Bolts of lightning allowed for fleeting illuminations on the hectic boulevard as I attempted a brisk stride to avoid the downpour. Unable to maintain the pace, my arthritic knees went on strike, and I stumbled and fell to the sidewalk.
“Why am I so worried about getting wet?” I chuckled to myself. My life ended a month ago, when my husband of 57 years did the unthinkable—died before me. “How could Tom have done that to me?” I thought, attempting unsuccessfully to rise.
“Why do you keep me here God? I’m all alone now,” I cried out loud sitting unharmed, oblivious to the downpour. “I can’t go on anymore. Help me God, please,” I begged with my hands extended to the heavens.
Assorted umbrellas with gawking eyes of disbelief maneuvered past me as I slumped crying.
“Lady, can you move out of the way?” exclaimed a young man attempting to navigate a double stroller through the crowds and puddles.
“Ma’am, are you ok? Can I help you?” a mannered, elderly gentleman offered his hand to assist me up.
“Yes, thank you. I guess I made a spectacle of myself,” I confessed smoothing my drenched clothes as I rose.
“I was heading into the library. Would you care to join me?” he asked. “Oh, I’m sorry, where are my manners? I’m Michael.”
“That would be nice Michael, I’m Annie,” I responded attempting to smile as I followed him into the public establishment. “In all my 80 years, I had never brazed the doors of this library,” I thought.
We escaped from the torrential rain into the massive marble foyer, where I gazed at the three levels and the surreal sky ceiling. Without warning, Michael motioned for me to stop. He closed his eyes and rubbed his hands gently across the back of a worn leather chair in the reading room.
“Oh, how I love to imagine all the contented years of stories read in this chair. All the laughter and all the tears, as readers left their cares behind and escaped into another place and time,” Michael proclaimed.
“You must come here often,” I surmised.
“Oh yes, just to inhale the activity and imagine all the wonderful adventures spilling out of these books. You see, I can’t read anymore. I developed macular degeneration.”
“I’m sorry, that must be hard on you, not being able to read.”
“Yes, it was until God and I talked it over. I understand now that God gives and God takes away, all to serve His purpose. It’s not ours to understand or ask why; we are just here to obey His will.”
“Hey, do you know what time it is?” he asked.
I glanced at my watch and responded, “It’s 3pm.”
“Great! It’s story time in the kid’s corner.”
“We’re not too old for that sorta thing?” I asked reluctantly.
“I’m not sure about you, but I’m not. They say you go through a second childhood when you hit eighty, so that should make me… five again.”
We arrived at the section in time to hear the librarian announce that the reader was in a car accident, and would not be coming.
“I’m sorry we will have to cancel, unless one of the parents would like to read?” the librarian inquired scanning the room.
Before I realized it, Michael had raised my hand and volunteered me for the position. Everyone clapped as I reluctantly walked to the reader’s circle, where the librarian handed over the book titled, “Me and My Angel.” With each page I read, the heaviness in my heart lifted as my voice rang out with more expression and animation. After I concluded, the librarian asked if I would be willing to return every day at 3pm for a repeat performance. Smiling and hugging her, I was delighted to accept the offer. As the crowd dispersed, I searched for Michael, but to no avail.
“Is there something wrong?” the librarian asked, observing my confusion.
“I was just looking for the gentlemen that walked in with me.”
“I’m sorry, but you came into the children’s section alone,” the librarian gently retorted.
“But the elderly gentlemen that raised my hand to read?” I pleaded.
The librarian just shook her head without speaking.
I pondered for a moment and exclaimed, “Well, if there is one thing I’ve learned today; it’s that we’re really never alone.”
“Thank you God for sending Michael to restore my faith in the life You gave me,” I prayed out loud.
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