Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
CALL ME ANYTIME
I would use the word
“elegant” to describe her. That's what I was thinking as she
approached. Smartly dressed and attractive, the word
“competent” came to mind. She said, “I know you are about to
go on stage for the teachers, but I just wanted to tell you
I met your wife earlier.” She pointed over in the direction
of Sherry. “She is delightful. She has joy in her spirit.”
She stood looking at Sherry for a moment, then she said,
“Even though it was only for a short time, it helped me to
meet her today.”
“Thank you for the kind words,” I said. “She is a
After the presentation, Sherry was working the book
table and as I finished signing books, I became aware the
woman had been standing nearby for some time. “Did you need
me for something?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said, with the same bright smile and that
same elegance. “I wanted to ask you a question.” She paused
for a moment, looked down, then raised her eyes to mine. The
smile was gone.
“I lost my husband two years ago,” she said. “He passed
Another pause. Still looking down, she said, “I've been
fighting...but I'm losing. I can't get untracked. I'm afraid
the grief is going to devour me.” And she stopped.
The world changed. One minute we're laughing and
talking, the next I felt like I was in one of those movies
where the camera does a 360 circle around two people and no
one else is in the room. Silence.
“What is your question of me?” I asked...stalling for
time, praying I could think of something to say.
She looked up at me. I could see her eyes glistening,
and she said, “People do get over things like this. Don't
“Yes, they do,” I said.
“Do you think I should see a psychiatrist, or a
psychologist, or a Christian counselor perhaps? I haven't
“If you do,” I said, “it must be someone who has lived
through that ordeal and come out on the other side - someone
who has found new reasons to live. I can tell you that 'I
understand how you feel,' but if I haven't lived what you're
going through, I don't have a clue 'how you feel.' ”
“Where on earth am I going to find someone like that?”
she asked with desperation in her voice.
“You already have,” I said.
“What?” she asked. “What on earth are you talking
“You already have found someone like that,” I said -
and I pointed over to my wife.
She looked at Sherry. Her eyes widened. She put her
hand over her mouth.
“Her?” she said.
“Yes, her,” I said. “She was married to a fighter
pilot. He flew off on a mission in Viet Nam and never
returned. She was twenty-two years old.”
“How did she survive that?” she asked.
“I don't know,” I said. “Let's go ask her.”
Sherry was putting the books in boxes with her back to
us. As we were the only ones in the room, it was safe to
talk. “Dear, you remember Jane you met earlier?” I said.
Sherry turned and said, “Certainly.”
“You remember the trial you lived through we talk about
sometime?” I asked her.
She stared at me for a time, eyes blank – hiding the
memory from the world.
“Yes,” she said without emotion.
“Well, it seems Jane is having that same experience. It
happened some two years ago now. I was just thinking maybe it might be helpful if you
two talked on the phone some time?”
Same blank look. Then she said, “Yes.” I wondered if I
had over-stepped my bounds here, but then she turned away
and after retrieving a bookmark, wrote something on it. She
handed it to the woman. “My phone number,” she said – with a
The woman looked at the number and said, “These three
digits after the number...247...is that your extension?”
“No,” said Sherry, “it's not 247...those are my hours
of availability if you ever want to talk...I'll be there 24/7.”
What the world needs now is
love...and hope. When someone is in trouble and you say, “Call
me anytime,” love and hope come into the world.
“If either falls down, one can help the other
-- Michael Johnson