It was two days before Christmas and people were bustling through Lainview airport greeting or catching flights to see their loved ones. Evangeline sat at departure gate 210 waiting for the plane from Philadelphia to arrive. Every Christmas she looked forward to a house full of family, singing carols, wrapping presents and preparing the Williamson family feast.
Unfortunately, this Christmas her heart was filled with sadness. As the tears began to flow, she grabbed her overnight bag and quickly headed to the ladies room. Looking under the stalls, she breathed a sigh of relief at being alone. "Things weren't supposed to turn out this way," she softly whispered, letting the cold water cool her tears. "John should be here with me, anxiously awaiting to celebrate our first Christmas with my family. Instead, I'm all alone." The tears began to flow again, when she suddenly felt cool blast of air.
"Are you all right, dear?" the woman asked, in a soothing tone.
"Excuse me?" Evangeline stuttered, startled by the woman's sudden presence. "I didn't even hear you come in."
"Are you all right?" she repeated. "I couldn't help but noticed, you've been crying. Why don't you use this handkerchief to dry your tears?"
"Thank you," Evangeline replied drying her eyes. " I always get emotional this time of year."
"So do I," the lady said, taking a seat on the small couch.
Evangeline couldn't help but admire the elegant grace and beauty of the elderly woman. "I hope I look that good, when I'm her age," she thought. The neatly trimmed silver bob set off the expensive navy blue pants suit gave the elderly African American woman a regal aura. Evangeline definitely like her style. But she sensed a definite sadness in her brown eyes.
"Are you all right?" Evangeline asked concerned.
"Not really," she sighed.
"What's wrong?" she wondered.
"It's always hard for me this time of the year," she said softly, as tears welled up in her eyes. "It was fifty years ago today, that I lost the love of my life."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Evangeline said, wanting to comfort the woman. "I know it's none of my business, but may I ask, what happened? If you don't want to tell me, that's fine."
"No dear, I don't mind," she said. "He was killed by a drunk driver. We were supposed to spend Christmas with my family. Instead, we had a terrible argument and I ended up going alone. The next day his brother called me with the terrible news.
"How devastating," Evangeline replied, wondering what she would do, if John met the same fate.
"Yes, it was," she cried. "The worst part is, he was on his way to be with me!
"Oh no!" Evangeline gasped.
"He got a flat on the highway and was trying to fix it, when a drunk driver crossed the median sideswiping his car. He was rushed to the hospital and died at 11:55 PM."
"I can't begin to imagine the pain you must have felt," Evangeline said, rubbing the woman's hand.
"The grief was almost too much to bare. But, what nearly drove me crazy was the guilt. After his funeral, I couldn't function for six months. I was haunted by the same dream every night. Sometimes I would drink myself to sleep, hoping for some peace. But the dream would still haunt me."
"What kind of dream?" Evangeline asked, deeply intrigued.
"I always dreamed that I made it back to him in time. We'd make up and have a long and happy life together," she cried. "Some nights the dream would be so real. I'd reach out to touch him...then I'd wake up and be all alone again."
"How sad," Evangeline thought. "So, you never found love again?"
"When he died, my first thought was to kill myself," she whispered. However, I came to my senses and realized not only was that the coward's way out, but I'd never see him in heaven."
"So, what did you do?"
"The only thing I could do," she replied. "I went on with my life and became quite successful. Through that success, I've been able to find some comfort in finding ways to preserve his memory, with scholarships, developing housing for the poor and homeless, etc. I've had my share of lovers, over the years. However, I've never had another great love."
Evangeline wondered, if she would ever find love again, now that she and John were no longer together. Her heart truly went out to the woman. "I wish there was something I could do for you," she said, sensing a strong bond.
"Yes, I know," the woman replied.
"What did the two of you argue about?" Evangeline asked tentatively.
The woman looked at Evangeline with the most intense stare. "He asked me to marry him and I...said no," she trembled.
Evangeline suddenly felt goose bums on her arms. "Why did you say no?"
"I always prided myself on being fiercely independent. Unlike most young women, I always dreamed of having a successful career. Marriage was the last thing on my mind. Besides, as long as we loved each other and were in a committed relationship, we didn't need a piece of paper."
