I had hoped that I would be back in France, but I was delayed due to a mix up with my final exams and had to travel to London. Finally, everything was rectified and I came away with some great results and had passed all of the courses that I had been studying.
I would have liked to have celebrated with Henry before I left, but there was no time and as I packed up my things, I thought about my young boy Christophe and became very emotional. I hadn’t seen him in such a long time and in a few days we would be reunited. I hoped in my heart that he hadn’t forgotten who I was and that he still remembered me.
On my way down to the train station, I passed by where I had seen Edith, I did think of her and felt quite sad as I knew that I may not see her again and I had been too late to meet her at the port and travel to France with her.
As I stood on the platform, across from me was a young woman. She was holding a small suitcase and a bunch of flowers. I smiled. Even though I knew that it wasn’t Edith, I just knew that it was a sign to me, from her that I was still in her thoughts.
My own train arrived and then within seconds I had left this little town that I had so many memories of and had grown to love.
The journey back was very hard and at one point we had to stop in the middle of the sea. It had become quite dangerous and many people were fearing for their life’s. I am not a religious man, but after spending time with Henry so much, it had rubbed off on me and I began to pray to God to help us through this. I had never prayed to him before. Yes, I had been to church with my family back home and this was a regular thing and when I was at school, but I never really had that much faith in anything including my own abilities and skills. After about ten minutes we started to move again and everyone became more settled. We docked and I left the port.
My home was a short distance away so I decided to walk. I could have travelled with some people I had met on the boat, but I wanted to take in everything as I walked and also it would help me to relax as I felt quite stressed and nervous. I don’t usually feel like this, but I think it was because I had spent so much time away I felt like a stranger in my own town. Nobody knew I was coming either I wanted it to be a surprise.
The house was in my view now and as I got to the garden I could hear laughter. It was a child laughing and dog barking. At first, I thought it may be the wrong house and that everyone had moved, as nobody had mentioned having a dog. As I opened the gate, this little boy looked up at me and smiled and then said.
I instantly welled up, who wouldn’t. I picked him up and replied
“Yes, Christophe it is me, Papa.”
The little dog was jumping up my legs and kept barking with excitement.
“Who is this Christophe?
“This is my puppy Toffee papa, he is saying hello to you.”
“Hello Toffee, what a lovely little dog you are.”
It was such a lovely homecoming for me. My little boy knew who I was and he also had a little dog as a companion. As I sat down in the garden I heard a voice say
“Who are you talking to Christophe?
As she got nearer, I could see it was Francine’s mother.
“Lawrence I am so happy to see you, come here and let me give you a hug.”
I did as she said and we hugged and cried. We both went inside and there were Francine’s father and the rest of the family.
It was Christmas eve and I had made it back just in time to be with everyone. We all sat and ate and talked for hours and hours and as the time went by I felt at home once again. The nerves had gone and I felt like I had never been away.
Traditionally everyone would open their Christmas presents after church, but I wanted to give mine to everyone now. We all sat around the tree and I handed the presents out. First to open there’s was Francine’s mother. She carefully unwrapped the gift and then showed the lovely handmade candlesticks to everyone. I told her that they were handcrafted in the little town that I was staying in and that I thought that they would be perfect for her dinner table. Next was Christophe he couldn’t wait. He ripped the paper off and pulled out a massive surprise. Everyone looked at it.
“It’s called a teddy bear Christophe.” “He’s very special and has travelled all the way from England to be with you.” “He is very soft and and at night when you go to bed you can bring him with you.” “His name is Ralph, he has come to live with you and he takes care of children when they are sleeping.”
“I Love him Papa.”
“Hello Ralph, come and see our bedroom.”
Christophe took Ralph and headed off upstairs.
There was one last person to open their gift and that was Francine’s grandmother. When she finally opened it she saw the tiny gift and said out loud “Francine”
“Yes, it is for you to put on the tree, I miss her terribly as we all do and I know how hard it has been.” At least this Christmas when we look at the tree, we can remember here along with all of the rest of the family that are no longer here.”
“Thank you Lawrence, it is very sweet of you to do this for me and the family.” We loved her so much and she was taken from us too soon.”
Then as the chimes played on the clock on the wall we all said