The Long Awaited Trip

9:13 AMHeather

This is the love story of Alice and Charlie.  It's my own modern day parable.  The older I get, the more this has become my heart's understanding of the things to come. 

Charlie was in tenth grade when a new girl showed up at school.  She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  Long blonde hair and big blue eyes.  And if there ever was such a thing as love at first sight, then that is what he felt.  He would blush when she looked his way.  He stumbled on his words anytime he tried to talk to her.  But, finally, he worked up the courage to ask her out.  Alice advised him to ask her father first, and offered him a perfect white smile before she patted his arm and walked away.  It was all the encouragement he needed.  He worked up the courage to speak to her dad, and was on cloud nine when permission was granted.  Alice's dad offered stern words and warnings about his expectations in regard to his little girl.  

And so, their love story began on a clear crisp winter night when Charlie walked Alice from her home to the movies down on Main Street.  He couldn't drive yet, but she didn't care.  They even held hands on the way home.  From that night forward, they were inseparable.  Sitting together at football games. Dancing the night away at all the school dances.  Sharing a hymnal at church.  They were thrilled when they were accepted to the same college and their love story blossomed even more on that university campus.

Friends and family surrounded them when they married at age 22, the week after college graduation.  The years brought them three children, good jobs, family road trips for vacations, holiday traditions, and always--their steadfast love.  Even after all the years, they still held hands when they walked.  He still opened her door.  They courted throughout their marriage, growing old and gray together.  

Dreaming was something they loved to do.  Together, of course.  Thus, they began to dream of retirement.  Charlie had worked hard to provide for his family over the years.  He had the wisdom to put money away from the beginning--in anticipation of their golden years.  It seemed their dreams could become a reality, if they planned well.  The more they researched, the more they considered the one place that stood far and above all other options.

People told them of this beautiful, magical paradise.  Perfect weather all of the time.  Pure bliss, it seemed.  The easy life.  No worries.  No concerns.  No troubles.  The social life was amazing.  People spoke of quick friendships, as if you'd known each all your life.  Laughter.  Relaxing.  Joy, really.  And peace.

Yes, indeed.  THAT is where they wanted to be.  THAT is where they hoped to be together for the rest of their days.  It sounded incredible--a place like no other.  They spent much of their time at the dinner table or lying in bed before sleep, just dreaming and plotting about their retirement location.  The closer it came, the more time they spent talking about it and preparing for it.  It just felt unreal.  People told them it was like finally coming home.  But not like a home they'd ever known.  Beyond even their wildest imagination.  They could think of little else, it seemed.  As they ever longed for this place they'd never before visited.  

But, as life often does, a detour crept up.  Charlie received a call explaining that he could come on and set up house for Alice, but she could not come just yet.  She was to follow in just a few weeks' time.  He simply needed to get there before her.  Charlie and Alice wept as they considered being separated, even for a short time.  

Charlie reassured her.  "It's not for long, my darling.  You'll come along right after me.  Your ticket has been bought.  It is just a few weeks away.  As soon as I have things ready for you.  Then, we can enjoy all that we've dreamed of--together.  For the rest of our days."  And so, with hesitation and a sense of being left behind, Alice let Charlie go.

She was sad, of course.  Lonely even.  But, she passed her time remembering that before long, she would take the long awaited trip.  She, too, would enjoy the endless sunshine and cool tropical breeze.  She and Charlie would soon sit, side by side again, holding hands, walking along the beaches, and spending every moment of every day together.  The separation was hard.  But, she knew it was only temporary.  It was only for a short season.  And then, they would never have to be separated again.

Because they would be together again.  In paradise.  The hard goodbye would fade in the glorious never ending days to come. He hadn't really left her.  He'd only taken the trip before her. 

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