She stood there at the bus stop, waiting for her bus to arrive. The morning was cold and snowy. She tried to enjoy the weather as she watched people hurriedly walk by. The bench she decided to sit down on was empty, except for the grocery bag she held between her hands.
Life wasn’t bad for her, but it was lonely. Martha had lived a good life, but now that she was in her 70’s, many of the people she’d grown close to had passed on.
She missed the days she and her husband would sit, side by side, waiting for the bus. She missed the days when she was in her 20’s and life was carefree. She’d look at the young couples walking hand in hand and was brought back to the days when she was in her prime. Martha had lived a good life, but there were days when she missed being young. She didn’t have many regrets, except for the one regret she couldn’t quite get past – she wished she had enjoyed life more.
The last 40 years had been a whirlwind – dating, marriage, kids, school, college, watching her kids get married and move away. Before she knew it, she had an empty nest and only 10 years after her children had all gotten married, her husband passed on. She had loved nearly every moment of her life, but the one regret she had was that she didn’t stop to fully enjoy it more.
Martha had celebrated every Thanksgiving and Christmas with her children and loved ones. This year, she was spending it alone. All of her children had moved away and she didn’t have the strength to travel to see them.
She wiped a silent tear from her eye as she sat on the bench, still waiting for the bus. Martha was so happy her children had found love and had started lives of their own, but there was an ache in her heart that she was no longer number one in their lives.
I’ve lived my life, now it’s time for them to live theirs. She thought to herself. But God, I would really like company this Christmas. I trust that you’ll provide.
Her thoughts quieted down and a stranger approached the bench. There was a strange familiarity between them – they had never met, but the young girl reminded Martha of her younger self. She was a 25-year old with light brown hair and beautiful blue eyes.
“Do you mind if I join you while we wait for the bus?” The young woman asked, as she brushed snow off her dark blue coat.
“Not at all, I’d enjoy the company.” Martha said, as she pulled her grocery bag closer and scooted to the right to make room. “What’s your name?” Martha said.
“I’m Tiffany. What’s yours?”
“Martha. Nice to meet you.” Martha said with a smile.
Martha shivered slightly as the wind started to pick up. Tiffany wrapped her coat tighter and noticed Martha trying to hide how cold she was. Tiffany tilted her head and looked at Martha.
“I have an extra scarf and gloves in my bag. Would you like to use them? I hate to see you shivering.”
Martha was about to say no, but before she could get the words out of her mouth, Tiffany was rummaging through her bag and had already found the gloves.
“Ah, here they are.”
Martha was reluctant to take them, but Tiffany insisted. Martha was grateful for the gesture and started to put on the scarf and gloves.
Tiffany smiled, content that she was able to help a stranger who was quickly becoming an acquaintance.
“Do you have any plans for Christmas tomorrow?”
Martha looked away and let the wind quickly dry her tears as she shook her head.
“My family is all far away, so I’ll be relaxing at home. It’ll be the first holiday I’ve spent alone in quite some time, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Tiffany could tell Martha wasn’t being completely honest, but she waited for Martha’s emotions to settle. She smiled as she started to tell Martha about one of her family traditions.
“You know what my favorite part of the holidays are? Every year, my family invites someone new to join us for the holiday meal. We’ve had everyone from traveling military personnel to foster children and widows. I love it. We’ve been so blessed as a family, and I love being able to share that with others.”
Martha smiled and quietly nodded in agreement.
“It was a tradition my grandmother started over 60 years ago. She passed away a few years back, so my family decided to carry on the tradition in her honor.”
“That’s such a sweet way to honor her memory. I’m sure that would mean a lot to her if she were still alive.” Martha said.
“I think she’d be proud of us too. At least, I hope so. In a lot of ways, you remind me of my grandmother actually. She had the prettiest blue eyes, just like yours.”
Martha rested her glove-covered hand on Tiffany’s shoulder and chuckled.
“You just made an old woman’s day. People used to say that about my mother’s eyes. When I look in the mirror, it’s almost like she’s still here with me.”
Both women sat quietly, thinking about those who had passed on and briefly spent a moment allowing their hearts to miss them.
Tiffany turned to Martha and after a deep breath, began to ask what had been on her heart to say.
….to be continued.