Christmas is for Miracles:
When Mary White's husband, Tom, died two days before Christmas, she felt like her heart died as well. She'd loved him, his laugh, and his gusto for life. He was her soul mate. She was exhausted, having nursed him through pancreatic cancer for three months with the help of the doctor and hospital. She was out of tears and out of energy to keep going.
Six months after the funeral, Mary felt like she was finally able to breathe. She'd gone through all Tom's clothes, settled all contracts and accounts with Tom's name on it, and endured daily phone calls from well-wishers. She'd prepared for this time to get on with her life, but now that it was here, she was numb. A hole in her heart ached for Tom's touch and voice.
Sifting through the mail in early June, she saw a flier for a local coffee shop. A new band had formed, with the picture of the men in the band on the piece of paper. Looking closer, she recognized one of the men—the trumpeter. He was Tom's doctor, Dr. Alex Summers! Smiling in the picture, it was as if he was begging her to support the new band, just so they'd have one listener in the audience.
It was time to get out and start to live again. It was time for Mary to connect with others once more, and not to live in seclusion.
Mary called all her friends, but every one of them had an excuse for not going with her to the concert—they didn't like jazz, they were going on vacation, or it was their child's birthday party. It was Friday night and how could they possibly not like jazz? Tom and she loved jazz. What wasn't to like about it?
Staring at the flyer, she decided she was going anyway, because she really wanted to get out of the house and away from the memories, even if only for a little while. She really just wanted to hear the music, she told herself, even though talking to the last man to see Tom alive would be nice, too. Dr. Summers, whom he'd insisted she call Alex, had stayed with her by Tom's side until he took his last breath, then hugged her and consoled her by talking to her about how Tom was finally free from the pain, and in Heaven. The man was a Christian, which comforted her more than he'd ever know.
After parking in the back of the lot, she walked to the front, letting herself inside the door with many other customers. She was wearing a white blouse and dark blue slacks, making her self-conscious, because other customers were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Maybe this was a mistake.
Something in her mind urged her on, telling her this is what Tom would've wanted. She sat in the back of the small crowded room, at a table for two. She wished Tom were in the other seat, but told herself he was with her the whole time, smiling down at her.
The band walked onto the small stage and began the set. The music was amazing, and Mary felt herself smiling at the way it calmed her soul. She finally felt as if she belonged, the music and the crowd were so welcoming.
During the second song, she felt someone staring at her. She was watching the lead singer, but when she glanced toward Alex, he smiled at her. He recognized her and she felt an instant connection with him. The band finished that song, and after a few more songs, they took a break. Mary knew she had some time to think, so she pulled her Bible out of her purse and began to read. She'd begun carrying it when Tom died, because the stories and verses gave her inner peace.
"Is anyone sitting here?"
She looked up to see Alex in front of her and smiled. "Not at all. I'm alone, so have a seat."
He sat down and she moved the Bible back to her purse, but he grabbed it from her hand. "Read anything good tonight?"
She grinned. "Psalm 77."
As he opened the Bible, he glanced up at her. "So how are you doing?"
"Better than I was doing." She pointed at the Bible. "That helps."
"I'm sure it does." He stopped turning pages and looked down at the Bible. "What verse?"
"In the middle. Around verse 14."
He read over the page, then smiled. "Miracles. 'You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the people.'" He looked up at her face. "I've been thinking about you. A lot. But I didn't know if it was appropriate to call you after the funeral."
She leaned up on her hand, her elbow on the table. "Yeah? Why not?"
He nodded. "I know you loved your husband, but I was wondering if you'd like to go out to dinner with me. As friends. I felt so close to both of you, and you had such a great relationship." He face turned rather sheepish. "I was wondering if you could tell me your secret. I've dated around a bit, but no one would give me what you and your husband had. It's kind of a strange request, but I really want to know. I want to have what you two had, in my life, too."
Mary chuckled. "And here I thought you'd ask me out on a date."
He looked like a deer caught in headlights.
"It's a joke," she said. But from the look on his face, that's exactly what he'd been thinking.
"Uh, Mary, go out with me, please?" He leaned up closer. "I know it's really early for this, but I really want to go out with you. I want to laugh with you like you laughed with Tom on the last day of his life. I want to know about your faith." He looked down at the book in his hands. "I want to talk about everything with you, especially Bible verses."
Mary was dumbfounded, because Tom and she had read the Bible together every morning. "Are you sure?"
He nodded. "As friends, if that's what you want. I just want you to know you're an amazing person. I'm so glad you came here tonight." Reaching over, he patted her hand. "I'm here for you, Mary, and that's any time you want."
She glanced down at his warm fingertips on her hand. She'd been so cold and numb for so long, it felt both odd and wonderful to feel his hand on hers. Could she do this? Could she go out with him, just as friends?
She looked up at him and smiled, feeling calmness in her heart. "I'd love to."
For the next six months, she and Alex went out together. They laughed, they went to dinner and to play and watch the band, and they even went to an amusement park. Mary hadn't been this happy since before Tom had gotten sick. Some nights, he'd come to her house and they'd read the Bible together while eating popcorn. She had to admit she'd fallen in love with Alex, but could she do that again in her life? She felt guilty, but she really enjoyed being with him and could laugh again.
On Christmas Eve, they went to church together, which had become a weekly activity for them. Sitting in a pew, Alex took her hand and leaned closer to her ear. "When this is over, we're going out."
He nodded, squeezed her hand and smiled. He looked like he knew something was going to happen, but she put it out of her mind.
At the end of the service, he walked her to the car and helped her into the front seat. After getting into the driver's seat, he leaned over and kissed her cheek, making her surprised.
He just grinned. "I've wanted to do that for two months now. Is that okay?"
She laughed at him. "More than okay. I was wondering if you were just playing games with me and had another woman on the side."
He turned the key with a chuckle, then pulled out. "Never. You keep me too busy and happy for that." He drove back to the coffee shop where she'd seen his band play, six months earlier. They walked, hand-in-hand, back into the coffee shop, where his band was playing, but without him. They sat right up front, and Mary kept glancing toward him. Something wasn't right, but she couldn't imagine what was happening. She also wondered why he wasn't playing with the band. He hadn't even told her the band would be at the coffee shop.
The band began to play, and after a few songs, the lead singer stopped and nodded toward Alex.
He smiled, then stood up and joined the band members, taking the microphone. "I'm glad you're all here tonight, on Christmas Eve, the night before Jesus was born. It was a night of miracles to come, and from Psalm 77, verse 14, it reads, 'You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the people." He looked around the room. "I'm here for a selfish reason and not playing with the band tonight. A year ago, a wonderful man named Tom, who was under my care, died, leaving his wonderful wife. He told me, before dying, to learn to play the trumpet. I thought he was hallucinating, but he kept telling me and even made me buy the trumpet and showed me how to play it, without his wife knowing about it." Alex looked around at his fellow band members. "He told me about this band and how they needed a trumpet player. So I met Dan, here, and learned to play the trumpet. It wasn't easy and I took five months to perfect it, practicing with the band." He turned back to face Mary. "And now I know about miracles. If I hadn't learned to play the trumpet, I never would've connected with Tom's wife, Mary. We began going out as friends, but I think we're past that now." Motioning to Mary, he smiled. "Would you join me?"
Even though she felt confused, she stood up and walked to Alex's side. "What are you doing?" she whispered.
"This." He got down on one knee, grabbed something from his pocket, and looked up at her. "Tom wanted me to make sure you were never alone. It took me six months to get up the nerve to call, but when you came to this coffee shop, I knew it was meant to be." He took her hand. "Mary, you've given me a reason to go on in life. I don't have to be alone, just like Tom wanted me to make sure you were never alone." He opened a dark blue velvet box in front of her while looking into her eyes. "I love you with all my heart and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Would you marry me?"
She was stunned. He was her friend first, but she could think of no other person who could make her feel like Tom had made her feel—loved and willing to share his faith and his life with her.
Wiping her eye, she held back tears of happiness, facing him. "Yes, I would love to. You're more than I could ever ask for."
He got to his feet and gave her the kiss she'd been waiting for, a kiss that made her feel comfortable and truly loved.
"I love you, too," she said. "Thank you for giving me my life back."
She'd been handed a Christmas miracle, starting out the rest of her life with a man who truly loved her.
Note: Verses are from the New International Version of the Bible, with copyright information on the links page of this website.