As Alli dressed for bed that evening, her heart fluttered with excitement. Snuggling into bed, she drew the covers up to her chin. She fingered her ring and pictured Dick’s earnest, loving face. His words echoed in her mind: “It is my greatest desire that you might join me…” Was she really his greatest desire? She closed her eyes, a prayer forming on her lips. “Oh God, You do all things well. Thank You for bringing us together.”
“I’ll be taking the day off tomorrow as my parents will be arriving in the morning.” Dick leaned back in his chair at the cafe a few weeks later. “Will you be able to get out of work early? I would love to have you join us for dinner.”
Alli toyed with the meat on her plate. “Yes, I remembered you mentioning that your parents would arrive tomorrow, so I requested a half day. I’ll be finished by one.”
“I won’t be able to meet you for lunch, but if you’ll come around five, I think we’ll all enjoy a nice dinner.”
“Thank you. I look forward to meeting your parents.”
Alli climbed the steps to Dick’s small house that evening. Her staccato knock matched her heart’s beating. The door opened and Dick stood on the threshold.
“Come in, Alli,” he welcomed her. She followed him through the house, glancing around at the neat, beautiful rooms. They entered the dining room where a smiling couple was seated at the table.
“Alli, this is my father, John, and my mother, Ellen. Mom and Dad, meet Alli, my fiancée.”
John stood and extended his hand to Alli. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“You as well,” Alli assured him.
“We’ve heard much about you.” Ellen stood and enveloped Alli in a warm hug. “It is good to finally meet you. How old are you, my dear?”
“Only four years younger than Dick,” John observed.
“Whom you have made very happy,” Ellen went on. Alli turned toward Dick who was smiling fondly upon her.
“He has made me happier,” Alli argued.
Dick took her hand and led her to the table. “Let us talk while we eat, otherwise the food will get cold. Father, will you pray over our meal?”
As the prayer ended, Dick rose to serve the food. The evening flew by. After the meal, they enjoyed dessert and more conversation. Eventually, Dick mentioned their upcoming wedding.
“Alli and I were thinking July twenty-fifth. Does that sound agreeable to you all?” When no one objected, he went on. “We plan to get married in our church. I will talk to the pastor and make sure he will be available. Alli wants to have an outside reception, and, of course, she must have her wish.” Dick smiled at her lovingly. “And afterward, we will spend a week in the country—surrounded by fields covered in flowers.”
“I’m very happy for you both and I give you my blessing upon your marriage.” Pastor Williams smiled first at Dick and then Alli. “You both have faithfully attended church and I have seen you grow in the Lord. I trust He will continue to draw you closer to Him and to each other.”
“Thank you, Pastor Williams,” Dick broke in. “Will July twenty-fifth be a good day for our wedding? We had hoped you could conduct it in the church.”
“I would be most happy to do so.”
As the days passed and spring turned into summer, Alli felt her love for Dick growing. One month before the wedding, as she sat sewing diligently, the door swung open and a young man in his late teens rushed in. His hair was unkempt and his clothing dirty. He breathed heavily.
“Is Alli Stratford here?”
Alli dropped her mending, stood, and walked toward the young man. “I am Alli. What is wrong?”
“Please come quickly.” His eyes portrayed fear. “Dick is—hurt.”
Alli’s heart sunk like a stone. “Please, take me to him,” she said urgently. Without a backward glance, Alli followed the man to his horse. He knelt down, allowing her to step on his knee. She pulled herself up on the horse and the young man jumped on behind her. Whipping the horse into a gallop, they sped down the road. Alli closed her eyes, willing her heart to calm its furious beating. “God,” she prayed. “Please, let Dick be all right.”
The horse was pulled to a stop and Alli opened her eyes. In front of her was a partially finished brick building. Several men were crowded around on the ground. Her heart rose in her throat and she tried to stop her imagination from picturing tragic scenes.
The young messenger jumped down and helped her to dismount. “He’s over here.” He led the way to the crowd as the men moved aside.
Dick lay on the ground, his arms and legs spread out and his face contorted with pain.
“What happened?” Alli demanded in a shaky voice.
“He fell from the brick wall,” one man volunteered.
She dropped to her knees as a man stepped forward. “I’m a doctor. I just examined this man and I’m afraid he will not live long. He has broken his spine in two places. I can’t do anything for him.”
Alli’s heart melted. She lifted Dick’s bloodied head into her lap. Tears slipped down her nose, landing gently on his neck.
“Dick, my dear Dick, speak to me!” She caressed his cheek with her shaking hand.
“Alli,” his breath came in gasps. “I cannot move…but I can speak for a moment longer…God answered my prayer…He brought you to me before I died…”
“Dick, please.” She begged. “God wouldn’t take you from me; He knows how much I need you!” Her voice broke as she sobbed.
“No, Alli, you need only God. He will help you.” He smiled through his pain, portraying the sincere, loving expression she knew so well.
“Dick, I don’t understand. I can’t live without you! I love you, Dick, I love you!” Instantly, she lowered her face and kissed him tenderly, the realization of the moment slowly sinking in.
Dick smiled and tightened his gaze on her face. “Alli…God will take care of you. I have finished my work on this earth…and will meet you again in Heaven. Don’t depart from the Lord…hold on to Him in faith.” With a final breath, he closed his eyes and took flight to his Heavenly home.
Alli leaned over his body, her small frame shaking with sobs. She felt suddenly alone and destitute. “Oh God!” she cried out. “How could you take him from me? I don’t understand. I loved him so much. He was the one who drew me back to You. Why did you take him away?”
When her sobs finally subsided, she lifted her head and took one last look at her beloved. Closing her eyes, she let a tear fall onto his still face.