When she was eleven, Anna became ill quite suddenly. Her mother thought it was just a stomach ache, but then there was a high fever and severe pain in her side. The doctor was called and she was rushed to the hospital. And just in time. Her appendix was on the verge of bursting. It was all quite frightening, both for Anna and her mother who was raising her on her own. Anna’s father had left when she was only seven and their contact was limited and scarce. But just the same, Anna’s mother called her father and let him know.
Anna had had a crush on Richard for quite some time. So had most of the girls in her class. She didn’t think she had a chance and so she pined for him for a couple of years while they were in junior high.
When she was in the hospital, which was St. Mary’s and run by the nuns, she was on the borderline of being in the children’s ward or the adult ward and the adult ward won. So she was in the bed next to a woman who was dying. And who later died. It was a trauma she would never forget, an eleven year old watching an old woman die and listening to all of her relatives sobbing over her death. It just wasn’t right.
She was in the hospital for several days as was the custom back then; none of that rushing people in for surgery and sending them home the next day like today. And so Anna was then given a new patient with whom to share her room. This woman was much younger and married with a little boy. The husband and child came to visit her and brought her a Mad Magazine. Anna had never seen or read such a magazine. And the woman gave it to her once she had finished it. She read it and started to laugh and then gripped her side because laughing hurt her fresh scar. The woman laughed at Anna laughing and almost crying at the same time.
One night, very late, Anna had a visitor. It was her father. Being somewhat estranged, her father didn’t know quite how to act around his daughter who had never been sick a day in her life and he brought her a present. A pair of stockings. Anna wasn’t allowed to wear stockings yet, nor wear makeup or any of those things associated with a child her age, but her father, awkward at best, had no idea of what to bring an eleven year old who was in the hospital. Her mother was quite upset over the gift, but let it go in order not to cause any more friction than there already was between those two.
Anna went home the next day. She was out of school for several days. One of those days, the bell rang. To her great surprise, it was Richard. He had come to visit her. Anna thought she would die of embarrassment. Her crush on Richard made her feel so vulnerable, that her great love for him was countered by her not wanting to be seen by him in such a terrible state.
Richard brought her a present with a get well card. It was a snow globe. He shook it for her and the glittery snow went topside and then cascaded all around the small Christmas tree that was inside. Anna was more in love with him than ever. She hadn’t thought he had ever noticed her, never mind going to all the trouble of finding out where she lived, visiting her and bringing a present. The card was simple enough, but was signed “Ricky” with several “X,s” and “O’s.” Never could a girl have been so happy. Maybe he loved her after all. Richard was her first big love.
Years later, they lost touch. Richard went to a different high school; they were separated by schooling districts and she never saw him again. She pined for him and tried to find him, but to no avail. He was gone, never to be seen again.
She grew up, but the snow globe was a constant reminder of her first true love and she kept it forever. Every so often she would shake it and watch the snow shimmer down and around the miniature Christmas tree planted in its center. Years went by, but she never forgot about him.
When she grew even older, had married and had children, had survived her husband’s death, she still thought of Richard and the snow globe only served to kindle and rekindle that childhood romance. After her husband died, she looked for ways to find him. Facebook was the in thing and she searched through all of the Richards she could find but no one was him.
But she did find friends of theirs and soon communications and messages led her to him. She was ecstatic. When she finally was able to get a message to him, she learned that he too had married (which was to be expected) but had not had any children. Like her, his wife had died. They were both alone. Although they were much older, they still lived in the same old neighborhoods and they made a date to meet.
Anna didn’t know what to expect. Her blond hair had turned to Irish silver and his to salt and pepper. But each one saw the other as they had looked back in school. It was as if time had stood still. They met and fell instantly back in love. They held hands as if still in school. They exchanged kisses on the cheek and in their minds, the old romance was rekindled once again.
Richard admitted that he, too, had had a crush on her but once they were separated, he was forced by his tender age to move on, as she had been and done. And although each had traveled all over the world, neither one had ever forgotten the other, and believed it impossible that their paths would ever cross again. It was a Christmas miracle.
From then on, they were inseparable. They vowed never to lose touch again.
A year went by, and they were sitting in a diner when Richard proposed. Anna couldn’t believe her good fortune. The boy she had always loved had returned and they merely picked up where they had left off. And then, outside, it began to snow.