She was finally home after the worst day in her life, and all she could think about was sleep. She thought she might never get out of bed again, ever.
The enormity of what had happened weighed her down, and in the shadowy hallway outside the bedroom she fell to her knees, then sagged against the wall in a weeping heap. Nearly incoherent cries of "Why?" and "How could he do this to me?" mingled with the sobs wracking her body.
That afternoon she had been left at the altar. Or, more accurately, the groom-to-be had never appeared at the church. Members of the wedding party and both families sprang into action, and every available phone was put into frantic use, calling any location where he might possibly be--police stations, hospitals, even the morgue. When the church secretary let the bride's father into the church office to use that phone, she checked for incoming faxes before switching to the phone line by habit, and the two of them were the first to know.
The missing groom's to-the-point typed fax: "To: Susan Hallmer...I have realized that I don't want to marry you, and I don't love you. Please contact my lawyer at the number below regarding returning the engagement ring. From: Dr. Brad Exton."
Her dad swore the church secretary to silence and brought Susan into the office. He sat beside her and held her hand as he handed her the note.
For Susan, the rest of the day had been a blur, and the very beginning of the "undoing" process had begun. All of the careful wedding plans were wrecked, all their dreams, shattered. She felt her life was over. She was so humiliated, so stunned, and so very hurt.
And, against the wishes of everybody, she was alone now. She had planned to move out of this apartment after her honeymoon, but now the tiny hallway echoed with her distraught words.
She felt the cold nose touch her hot, tear-stained cheek before she saw him. "Oh, Itsy! He says he doesn't love me anymore!" she wailed, as she threw her arms around the neck of her oddly named Great Dane. Her sister had known that Susan would need a friend tonight, and had brought him back to the apartment without mentioning it. His faithful presence and almost palpable sympathy only made her cry harder, and her voice grew to a wail.
"God, help me! I don't know what to do! Should I move, or should I stay? Should I get a new job, or switch churches? I'm so lost... It hurts so much! I don't know how to go on. I can't live without Brad. I can't face the world. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. Please, tell me, help me. I don't know what to do, I don't know-"
Her choked groaning to God was cut short by Itsy, who was following through with an old trick Susan had taught him when he was only a pup. Any time she cried, she had sent him to fetch her Bible. He brought it this time without being cued, and he had dropped the slightly slobber-soggy book into her lap, where it fell open.
As he moved toward her to give her another "kiss" on the cheek, he stepped on the Bible, and one of his claws made a hole in the tissue-thin paper. As Susan smoothed the page, her eyes went to the verse immediately beside the hole:
"Be still and know that I am God..."
She fell silent, with just a few leftover sniffles.
"Good boy, Itsy. Good boy."
September 18, 2004
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