Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage is available in paperback and on kindle and is being reprinted on Catholic News Agency with author’s permission. Cheryl’s non-fiction book is called Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with Her Past.Chapter Twenty-Four
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. Proverbs 31:10-11
It was early afternoon when Meghan, Luke’s secretary, put Beth’s call through. Luke hadn’t answered his private office phone which meant he was out in the building. Meghan could page him, wherever he was at.
Beth knew that the boys had the day off from school because of conferences and that Luke was bringing them to work. They liked to play at the computers in his conference room and he enjoyed their enthusiasm. It would be an even shorter day for Luke as he wouldn’t want the boys to become restless on his watch. Sophia would be at the library, using the day to search for college scholarships. She knew that Luke and Beth had long ago put money aside for her college education but prided herself on doing things on her own terms. Beth fully believed that Sophia would come up with enough scholarship money to pay for a lion’s share of her own tuition.
“Liz! Is everything okay?” were Luke’s first words. Although a bit annoyed by them, Liz understood that after their last conversation in which Elizabeth had to tell Luke about the explosion and Ayala’s death, they were understandable.
“Yes, I’m fine. Everyone is fine. How are you and the boys? Sophia? Have you spoken with Michael?” Beth decided Luke did not need to know about Chaim’s death.
“Good. Actually we are doing quite well. I’m sure the boys will tell you that they are both bothered by my early arrival home each day and a bit pleased. You know how that goes. Mike has been busy with a paper he has to write for an English class. He seems to really like his small group discussion leader, so that’s a real plus in his accomplishing the work for class. Sophia has been busy working on scholarships.”
Beth knew exactly what it was like to have those mixed emotions that Luke was referring to. She had them towards just about everything lately; from her kids to her job to her looks to her marriage. “Yes, I sure know how that goes,” Beth agreed. “And I figured Sophia would be spending time looking for scholarships. She is something!”
“Yes, she is. They all are, actually. And I’m delighted at Mike’s turnaround. He’s really opened up when we talk and seems so willing to share what’s going on at college. Maybe he just needed the distance between us and him. Whatever it is, I’m grateful!”
Beth shared her agreement with Luke before he continued, “So, tell me about your sight seeing? Have you been to the Wailing Wall yet? How about the church you wanted to go to?”
Luke’s interest seemed sincere and Beth was quite grateful. She shared some of the highlights of each venture with him but kept some of her personal epiphanies to herself. They just felt very private and like a child with a new toy, she did not want to share.
Beth then spoke to Joseph and Sammy for a few minutes. Although each conversation was less than ground-breaking, Beth could feel that they simply loved her and wanted her home. They even spoke of Sophia’s missing Beth. Another epiphany for Beth to put in her back pocket.
Although when the boys were younger they tended to be more emotional, like Beth. Today she could sense their pragmatic side taking over. Like Luke, they were being neither too talkative nor too emotional, factually stating their love for Beth. Beth often missed having no allies with whom to jump up and down or get teary eyed. She would have to make do with her monosyllabic brood.
Sammy gave the phone back to his dad. “Well, we were just heading out for a late lunch, or early dinner, depending on how you look at it. How about you. What have you been eating?”
“Actually, I’ve probably lost a few pounds because I haven’t been eating too many sweets, now that you ask! But I’ve been enjoying a lot of the native dishes, in particular falafel, tabouli, compote, and chicken soup. It has been delicious, really.”
“My favorites,” Luke interjected and Beth could tell that all the talk of food was making his stomach growl.
“Okay, you need to go feed my children!” Beth jokingly said.
“Yeah, you’re right. We better get going. Liz?”
“I love you,” Luke said quietly, without grandeur.
Taken aback, Beth said after a few seconds of silence, “Give the kids a hug for me and make sure they eat well. I’ll call in a few days.” Then she hung up the phone, dismayed at her inability to respond to Luke’s proclamation. Do I love him anymore? she asked herself as she walked into the living room. Do I love him?
Beth had put her reading book on the table by the chair with the intent of digging in tonight. Picking up her reading glasses, Beth made herself comfortable. Half listening to the traffic noises working their way through her opened window, Beth began reading. Slowly, the traffic faded as evening made its appearance and everyone headed home. By midnight, Beth had read a dozen chapters and closed the book. It was as good as she had hoped, and she knew she would make time to finish it over the next few nights. Switching off the lamp, Beth walked towards the bedroom. Hanging her robe on the hook on the back of the door, Beth stepped out of her slippers and pulled the sheets back. Laying down she thought of Luke’s words, I love you.
“I love you, too, Luke. I love you, too,” she said to no one in particular.
The previous chapters are listed below: