4. Consolation

One Saturday, a fortnight later, I was attending an event in the city she was moving to. As I walked up the hill away from the railway station, there was a small brick chapel to one side of the road, almost opposite the venue I was attending, and next to it, a row of shops with flats above. On the gable end of the flats, nearest the chapel, somebody had painted the words “God Loves You” in large, white capital letters. My heart skipped a beat. I knew I was in the area of the city she had told me she would be living in. I approached the building, simultaneously feeling in my pocket for the piece of paper she’d given me with her soon-to-be new address on the previous evening. I felt a sense of expectation as I found the number on the door and compared it to the paper. Yes! This was the building she told me she’d be living in! This I realised, could only be a message from God intended for me. I carried on my way with a spring in my step, and a weight lifted from my shoulders.

The heartache didn’t go away of course. It was a bittersweet summer, enjoying spending the time with her, but sad at the knowledge it would soon all be over. It was hard saying goodbye to her for the last time, and on the day she moved away – my birthday! – it was all I could do not to rush round to the house she was moving out of, declare undying love to her and plead with her not to go. I tried to keep in touch with her for a while, but she found herself a new life and I wasn’t part of it. I missed her. There were so many things around me that reminded me of her. I even stopped doing the soup run for a few months as her presence was so pervasive in the building we were working out of. For a while, each time I was in the city where she lived, I hoped for some chance encounter that might bring us back together, but there was none. Eighteen months later, I heard from a mutual friend that she had got married. Whilst I was happy for her, my heart broke all over again as the last of my hope disappeared. The image of those words “God Loves You”, written on the end of her flat stayed with me and kept me going – a Greater Love than no mere human can provide.

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