The moment is etched into my memory in such vivid detail that all I have to do is close my eyes and I’m there. I feel the box on my lap, I smell the chocolate, I hear a gasp turn to a sob. I simultaneously turn and open my eyes, see her drape over her beautiful, heart shaped box of valentine chocolates and lock a questioning gaze with my brother. This is when I knew. I knew that Stella would forever be engraved in the heart and life of our family...Stella would stay...
Weeks before, in the middle of January, I was sticking around town because the basketball girls had to watch film. Yep, I played basketball...lol, not very well, but I was on the team. I walked into the room knowing I was way too early, would probably have the room to myself, and have a few moments to chill-long before smartphones. As soon as I rounded the door facing, I saw the back of her head. I didn’t really know her. She was new to our school, new to our community, new to me...and I’m still pretty shy and quiet at this point. She was a Senior and I was a Junior. She was a wranglers and ropers style girl, and I was a penny loafer without socks kinda girl. But I had heard a little of her story, my heart was compelling me to make a little small talk...we had time. Somehow I got the nerve to ask her if she wanted to go get a shake or something. She gave me, “no money,” in a short and bitter tone. Amazingly I didn’t shrink back, but said in my cheeriest voice, “my treat.”
We drove around, dragging Main with our shakes in hand, making small talk, getting to know one another. Then I asked if it was true...was she living out of her car... she answered yes and told me a little of her story. She told it in such a light hearted way, that it almost made me believe that she was perfectly fine and capable with this new condition she found herself in. I remember laughing, I remember driving and listening, I remember getting out of the car and her thanking me for the shake.
I went home and told my parents Stella’s story. Without hesitation, they both said she could and should stay with us for as long as she needed. I knew they would open our home...it wasn’t the first time they had done this...I wasn’t surprised. For some reason, I can’t recall how we told her that our home was open to her, but I remember being on the basketball court, dribbling a ball, saddling up next to her, asking what she had decided. Surely there was more to the conversation that this, “I cuss.” I remember looking into her eyes for a long moment with confused compassion. Was she turning down a roof over her head because??? I then laughed and said, “we’ve heard cussing in our home before.” What in the world was going through that red head of hers? “I just thought you should know...before...” Was this her yes? It was!
She moved in just days before Valentines Day. Mom and Daddy always tried to make a big deal for us on special occasions. This was no different. Mom says that she scrambled to find a matching heart shaped box of chocolates...that’s just how she rolls🥰 They sat us down in the living room - Stella later shared that she thought we were in trouble...lol. Bless her heart...”close your eyes...” Jerry and I knew we were getting something for Valentines Day. We closed our eyes with a smile, but she thought my parents had changed their mind. Her heart was serious and poised for the ball to drop on her stay, when the only thing dropped onto her lap was a box of chocolates. “Open your eyes,” my parents said with excitement. Jerry and I knew long before we even sat down what was about to commence, but Stella didn’t know. Stella was so surprised...surprised to the point of tears and inaudible expressions of joy. We were all moved to tears that day, hugging and reassuring. This is when I knew...we all knew. God had given us the sweet gift of Stella...Stella would stay...in our hearts and lives forever...sealed with a box of chocolates...
Y’all have a beautiful Valentines Day
I am a simple and ordinary girl who loves to share meaningful stories about the extraordinary people and blessings, the sweet everyday happenings that make me smile. I hope you all have a beautiful day!