My Love Story Chapter 7 ~ Christmas Break

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{If you are new, or need a refresher of the previous chapters, click here to read them.}

After an emotional departure from my college friends, being home was kindof a bummer. For some reason, I didn’t want to talk about what had happened back at school, I just wanted to keep it to myself, which in a way was good, because I relied on prayer, which strengthened me a lot. I remember very specifically being in church, and singing Christmas hymns. As I sang the song: Away in a Manger, as I always had, the third verse struck me so deep to my core that still as I sing it to this day, I can’t help but feel the love of the Savior, and a reminder of the difficult times I experienced that break:

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children In Thy tender care

 And fit us for heaven To live with Thee there

I needed the Saviors love near me.  My friend needed to feel it, too. I  had sent an email to Matthew telling him about my experience with the song, in hopes that he could be strengthened as well. I figured he’d write me back, but I was surprised that he, too, poured out his feelings to me of sadness and concern for our friend. I still  have our email exchange (printed, in a binder). He says, “I’ve been feeling very weighed down and need someone to talk to, I don’t feel like I can talk to my family about this, but the silence is killing me.”

In the next few days before Christmas, we found good news coming from our friend in the accident, that all was looking well. We’d also been keeping in contact with them, and I think that brought peace to mine and Matthew’s hearts. I had begun reading the book, Jesus the Christ, which is a really big book (and I have a hard time concentrating on books) but I enjoyed the extra source of spiritual strength I got from reading it, and sharing my insights with Matthew.

I felt better, and was able to enjoy time spent at home. My 16 year old brother, Russell, was my constant companion throughout the break, and with my older brother spending time with  his wife’s family, it was just me and my two little brothers home on Christmas Day.

My emails to Matthew turned from talking about our sadness, to talking about our families and Christmas shopping.  I decided to be bold, and ask him the question that had been on my mind for nearly 2 months. A while back, Sam told me that he thought Matthew and I would be good together, and that he was going to suggest that Matthew ask me out. Well, that hadn’t exactly happened, so I thought I’d nudge Matthew a little…you know, since we were having this daily email exchange. I said something along the lines of,

“I’ve got a question for you, and I want your honest opinion…what do you think about what Sam says about you and I, about why we have never gone out.”

I remember typing it, erasing it, typing it again, and just pushing SEND.  All day I felt nervous until I heard back from him.  In his email reply (after shooting the breeze about other things) he replied,

“Sam hasn’t ever asked me that question before, and we never have really talked about it. If he did ask me why we haven’t ever gone out I would probably have been a little surprised too. I would probably say that the main reason was just because you two had dated and I didn’t want to cause problems between him and me. I never have asked him about it and that makes me curious what else he did say. Maybe I should ask him.”

I was incredulous.  WHAT?!? Brothers, roommates, they had never talked about it? Sam had mentioned it to me in late November/early December, but he never said it to his own brother that he shared a room with? Ironically, the answer Matthew said was to not cause problems with his brother, while his brother was urging me along.

The conversation definitely lightened up our emails, and they became less heavy and concerned as we  found out our friend was doing well. He’d found out that I had sent our friend a package and said, “I admire how you are always doing things for others.”

Looking back at my journal writing, I was very conflicted.  I had felt since I was a teenager that I wanted to serve as a missionary for our church. I could go when I was 21, and at this point, that was 6 months away. It was constantly at the forefront of my mind. They are a year and a half in length, and being assigned often in another country, I went back and forth with the idea of pursuing a relationship or focusing on serving a mission. I knew, and wrote over and over that the next year would be life changing. I wasn’t sure yet what was going to happen, but I knew it was big things. I wrote, “1998 has been a crazy year. I started BYU in January, my brother got married, my best friend got married, I went to Boston, South Padre, New Orleans. I just don’t know what 1999 will bring. The u nknown is a mystery and for once, the unknown excites me…because I know an adventure is in store for me.

My family took a drive to New Orleans over the Christmas break.  I spent my childhood years (age 6-14) living there, and we visited all of our old stomping grounds, and ate my favorite beignets at the Cafe du Monde.  I emailed Matthew and told him all about it.

 As our Christmas break was drawing to a close, I asked if he’d be able to pick me up at the airport once we all arrived back in Utah.  His flight was getting in around the same time as mine, so it worked out perfectly. I planned to wear my favorite new  outfit, with a little scarf tied around my neck.

He flew back with his brother, Sam, so once again, it was me and the Duke brothers. I wrote, “After all my nervousness to exit the plane, I was so delighted to see those 2 cute Duke boys waiting for me with a smile. I set my stuff down, and gave them each a huge hug. They took my stuff and the 3 of us walked through the airport to the car. I was nervous to speak and found I stumbled over some of my words to Matthew and it was funny because I could tell he did too. It was fun to be with Matthew, after having kept in touch so well over the break.

Once back at his apartment, our gang was all back together again. Matthew had checked his school email, and found that I had sent my first email to him.  I thought he had emailed in response to that, but he had initiated an email to me.  So we both thought that we were each initiating the email exchange, only to find that we both did and didn’t know it.  That was actually a big deal to me. To realize that he was reaching out to me, not knowing that I had already reached out to him.  I was thinking that 1999, indeed was going to be a great year.

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