On Christmas morning I woke up early as usual, in my bed at the house in Northwood. It was still dark in the room, but I squinted at the digital clock and saw that it was 6.55 a.m. Becca and I had sat up together by the Christmas tree until about 11.30, after which I had fallen asleep almost immediately.
I got out of bed and went over to the window, leaving the lights out in the room as I moved the curtain aside. It was still dark outside, of course, but the sky seemed to be clear. There was no snow on the ground, and Jenna, like many Canadians visiting England at Christmas, couldn’t get over this. “Don’t you get snow in winter, then?” she had asked Becca, and my sister had smiled and said, “When we do, the whole country comes to a standstill!”
I slipped on my clothes, went to the bathroom and then went quietly downstairs. There was a light on in the kitchen and I could hear my mother moving around, so I pushed the door open and saw her standing by one of the countertops, making stuffing for the turkey. “You’re up early this morning”, I said as I went over and kissed her.
“I was awake”, she replied, “so I decided to get started. Merry Christmas, Tom”.
“Merry Christmas. How was your night?”
“Quiet; your dad slept well, thankfully. What time did you and Becca go to bed?”
“Not too late; about 11.30, I think”.
“Did Mike know about your Christmas custom?”
I grinned at her; “I think Becs warned him”.
She gestured toward the tea pot; “I’m about to boil a kettle”.
“I’ll grab a cup when I get back”.
“It looks cold out there this morning”.
“No snow, though”.
“It’ll still feel cold; you wrap up, alright?”
I grinned at her; “Yes, Mother!”
“Go on with you!”
Outside the air was still and cold, and in the east the sky was starting to brighten. I put my gloves and tuque on and set off down the long driveway, with the darkened trees on the one side and a frost-covered field on the other. When I reached the road I turned left and began to walk briskly west toward the village.
As I walked I found myself remembering the previous Christmas, when my Masefield uncles and aunts had come for dinner. I knew that in the back of their minds had been the thought that my father might not live to see another Christmas, but now here we were, twelve months later, and he was still alive, although we all knew he was ailing fast. “But you gave us the time we needed, Lord”, I whispered. “I didn’t know if we’d be able to make peace with each other, but we have. Thank you for that”.
I thought about the conversations I had enjoyed with my father over the past few months; he had started telling me stories about his childhood and youth, and his memories of his parents and aunts and uncles. Hs father had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and he had dug out a couple of old boxes of pictures and notes he had found among the old man’s things after he died. “I went through them a long time ago”, he had said to me; “I found them quite interesting. But I don’t need them any more; if you think you and Rick and Becca would like them, I’d be glad to pass them on”.
“I don’t know about Rick and Becca”, I said, “but I know I’d be interested. Emma’s asked me about the Masefields a few times over the past couple of years; she knows a lot about the Reimers and the Weins’, but practically nothing about our side of the family”.
“She likes that kind of thing, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah – especially since Kelly died”.
“And there’s Lisa too – perhaps she’ll be interested one day”.
“Maybe she will”.
Another time when we had been sitting together in his study, sharing a quiet glass of Scotch, he had asked me to tell him more about the Reimers and the Weins’ and their history. So I talked for a while about what Kelly’s grandparents had told us of the sufferings of the Mennonites in Russia in the early years of Communist rule, and of how so many had tried to escape. I described for him how Kelly’s grandparents and some of their brothers and sisters had arrived on the prairies in the early 1920’s, how they had cleared land and farmed with other Mennonites in the Spruce Creek area north of Meadowvale, how they had raised their family in the bush, speaking low German at home and high German at church, and how Kelly’s grandfather had been one of the first to learn English so that he could better relate to the non-Mennonite world around him. I talked about how Will had gone to university in Saskatoon, a Mennonite farm boy, and how he had somehow managed to do well at university while hanging on to the essentials of his faith. I talked about how he had taught in Rosthern before coming back to Meadowvale to teach, and had eventually become the principal of the school.
“We know so little of Mennonites in this country”, my father mused; “All we know is what we see in films, with people in plain clothes living in colonies separate from the world around them. Of course, I realized that was wrong the first time I met Kelly ”.
I smiled at him; “Were you expecting an old order girl in a long dress and a headscarf?”
“I don’t really know what I was expecting – certainly not someone with such a vivacious personality”.
I laughed softly; “That’s a good way of putting it”.
