It didn’t take long for me to recognize the tall, middle aged blonde standing at the end of the line. And though it had been nearly thirty-five years since we last saw one another, Julie Adams’s image was etched in my brain, filed under “depressing high school memories”. Don’t get me wrong, I was no Carrie wanna-be, nevertheless for a chubby teen with frizzy hair it was no picnic either.
Standing now beside Julie was the guitar strumming evangelist who had just finished his last song and was beginning to preach his heart out. Julie turned away as if her back against him could drown out his message. I doubted she recognized him, after all they met only once when he and I ran into her at a local restaurant shortly after graduation. I announced we were getting married, wanting back then to rub my engagement ring in her perfectly sculptured, peaches and cream face. Our conversation, as brief as was, was probably more than we said to each other over the four years we shared the same homeroom.
“I hope it lasts, you guys are really young.” she said to us.
What a thing to say I remember thinking! Though looking back, it almost didn’t.
The line moved slowly, as did Julie. The one time perky cheerleader seemed to move along like a women much older than her years, clearly a heaviness weighed her down. Then, as she drew closer, I was able to get a better look at her. I’ll admit, ashamedly, a momentary tinge of satisfaction coursed through me seeing the homecoming queen apparently dethroned. God wasted no time reprimanding me! He also reminded me it wasn’t long ago the preacher and I were on the same line and how hopeless and helpless we felt.
Knowing in just a few moments I would be face to face with her, I prayed silently for the Lord to give me the words to speak to her. Before I knew it, the only thing separating Julie and I was the large container filled with assorted canned goods and other non-perishables. She looked at me with eyes, still the deepest blue I had ever seen, but now the saddest. I realized then that all our achievements or lack thereof mattered little and could no longer define us nor categorize us. Yet there was a separation, a deep chasm between us. Oh not the one birthed out of our adolescent caste system, rather one set in place before the foundation of the world. Redemption’s joy on one side, hopelessness and death far across on the other. I prayed right then that my heart’s echo, the Holy Spirit calling out from within me, would reverberate in her own heart now so far away.
“You’re Carla Cashmen, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes, well Carly Russo now and you’re Julie Adams?”
“Yes”, she replied while going through the box, picking out a few cans of soup and a box of Corn Flakes.
I so wanted God to speak through me so I waited for His words to come.
“Julie, Jesus really loves you, do you believe that?” The only words I heard myself say a moment later.
“Yea, I guess. That man with the guitar told me the same thing too.”
I didn’t want to hold the line up so I asked if she’d wait till I was done so the two of us could talk.
She hesitated a moment before answering, “I have to go, I’m sorry.”
As I watched Julie Adams walk away with her plastic bag in one hand and New Testament in the other, the tears I held back now flowed freely. The rest of the line went by in a blur. All I could think about was our reunion of two that day. A peculiar one, absent was the usual High School reminiscing and showing up one another with our exaggerated list of achievements since graduating. Rather the years told both our stories.
Before the preacher and I left the emptied parking lot that afternoon, we prayed earnestly for Julie and for all who were on line that day hungering for more than our hands alone or even our words could extend. We asked our Father that for each life’s story represented, that all the remaining chapters would be sweet and for endings more beautiful then any love story ever penned. How could they not, for they would be written by His Son’s own nail scarred hand.
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