Some things happen at just the right time, don’t they? Here at the end of a very trying year, I got my own little Christmas miracle. In 2014, for Memorial Day weekend, I posted a story about a POW bracelet that I wore for several years as a teenager. You can read that post here:
As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story:
One Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, just after Thanksgiving, I received an email from someone I did not know. He is a restaurant owner in Maryland and he was reaching out to me on behalf of a woman who eats at his restaurant about once a week. Since she was a regular customer, the owner and his wife got to know the customer fairly well, and learned that her husband is a veteran. Curious, the restaurant owner’s wife did a little searching online for the veteran’s name and eventually came across my blog post about the POW bracelet I had worn with his name on it – it was the same person. She thought it was nice that this was a personal story, instead of just dry facts about his service, so she printed it out and showed it to the customer when she came in for dinner one weekend in November.
The customer took the printed pages home and shared them with her husband, and they asked the restaurant owner to reach out to me on their behalf, to see if I was willing to be contacted by them. After reading that first email from the restaurant owner, I was thrilled, but a little suspicious – the internet can be a weird place these days. So I let my friend Google do a little searching for me and everything I came across about the restaurant and its owner confirmed that he was a real person with a real restaurant. So I responded, and let him know that I would be honored to hear from the veteran and his wife.
“Honored” … such a small word for how I was feeling about possibly hearing from the person whose bracelet I wore for so long. “Honored”?? How about “flabbergasted” or “amazed at the working of the world”?? As I told the restaurant owner and his wife in subsequent emails, when I wore that bracelet, I was around 13-14 years old and fairly certain that the world should revolve around me. I knew there was a war in Asia (how could you miss it?), but I had no family members who were involved, so it didn’t seem real. But once I had that bracelet, it was as though I had a connection to someone who was not only serving, but who was making a far greater sacrifice. He had been captured and, as I recently learned, he was held at the infamous Hanoi Hilton for several years. This bracelet that I had purchased because “everybody’s doing it” somehow stretched a thin, fragile line between me and someone I had never known existed. And then he came home, and I saw it live on television – I’ll spare you the description of the tears of a teenager. Suffice it to say that I just couldn’t believe he had come home – whatever magic I believed was in that bracelet and the gesture of wearing it, it had worked. [Again – there’s a whole blog post about this – I won’t repeat it here.]
Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from Captain Luna and his wife, with notes from each of them. I am overcome. I will keep most of their comments to myself, but the card basically expresses their gratitude for my supporting him by wearing his bracelet and for telling his story. THEIR gratitude?? I can’t even …. What we owe people like him, and like her, is beyond gratitude. And yet, here before me is a peaceful snowy scene, holding words I will always treasure. The connection is made, once again.
I pass along this story so I can say this and perhaps encourage someone else: Sometimes, things happen when they are supposed to happen, and not before. If you are a person of faith, as I am, you often call it God’s timing. This little thing was hanging out there, in my story and in his story, until just the right time for it to happen, and when it did, it touched a small wounded place in my heart. It happened when I needed brightness and light, when I needed something extra to remind me of the strength and courage of average people, when I needed just … something. My life has been so blessed, I shouldn’t need reminders of grace. But after this year in particular, I did. And the reminder came, with perfect timing.
There IS light … there IS hope … there IS goodness … just give it time.