“I’m glad Jenna’s coming for Christmas with you”, he said; “I’ll look forward to seeing her again. How old would she have been the last time she was here? Ten? Eleven?”
“Her birthday’s in November, so she’d have been ten”.
“So she’s eighteen now?”
“Yes. Emma’s really looking forward to having her here”.
“I bet she is!”
I had reached the village now, and a few minutes later I turned south on the main road, walking through the village square, with the church on one side and the primary school on the other. We had gone to the Christmas Eve service the previous night, along with Jenna, and Mike and Becca; the old church had been full, and Claire had preached a thoughtful sermon that seemed to hold everyone’s attention. Sarah and Alyson had been there as well; Sarah had asked her mother to drive her out so that she could go to the Christmas Eve service with us. It was a very different service from what she had experienced at our Baptist church, but she seemed to enjoy it okay.
As we were walking back to the house afterwards Alyson fell into step beside me. “Do you know what’s going on, Tom?” she asked softly.
“With Sarah, you mean?”
“Yes. We’ve never been a churchgoing family. Not that I’m opposed to it, and if Sarah’s interested I’m quite happy for her to go with you and Emma. I’m just surprised, that’s all”.
“I was surprised too. She and Emma had been talking about faith for a while before Emma said anything to me about it”.
“Emma respects confidences. She told me Sarah asked her to keep it to herself; she didn’t want to talk about it with anyone else”.
“Has she said anything to you about it?”
“Only in the most general terms – she and Emma have been talking about God, and she thinks she might like to go to church – that sort of thing. I wouldn’t mind talking about it with her, but I don’t want to be too pushy if she’d prefer to keep it to herself”.
“You two get along pretty well, though, don’t you?”
“We do, and we’ve got closer since her accident. But I don’t push the boundaries, if you know what I mean?”
“I do – that’s exactly how Emma and I are”.
“I thought you two talked about everything”.
“We probably do, but we’re patient with each other, too. I’ve learned to wait until she’s ready to talk about things, and I think she’s learned the same thing with me, too”.
“Alyson, talking about Sarah, is she okay?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, Boxing Day it’ll be a year, won’t it – since the accident?”
“Ah”. She shook her head slowly. “She’s had some moody spells lately, to tell you the truth. Most of the time she’s alright, but now and again I see her staring off into space and I can tell something’s going on inside. She hasn’t said anything to me; has she talked to Emma?”
I shrugged; “Again, Em wouldn’t automatically tell me…”
As I walked south toward the river I quickened my pace; I was feeling the chill in the air, and I didn’t want to be out too long on this Christmas morning. We were expecting Rick and the family to join us just before lunch, along with Auntie Brenda. None of my father’s siblings were coming this year; a couple of them had asked, but my mother had told them it would be better for them to come to visit him separately. “Having them all together at the house, along with our whole family, would just be overwhelming for him”, she had said.
The eastern sky was getting lighter now; I knew the sun would be rising at about eight fifteen, and I wanted to be back at the house a little before that. My mother had said she would have breakfast ready by eight-thirty, and I wanted to give Wendy a quick call before we ate.
Wendy and her children had gone down to Essex on the afternoon of the 22nd, and we had talked to each other a couple of times a day since then. I was surprised at how keenly I was missing her, even though ordinarily we wouldn’t see each other every day. I enjoyed the fact that she lived only a short walk from our house, and that she felt free to walk over for a cup of tea in the evening without calling first to tell me she was coming. She knew my habits well by now, and she knew which nights I would be busy with my schoolwork. I was happy to reciprocate, and our families – our ‘extended family’, as Emma called it with a grin – enjoyed getting together for meals and visits as well.
I thought about the conversation Emma and I had shared the previous afternoon while we were driving out to Northwood. We had been talking about Wendy and her parents – Wendy’s mother had been having another bout with the ‘flu – and then Emma had been quiet for a few minutes, looking out her window at the scenery flashing past. I could tell she had something on her mind, and eventually I said, “What’s up?”
She shrugged; “I was just wondering about you and Wendy”.
“Me and Wendy?”
“You know – about how things are going…”
“I told you how I felt”.
“Yeah – but have you told her?”
“Not in so many words, but I’m pretty sure she knows”.
She laughed softly. “I really can’t believe you just said that!”
