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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Hello...Goodbye...
By Lynda Lee Schab


I used to think that having a bad day meant being stuck in a traffic jam, the kids not getting their naps or my hair not going just right. It’s funny how perspective can change in a moment.

This was my moment...

I was busy preparing dinner – lasagna, my husband’s favorite. The kids were at the zoo with my mom and due back in a half hour, about the same time I expected Matt. I checked my watch. Yep, his shift was just ending. He’d walk in all sweaty from his construction job and have barely enough time to grab a quick shower before dinner.

The phone rang just as I popped the lasagna in the oven.


“Jan, it’s me.”

I smiled. “Hey, me. Are you on your way home? Because I’m making—“

“No.” His voice was sharp, yet soft at the same time.

I frowned. “Are you still mad about this morning? Matt, I’m really sorry...”

“It’s not that.”

Something wasn’t right. A random butterfly suddenly took off in the pit of my gut.

“What’s wrong?” I whispered.

He didn’t answer. My heart pounded.

“Matty? Are you there?”

“There’s been...an…accident...on the site. We...don’t know what - it all happened so fast...”

My grip tightened on the phone and I jammed my ear into the receiver. I didn’t want to ask. But I had no choice. I swallowed. “Are you...okay?”

A short burst of breath. Then a sound that resembled a sob. “No...I’m…bleeding pretty bad. Trapped under a pile of rubble. It hurts, Jan.” His voice broke.

I swallowed the bitter bile as tears flooded my eyes, streaming over the rims to my cheeks. “We need to get off the phone! I’ll call 9-1-1. They’ll get you out, Matt!”

“Help’s already on the way. But it’s...it's bad. I don’t think I’ll -”

I choked on my sobs and shook my head violently. “No! Don’t say it, Matt. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be just fine.”

“I love you, Jan.” His voice was a whisper.

I placed my hand over my mouth to muffle my cries. The last thing he needed was to hear me falling apart. He was going to be okay. I just needed to keep him talking. “About this morning...”

“It doesn’t...matter.”

“It does matter. I should never have said those things. I’m so sorry...”

“I know.” He paused, gasping for breath.

My chest tightened. “Matty! Honey, don’t leave me! Just hang on, baby, help is coming! Please! The kids and I can’t live without you!” I wept fiercely, then, shoulders heaving, and the walls closed in around me. After several seconds of uncontrollable anguish, I took in a couple of deep breaths, trying to compose myself. For Matty's sake.

All was silent, except for the sound of my heart, pulsing in my ears. I stood, statue-like, listening for breathing...movement...some small sign that he was still there.

“Pray with me.” His voice cut through the phone line and I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

The words I’d dreamed of hearing my husband say. My non-believing, agnostic husband. I’d longed for this day. How many times over the years had I cried out to God, asking Him to change my husband’s heart? How many arguments had ensued over his unwillingness to accept the truth that there was a God who loved him enough to die for him? Arguments like the one that morning...

But not like this; it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

With a voice and a strength not my own, I prayed with my husband. And after all these years, he finally accepted Christ into his heart.

Only seconds before Christ accepted Matty into eternity...

It’s been four years since that moment. The moment my perspective changed. But, yet, when I think about that day, I smile. Not only because I am grateful to have spent those last few moments on the phone with my husband, it was the moment I received a guarantee that I would see him again some day.

I'll be honest. It's still hard. But during the darkest times, Jesus reminds me that "hello" will come again. And when it does, there will never be another goodbye.

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This article has been read 1619 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Burkum07/24/08
Wow. I don't know what else to say. Powerful. Moving. Thank you.
Julie Paulsen07/24/08
Oh, boy, I'm sitting here in tears but with such mixed feelings. God gives the desires of our hearts, and what a special gift this was, but to have it end so abruptly...a real mix of joy and saddness. Very good!
Lynda Schultz 07/24/08
Goosebumps all over. Good work.
Joanne Sher 07/25/08
Oh WOW. This is absolutely, positively incredible. You brought me to tears. Excellent. Assuming this is true. Wow.
James Dixon07/26/08
Very moving. I liked the way the normal routine was going on- you showed how significant, yet everyday, thing like a telephone call can be.

