Maggie Adams believes she was born to be a writer (see Psalm 139:16)—but it took awhile for her to figure that out. She grew up in North Carolina, then went “up north” to college (to Virginia, then to New York). Unable to decide what interested her most, she majored in Spanish, anthropology, and English, and studied voice. It wasn’t until she married and her husband entered graduate school that Maggie figured out what she wanted to do with her own life. She’s been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry since 1986; she has also spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor.
Nick McGovern was heading down Broadway when he noticed her. Hair ash blond, frame slight, shoulders slumped. Her sky-blue eyes mesmerized him. They were the saddest he’d ever seen. At Broadway and Vesey Street, she stood and stared down Vesey, where it intersected with Church Street—and then Nick understood. That wasn’t just any place she couldn’t bear to go—ahead was Ground Zero.
The grief on her face drew him toward her. “Excuse me?” he said softly.
“May I help you?”
“My husband...died...at Ground Zero.”
He nodded in sympathy. “I lost my wife on 9-11.”
Surprise flickered in her eyes.
“Believe me, visiting this place and talking about it hasn’t come easy. It’s something that’s taken lots of practice—and a little therapy.” If she thought he was kooky for seeing a psychologist after his wife’s death, so be it.
“My counselor’s been nagging me to get here, but I kept putting it off. I didn’t want to come alone, but I also didn’t want a friend or family member watching me. Today is Terrence’s thirtieth birthday, though. I couldn’t stay away anymore.”
He nodded again. “My brother-in-law was with me the first time. It helped to have him share my grief. By the way”—he stuck out a hand—“my name’s Nick McGovern.”
“Christy Carmichael.” She took his hand, and his heart tugged at how trusting her hand felt inside his.
“You might not want people you know watching your reaction, but...Christy? If you want, I’m willing to go with you.”
She gazed at him as if trying to size him up logically while no doubt battling her own messy emotions. He returned her gaze with what he hoped was a gentle, encouraging smile, and finally she nodded.
Christy took Nick’s business card out of her pocket and studied it. The subway rumbled as the A train took her home, to the home in the Rockaways she and Terrence had shared. She was surrounded by people, yet none of them had a clue what a roller-coaster ride her emotions were taking right now.
She couldn’t believe she’d gone to Ground Zero with a man she’d met on the street, wept in his arms, then left with his business card. The situation had not been a pick-up. Still, it seemed . . . odd. Disconcerting. Although years had passed since 9-11, she
wasn’t looking for companionship—not even as “just friends.” She fingered the print on the card and recalled the warmth of Nick’s green eyes, the furrows of grief on his face tempered by laugh lines. This would take time for her to process.
Her friend Denise caught up with her as they were leaving church. “Are you still praying about that situation you told me about, or have you decided to do something about it?”
Boy, she felt guilty. She’d always hated how people would say, “I’ll pray for you,” or, “Before I decide, I’ll take it up in prayer,” and then forget about whatever they’d promised to keep in their prayers—and now, while she hadn’t forgotten to pray about whether to contact Nick, she had put off prayer, afraid God might call her to do something she wasn’t comfortable doing. “I’ll call him tomorrow,” she reluctantly promised.
Christy kept her word. Sheepishly, she explained everything to Nick.
“Well, yeah. I’m sure my offer came as a surprise. You looked so scared and alone, though.”
“I thought it might help to share the moment with someone who’d been through it.”
She laughed in relief. “Yeah, really. It felt . . . It feels good to be able to share this with someone . . . with you.”
“Nick, Christy, you’ve known love and happiness, and you’ve known loss,” said the priest. They were in St. Paul’s Chapel, near Ground Zero. St. Paul’s had suffered collateral damage on 9-11, but like the couple who stood near the altar, it had survived and thrived again. “There’s a well-known passage in Ecclesiastes. In chapter three, it says: ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.’ ”
Nick gazed at Christy. As when he’d first met her, her eyes were bright with unshed tears, but her smile told him these were happy tears—for life had again brought them a time to love.