Tuesday, 10 July 2007
01:02:27 PM (GMT)
Stella had been prepared for husband's death. since the doctor's pronouncement of
terminal cancer, they had both faced the inevitable, striving to make the most of
their remaining time together. Dave's financial affairs had alwaysebeen in order.
There no new burdens in her widowed state. It was just the awful aloneness....... the
lack of purpose to her days.
They had been a childless couple by choice. Their lives had been so full and rich.
They had been content with busy careers and with each other. They had many friends.
Had. that was the operative word these days. It was bad enough losing the one person
you loved with all your heart. But over the past few years, she and dave repeatedly
coped with the deaths of their friends and relations. They were all of an age- an age
when human bodies began giving up. Dying. Face it---- they were old!
And now, approaching the first christmas with out Dave, Stella was all too aware she
was on her own.
With shaky fingers, she lowered the volume of her radio so that the christmas music
faded to a muted background. To her surprise, she saw that the mail had arrived. With
the inevitable wince of pain from her arthritis,she bent to retrieve the white
envelopes from the floor. She opened them while sitting on the piano bench. They were
mostly Christmas cards, and her sad eyes smiled at the familiarity of the traditional
scenes and at the loveing messages inside. She arranged them among the others on the
piano top. In her entire house, they were the only seasonal decoration. The holiday
was less than a week away, but she just did not have the heart to put up a silly
tree, or even set up the stable Dave had built with his own hands.
Suddenly engulfed by the loneliness of it all, Stella buried her face in her hands
and let the tears come. How would she possibly get through christmas and winter
The ring from the doorbell was so unexpected that Stella had to stifle a small scream
of suprise. Now who could possibly be calling on her? She opened the door and stared
through the window of the storm door with consternation. On her front porch stood a
strange young man, whose head barely visible above the large carton in his arms. She
peered beyond him to the driveway, but there was nothing about the small little car
to give a clue as to his identity. Summoning courage, the elderly lady opened the
door slightly, and he stepped sideways to speak into the space.
" Mrs. Thornhope?"
she nodded. He continued, "I have a package for you."
curiosity drove caution from her minde. She pushed the door open, and he entered.
Smiling, he placed his burden carefully on the floor and stood to retrieve and
envelope that protruded from his pocket. As he handed it to her, a sound came from
the box. Stella jumped. the man laughed in apology and bent to straighten up the
cardboard flaps, holding them open in an invitation for her to peek inside.
It was a DOG! to be more exact, a golden labrador retriever puppy. As the young
gentleman lifted its squirming body up into his arms, he explained, "This is for you,
ma'am" the youn pup wiggled in happiness at being released from captivity and thrust
ecstatic, wet kisses in the direction of the young man's face. "We were supposed to
deliver him on Cristmas Eve," he continued with some difficulty, as he strove to
rescue his chin from the wet little toung, " but the staff at the kennels start their
holiday tomorrow. Hope you don't minde an early present." Shock had stolen stellas
ability to think clearly. Unable to form coherent senteces, she stammered, "But ... I
don't ... I mean ... Who...?"
The young fellow set the animal down on the doormat between them and then reached out
a finger to tap the envelope she was still holding.
"Theres a letter in there that explains everything, pretty much. The dog was still
bought while his mother was still pregnant. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift."
The stranger turned to go. Desperation forced the words from her lips. "But who
....... bought it?"
Pausing in the open doorway, he replied "Your husband, ma'am." And then he was gone.
It was all in the letter. Forgetting the puppy entirely at the sight of the familiar
handwriting, Stella walked like a sleepwalker to her chair by the window. She forced
her tear- filled eyes to read her husband's words. He ha written the letter three
weeks before his death and had left it with the kennel owners, to be delivered along
with the puppy as his last Christmas gift to her. It was full of love and
encouragement and admonishments to be strong. He vowed that he was waiting for the
day when she would join him. Snd he had sent her this young animal to keep her
company until then.
Remembering the little creature for the first time, she was suprised to find him
quietly looking up at her, his small panting mouth resembling a comic smile. Stella
put the pages aside and reached for the bundle of golden fur. She thaught that he
would be heavier, but he was only the size and weight of a sofa pillow. And so soft
and warm. she cradled him in her arms and he licked her jawbone, then cuddled into
the hollow of her neck. The tears began anew at this exchange of affection and the
dog endured her crying with out moving.
Finally, Stella lowered him to her lap, where she regarded him solemnly. She wiped
vaguely at her wet cheeks, hen some how mustard a smile. "Well little guy, i guess
its you and me." His pink tongue panted in agreement. Stella's smile strengthened,
and her gaze shifted sideways to the window. Dusk had fallen. Through fluffy flakes
that were now drifting down, she saw the cheery Cristmas lights edging the roof
lines of her neighbors homes. The strains of "Joy to the world" floated in from the
Last edited: 10 July 2007