“Can you come over?” her best friend’s voice pleaded once again, but with greater despair.
All the way there, Cindy Lou pondered Marg’s favorite saying: To be or not to be. That is the question. For the first time, her concern for Marg was replaced by worry.
“I’m so glad ... you’re here ... I’m ... ” Marg embraced her, sobbing and shaking,
“You’ll be alright, Marg. I’m here now.”
“I know ... but why ... why ... why does this keep ... happening?”
Cindy Lou knew Marg was in no condition just then to understand anything she said. So, she just wrapped Marg in her arms, “It’s alright Marg. Just let it out. It’s alright.”
This relaxed Marg, like an upset child who feels encouraged to cry it out.
Regaining some composure, Marg mumbled, “But why am I so angry and depressed after all these months?”
Marg’s deep pain escaped in a whimper, “God didn’t stop Mike from dying ... so I keep bouncing back and forth ... angry with God, then depressed at being alone ... more anger ... deeper depression. When will I finally accept what’s happened?”
Soon Cindy Lou hoped.
Marg sniffled and took a deeper breath that seemed to hold down every utterance, “And now ... I have no hope ... Fate has not brought anyone into my life ... to be my companion ... after three long ... lonely ... years.”
Cindy Lou wondered: Am I being an enabler again. She knew what Marg would say. She’d heard it many times before. Sort of like a scratched record that causes the same words to play over and over – until someone lifts the record player’s arm out of the rut. She did not know how to do this for Marg.
“You know how many guys I’ve dated, hoping to find the right one? Hoping Fate and Good Fortune would smile on me again ... at least once? All I want is one good one. Is that asking too much?”
Marg’s rambling mind shifted focus. “Tell me again how you got through grieving your husband’s death.”
Cindy Lou had described this many times, but Marg’s focus on herself always prevented her from listening and understanding. Perhaps now was the right time to lift Marg’s mind and feelings out of her rut – to lift her to a new place, a place with hope, a better place – sort of like lifting a record player’s arm out of a rut.
Cindy Lou hoped so, because she longed for a return to their once-happy relationship, as best friends. So, double-minded, she pondered what to do: stop now or continue being the enabler of Marg’s situation.
Despite thinking I cannot be doing this forever, she said with regained hope, “You know that me and Alex attended San Ramon Bible Fellowship. But you don’t know this is where we learned that God is in control of all things.”
“What?” Marg challenged.
“In a small Bible Study Group, everyone shared painful incidents in our lives where God was with us in every valley. Like it says in Psalm 23: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
“Every valley?” Marg huffed.
“Yes! But most of the time, no one realized this – until they got out of the valley, months or even years later.”
“But that’s just 20-20 hindsight.”
“Yes, it is 20-20 hindsight – about God’s faithfulness in getting us through every situation. This 20-20 hindsight gave each of us 20-20 foresight to trust God in the future, which is even better. We knew we would get through every new valley and end up exactly where God wanted us ... because each person knew they could trust God all along the way.”
“So, how did this belief get you through your grieving?”
“It wasn’t a belief, but knowing God ... knowing God causes all things – even bad things – to work together for the good of those who love Him and trust Him. This enabled me to almost skip the first four stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.”
“Almost skip? No way! Sometimes, I had to comfort you.”
“And for this, I’ll always be obligated to you and thankful to God for you. But, I never got mired in any stage of grieving – nor returned to any – because I reached acceptance, the fifth stage of grieving. I accepted that it was God’s purpose to take Alex to live eternally with Him – instead of living a little longer with me.”
“Do you really believe this, Cindy Lou?”
“It’s not a belief. I know it’s true.”
“How can you possibly know this is true?” Marg implored.
“The Bible says it’s true and I’ve personally experienced this to be true. As did everyone in our Bible Study Group when they encountered painful situations and went through the five stages of grieving.”
“Well, I’ve always had a much different belief about what’s true. It’s called Fate or Good Fortune as described in the Gestalt Prayer you’ve seen hanging on my wall. I know it by heart:
I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.”
