Her texts went unanswered for weeks. Her calls went to voicemail, and he hadn’t returned them. Chrissy didn’t know where Phil lived, so she couldn’t just show up at his doorstep and demand that he see her. His roommate, Scott, hadn’t shown up at church activities either.
Phil, where are you?
The days dragged on. Going to class was a chore. Doing homework was nearly impossible. All Chrissy could think about was the empty place where her heart used to beat. A darkness settled over her, and Chrissy’s roommate, Maggie, worried. Nothing she said or did helped Chrissy snap out of it.
She went through the motions. To church and back. To school and back. She ate, a little. She slept, a lot. Whenever she had a chance, she would go down the path to the clearing and just sit, praying, thinking, writing in her journal, singing, hoping Phil would return.
Finally, one Sunday morning there was a note on the music stand with two words. “I’m sorry.” Chrissy wanted to wad it up in a ball and throw it in the trash. Instead she took a deep breath and slipped the note into her purse.
The following Sunday, Chrissy found a note with three pages of passionate details of the devastation Phil witnessed in Afghanistan. She choked back sobs after reading half a page, asked a friend to fill in conducting the music because she was feeling sick, and ran from the chapel to finish the letter in the privacy of her bedroom, where her tears would fall alone.
The next note was a few lines of Phil’s testimony of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offered. That letter provided Chrissy with a tiny sliver of hope.
A week after that, Phil’s note shared details of the advice he was receiving from his church counselor and his Army-issued therapist assigned to help him work through his PTSD. In that note, he insisted he couldn’t face her again until he’d come to terms with the horror and trauma that haunted his soul far more than his distorted face.
Chrissy approached the music stand Sunday morning with trepidation. How much longer would he make her wait until they could be together?
The note was propped in its usual spot, her name in a handsome script that was uniquely Phil. She lifted the crisp parchment from the stand and tucked herself into one of the seats behind the baby grand piano where she could obtain a tiny bit of privacy as she read his words.
Christina, you deserve better than me.
Her stomach plummeted. She had hoped he would finally declare his love for her and decide to be with her forever. Now here she was reading what was likely a breakup letter. She took a deep breath and continued reading.
You deserve a man who can face life head-on and doesn’t hide behind the mask of darkness. You deserve a man who doesn’t have night terrors and paralyzing anxiety. You deserve someone better than me.
“What do you know about what I deserve?” Chrissy grumbled. “You haven’t even bothered to see me in weeks.” She felt stupid for talking to herself. Instead, she kept reading.
I’m a selfish man. So even though you deserve better, I can’t let you go. We belong together.
Wait… what? He’s not breaking up?
I know I haven’t been there for weeks, but please know that I love you every waking moment. Yes, I wrote that. I love you. I wish I’d had the ability to say the words to you in person, but I promise to say them to you soon.
And I promise to spend the rest of eternity making up for my inadequacies. If you’ll have me. -With all my Love, Phil
“Is he saying what I think he’s saying?” Chrissy spoke a little louder as she turned the note over to inspect the back of the parchment.
“What’s going on?” Maggie asked, taking a seat at the piano bench and opening the hymnbook.
“I think Phil just asked me to marry him…”