“We’ve had this conversation before, Dad – the one about being open and honest about your feelings. You’ve always believed that was the way to go”.
“Not always; there was a time…”
“Yeah, but it was a long time ago – right?”
“I suppose so”, I admitted.
She was quiet for a moment, and then she said, “Look, you can tell me to back off any time you want…”
I shook my head; “I don’t want you to back off”.
“Alright – so what’s holding you back?”
I sighed; “If I name it, then I’m committing myself”.
“And you don’t want that?”
“No – I do want that. But I’m scared”.
“Scared of what?”
“Scared that I’m not really over your mom. Scared of not being fair to Wendy, because of not being over your mom”.
She put her hand on mine. “Dad, she’s got baggage too, you know”.
“You’ve both got scars, and they’re going to be sore”.
I glanced at her with a smile. “You’re quite good at this, you know”.
“I learned from the best”.
I nodded; “Yes, you did”.
She squeezed my hand. “You love her, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do”.
“I do think”.
I nodded again. “Alright – I will”.
When I got back to the house Emma and Jenna were in the kitchen with my mother, helping her prepare vegetables. I smiled at them; “What’s this? A Reimer takeover?”
My mother laughed; “I tried to tell them I didn’t need any help, but they wouldn’t be put off!”
“Where’s your usual helper?”
“I think she and her fiancée might have overslept”.
“Well, they’re both busy people, so they probably need it”.
“Shall we wait a bit longer to eat, do you think?”
“Why don’t we put some cereals on the table and then let people come down and eat whenever they want?”
“You don’t want something a bit more substantial?”
“I’m fine. What about you girls?”
Emma nodded, and Jenna said, “Fine by me!”
I went over to my niece and put my arm around her. “Did I tell you already how nice it is to have you here for Christmas?”
She grinned up at me; “I think you might have mentioned it!”
My mother pointed to the tea pot, sitting under its cosy on the kitchen table. “Would you like a cup?” she asked me.
“Give me ten minutes, okay? There’s something I need to do first”.
I went upstairs, washed my face and ran a comb through my hair, then went to my room and changed into a clean shirt and sweater; somehow I knew we wouldn’t be worrying about dressing up for Christmas dinner this year. I sat down in the armchair in the corner of the room, took out my phone and dialled Wendy’s number.
“Merry Christmas, Tom Masefield”, she said.
“Merry Christmas, Wendy Howard. Were you waiting for my call?”
“I thought you might ring nice and early”.
“Are you alone?”
“I am, actually; Rees is getting ready for the Christmas morning service, but I’ve decided that since I went to the midnight last night, I’m going to stay home and be lazy this morning. To be honest, I’m sitting up in bed reading a book; my brother brought me a cup of tea about ten minutes ago”.
“And you? Have you already been out for a walk?”
“I have, and when I got home the Reimer girls had taken over the kitchen”.
She laughed; “Giving your mum a hand whether she needed it or not?”
“Something like that”.
“Thanks for your lovely card; I opened it last night before I went to bed”.
“You’re welcome. Yours is still sitting in its envelope beside my bed; I’ll open it in a couple of minutes”.
“I miss you”.
“I miss you too. And there’s something I wanted to tell you”.
“What is it?”
“Well, I know it’s a little strange to be saying this on the phone instead of face to face, but I realized last night that there’s something I should have said to you a while ago, and I’ve been resisting it, because I’ve been afraid. But I’ve decided I don’t want to let fear hold me back any longer, and I don’t want to wait ’til you get back, either”.
She laughed softly; “I think I’m going to like this”.
“You’ve probably already guessed this, but I’m in love with you, Wendy”.
“I know. I’m in love with you too, Tom – a lot more than I can say”.
“I’m sorry I chose such a strange way to tell you”.
“Actually, I find it rather romantic!”
“Really. It feels a bit like those proposals of marriage in Jane Austen, with Robert Martin pouring out his love to Harriet Smith through the mail”.
I laughed; “Hopefully it won’t meet with the same sort of cold reception!”
“Far from it”, she said softly. “I knew you loved me, but I’ve been waiting for you to get up the courage to say it. Actually, would you mind just saying it again?”
“I love you”.
“I love you too”. She hesitated, and then said, “Tom?”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m a bit scared still”.
“Scared of what, specifically?”
“Scared that I might let you down”.
“Let me down? Where’s that coming from?”
