Thursday, December 17, 2009

"A Christmas Interloper"

How many years had it been? Well over thirty by Emma’s own account. Many life events had occurred in that period of time ~ years of college, graduate and post-graduate study; the eventual Ph.D; the beginning and establishment of a long and successful career; love found, love lost; love found again; marriage; and in recent years, the death of a beloved spouse. Yet, all along the way, much happiness and laughter, albeit sprinkled with times of adversity and sorrow. All in all, however, a very good life. One might even say a rich, full, and rewarding life.

But thirty years!?! What would he say? Better question, what would she say? Even with these and many other thoughts whirling around in her mind, she decided to do it. This time she listened with her heart, and not necessarily her head. This time.

After about an hour of research on the Internet, Emma found an address and a phone number that seemed likely. She mentally went over her short introductory speech that included several “what ifs”: What if he hung up on her? What if he cursed her? (After all, he had a right to do so.) Worst of all, what if he didn’t remember her? While these scenarios played out in her overactive imagination, what she really thought was, “Who cares? I’m going to call him.”

It was Saturday night around 7:30 p.m. As she dialed the unfamiliar long distance number, she was thinking, “He’ll probably be out. Or he may be at home with his wife. I wonder if he’s still married?” If so, the conversation would be very brief, as she assured herself, “I’m not going THERE!”

“Hello?” The voice was low and soft, as if the person had just woken up from sleep or a long nap.

“Hello. This is Emma. Emma Carson. (Silence.) You may remember me as Emma Long.”

It took a few seconds, but the recognition was there. And then …

They talked and talked – for well over an hour. It was a comfortable, easy talk. Just questions about life, work, the usual things. “Do you remember…?” “Whatever happened to …?” It was fun playing “catch up” for a while.

No, he was no longer married. (WHEW!) Divorced. Apparently the wife had been a “piece”. Emma shared a bit concerning the loss of her husband. They each talked of some health issues. Their very conversation seemed to breathe an air of mutual sympathy and caring.

After hanging up, she felt she’d done the right thing. Just checking up on an old friend. Well, maybe slightly more than an “old friend”, but that’s what it felt like: a visit with an old friend.

The next day was church. As Emma listened to the pastor, he talked about the service they’d have on Christmas Eve. He asked the congregants to consider inviting someone to church who might not otherwise have a place to worship. Emma immediately thought of him. But calling again? So soon?

“Wanna go to the school dance with me? Huh? Huh? Pretty please?!?”


Way too junior high school-ish.

Double YIKES!! Triple YIKES!!!

Being a very resourceful woman, she did the next best thing: she wrote one of her highly articulate letters. A concisely conceived, yet warm and inviting letter explaining about the service and asking if he’d like to attend.

“I’m writing this to give you more time to think about
what I want to ask you. I thought about asking in
a phone conversation, but felt that might be awkward.
No expectations, no pressure. Just one nice, good,
friendly person asking another nice, good, friendly
person to a worship service.”

After mailing it, she thought about how all this might seem to him. After all, it had been over thirty years. Would he consider her to be an interloper into his life? While the phone conversation had gone well – each expressing enjoyment of it – inviting him for a visit was quite a different thing than picking up the phone for a chat.

At this point, all she could do was to wait for his response. Sooner hopefully than later, Emma would discover if she were a Christmas Interloper. With fingers crossed, she hoped that, if so, she would at least be a welcomed one. After all...this is the Season of Miracles.


Terry Lee said...

great story, emma ... er ... belinda!

hope it has a happy ending. :-)

love you,
terry lee

dana said...

Okay, I'm embarassed to say that I don't even know what "interloper" means and that I am too lazy to look it up, but HOW DOES THE STORY END???!