"Just look at that beautiful sunset," the old lady would say, propping herself up in the hospital bed.
"Isn't that the most beautiful sky you've ever seen?"
The other patients in the room had heard her say this often.
Because she always said it each time with so much feeling, it always sounded new, as her face shone with joy.
Later, when the sun had passed beyond the horizon and only a few strains of red remained in the sky the lady would say in a soft voice, "the afterglow means hope."
This always made the other patients think. What did this lady have to hope for? There was little chance that she would ever leave the hospital. Were not her dreams behind her?
Yet she had hope. And in her hope, she had joy. She had hope for her family. When her sons and daughters and her grandchildren visited, she asked about everything they were doing. She obviously had hope for their success and happiness.
Because of her faith, she also had hope for herself. She knew that she was approaching the end of her earthly life, and she spoke about it freely. But there was no hint of sadness in her words.
There was a special reason why the sunset seemed so beautiful to her. She was approaching the sunset of her own life, and she saw it as something beautiful. Beyond the sunset, she knew that there was a sunrise, a beginning of new life, a return to youth with all its vitality and happiness. Therein lie her hope.
The other patients missed her when she was gone. But they were consoled by her memory. Especially in the evening, after the sun had set. They could almost hear her gentle voice, "the afterglow means hope."