“Well, I still miss Kelly, and I’m afraid I might not be able to give you what you deserve from me, because of that”.
“Do you love me?”
“I do – I really do”.
“Then we’ll work it out. I’ve got my own stuff to work through, too, you know”.
“Don’t forget what I said about Kelly; I’m not threatened by her, and I don’t want you to forget about her”.
I shook my head. “I still say you’re a remarkable woman”.
“And I still say I’m not”.
I grinned. “Tempting as it is to stay and argue this one out, I need to go join my mum and the Reimer girls for breakfast”.
“The rest of the family aren’t awake yet?”
“My dad’s exhausted, and Becca and I sat up late last night, so she appears to be unintentionally sleeping in”.
“Right. Ring me again later on, will you? Lisa will want to talk to you”.
“Is she okay?”
“Fine. I haven’t seen either of them yet, though”.
“Merry Christmas, Wendy”.
“Merry Christmas, my love. In case you’re wondering, you just made me a very happy girl”.
“I’m happy too”.
“Good. Now go and have breakfast with your family”.
“Right – ‘bye”.
There were thirteen of us sitting around the dining room table for Sunday dinner, and I smiled when I saw that we had all understood instinctively that dressing formally would not be a big priority this year. My father looked frail, his head now entirely hairless again and his skin almost transparent, but he seemed happy to be there with us. Rick and I were seated either side of him at the end of the table; Auntie Brenda was at the other end beside my mother, and the rest of the family were spread out in between.
Sarah and Emma were sitting together; the moment I had seen Sarah coming in I had known she was struggling with memories of last year and her accident. I bumped into her in the hallway a few minutes before dinner; I put my hand gently on her arm and said, “Can I give you a hug, Sarah Irene?”
“Oh, Uncle Tom!” she replied in a wretched voice, and immediately I put my arms around her and held her close. “I love you, you know”, I whispered. “I know this is going to be a tough few days for you, so if you need extra love and hugs, or just someone to sit with you and listen while you talk, you just ask, okay?”
She nodded against my shoulder. “I will”, she whispered, “and thank you. You and Emma – I don’t know how I’d ever have got through this year without you”.
I stepped back and looked down into her face; “You’re stronger than you think”.
“No – I’m not! I feel like a complete nervous wreck right now!”
“And you’re strong enough to say so. Being strong isn’t about pretending to feel strong; it’s about knowing when you need help, and not being afraid to ask for it”.
She looked at me in silence for a moment, and then she nodded. “Thanks; somehow you always know what to say to help me feel better”.
After dinner Rick and I found ourselves sitting together in the living room, sipping our coffee; my father had gone off to have a nap, Becca and Mike were helping my mother and Auntie Brenda with the clean up, and the young people had put their coats on and gone walking up through the orchard toward the lake.
“How are you doing?” I asked him quietly.
He shrugged. “I’m not having the flashbacks Sarah’s having, but I can’t help remembering”.
“I can imagine”.
“Thanks for being such a big help for her, by the way”.
“She’s a sweet girl, Rick; Emma and I both love her to bits”.
“I know. And what about Jenna – she’s certainly grown into a beautiful young woman, hasn’t she? She looks so much like her mother”.
He took a sip of his coffee and gave me a thoughtful look. “So what’s going on with Sarah and churchgoing, bro?”
“I hope you don’t mind?”
“Good grief, no! It’s not my cup of tea – no offence, but I find the idea of God far more confusing than I can cope with. But if she finds some comfort in it, I’d be the last person to stand in her way. I know it’s been a comfort to you”.
“Not always just a comfort. Sometimes it’s a challenge, too”.
“I get that. But did you know Sarah was interested?”
“Not until a few weeks ago when Emma mentioned she wanted to come to church with us. Apparently they’d been talking about this stuff for a while, but Sarah didn’t want Emma to tell anyone about it. She didn’t want to feel pressured to have discussions about it with anyone but Em”.
He stared at me for a moment. “Wow. I didn’t know that”.
“They’ve built up a lot of trust, I guess”.
“And maybe she was afraid I’d try to talk her out of it?”
“Why would she think that?”
He shrugged. “She’s heard some of Dad’s anti-religion rants in the past, and I’ve never contradicted him; I suppose she might have thought I agreed. And I can understand how she might want to avoid having that sort of conversation with me”.
“I’ve had a few of those chats with Dad”.