Marg’s smile became hopeful again as she declared, “I know this brought me and Mike together, then enabled us to be great companions on the same life journey.”
“Is this what you’re hoping will happen again?”
“That’s why I’m dating lots of guys, hoping Fate will bring me the right one.”
“How’s that really working out for you?”
“You really want my honest answer?”
Cindy Lou looked deeply into her best friend’s eyes, “Your most honest answer.”
Taking another deep breath, Marg responded more honestly than ever before. She divulged what she’d never said before: “California guys are just leaping lechers! Trying to leap all over me, lusting after me. Not wanting to know the real me. I know because I’ve dated so many I’ve lost count. They’re all the same. I date them usually once, sometimes twice. Until I know there is no hope there. Then, I retreat into loneliness ... until I need to hope again. Honestly, Cindy Lou, it’s just a hopeless cycle that doesn’t stop.”
“Well, I can see why this keeps happening. You’re a physically attractive woman – with a vivacious personality. You’re the female version of a babe magnet,” Cindy Lou chuckled.
“That’s not funny.“ Marg chuckled also, because she knew her best friend was right. “But what can I do? I can’t change how I look or my personality.”
“Have you considered getting out of Dodge?”
“That’s not funny either!”
“I mean, going east – where many men have been more traditionally raised to be Gentlemen and to treat women with respect – as Ladies?”
“Hmmm ... interesting idea.” Marg’s creative mind imagined new possibilities. “I do have a sabbatical coming up. Any suggestions?”
“You know I grew up in Virginia. I bet there are some Virginia Gentlemen still being bred there. There’s a small college – Liberty Falls College – not far from where my parents live. Why not find out if their English Department will let you teach there on your sabbatical.”
“Okay Cindy Lou, I will. I know if I stay in California, Mission: Impossible will keep happening – but without a happy movie ending. Perhaps, Mission: Possible awaits me at Liberty Falls College. It’s time for this perky California gal to go prospecting elsewhere.”
Next day, an excited Marg told Cindy Lou. “Liberty Falls College wants me to teach English Literature and Creative Writing ... so I’m going prospecting back east. No more grieving, but just hoping that Good Fortune awaits me. Thank you, Cindy Lou.”
“You’d have done the same for me, Marg.”
That night, as was her custom, Marg journaled: Again, hope springs eternal in this human breast. Looking forward to new, totally different adventures – and men. Thank you Fate. Must remember to take my Gestalt Prayer.
Cindy Lou also felt more positive, for she could support Marg long-distance, occasionally, when needed, without enabling her or avoiding her. Her approach-avoidance conflict – to be or not be available 24/7 for Marg – was over! To replace her continual support, she continuously prayed that Marg would come to know God – and He would send the right man into her life, to give her the male companionship she desired and desperately needed.
Cindy Lou drove Marg to the airport, hugged her best friend goodbye, and said, “Phone me whenever you need to. Otherwise let’s chat once a week or so.”
“That works for me!” Marg’s smile revealed renewed hope. Cindy Lou’s smile ratified this. The California gals were in sync again as best friends who want the best for one another.
As Marg’s plane rose in the sky, so did Cindy Lou’s departing prayer, “Marg is in your hands now, God. Please watch over her since I can’t.” As the plane disappeared, so did her continuous obligation to her best friend, replaced by a focus on herself. For, she had a heart-felt, but long-ignored longing for an honest and true man – a husband– who would share three love affairs with her: an agape-love commitment as a lifelong marriage partner, a philia-love companion who enjoys the same spiritual, mental and physical activities, and an erotic lover for her pent-up passion. Three love affairs in that exact order of importance. Cindy Lou wouldn’t settle for less.
As she prayed for this, and for Marg again, God heard Cindy Lou’s prayer and continued orchestrating what neither California gal could ever have imagined – because:
“My thoughts are higher than your thoughts, and My ways are higher than your ways, sayeth the Lord.”