That night, once the girls were ready for bed, Christine pulled her new journal out of her nightstand drawer and sat down on her bed.
“What is that?” Ella asked curiously.
“It’s a graduation gift from Charlie,” Christine answered. “Wasn’t he thoughtful? I am sure he had no idea I enjoyed writing.”
Ella smiled and continued to brush her hair. Christine opened up the first page of the journal and saw writing inside. Her heart jumped and she held the book tight as she began to read:
I hope this graduation present will give you joy and help you through life’s troubles as you write and meditate on all God is doing for you and in you. I want to thank you for the friend you have been to me in the last few months. Your kindness has brought me much joy during these hard days of being bedridden. May you always know God’s peace and love and hold on to him no matter the storms that come. I shall remain,
Christine read and reread the short note. It was so sincere and true, she could picture Charlie saying it from his own lips. She wished the note was in his handwriting, but that was a silly thing to think about and she was content as it was.
“Christine, you look absolutely enraptured!” Ella exclaimed. “What are you reading?”
Christine looked up. “Oh, just a note Charlie wrote. He never ceases to amaze me. He’s so genuine and trustworthy and true. I can’t wait until he is well and can move and walk around and be his old self again. He’s ten times better when he’s up and about.”
Ella came and sat on the bed beside Christine, a strange smile on her face. “You do like him, don’t you? I can tell even if you can’t. Your eyes light up every time you talk about him and when you saw him today, why, you looked as happy as a pig in the mud!”
Christine laughed at her sister’s odd comparison. “I’m not sure, Ella. But I do like him somewhat, I mean, I admire him and look up to him. He’s so much more godly than I am, so much more Christ-like. Every time I’ve spoken with him, I’ve had this urge, this encouragement to try harder to put sin to death and live for Christ. But, I should not be thinking of him much, so you’d best be a good girl and not ask me often about him, alright?”
Ella smiled. “Alright, I won’t. Good night, now.”
“Good night, Ella.”
The next many days went by slowly. Every day was like the last with all the usual chores, meals, and the like. For the last few years, Ned had been working alongside the butcher in town and was able to bring home some money. He left every day after breakfast and did not get home until nearly supper. But all were thankful for the money he made. Christine often visited Charlie and his family, sometimes bringing a sibling or her mother along. Their families seemed to get closer and closer and they all cherished the time spent with each other. Charlie began to recover; he gained the use of his arms freely and was able to sit up in bed without much pain. But the doctor said it would be another week or so before he could try to walk.
Finally it had been a month since Christine’s return home. She enjoyed her family routine, only wishing there were more people in the house. At times she felt lonely, her other family members having more to do than her. Her mother often visited sick or widowed people in the town. Ned worked almost every day and was rarely seen. Ella had several friends in town and would often spend her time with them, knitting, sewing, or simply picnicking. Christine, as you know, was not one to go about and enjoy time with friends. She preferred to stay at home and be quiet. But even that got lonely at times.
On this particular day she was home alone. She was busy dusting the living room when she heard a knock at the door. Setting down her dust rag, she wiped her hands on her apron as she walked toward the door.
What she saw upon opening it made her heart leap. For there, supported by Will, stood Charlie.
“Charlie, and Will!” Gasped Christine. “Please come in.”
Will helped Charlie in and they all came in to the living room. Christine quickly offered to them some hot coffee, to which they accepted.
“Charlie, you’re walking?” Christine asked, partly in disbelief.
He nodded amiably. “That I am, at last! Of course, I am still needing my faithful crutch,” he added, smiling at Will. “But the doctor said that in a few days I should be able to walk on my own.”
“That’s wonderful! Do you still have much pain?”
“No, praise the Lord, the pain is almost gone completely. God has been so good to me. He has helped me to be patient and endure the trial he sent me and now he is delivering me from it.”
“For which we are all glad, I am sure,” Christine said, looking at Will.
“Indeed,” Will joined in. “Although we were glad to have our big brother back, we were sad to see him in such a sad state. But soon everything will be back to normal.”
Charlie nodded at him and then glanced at Christine, who had looked down with a sad expression on her face. He then remembered that Christine’s home life was far from what she would have called ‘normal’.
Changing the subject, he asked, “How is your mother these days, Christine?”
“Quite well,” she answered, looking up again. “She seems a bit tired out at the end of the day, so Ella and I are trying to do more of the household duties in order to let her rest. But I do believe she is well.”
“I am glad to hear that.”