“Not lately though, I imagine? You and he seem to be doing better”.
“We’re doing a lot better”.
He smiled at me; “So you’ve succeeded, then?”
“In doing what?”
“Doing what you came to do – healing the breach, burying the hatchet and all that”.
“I guess I have”.
“Well done. I honestly didn’t think you’d get anywhere, but I’m glad to have been proved wrong”.
“Actually, I’ve done better than I thought I would in other ways, too”.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting to get my brother back, but I’m very grateful to have him”.
He nodded slowly; “It’s nice to be getting along with each other, isn’t it?”
“It is. And then there’s the small matter of my ‘extended family’”.
He laughed softly; “Are they all down in Essex for the holidays?”
“Yeah – I talked to Wendy this morning. I expect I’ll call again a bit later on; I haven’t talked to Lisa yet”.
He frowned thoughtfully; “When I saw you together last week, I’m almost sure I heard her call you ‘Dad’”.
“Yes – she’s started doing that now; prepare yourself to be called ‘Uncle Rick’”.
“I could do worse. Are you happy?”
“And you and Wendy, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Wendy and I are a couple, but there are still lots of things to talk about”.
“I understand; I imagine it’s still a big struggle for you”.
“Yeah, but it’s better for Wendy and me to be together. I’m tired of being lonely, Rick”.
He nodded again. “Understood. And how does Emma feel?”
“Emma will miss her mum for the rest of her life, but she likes Wendy a lot. She warmed up to that idea sooner than I did, actually”.
“Somehow I’m not surprised to hear that”.
Wendy and her children came back from Essex in the middle of the following week; they left Chelmsford early in the morning and were back in Marston just after one o’clock. I was looking forward to seeing Lisa and Colin again, and introducing them to Jenna, but Wendy and I had agreed that we needed a couple of hours to ourselves first. So we decided to meet at two for a late lunch at our local café on Cherwell Drive. The afternoon was clear but cold, and I was glad of my winter jacket and tuque as I walked down Marston Road. As I got closer to the café I saw that Wendy was waiting for me outside, dressed warmly in a winter coat and beret. She smiled and waved at me; I returned her wave, but then I had to wait for a couple of minutes for a signal to cross the road, which was surprisingly busy for the time of day. I saw her stroll out from in front of the café until she was standing on the other side of the crosswalk; we smiled and laughed at each other until the walk signal came on, and then I crossed over to her side, took her in my arms and kissed her. “Hello there, Wendy Howard”, I said.
She grinned up at me; “Hello there, Tom Masefield!”
I took her face in my hands and kissed her on the lips, softly and slowly; there was a hint of peppermint on her breath as she opened her mouth slightly to mine, and I heard her give a little sigh. After a moment we parted, and when I opened my eyes to look at her I saw that she was smiling at me again. “I love you”, she whispered.
“I love you too. And I like the taste of peppermint”.
She laughed; “I’m rather fond of peppermints!”
“Now that you mention it, I remember that”.
“Well, shall we go in?”
Inside the café the lunch crowd had thinned out. We ordered coffees and soups and carried them over to a table by the window. We hung our coats on the backs of our chairs, took our seats and looked at each other again. Wendy inclined her head a little, her eyes teasing me, and I laughed and said, “I like your smile”.
“Why, thank you, kind sir! I’m rather attached to yours, too!”
“Are you hungry?”
“Starving, actually – we left Chelmsford early and I was in rather a hurry to get home, so we only made the briefest of stops at South Mimms. The kids had fun teasing me”.
“Yes; Lisa called me a ‘star-crossed lover’”.
“Funny how that phrase gets lifted out of its immediate context, isn’t it?”
She laughed and raised her coffee cup to me; “Cheers to you, my scholar of Shakespeare”, she said.
I lifted my cup in return. “And to you, my lover of George Eliot and John Clare”.
We sipped at our coffees for a moment, and then she said, “Well, I’m going to eat!”
“Go for it!”
The soup was a thick chicken vegetable and it was very hot; we ate a few spoonfuls in silence, still looking at each other, and then I reached across the table, took her hand in mine and said, “So tell me – how long have you been in love with me?”
“Why, sir, I believe I must date it from when I first saw your beautiful grounds at Pemberley!”
We both laughed. “Seriously, now!” I said.
