Three days.  Seventy-two hours.  We sat grinning at each other in the room in which Kevin was staying.  “I think we should call her,” Kevin declared.  “I think she’d want to know.”  It was Sunday evening.  Three days since I’d searched disembarking faces for a sign of familiarity.  Seventy-two hours of exploring a city and discovering my heart.

After the worship service on Sunday morning, Kevin had given a small slide presentation to the congregation.  He’d shown photos of his home, a small rural community in the heart of Zululand called Nqutu.  The little mission hospital in which he worked saw hundreds of patients each week.  The images which touched my heart were of the children in the paediatric ward.  Despite their illnesses and impoverished lives, most of them had brilliant smiles.

Following the presentation Kevin and I had gone to visit my sister.  She lived with her husband and small daughter in a house not far from mine.  “You have to meet at least one member of my family before you fly away,” I’d asserted.  My sibling had received us with great curiosity.  Who was this stranger who’d captured the virtually impenetrable heart of her older sister?  Despite her natural wariness, she trusted my judgement and had soon relaxed and welcomed Kevin as a new member of the family.

Now we sat enjoying the last few hours in each other’s company before I would drive home and Kevin would pack for his morning flight.  “Let’s call her now,” he repeated.  “She’ll still be awake.”

Kevin pulled his small address book out of his knapsack.  I moved the phone within his reach.  He lifted the receiver to his ear and carefully pushed in the ten digit sequence.  “It’s ringing,” he announced.

I only heard one side of the conversation. “Hello!  Yes, it’s been wonderful.  No, I’m still in San Francisco;  I’m flying to LA tomorrow, unfortunately.  The reason we’re phoning you is that Loreen and I have some news and we wanted you to be one of the first to know . . .”

I wish  I could have been a fly on her wall.  I would love to have seen her face when she heard that Kevin and I discovered that we were meant to spend the rest of our lives together.  I believe that she must have felt a sense of relief and gratitude.  I think there were many times when she’d regretted the choice she’d made and the pain she’d caused this doctor in far-off Africa.  Now, miraculously, it had all worked out.

The time finally came when I had to drive home.  It’d been an amazing holiday — three days which seemed to have stretched into eternity.  But I had a job and children waiting for me in the morning, and so I bid the good doctor farewell.  We held each other in such an embrace that it was difficult to tell where one of us ended and the other began.  He walked me to my car and brought his face close to mine through the open window.

“I love you, Loreen,” he whispered.

“I love you, too,” I quietly replied.  He kissed me, then took my hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Good bye, my love.” He left go of my hand and took a few steps back.  I started the car and slowly drove away.

As I traveled the familiar path back to where I resided, I marvelled at my emotions.  Kevin was leaving.  In a week’s time he’d be back on the other side of the planet and I had no earthly idea when I’d see him again.  I would have thought there’d be a painful ache.  I would have expected there to be tears of parting sorrow.

But instead I was surround by a profound peace.  I felt wrapped in a blanket of sheer joy.  At long last, my heart had found its home.

 

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Postscript:

Kevin and I wrote to each other every day we were apart.  I would often find myself reading in letters from him the exact same words I’d penned a week and a half previously. We’d share the same favourite songs, poems and stories.  It was as if our hearts were one, even though they were thousands of miles apart.  We are blessed to still have those letters today — all penned by hand, all posted via “snail mail,” all having travelled halfway around the globe.

Kevin returned to San Francisco a year and a month after we met and we were married.  Two weeks later we bid farewell to the City that brought us together and we have lived in South Africa ever since.  We’ve been blessed with two delightful daughters whom we have had the pleasure and privilege to watch grow into beautiful women of God. Kevin still practices as a medical doctor in a small government hospital, and I work at a small church school in our little Zululand town.

And that is our own personal realised fairy tale.

 

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