Mariane Holbrook 07/28/08
Oh my! Definitely a 2-Kleenex-Box entry. Gulp. "Moving" is too gentle a word but I was moved to tears. Very poignant story. Kudos! Big time.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/28/08
True or not, this is amazingly well written from beginning to end.
Edy T Johnson 07/28/08
Gripping story. You know how to grab your reader and keep them hanging on for dear life.
Holly Westefeld07/28/08
Captivating. The irony was heart-wrenching.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/28/08
Excellent! You had me hanging on every word, just like your MC.
Joy Faire Stewart07/29/08
What a powerful message. We never know what may happen in the next moment. A heartbreaking story but with a promise. Excellent in every way.
Catrina Bradley 07/29/08
A tear-jerker extraordinaire!! The dialog is entirely natural, and the entire story believable. I love the meshing of hope and sadness Just wonderful.
Deborah Engle 07/30/08
What a heart-breaker.
Laury Hubrich 07/30/08
This is very powerful. Great writing.
Mariane Holbrook 07/30/08
I started to comment but I see where I already have! We can't have too many comments, can we? It's a great entry!
Sara Harricharan 07/30/08
Oh my! Heartwrenching. I am so glad for the ending that there was a 'hello' before that so there won't be another 'goodbye'. The tone at the end was just right too, you did well with this. I enjoyed the read! ^_^
Pamela Kliewer07/30/08
Oh. This grabbed my heart... I have a friend whose husband is not saved... thank you for this. Very well done.
Joshua Janoski07/30/08
I have tears in my eyes right now. Wow. Very powerful writing. I'm glad that the husband did accept God into his heart before he died. Stories like this happen daily. So tragic and yet hopeful at the same time.

Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading it.
Chely Roach07/31/08
Gut-wrenching and powerful. This brought tears to my eyes. Incredible piece of writing.
Benjamin Graber07/31/08
Wow, this story is moving... Wonderful job!
Joy Faire Stewart07/31/08
Lynda, congratulations on your well deserved 1st place. Fabulous writing!
Betsy Markman07/31/08
Very well done and a well-deserved win. I do hope you will tell us if it's true or not!
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/31/08
Wow, I can see why this placed first. Wonderful job! Touching story.
Helen Dowd07/31/08
Oh, this is a real tear-jerker. You certainly deserved to win 1st. Congratulations! The title is so intriguing, too. I never suspected how the story would unfold. It is so one of those "sad-happy" stories, and well worked in with the theme, telephone...Thanks for sharing...Helen
Karen Wilber07/31/08
Oh my goodness, this story is just perfect--the dialogue, the suspense, the pacing, the resolution. Congrats not only on 1st place EC but on a wonderful piece of writing that grabs the reader and doesn't let go.
Patricia Turner07/31/08
Lynda, this is such a gripping read and it reminds me to hold my loved ones close. I'm so glad Matt found Christ in the end and his wife found comfort in that. Congratulations on this wonderfully deserving win!
Scott Sheets07/31/08
Very powerful! I often wonder how many turn their lives to Christ when at the doorstep of death. Only Christ knows. Thank you for sharing this powerful entry.
Carol Wiley07/31/08
Excellent story!
Sheri Gordon07/31/08
Congratulations on your first place. This is very gripping, and very well written.
Dianne Janak07/31/08
This felt so real I wondered if it was a true 9/11 story... whether truth or fiction.. excellent, touching writing that gripped my heart.. Congrats on your win!
Jason Swiney07/31/08
Simple words put together for a powerful story. I liked this because it never got fancy or lost in description, yet it contained tons of emotion and had a perfect message. Congratulations, well deserved.
Wanda Draus 07/31/08
Congratulations Lynda on your 1st place.

Well deserved, had me all the way through, very emotional. How wonderful the husband came to know Christ and that He allowed her to pray and know without a doubt she will see him again. I love the last sentence.
Debbie Roome 07/31/08
Excellent story. This gripped me all the way through and although the ending was sad, it was still satisfying. Well done.
Cari Weber08/03/08
You did it again, Lynda! Absolutely beautiful. . . Hugs, Cari
Janice Fitzpatrick08/11/08
Whoa Lynda. This is amazingly touching and makes one think how short life is. I love your style and your dramatic dialogue is so realistic. Great job! Love it! Hugs, Janice
Marylea Monroe08/15/08
WOW! Thanks for sharing what God did on that horrific and joyous occassion. I have said a prayer for you and your family.

Cathy Broadwell09/30/08
This story is beautiful !! ..it made me a little teary..so wonderful that we have a merciful Lord !
Kimberly Curry04/25/09
I really like the way this heart rending story ended. I assume it's a story, please forgive me if it's not, but still, I very much appreciate the joyful truth at the end.
Natalie Cole05/14/09
you really captured the pain and fear of such a situation. i really hope it isnt true, apologies if it is. but this piece is amazing
AnneRene' Capp09/08/10
Lynda, I've been absorbing your helpful tips about writing and decided to start reading some of your challenges. This is perhaps, the most touching, gripping and heartfelt work of art, I have read to date. No wonder you are where you are. Thank you for your heart to help others in their writing endeavor.