It was Christmas Eve; Nancy dozed before the fireplace, wondering if he would come, as promised, but doubting his sincerity. No real communication had occurred in eight, long months before last night’s call. Only hope of some divine holiday intervention kept her from leaving the window seat.
She hesitantly opened the curtain enough to peak toward the street. Had she searched for his headlights far too many times tonight? Did he deserved this late-night vigil? She slowly released the curtain and turned toward the warmth of the fire, her thoughts drifted to memories of happier holidays.
Was it only a year ago that this same room had bustled with excitement?
Their daughter, Angela, and son-in-law, Chris, had spent Christmas in Angela’s old room one last time before their son arrived. Everyone had been so happy. Angela had seemed more like an anxious child than a devoted wife and soon-to-be mom as she tore through her gifts. Nancy smiled through her tears as she remembered her daughter’s beautiful, crazy laughter when she spotted the high-tech, baby gadget she had wanted so badly.
Memories of last Christmas now seemed surreal.
They had shared a precious morning together before Chris and Angela left to visit other friends and family. There had been lots of kisses and hugs before the couple walked out the front door. When Angela raced back in to retrieve her forgotten car keys, Robert and Nancy had simply told her to have fun as they embraced her for the last time.
Chris had called from the hospital with news of the accident. Their new grandson, although premature, would survive. However, Angela had lived only long enough to give birth before dying at the scene.
The comfort of holding Angela’s son was buried a week later, along with her. Chris informed them at the funeral of his transfer. He wanted to take their precious baby away from all the painful memories in hopes of a fresh start.
Nancy had buried herself in new clients at the law firm those first months after the accident. It seemed the more she sought to be the victor in the trials of others, the less she thought of her own grief. It never occurred to her that Robert needed her for comfort. He had his own medical practice to occupy his thoughts and he seemed to be dealing with Angela‘s death by increasing his work load as well.
She had come home late one night in April to find his closet empty and a note that simply said “I‘m sorry. This is too hard. I have to leave.” Nancy now realized that they should have been more open about their needs - about how much loosing Angela hurt them both - but she had determined in her mind that his leaving meant it was too late. It seemed all the fitful prayers for healing in their relationship had failed. They had not only lost Angela, Chris, and their grandson; they had lost each other.
Robert’s call was the last thing she had expected. Their conversation had given Nancy some faint hope of starting over. She had quietly whispered a new prayer of possibilities after their call had ended.
Now, it seemed her prayers had gone unheard again. He had promised to be here hours ago, but there would be no heavenly ending tonight. The grief of a year of heartache, along with this new rejection, began to overwhelm her as the fire’s flames faded. She slowly rose from the window seat as she gave up on her vigil. . . as the doorbell rang.
Nancy stood for a moment, unable to move. It was as though an invisible weight held her in place until an overwhelming feeling of nervousness and delight began climbing from the pit of her stomach. She attempted to suppress the ascending emotions as she broke away from unseen shackles and began to run toward the front door.
Nancy worried her emotions would erupt as she opened the door. Robert’s nervous smile was the final fuel which forced her to explode in a fit of unexpected giggles. Robert stepped inside, embraced her and began to chuckle through tears as he exclaimed, “I’ve been asking God to let me hear you laugh again.”
Nancy knew they had both received an answer to prayer at that moment. A new chapter had opened in their relationship. Their healing had begun with laughter.