It was New Year’s Eve and Barbara was sitting in her warm and cozy apartment, staring at the crackling flames of the fire burning in the fireplace. She was alone. Her son Travis was spending the holidays in Seattle with his girlfriend and her family. A couple of weeks ago, she had assumed that she would be welcoming in the New Year with Martin.
Martin. They met two years ago at a mutual friend’s barbecue. Barbara was a widow with a teenage son and Martin was a divorcee with two teenage daughters. His ex-wife had custody of the girls and he saw them on the weekends.
Barbara and he hit it off and they began dating. He was a wonderful man and it wasn’t long before she fell in love with him. Travis and he got along very well. She met Martin’s daughters and they were lovely girls. Last year, the five of them went on a summer vacation together. Everything was going so well until the afternoon when she left the shopping mall and was walking to her car and happened to see Martin with his ex, Paula in the parking lot, talking.
Barbara stood there and watched them, debating whether or not she should go over to them. She saw them get into Martin’s car and drive away. For several minutes, she stood there, all sorts of thoughts and questions whirling in her mind. Why they together? Were they thinking of reconciling? Their divorce had been an amicable one and there was no animosity between them. They ended their marriage because of religious differences. Paula was Jewish and Martin was Christian. When Martin made it clear that he would not convert to Judaism, Paula decided that there was no point staying married. She filed for a divorce and they agreed that she would have custody of the girls. And as far as their religious upbringing was concerned, they were already considered to be Jewish because of their mother. Had Martin changed his mind about converting?
Barbara took out her cell and dialed her sister’s number. “Hi, Wanda, it’s me.”
“Hi, Barb, what’s up?”
“I just saw Martin and Paula together. They were talking and then they got into his car and drove off.”
“What’s so strange about that?”
“Do you think that they are thinking of getting back together?”
“Now, why in the world would you think that?”
“I don’t know. It’s just how they were interacting. They were having a deep conversation. What if he’s thinking of going back to her?” The thought terrified her because she loved Martin. She never thought she would fall in love with anyone after losing Donald. Donald had been the love of her life until prostate cancer claimed his life.
“Trust me, Martin’s not thinking of any such thing. He loves you, girl. It’s so obvious. Don’t jump to conclusions. When are you going to see him?”
“He’s coming over tonight for dinner.”
“Wait until the time is right and then mention that you saw him with Paula. It’s possible that he might bring it up before you even have to ask. Don’t assume the worst. You’ve been blessed with something most women can only dream of–finding true love a second time. Don’t throw it away over what could be a perfectly innocent meeting between two people who will always be connected because of their daughters.”
Barbara sighed. “You’re right, as usual,” she said. “Thanks, Wanda.”
“Anytime, Barb. Call me later and let me know how it went. Love you.”
“Love you too. Say hello to Barry and the kids for me.”
Barbara ended the call and put her cell back into her handbag. She walked briskly to her car and got in. When she got home, there was a message on her machine. It was from Martin. “Baby, I’m sorry I won’t be able to come for dinner tonight. Something has come up. I will driving down to New Jersey today and won’t be back until Tuesday. I will call you as soon as I can. I love you.” She stared at the machine. He wasn’t coming tonight. He was going to New Jersey. New Jersey was where Paula and the girls lived. Why was he going there?
All sorts of thoughts and questions flooded her mind. She felt shock and fear and although he ended the message with I love you, she still felt a sense of foreboding. She wasn’t going see him tonight or on New Year’s Eve. He was going to be with his ex-wife and their girls. She was going to be alone–alone with her thoughts and doubts. She went over to the phone and called Wanda.
“Hi Wanda, it’s me. Martin called and said that he’s going to New Jersey today and won’t be back until Tuesday. I’m afraid that he’s going to get back with Paula. Why else would he be going there?”
“What did he say exactly?” Wanda asked. Paula told her verbatim. “You have nothing to worry about, Barb. Something came up and that’s why he’s driving there. It must have something to do with why you saw them together earlier today. Maybe it has to do with one of the girls. He said he was going to call you. Wait and hear what he has to say and he did say that he loves you. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. Martin is not a player. He’s as honest as they get. Stop thinking the worst and wait and until you hear from him.”
“All right. Thanks, Wanda. I’m sorry that we won’t see each other on New Year’s Eve.”
“Me too. I know that you don’t want to miss Martin’s call. Call me when you’ve heard from him.”
“And don’t worry. Everything will work out.”
“All right. ‘Bye, Wanda.”
That was ten nights ago and she still hadn’t heard from Martin. By now she was convinced that it was over between them. Agitated and close to tears, she got up from the sofa and began to pace the room. God, why did you bring this man into my life, make me fall in love with him and then, he ends up back with his ex-wife? Why didn’t you let me remain Donald’s widow, content with memories of a happy marriage and life? I wouldn’t be feeling rotten like this now. I would be at Wanda’s home with Barry and the kids waiting to welcome in 2018. Then, I would call Travis and wish him a Happy New Year. Instead, here I am feeling as my world has collapsed around me and this unbearable pain in my heart. Why, Lord, why? The tears were falling now and she pressed her knuckles against her lips to smother the sob that rose to them.
The doorbell rang and she started. Who could it be? She hoped it wasn’t Wanda. She really wasn’t in the mood to see anyone right now. Using her sleeve to dry her eyes, she walked to the door and looked through the keyhole. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw Martin standing there. Slowly, she unlocked the door and opened it. One look at her face and she was in his arms. “I’m sorry, Baby,” he murmured. “I should have called but things were so crazy at the hospital–”
She drew back, alarmed. “The hospital? What happened?” She drew him inside the apartment and closed the door. Her expression filled with deep concern as she looked up at him.
“Yolanda was involved in a hit and run. When they took her in, she was in critical condition but the doctor managed to stabilize her, thanks be to God. Paula, Tasha, their grandmother and other family members are with her now. I told Paula that I had to come back to New York and be with you.”
“I’m so sorry to hear about Yolanda but am very relieved that she’s out of danger. Paula must have been out of her mind.”
“Yes, she was. She was at the mall buying a birthday present for her mother when she heard the news and called me right away. I drove over there as soon as I could and we drove down to New Jersey after I threw some clothes in a bag. I called you before I left. I’m so sorry that I missed having dinner with you and spending Christmas together. I will make it up to you, I promise.” He held her face between his hands and kissed her. “I love you, Baby,” he murmured against her lips.
She put her arms around his waist and smiled when he drew back to gaze down at her. “I love you too.”
As he lowered his head to kiss her again, she silently apologized to God for what she had said earlier to him and thanked Him for watching over Yolanda who almost didn’t survive to see the New Year. And Wanda was right. For the second time in her life, God had blessed her with a phenomenal man.
Source: My Jewish Learning