This lovely piece landed in my box … and I had to share.

Michael Johnson


I would use the word “elegant” to describe her. That’s what I was thinking as she approached. Smartly dressed and attractive, the word “competent” came to mind. She said, “I know you are about to go on stage for the teachers, but I just wanted to tell you I met your wife earlier.” She pointed over in the direction of Sherry. “She is delightful. She has joy in her spirit.” She stood looking at Sherry for a moment, then she said, “Even though it was only for a short time, it helped me to meet her today.”
“Thank you for the kind words,” I said. “She is a blessing.”
After the presentation, Sherry was working the book table and as I finished signing books, I became aware the woman had been standing nearby for some time. “Did you need me for something?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said, with the same bright smile and that same elegance. “I wanted to ask you a question.” She paused for a moment, looked down, then raised her eyes to mine. The smile was gone.
“I lost my husband two years ago,” she said. “He passed away…suddenly…unexpectedly.”
Another pause. Still looking down, she said, “I’ve been fighting…but I’m losing. I can’t get untracked. I’m afraid the grief is going to devour me.” And she stopped.
The world changed. One minute we’re laughing and talking, the next I felt like I was in one of those movies where the camera does a 360 circle around two people and no one else is in the room. Silence.
“What is your question of me?” I asked…stalling for time, praying I could think of something to say.
She looked up at me. I could see her eyes glistening, and she said, “People do get over things like this. Don’t they?”
“Yes, they do,” I said.
“Do you think I should see a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, or a Christian counselor perhaps? I haven’t done that.”
“If you do,” I said, “it must be someone who has lived through that ordeal and come out on the other side – someone who has found new reasons to live. I can tell you that ‘I understand how you feel,’ but if I haven’t lived what you’re going through, I don’t have a clue ‘how you feel.’ ”
“Where on earth am I going to find someone like that?” she asked with desperation in her voice.
“You already have,” I said.
“What?” she asked. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“You already have found someone like that,” I said – and I pointed over to my wife.
She looked at Sherry. Her eyes widened. She put her hand over her mouth.
“Her?” she said.
“Yes, her,” I said. “She was married to a fighter pilot. He flew off on a mission in Viet Nam and never returned. She was twenty-two years old.”

“How did she survive that?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Let’s go ask her.”
Sherry was putting the books in boxes with her back to us. As we were the only ones in the room, it was safe to talk. “Dear, you remember Jane you met earlier?” I said.
Sherry turned and said, “Certainly.”
“You remember the trial you lived through we talk about sometime?” I asked her.
She stared at me for a time, eyes blank – hiding the memory from the world.
“Yes,” she said without emotion.
“Well, it seems Jane is having that same experience. It happened some two years ago now.
I was just thinking maybe it might be helpful if you two talked on the phone some time?”
Same blank look. Then she said, “Yes.” I wondered if I had over-stepped my bounds here, but then she turned away and after retrieving a bookmark, wrote something on it. She handed it to the woman. “My phone number,” she said – with a little smile.
The woman looked at the number and said, “These three digits after the number…247…is that your extension?”
“No,” said Sherry, “it’s not 247…those are my hours of availability if you ever want to talk…
I’ll be there 24/7.”

What the world needs now is love…and hope. When someone is in trouble and you say,
“Call me anytime,” love and hope come into the world.

“If either falls down, one can help the other up.”
Ecclesiastes 4:10

– Michael Johnson


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3 comments have been posted...

  1. KarenTX

    Oh, that made my eyes well up. How wonderful that she was led to that moment and the right people. I’m having a hard time. A friend had a stroke last week and is still in ICU with a drain to get rid of the excess blood inside her skull. She’s doing okay, but is paralyzed on her left side. I choose to be positive for her and her family and pray for them. She is only 50. I have another friend who’s 30 YO son is in the burn unit at Shriners in Galveston. He received burns over 90% of his body in a horrific 18-wheeler accident where the driver died and he managed to get out of the cab after it caught on fire, but he also was on fire. Good Samaritans helped extinguish the flames. He has a 10% chance of survival, but he, too, is doing okay, facing many surgeries, some have already been performed. I choose to be positive for him and his family, and pray for them.

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