“Seriously? I think I fell in love with you for the first time in the spring of 1982”.
“Last time we talked about that you weren’t sure how you’d been feeling at the time”.
“I’m sure now. Mind you, I don’t think I realized at the time that I was in love with you. I’ve come to the conclusion that being in love might feel different, depending on the person you’re in love with”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, I fell madly in love with Mickey in my teens, but what I felt for you didn’t feel like that at all; it was quieter and deeper, somehow. I think that’s why I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I know now, though”.
I nodded slowly. “Now that you mention it, I think I agree. Being in love with you feels very different from being in love with Kelly, because you’re different”.
“Yes, that’s exactly right”.
“So what about since I’ve been back in England? How long have you been in love with me?”
She frowned thoughtfully. “After we met at school for Colin’s parent-teacher interview, I don’t think it took me long to realize I still really liked you – even though you’ve changed quite a bit since our university days”.
“You’re a lot more sure of yourself, and a lot more comfortable in your own skin. You used to over-compensate for your own insecurity, you know”.
“I know. I had a lot of growing up to do”.
“We both did”.
“Yeah – I’m not the only one who’s changed”.
“You think I’ve changed too?”
She cradled her mug in her hands and smiled at me; “What do you notice the most?”
“Well, for one thing, you’re a lot more mellow these days”.
“God, I hope so! I used to be a real brat!”
I grinned; “You were rather sure of yourself, let’s put it that way!”
“It was all a front, of course”, she said softly. “Inside, I was every bit as insecure as you were”.
“I know. I started to see the cracks the first night you came to my room”.
“You were so good to me; I don’t know how I would have got through those few months without you”.
“I treasured every moment, you know”.
“Thank you”, she whispered, her eyes shining at me.
For a moment neither of us said anything; we simply smiled at each other across the table. Eventually she took a sip of her coffee and said, “As for when liking turned to loving – well, I think it might have started way back in February when we went down to Essex; that was when you told me you’d been in love with me back in our Oxford days. But when you were away in Canada over the summer – well, I was really missing you, and that’s when I realized I was falling in love with you. And then I thought back to our Oxford days and I realized it wasn’t a new feeling”. She took a couple more spoonfuls of soup. “What about you?” she asked; “When did you realize you were in love with me?”
“I’ve been resisting it for a long time. I think it was probably in the summer too, when we were apart, and I realized how happy I was when you called or texted me. But when we got back at the end of August and you and I met here for coffee – that’s when I knew for sure. I remember hugging you and looking at you and realizing I was feeling something I hadn’t felt for a long time”.
She smiled at me again. “I remember that day”, she said softly; “I think that’s when I started to suspect you might be falling in love with me again”.
“And then of course we had our little talk the week before Remembrance Sunday”.
She nodded; “I knew you were in love with me then, but I understood why you couldn’t bring yourself to say it”.
“Of course I did. I know it’s going to take you a long time to feel completely easy about loving someone else”.
“I’m going to get there, though, Wendy. I know that’s what Kelly would have wanted for me. She talked to Becca about that, you know?”
“It’s not that long ago that Becca told me about it, actually”. I told her the story Becca had recounted of her conversation with Kelly a few weeks before her death. When I was finished Wendy shook her head slowly; “That’s amazing”.
“I know”. I was quiet for a moment, and then I said, “You know, I really appreciate the way you’re happy for me to talk about Kelly; it’s a real help to me to know I don’t have to keep quiet about it on the days when I’m missing her. I just want you to know, though, that today’s not one of those days”.
She grinned; “No?”
“No; today’s the day I’ve been looking forward to for the past week – the day I actually get to look at you while I’m talking to you, and marvel about the fact that even though neither of us were expecting it, we somehow ended up in the same geographical space after all these years”.
She nodded slowly, her eyes on mine. “It almost feels like there’s a plan, doesn’t it?”
“Yes”. She inclined her head thoughtfully. “You come back to Oxford, you start teaching at Colin’s school, and it turns out he’s in your tutor group. So you and I meet again, and as soon as we start really talking to each other, we discover that since we last met we’ve both moved toward Christianity. Not only that, but in our own way each of us has had a heartache, and each of us is lonely, although neither of us talks about it very much. Don’t you get the feeling that we’ve been set up in some way?”
I smiled; “It does seem like that, doesn’t it? That might be a comforting thought”.
“It might”, she replied.