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Sarah's Rock

by Janet Reid

A young couple walked quietly along a trail that wound its way through the forest. Branches stretched over them like arms to shade them, the sun only dappling the ground like diamonds. The girl sighed, and watched the ground as they walked, gripping the young man's hand with a sense of urgency, trying to let her tears fall in silence.

As they rounded a bend in the trail, he pulled her close and looked deep into her eyes. "Sarah," he said, "don't cry. Nothing will ever come between us."

Sarah lifted her teary eyes to look at him. The next day he was scheduled to head off to Europe to war. Already so many just like him had not returned. No words could describe her fear, she simply shook her head slowly. Gently he pulled her to him, and held her with an embrace that clearly said he would never ever let her go, but they both knew that War had a mind of its own. It trampled people's dreams like dry leaves under its boots. He lifted his eyes skyward and tried to hold back his own tears, looking around hopelessly for something... anything at all... to comfort the girl of his dreams.

"Look there Sarah," he said finally, loosening his grip and gently coaxing her along the trail with him. Beside the trail was a rock. It was almost as big as a table, old and craggy, with all different kinds of moss and lichen growing on it like paint on a canvass. He lifted Sarah by the waist and gently set her on top of the rock, then put her hands flat on the surface, his own covering hers.

"Feel it," he said. "Our Love is just like this rock. Hard and enduring over time, secure and firm. No matter what happens to me, or to you, our Love will always survive."

In the years that followed, Sarah made several pilgrimages down that leafy trail, to sit atop that rock and feel the security of its strength run through her palms and calm her heart. Three years her Bill was at war, and that rock was her comfort. She read his letters there, and wrote her own back to him, and as she sat upon it she could still hear him speak, still feel his Love as strong as the rock that held her up.

When Bill returned from the war Sarah lead him down that path, just as he had led her the night before he had left. She took him to the rock, and reminded him of his words, and told him how much comfort it had been in her solitude. Bill smiled down at her, brushed the hair from her eyes, and kissed her. Then he spoke the words he had practiced in his head so many times as he had lay in the shadows of death so many miles away.

"Sarah, will you be my wife?"

Years passed, and whenever circumstances took Bill away from her, Sarah returned to the rock and remembered his words. There came a time when Bill was offered a job far away. As he, Sarah and their young child prepared to move, they took time out to take one last stroll to their rock. It had become such a part of their lives, a symbol of their undying Love, that Sarah cried as she touched it one last time, then giggled, thinking she was being silly to be so sentimental over an old rock.

Bill just smiled and bent to pick up two palm-sized pieces that lay at the foot of the old rock. He handed one to her, and curled her fingers around it, then did the same to the other in his own hand.

"Our Love is just like this rock. Hard and enduring over time, secure and firm," he said softly to her.

Years passed, and wherever they lived, Sarah kept her piece of the rock on a doily in the center of her dresser in her bedroom. When her children played with it, she gently placed it back and told them it was special. When times were hard, when things seemed like nothing could go right; when even the love between Sarah and Bill was tested, she took comfort in that rock, and the words it represented.

Once, when they had an argument that seemed to doom their marriage, Sarah sat mournfully on her bed and lifted her rock into her hands, looking down at it as one might look at a butterfly cradled in both open palms. With a sigh, she went to Bill's top drawer. She knew he kept his piece of the rock there, tucked away under his socks. He never looked at it, but it was always there. She opened the drawer and lifted the socks, but the rock was not there. She pulled at the socks, searching, but the rock was no where to be found.

That was where Bill found her, when he returned to their house that night. "Is this what you're looking for?" he said softly from the doorway. She turned to find him, rock in hand, and for a moment uncertainty flooded through her, her heart quickening, as she wondered what would become of them. But his gaze was soft and loving, and he crossed the room to her and gently picked up her rock and held the two pieces together in his hands.

"Our Love is just like this rock," he said softly, one more time. "Hard and enduring over time, secure and firm." Then he replaced his in his drawer, and gently set hers on its doily, before taking her in his arms and holding her like he wanted nothing to ever come between them.

Sarah and Bill grew old together. Life was not perfect, there were hardships and struggles. But as each of her children grew and found their own partners, and prepared to enter their own marriages, Sarah took them to her room and finally explained to them the mystery of her rock, repeating their father's words, and carefully showing them where his own half of the rock lay hidden in his drawer, for now she realized that he looked at his often. In his moments alone he would take it out and hold it, and smile.

When they grew old and feeble, and their grandchildren came to visit them, Sarah's children would gently take her rock from their little hands and replace it with love in the center of its doily and tell them it was very special to their grandmother, a glow in their hearts as they thought of the other half in its soft bed of socks; the symbol of their parents' love for each other that nothing had yet been able to tear apart. A love that kept them together when so many others were torn apart.

Then came the day when something did come between them. Bill had been in failing health for quite some time, and as life has a way of doing, his ended. He died in his sleep, in a hospital bed, with Sarah sitting at his bedside holding his hand. As her children stood supportively at her side before the coffin at their father's funeral, they felt completely helpless that there was nothing they could do to repair the rift that had finally been torn between their parents.

Slowly, with trembling fingers and damp eyes, Sarah reached into her purse and pulled something out. As her children watched, she gently placed a piece of rock in her husband's hands where he lay in his final resting place, then stood tall and sighed.

"What is that, Gramma?" asked a little girl pressed sadly against her skirt.

Sarah smiled down at her granddaughter. "Our Love is just like that rock. Hard and enduring over time, secure and firm. Nothing can come between us, nothing can break our love for each other, not even this," she said softly.

Selection 5 of

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Copyright © 2003 by Janet Reid. All rights reserved.