I was cleaning out my desk when I came across a picture of Susanna. I stared it for a moment. She was easily the most beautiful woman I had ever known. When we met ten years ago in Aspen, it was love at first sight for me. Her beautiful, angelic face was framed by long, thick blond hair and her brilliant blue eyes seemed to dance whenever she looked at me. We spent the entire week getting to know each other. It was the happiest time in my life.
When it was time to leave, we made plans to see each other again. I couldn’t wait. I was like a lovesick schoolboy. By then, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
After taking her home one night after a romantic dinner at a seaside restaurant and she invited me in for a nightcap, I dropped to my knee and popped the question. She tearfully accepted and I was on top of the world. We had a small, intimate wedding with family and close friends. We honeymooned in Paris. The picture I was holding in my hand is of her standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a panoramic view of the city below and the sky behind her was suffused in the rich colors of a sunset.
It was a year after that when she died in a car accident. She was on her way home after working late when she was blindsided by a car which sped through the intersection. It was the worst moment of my life. It took a long time for me to process my grief and loss.
I went through a period of depression but Susanna’s friend, Gail, a devout Christian woman helped me through it. After the funeral, in the weeks following, she regularly came over to my flat and it was a real comfort having her there. She cooked and encouraged me to eat. We talked, actually, I did most of the talking while she simply listened. She prayed for me and encouraged me to go for grief counseling which I did. The counselor was also a Christian and he gave me biblical principles to help me with my depression.
For the first time since I graduated from university, I opened my Bible. I read the Psalms by David who wrote them during discouraging moments. And what I discovered was that we are not alone. God is there with us in our discouragement or despair or depression. Our faith and trust in Him can lead us to praise and rejoice in Him even during the difficult times.
Gail lost her son five years ago. He died when he was ten years old from Asthma. She said that during those moments of intense grief, loss and pain, she managed somehow to praise God and thank Him for His goodness and faithfulness and that got her through the valley.
Gail has had a lot of pain in her life–aside from the loss of her on!y child, she lost her parents and Morris, her son’s father within months of each other. She was pregnant when Morris died. Their wedding was set for June 15 that same year. Morris died not knowing that he was going to be a father. Gail had planned to tell him that night over a romantic home cooked dinner. So, instead of walking down the aisle to meet her fiance, she ended up walking down the aisle behind his casket just months after she did the same thing with each parent with Morris at her side.
Yet, in spite of these tragedies, her love for God and her faith in Him never wavered. In fact, they became deeper and stronger. She once told me that God uses trials and afflictions to draw us closer to Him. In every trial, we should turn to God who delights to answer our prayers. It is because of her that I have turned to God and my life has changed as a result. I know that God is in complete control of my life and that gives me great comfort.
I put Susanna’s picture back in the drawer and closed it. I sat there at the desk, absentmindedly playing with my wedding band. The doorbell rang. I left the study and went to answer it. I smiled when I saw Gail standing there with two bags of groceries. I took them from her while she closed the door and removed her coat. “Hello,” I said.
She smiled in return. “Hi, yourself. So, how are you doing since the last time I saw which was…”
“Last week Saturday. Today’s Sunday. Where have you been? How come I haven’t seen you for almost a week?” I set the bags down on the counter and turned to face her.
As she unpacked the bags, she said, “I have seeing this guy–“
“What guy?” I demanded at once. Nothing prepared me for my reaction. For the first time in my life, I was jealous. She didn’t come by to see me in almost a week because of some guy? I was livid.
She looked at me. “A guy from work.”
I shoved my fists into pockets of my jeans. “So your company doesn’t have a policy against employees dating each other?”
She shook her head. “No. Victor–“
“So, do you like him? No, don’t answer that. Of course, you like him or you wouldn’t be going out with him, would you?”
“Thanks for stopping by with the groceries but you really don’t need to stay.” I turned and walked out of the kitchen. I went into the living-room and stood at the window, my hands testing on the ledge. My head was spinning. I had developed feelings for Gail. My jealous reaction to her relationship with her co-worker was evidence of that. What was I going to do now? I couldn’t continue having her come over here anymore. I had to end our friendship. I closed my eyes in despair.
My eyes flew open and I swung round to face her. “You’re still here,” I muttered tightly. “Maybe it’s just as well because what I have to say should be said in person.”
She frowned and looked confused. “What is it? You were acting kind of strange back there in the kitchen.”
“I think that–that it would be best if you and I didn’t see each other any more.”
For a moment she seemed too stunned to say anything. I watched the various emotions play on her face. “But why?” she finally managed to ask. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” I denied.
“Something’s wrong,” she insisted. “A minute ago, you were happy to see me and now, it’s like you can’t wait to get rid of me. I want to know why and I’m not leaving until I do.”
Frustrated, I shoved my fingers through my hair. I had forgotten how stubborn she could be. “I don’t think your boyfriend would want us to continue seeing each other.”
“Yes, the guy you’re seeing. You know, the co-worker.”
“Oh, you mean Marlon. He isn’t my boyfriend.”
“What would you call him then?”
“Going out with a guy four days in a week doesn’t make him my boyfriend.”
“So, why didn’t you come and see me on the days you didn’t go out with him?”
“Well, on Sunday, I had to babysit a friend’s kids while she and her husband went to dinner for their tenth wedding anniversary. On Tuesday, I had to work late. On Thursday, I went to a concert with my cousin. It’s Sunday and here I am.”
“How come you’re here and not with him?”
“I’m here because I want to be here. Aren’t you happy to see me?”
“I was until you told me about your co-worker.”
“Victor, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that you’re jealous.”
I didn’t answer but something must have given me away, perhaps it was the expression on my face.
She slapped her forehead. “You are jealous,” she exclaimed. “I can’t believe it.”
“Why can’t you believe it?” I wondered.
“All this time I hoped that your feelings for me would change from being platonic to something else. Oh, Victor,” she grabbed me by my arms. “You have no reason whatsoever to be jealous of Marlon. When he asked me to go out with him I only accepted because I didn’t think that you and I would ever be more than friends–although it has been over four years since Susanna died. Then, seeing you act this way over Marlon and me gave me hope.”
“So, are you going stop seeing him?”
She nodded. “Yes!”
Relieved, I reached up and cupped her face between my hands. “Good,” I murmured before I lowered my head and devoured her lips.
Our relationship changed that day. Friendship mushroomed into romance and culminated in a very happy and strong marriage. In two weeks we will be welcoming our second child–a girl this time. We both agreed to name her Susanna.
Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship ~ Lord Byron
Sources: Studying Together: A Ready-reference Bible Handbook by Mark Finley, pp. 113 & 114 ; Spirit Button