Carol hated the way she felt. She missed Colin more each day, it seemed, and her motivation and former enthusiasm for life had deserted her. She felt guilty about the times she’d wished she was on her own, her independent streak when she’d felt so confident. Well, she didn’t like this independence now it had come. If only she had gone first.
Lord, help me, she prayed, I hate this loneliness now that Colin is with you. Please take me too.
But he didn’t take her and she was still there a few weeks later when new neighbours moved in next door.
“Single mother,” she hissed to her friend Jane, “with a little boy. What does she think she’s doing raising that little soul on her own?”
“You’ll have to get to know her,” advised Jane, “you might be able to help her.”
“Humph! I’m tired and worn out already; I haven’t got the energy to help myself, let alone anybody else.”
The new neighbour came knocking on the door.
“Hi, I’m Susie,” she greeted, “and this is my son, Daniel. We’ve moved in next to you and I’ve come to introduce myself and bring you these muffins.”
As Carol made a cup of tea, she found herself telling Susie how Colin had died several months ago and how lonely she was. In turn she learnt that Susie’s husband had had a terrible accident two years before, and now Susie was doing her best with seven year old Daniel, and learning to cope on her own.
“We’ve got a lot in common,” Susie said. “I hope we can be friends.”
Daniel sat quietly while his mother talked and read the book he’d brought with him. When they’d gone home, Carol felt a strange emptiness in the house. Susie and Daniel would be good neighbours, she decided, not rowdy or a nuisance, but she would keep her distance and not get too close. When you get close to people, they leave you and the loneliness is worse.
However two weeks later Susie came over to see her again.
“I’ve been offered a part time job in the village,” she told Carol. “I can’t get the time to fit Daniel’s school hours exactly, and I want to ask you a big favour. I need someone to care for Daniel for one hour each day after school, just until I can get home, and I wondered if you could help me out. He will have his homework and reading to do so he won’t bother you, but can he come and sit with you for that time?”
Carol’s instinct was to say no, but something made her hesitate. Some company each afternoon wouldn’t be a bad thing, and Daniel did seem to be a nice quiet boy. Reluctantly she said yes, and the arrangements were made.
At first Carol was hesitant with this little stranger, but as the weeks passed, a transformation happened. Carol looked forward to her daily time with Daniel. She would have a drink and cookie ready when he arrived, and he would tell her about his day. She helped with his reading, and watched him draw, and told his mother he had real talent. She enjoyed their conversations and his funny comments about the teachers. It seemed his mother always came too soon, and he would have to go home.
“Daniel is such a blessing to me,” she told Susie one day. “He has really lifted my weary heart and given me so much encouragement. Thank you for sharing him with me.”
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