The air in the room became very still, while the woman continued with her story. "That's such...a strange coincidence," Evangeline said slowly, as the hairs stood up on her neck.
"We had bitter words and he accused me of saying no out of spite," she continued, watching Evangeline closely. "But he was wrong. I didn't say no out of spite. I said no because out of fear."
Evangeline felt a chill down her spine, as she slowly backed away from the woman. "Fear of what ... marriage?" she asked, feeling sweat form on her forehead.
"No...divorce?" the woman stated, closing the distance between them.
"This is too weird," Evangeline whispered, feeling the room spinning.
"Why?" the woman asked, stepping closer.
"Because me and my boyfriend had the exact same argument and my reasons...Evangeline's voice trailed off, as a the frightening realization was staring her in the face.
"Isn't there another question you want to ask me?" she said with hint of desperation.
"What...was your boyfriend's name?" Evangeline stuttered, trying to maintain her balance.
"No!" Evangeline cried covering her eyes. "This isn't happening...I must be having some type of hallucination!"
"It's not a hallucination," the woman said with sense of urgency.
"If it's not a hallucination...that would mean...no," Evangeline said, shaking her head in disbelief.
"No!" Evangeline continued to shout, shielding her eyes. "John is alive and this is some kind of twisted dream!"
"Listen to me, because there isn't much time. This is you're only chance to make things right. Let go of your fear and go to him now!"
"Shut up!" Evangeline shouted, opening her eyes and finding the woman gone and her handkerchief on the floor. Evangeline's hands trembled, as she picked up the handkerchief and read the gold monogram-EW.
Dropping the handkerchief like a hot potato and immediately check her watch, which read 11:30 PM. "I have to get to John!"
It was 11:50, when Evangeline arrived at John's apartment in a fit of desperation. She furiously banged on his door. With no response, she used her key and entered the apartment to find it empty. "Oh no!" she cried, falling to her knees. "I'm too late!"
"Too late for what?"
What the hell is going on here?"
Evangeline looked on in shock, as John stood in the doorway. "What are you doing here?" she cried, hiding her relief.
"I live here, remember," he replied. "If you must know, I was taking a trip, but I forgot my wallet. What are you doing here? I thought you were spending Christmas with your family."
"I am," Evangeline stated, regaining her composure, as she started looking around the apartment.
"What are you looking for?" John said, trying not hide the euphoria he felt being with her again. "If you're looking for the rest of your stuff, everything is right where you left it."
"I know you have it here somewhere," Evangeline mumbled, ignoring his comments, while she continued her search.
"Do you mind telling me exactly what you're looking for?" he asked impatiently.
"Aha, here it is!" she exclaimed, pulling the velvet box from the drawer on his night stand.
"Okay, give me the box," John demanded, trying to grab it from her. "I'm not in the mood to play any games."
"I'll give you the box, when you ask me again," she smiled, taking a seat on the sofa.
John looked at Evangeline in disbelief. If this is some kind of sick joke, it's not funny," he stated
"It's not a joke," she smiled, giving him the box. "Now, ask me again.
John slowly took the box from her hand and got down on one knee. "Evangeline Elise Williamson, you are the love of my life, my best friend and my salvation. Will you marry me and allow me the honor of spending the rest of my life loving and cherishing you?"
"Yes, I will marry you John Patrick McBain and spend the rest of my life loving and cherishing you," she cried, as he placed the three carat square cut diamond and ruby ring on her finger.
"I love you," he cried, picking her up in on fell swoop. "What made you change your mind?"
"Let's just say... I had a long talk with myself and realized how empty my life would be without you," she smiled, gently rubbing his face.
"What about your fear of divorce?" he asked.
"There's nothing to fear. After all, we're going to spend the rest of our lives together," she smiled
"What about Christmas with your family?" he said, holding her close. "Your mother's going to be pissed, if you aren't there."
"I'll be spending Christmas with the most important member of my family, you!" she said softly. "Besides, I can't imagine a better gift than waking up Christmas morning in the arms of my finance. As for my mother, we can still drive to Philadelphia later that morning and make it in time for dinner."
With Will Downing's Christmas CD playing in the background, they snuggled on the sofa and basked in the glow of their love and wonderful future to come.