This story is purely fictional. Any resemblance to people, whether living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
I had always wondered what it would be like to walk on a journey with someone who loved me.
And yet every day I sat in the same spot, on the same train, riding to the same place…all alone. My life never changed much. For the most part it was a constant cycle of mundane repetition.
Get ready for the day, eat a bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam, rush to the train station, and sit in my favorite seat while the hum drum of the train chugging along took me to my final destination. My work. The place I simultaneously lived for and dreaded at the same time. I had never really been one to fancy working at the clothing factory, but it was all I had ever really known since I was sixteen. And if you’ve learned anything at all about me thus far, I suppose you’d know I’m not really one for change.
And so here it was, another ordinary Tuesday as I sat in my seat and observed the people around me.
A wave of loneliness would wash over me again, but I would shrug it off as usual.
There in the corner seat sat the two newlyweds. I could tell by the way they so lovingly gazed into each other’s eyes like they were the only two human beings on earth. Or the way she laughed like she’d never been so happy before.
Across from them sat the three businessman that usually always road the train this time of day into town. I suppose they were headed to work for the day, but along the way the three of them would discuss what I could only imagine was politics and numbers.
In front of me sat a mother with her two little ones—twins it appeared. And, oh my, was she having a rough time of it. I had half a mind to kick the back of the seat until the little ones stopped bouncing up and down and making their mother seem to go crazy.
And then there were the two attendants on the train. They had always seemed like the best of friends those two. Or what I imagined a best friend might be like. I’d never really had one.
I glanced out the window again and watched the trails of raindrops race down the glass. I watched as the stalks of corn through the fields swayed in the rough wind. It wasn’t the most beautiful of days, that’s for sure. But studying my surroundings had become easier than focusing on the loneliness.
After all, everyone on the train had someone.
Everyone but me.
Ever since my first two trips on this train, the two attendants had learned to leave me alone. For I couldn’t hear what they were saying anyway.
Was this the source of my loneliness? The fact that I was deaf?
Perhaps this is why most people kept their distance. Perhaps it was too uncomfortable for them to try to form a conversation when they didn’t know a language that I could hear.
I hadn’t always been alone. No, most certainly not.
But that had been years now since the fever had taken away the only person in this world who really understood me. And now here I was, years later, with no one in this world to care for me.
I pulled my sweater tighter and smoothed my jean skirt. Ducking my head to avoid anyone seeing the dampness of my eyelashes, I blinked the liquid away as quickly as I could.
It was a word that had defined me for years. A word that I was even more used to than this train. A word that had become my identity.
Of course, I still studied my surroundings every day and wondered what it might be like to have a friend ride the train with me. Or to have a lover who gazed so lovingly into my eyes. Or someone to debate politics and religion with.
I had been done with that for awhile now it seemed. Ever since the fever took her. For why would God take away from me the only person in this world who ever loved me? Why would He leave me so alone?
Yes, those were questions that haunted me each night before bed.
For growing up, I’d heard the stories of Jesus each night before bed. She had sung “Jesus loves me, this I know,” into my ear as I drifted to sleep. I had memorized the verses that God said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
But along with her absence came the absence of the song each night. And as time passed, I slowly forgot the words myself.
And then I felt it. The train was stopping so abruptly I almost crashed into the seat in front of me. What was going on? We weren’t anywhere close to our stop yet.
I felt the explosion before I even realized what had happened.
Why was there smoke? And me--why was I laying on the floor unable to move?
My frantic gaze swept the train for but a moment. The smoke, the blurry dizziness, the terror on the faces around me. Surely people must be screaming though I could not hear them and I myself could not make a sound.
A throbbing in my head caused me to lift my hand behind my ear. What was that sticky liquid?
My heart was beating faster now than it ever had before. I closed my eyes. Everything seemed to hurt so badly. I had no idea what had happened, but panic slowly began to rise in my throat. And then I heard it clearly, as if I were still tucked safely into my bed in her arms and she sang in my ear.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
I couldn’t ignore it.
God, help me…
The prayer came from my heart before my mind could catch up with it. Why was I praying?
I’m here, My child.
I couldn’t open my eyes again. I couldn’t push the Voice away as I had done so many times before.
I don’t want to die alone.
You’ve never been alone, Rebekah. I have been with you every step of the way.
I want to shake my head or cry, but I can’t move. I feel so weak. But I’ve felt alone, God. I haven’t felt You here with me.
Feelings do lie. But I have never left. Didn’t you see Me in the roses that you found on the road last week that I planted there for you? Didn’t you see Me in the smile of the toddler that ran over to you at the market yesterday just to give you a hug? And didn’t you see Me in the sunrises that I painted orange and pink to see you smile? I was always there with you. You were never alone, My child. I have loved you with an everlasting love.
I can feel someone tugging at my arm, but my eyes won’t cooperate and open. They were dragging me now. Off the train? I didn’t know. All I could focus on was God’s words to me. He had never left me alone. The emotion filled my heart.
Oh, God, I’ve been so wrong. All this time, I thought You had abandoned me. I thought You had left me alone.
There is no height or depth that can separate you from My love, Rebekah. And there is no place that you can go where I won’t go with you.
If I could’ve cried, I would have right then. For in that moment, I knew.
I was loved. I was not alone. For His presence had never been more real to me in all my life.
Give Me your hand and come, My child. Let’s go Home.
And I then I knew.
I knew what it was like to walk with Someone who loved me more than I ever dared to imagine.
Isabella Morganthal (21) is a homeschool high school graduate who loves Jesus with all of her heart. She is a drummer, writer, creative arts director, and modern-day abolitionist.