"Er..I've got work to do. Finals are coming up and I haven't studied." Man, lying is easy. Lying well isn't. Hope this works.
"Oh." A single word just before I turned away and started walking. But the look on her face stayed with me. Not angry, not frustrated, not hurt. Just sad, with a tinge of concern.
* * * *
Moving through the store, looking idly at items on shelves. Wondering with half a mind whether I actually had enough money to be here in the first place. Didn't I just spend over half my weekly allowance already? Then coming to a stop, eyes fixed on an object. A backscrub. Obviously a toy, but....memories of an idiotic song about a backscrub and a bath came flooding back. It was the weird song we had in common, singing it to the amazement of others. She would have laughed if she was here. And at the memory of her laugh, I smiled again.
"Hi, you doing alright? You're really the greatest, you know. And, by the way, while I'm here, could you look into some of my stuff? I'm not really sure if I should be going to Coddlington next summer. What do you think?"
She gave me a bemused look before opening her mouth to speak. Obviously, when written like that, you all know she's not gonna get a chance to finish before..
"Anyway, just thought I'd run that by you. Also, a friend just called in sick. Wouldn't it be nice if you could make him better? You know, what with you being the doctor and all."
"Well, tell me more abo-", she began.
"Well, hope you do, anyway. Hey, got to go. I'll be thinking about you. Did I tell you thanks for the pasta you cooked for me last night? See you around."
"Take care." she called out, just as I went out to hospital to begin my day.
* * * *
Coming home from a day in hospital isn't nice when you know you've got tons of work to do before going to bed late and waking up early the next morning to do it all over again. Especially when you know there's not nearly enough time to catch a nap before having to start on that report you have to hand up before this friday. But surprise, surprise, she calls. And I spend fifteen minutes on the phone before switching to skype and talking for another hour. I tell myself, I need to take a break. Which in all honesty, I do. It's good to be able to pour out my frustrations at the missed diagnosis, at the unrequested lab results, at the overbearing consultant. And hearing from her that she's also worried about me, that she knows what I'm going through, that she doesn't mind me not being there for her when she found out she aced her exams, because she knows how med school is like. She's touched when I tell her I miss her, and that I've made plans for the both of us during the holidays. We laugh at each other, we chat about friends, she prays for me over the phone, because she knows I need it. The tone of her voice, the little mannerisms of speech, her honest sense of concern for me speaks volumes and leaves me with a warm feeling all over hours when the conversation is over. It's nice to know there's someone who cares and understands.
I wake up one morning to find out it's been a month. A whole month of not seeing her, not talking to her, not hearing her voice. At least, I think I remember calling her, but I don't remember listening to her speak. With a start, I find myself struggling to recall the sound of her voice. Has it really been that long? How must she be feeling? I read the letters she sent over the holidays. It doesn't help that I'm still feeling drowsy as I do so, and that the main thought in my mind is how soon I can get back to sleep. I end the letter, and as I fold it up, think to myself "I really have to call her soon." I'm asleep before I finish that thought.
* * * *
How in the world did she know I needed that book so badly? I was casting around for information about living as a missionary doctor, but for some strange reason, no one seemed to be able to give me any. The deadline was fast approaching, and I had to submit my proposal. That evening, going up to my room, I received a parcel in the mail. With it, a letter reading "Read it, this is good stuff. Happy birthday." And I don't even need to know the name of the sender, because the inside of the parcel still has the faint whiff of a very familiar fragrance... Unwrapping the book and reading the blurb on the back, a warm feeling surges over me as I realise that I'm holding the book that will give me, finally, some answers. But the clincher, the defining thought, is of how she remembered my last minute groan during my last phone call to her, for answers to a question. And of how she came through.
Later on, when I wake up, and see the letters strewn at the foot of my bed, I begin to take stock. Clutching my cup of hot coffee to keep me warm as much as to keep me awake, I review the past few months. I have not called her, nor made much effort to speak to her, aside from the almost obligatory call at thursday night every week.
"Phone bills are expensive. You're a student. She'll understand" The thought comes almost unbidden to my mind.
Neither have I made any effort to listen to her the few times we've met. It's always been about me, and my needs and worries. Talk about a one-sided relationship. And speaking of relationships, is it even fair to say that I'm in the middle of one? Can I call it a relationship when I have to force myself to pick up the phone, when I barely spend time to think about her through the busyness of the day, when the thought of forgoing her means less than a round of Dota with the gang?
And I guess you can see where I'm going with this by now, probably much earlier than this, since I'm not much of a writer. How is it possible to treat God with such contempt, to label myself as having a relationship with Him if I'm not holding up my end of it? As someone said, it's not even about priorities at this point. If you love someone, it's just right that that someone is first in consideration. Spending time with Him? That's just one of the facets of a relationship, NOT THE RELATIONSHIP ITSELF. Jesus said nothing could ever separate us from His love. If that isn't a declaration of love, I don't know what is. Trouble is, what would my response be?
Note to self: am not trying to be melodramatic and making the best of a bad situation etc etc. Am just expressing what I felt during a prayer group just now.
* * * *
I picked up the phone and called her. And she answered.