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Going Away Present

“I can’t believe that this is the last week that we get to spend together until at least Thanksgiving,” said Shannie Gheller as she and her boyfriend Tim Buford sat together on the couch in his uncle’s fishing cabin.

“I know,” replied Tim as he reached up to stroke her face, “it’s frustrating how the events of the last year threw off everything that I had been hoping for.”

“The good news is that you are doing fine and that we’re going to have lots more memories to make in the future,” said Shannie as she wrapped her arms around Tim and he held her close. He knew that she had begun to cry. He could feel her tears soaking into her t-shirt.

“Please don’t cry, honey,” said Tim, “like you said I’m fine now. I just have to redo my school year because I missed so much of it due to my accident. Next year we’ll be able to attend the same college. It’ll be great. We can maybe even get an apartment together.”

“I’m sorry,” said Shannie, pulling away just enough that she could look into Tim’s eyes, “it’s really hard for me to deal with the fact that I could have lost you to a drunk driver.”

“I know. Through my recovery I went through a lot of emotions and anger was definitely one of them. Now, I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is use my story to tell others what happens when they don’t make plans ahead of time. I’m sure there will be lots of parties at college, but you’ll be able to do the same there. We can skype every night. You’ll see the days will pass before you can come home for Thanksgiving, and then you’ll have a big midterm break at Christmas. It will go fast and you’ll make friends and learn all sorts of incredible things. You’re going to make an awesome physical therapist.”

“Who would have thought that before your accident I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do with my life and then I saw what your therapists did, and I saw that I could make a difference in people’s lives.”

“You make a difference in mine everyday,” said Tim, “but knowing that your patients will have someone who is kind and caring to help them along, makes me happy for you and them.” He took her hand in his and said, “I got you something.” He reached into his pocket and took out a small box and then he opened it. She gasped when she saw the ring inside.

“This is a promise ring,” said Tim, “I want you to wear it with the promises that we have made to each other about our love and our future. We’re both young and the time isn’t right for marriage yet, but I promise to always be with you even when I’m not there. Whenever you look at this ring, you remember that.”

“I will,” said Shannie as more tears begin to sting her eyes, “will you put it on me?”

“I would be glad to,” answered Tim as he slipped the ring onto her finger, “in a way it’s a per-engagement ring. Someday I’ll be able to buy you a beautiful one that will sparkle like your eyes do in the sun.”

“It isn’t what you buy me or don’t buy me that matters,” said Shannie, “but what we have together. Dealing with what we have this past year convinces me of how I want you in my life forever and that our love isn’t going to disappear.”

“I agree,” replied Tim, “and there is another reason why I chose that ring. I don’t want any of those college guys getting any ideas when it comes to you. I’m a guy and I know how we think. I wish I were going with you, then I’d be able to see all kinds of envious looks on the other college boys’ faces when I’d go walking by with you.”

“Just think of it this way,” answered Shannie resting her head against Tim’s shoulder, “now when you come to college next year, you’ll really give the guys something to consider – how the freshman got himself the sophomore girl.”

“We could have some mysterious tale to tell them,” said Tim with a chuckle, “I had so much time to think in the hospital and one of the things was how I got to have such a beautiful, smart girlfriend, who even though she didn’t know if I’d ever be able to walk again, stuck by me. You helped me to get better – to regain my strength.”

“I love everything about you,” said Shannie quietly, “we have real love, it’s been tested and proven and now with me leaving, we’re going to be testing it again. I’m already crying and we still have time left together. I need to try to keep things together so that we can have a wonderful week together.”

“Don’t force yourself to do anything,” said Tim, “we’ll be strong for each other but we both know what’s ahead and we can manage it. We don’t have any other choice. We both know that we should have been going off to college together, but it isn’t how things ended up but we’re both still here and that means that we can manage the new path that we’re on.”

“I’d like to believe that there’s some magic formula behind it,” answered Shannie, “like the universe wanted to make sure that we were both living our lives as individuals.”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it,” replied Tim, “and it’s a positive one. The year that’s ahead is going to be different for both of us.”

“But our love will stay strong because we know what the fear of losing each other is like, and I never want to face that again,” replied Shannie.

“Me neither,” said Tim, “and we have no reason to believe that anything will divide us. We do however know how important it is to live each moment to the fullest. Now, let’s go outside and look at the stars coming out over the lake. I want to spend as many moments with you as I can before you go away.”

“Me too,” said Shannie, “and we aren’t saying goodbye only see you soon.”

“Absolutely,” answered Tim as they went outside together into the sparkling darkness.


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