Email to Maggie:
Let me know when you'll be landing in Edmonton and the flight number.... I'll try to get a few days off.
It was great seeing you again.
Spencer Sorrentino Phd
Child & Adolescent Psychologist and Program Advisor
Canadian Mental Health Association
Maggie's eyes reminded Spence of Lake Louise, the turquoise blue shone brightly as he approached her just outside the domestic arrivals area in YEG.
" Hey!" He said and reached around her with a big bear hug and leaned down to kiss her cheek while placing the flowers he was holding into her hands.
"I think you're over dressed?" She was wearing a down filled polar arctic parka that went down to her knee's, and a fleece red and white Vancouver Olympic tuque.
"What? There's no 2 meters of snow?" she smiled at him. "I know... I know... I saw the daffodils as we landed."
" It has been seasonally warm for March."He laughed and grabbed her bag. It was good to see Mags again. He missed her these last couple of weeks. Although her naiveté irritated him, and he felt a great desire to show her the truth of life, it was that pure sweetness that he was drawn to and that inner beauty of hers he felt compelled to protect.
"You may think your male primal survival instincts are going to protect Mags from the evil of this world, but she's going to save you from yourself." Where did that thought come from? He shook his head and guided Mags to his car.
It was through his Mom and Facebook that he had found her again. After 20 years, he was curious to see what kind of woman she grew up to be. He had tickets to see a hockey event at the Olympics last month and had called her to meet for dinner. They met three more times after that, before he had to go back to his job in Calgary.
She had come into his life again at the perfect time. The divorce, brought him to the lowest place mentally and physically, that he's ever been in, and spending time with Mags last month was like a breath of fresh air, a glimpse of the sun shinning through the dark clouds hanging over his head.
"Thanks for driving me to the hotel." she sniffed the freesia's. "How did you know these were my favourite?"
"You had 2 vases full in the living room. I took a gamble"
"Thank-you." Her eyes were closed as he saw her draw in the sweet aroma that filled the car. A great peace filled his inner being as he drove her to the Fantasy Land Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall.
"It was my pleasure."He needed her in his life, of that much he was sure.
"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. If you do good, they accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. And your kindness will be forgotten tomorrow." Spence took a deep breath and continued, "That's why I give of myself and my goods to my nearest and dearest. Why should I waste my time and energy for people who aren't going to give a shit?" He was irritated. "Why bother? So you can get to heaven?" he snapped at Mags. He couldn't help himself. He couldn't hold onto all the emotion and the crap of the past decade anymore. He shouldn't be yelling at Maggie, he knew this, but all self control was lost in his agitation at life.
"A compassionate life is a more fulfilling life Spence." she sighed deeply, "it's only when you let go of your ego that the curtain rises on real life." He could feel her eyes on him, but he couldn't look just yet, he knew he would melt and he didn't want to give up his argument just yet. For some reason, in the past 2 days he's felt the need to pick theological fights with Mags. She has seemed to won them all.
"Well not this time." he thought.
"Spence... It's not just a moral duty to me... it's a prescription for authentic joy."
"And yet... here we are... living on a planet where millions are starving each day, while we... in North America obsess over our calories.... cheers!" and he took an enthusiastic sip of his Mocha Latte. "Compassion is a non-existent, fake facade people use to help them think this life is better than it is. It's powdered suger on a devil's food cake!" he put down his latte with vigor and crossed his arms, the same way he did 20 years ago as a boy, trying to make a point. He looked over at Mags with determination, he was ready to handle anything she was going to dish out. He was as strong as a fortress.
"I am the wall of china." he said to himself. He was not prepared to see Mags laughing at him. She wasn't smiling... She was convulsed in merriment. Out loud too and his wall began to crumble.
"You've got whip cream on your nose." she handed him a serviette. Then the laughter died down and she looked at him with such love that his heart began to melt.
"That I-me-mine selfish attitude ruins everything Spence. Compassion isn't just a nice fairy tale. It's real. I hope you see it one day."
"Well, you'll have to buy me the same magic glasses you're wearing... the ones with the special lenses that only see the good in people!" Could there be something to it? Could compassion be real?
"You're such a pessimist!"she reached over and wiped his cheek with a clean napkin. Apparently, there was whip cream there as well.
"You finished your coffee and arguing yet?," He nodded and she tugged at his coat."You promised to take me ice-skating in the mall.... Let's go."
"This is so cool!" Mags laughed. "I'm skating in a mall."
