see it, but I could only focus on Cynthia’s eyes as they slowly began to shut; I was unable to see anything else.
Then suddenly, my vision and my body began to feel lighter, and I felt like I was flying. The sensation was rather enjoyable given the fact that the light was still with me. I no longer held Cynthia's hands, and although that worried me a little, I did not feel sad or scared. An overwhelming sense of peace filled me up as unknowingly, I had been tossed around while my body was being slowly destroyed by debris and the impact of foreign objects inside the wave. She had swallowed me whole in her deathly grip through the streets, and all the way back to open waters. I do not know how far out to sea she took me, but one thing was clear, she did not take me to death, but rather closer to Him. The one I had already prayed to.
At that moment, I understood that forgiveness did not only find Cynthia through me that day, but most importantly, we were both also forgiven by God Himself before we were separated. Our journey to what appeared to have been the end of it all, turned out to be the beginning of eternity!
I tried to breathe some air in, but there was only water, and there was no more space in my lungs for it. I felt weightless; different. My eyes grabbed a glimpse of the shining light once more, and then they began to close slowly once again...this time, forever. Brighter and brighter the light got, and then