"WHooooooh!" She almost fell when a boy, not much taller then the height of Spence's thigh, swung past them racing after his friend. Spencer's Manly protective instincts took control and he grabbed her arm to prevent a fall.
"Thanks!" she said.
"No problem... It's because I'm a nice guy." he smiled.
"It's a good thing all thorns have roses."
"Are you calling me a thorn?"
"Yup!" she laughed and pushed forward ahead of him in mock fear of his retaliation. He took a moment to study her figure as she sped ahead of him, her long strawberry blonde hair floating off her back in the sudden back draft she created by speeding forward. He glided slowly behind her and admired her figure for a second longer before catching up to her.
"I'm sure I've got a few thorns myself." she laughed at him.
"None that I see." He wasn't looking forward to saying good-bye to her tomorrow. "This weekend went by way too quickly." he thought just as one of the two boys plowed in behind him backwards. In an instant Spencer found himself kneeling on the ice in front of Maggie.
"Not all thorns have roses." He quipped looking at the two boys who were on the other side of the rink already.
"They didn't even say sorry."Maggie leaned forward taking his arm to help him up.
"I say it again... not all thorns have roses." he straightened his sweater, "Like those salmon berries I fell into at Stanley Park." He recalled roller blading with her just last month along the shore line. The fall was his fault, he was going to fast trying to show off; he took air from a crack in the pavement, and he landed in a Salmon berry bush. He winced at the memory of crawling out of the prickly grasp of the brambles.
"You seem to fall a lot," she smiled, "Are you a klutz?"
"Spiritually or physically?" he asked, play acting a klutz and wobbled around her.
"Salmon berries have fruit!" she lifted her fork into the air with emphasis, just as the cherry tomato on the end of it flew across the table onto Spencer's plate, landing in his mashed potatoes.
"What are you talking about?" It was their last meal together. She was on a 10 am flight back to Vancouver in the morning and he didn't want her to leave. His life was meaningless without her.
"Salmon berries?" she tried again, "they don't just have thorns. They have fruit as well. You don't see it all year round. The fruit comes out in June."
"Okay... what's your metaphor?" He knew her well enough, by now, to know she couldn't leave a good analogy well enough alone. It was her turn to preach to him.
"You don't see peoples goodness all day, all year round, 24 hours 7 days a week." she beamed,"But every once in a while it comes out."
"Like Christmas?"he sighed sarcastically, "You are too optimistic."
"Yes I am.... and to take it a step further.... may I say that those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ ... that the berries or fruit come out more often. He brings out the best in people."
"Or the worst."He thought about his so called friends at church who ditched him after the divorce. These people thought it was his fault, that his relationship with Sue was over. They judge him and didn't bother to find the truth.
"Those people do not have a relationship with Christ. They follow a legalistic religion and because of it make a lot of grandiose statements and movements in Gods name.... when it has nothing to do with God... just their own beliefs and politics."He knew what she said was right, and yet he couldn't rid himself of his own idea's and judgements.
"I'm a good person... why isn't that good enough?" he sighed. "I respect my parents, I love my family, I treasure my friends even when they let me down. Logic wouldn't fault me for saving the best I have to give for my nearest and dearest and giving the rest of humanity the leftovers. Why do I need a relationship with a fictitious character who lives in a very old fairy tale."
"Why does it have to be the leftovers?" Maggie asked."Why can't it be equal portions to everyone?"
"That's impossible, even if you were a Saint."
"You are absolutely right and yet Jesus Christ did just that." she took a deep breath and continued,"No one is perfect... but we can try to be... the more we try... if our heart is in it.... the better we get at it.... and then we want to share that knowledge.... and that's what it means to be a follower of Christ. We are not perfect but we are trying to be the best human beings we can be, because Christ lives within us."
" It's all an illusion Mags. Compassion is in short supply... even among Christians who 'so called' have Christ living within them."
"Can we change the subject please? You are not getting it, because your heart is as hard as stone, and this conversation is giving me indigestion." Mags frustration rang out in her voice. He was regretful for putting her through this. He just couldn't help being so cynical. His self control was nowhere to be found.
"This is my last night here and I don't want to fight."Her blue eyes pleaded. Mags, was wrong, his heart wasn't all stone... it was a marsh mellow when it came to her.
"Okay.... So?....." he took a serious look at her and realized she was the most beautiful woman he has ever known, even when angered. After a long dramatic pause, he leaned forward in his chair, picked up his glass of red house wine and smiled slyly. It was a question he longed to ask her since the first day they met.
"So... are you a virgin?"