Some people believe that "everything happens for a reason," but 79-year-old Walter thought that was "utter crap" his entire life. Who knew his ostensible beliefs would shift on the auspicious occasion of Christmas Eve?
As far as Walter could recall, he had always been alone in life. His grandmother raised him after his parents abandoned him at a young age, and when she died, he moved to another town and worked part-time jobs to support himself.
Unfortunately, he had no known relatives, and the ones he did have a vague memory or faded over the years as he grew up. Perhaps that's why, for the last 40 years, all he's done to pass the lonely time was travel to places that wouldn't fill his heart with the mournful feelings of loneliness and abandonment. Walter had already visited 49 countries and hoped to score at least a hundred before departing for his eternal home.
Walter was stuck at Paris airport | Photo: Shutterstock
It was Christmas Eve, and Walter was a the airport in Paris waiting to board his flight back home. Suddenly, there was an announcement that due to severe weather conditions, his flight had been canceled.
Walter was excited to be home that day because it was the first Christmas he wouldn't be alone and would be in the company of his neighbors, who had invited him to dine with them that evening. But as fate would have it, Walter wouldn't be able to arrive on time and was stuck at the airport.
"I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, sir, but we really can't help you right now," said Lewis Mason, Sunrise Airways' general manager. "Due to the inclement weather, all of our flights have been canceled."
"Look, you're not getting it," Walter insisted. "It's Christmas Eve, and I need to be home. I can't miss it."
"I understand, sir. However, we can't control the weather. All flights have been grounded."
Due to the snow closing in, all flights were canceled | Photo: Pexels
Walter walked away and hunkered down in the corner of the airport lounge in tears, lamenting his terrible fate. Christmas Eve was just a few hours away, but with the snow closing in and no flights going out, it looked as if the cause was lost.
As Walter looked around, he realized he wasn't the only one who was irritated by the scheduling snafu. They were a large group – a whole community of stranded souls who were sharing their stories, venting their frustrations, and imbibing an adult beverage or two as the day progressed.
Seeing so many people around him, sharing his frustration, if not his company, Walter actually felt better and slowly strolled to the Duty Free store to grab a bottle of champagne. "May I please have a bottle of Roederer Cristal? I've heard it's one of the best here," he inquired of the shopkeeper, rummaging through his backpack in search of his passport.
"Oh, are you from the States? You have quite an accent," a woman's voice cut him off in his tracks. "If you're having trouble finding your passport, you can use mine. Today's booze is on me!" she exclaimed in a soft, breathy voice similar to the one Walter had heard nearly 60 years before at his university.
He was 24 then, and it was the first time his heart had raced for someone so fast. People called it first love, but for Walter, she was everything. Her name was Alice Jones, she was quite the opposite to his introverted and quiet demeanor, but she was his first, last, and only love.
Alice was Walter's first love | Photo: Unsplash
Walter looked up from his bag and turned to face the woman, who was standing there with a pleasant smile on her face. She squeezed her brows slightly as he turned to face her, trying to focus on his face as if she had suddenly thought of someone at his sight.
"May I have your passport, ma'am?" the shopkeeper inquired, and she shifted her gaze to him revealing her full name on the passport, which froze Walter in place. "Alice, is that really you?" he exclaimed, his mouth agape.
"Wait... wait... wait..." Alice's face brightened unexpectedly. "No way! Walter, this can't be you. Is that you, Walter Henderson?"
"Indeed, Alice, but what are you doing here? I thought you'd moved to India with your family!"
"Oh, I did, but after my grandmother died, my grandfather wanted to return to the United States. He'd agreed to move there only because my grandmother was Indian. He decided to return home after she left him, and we relocated."
"Why didn't you contact me then? You know I had a feeling we'd meet again, but with time, I kind of lost hope."
"Oh, Walter, you haven't changed at all! You're still a hopeless romantic, aren't you? I'm sure you have lovely grandchildren by now!"
Alice met Walter almost 60 years after they separated | Photo: Pexels
"Well, you're wrong, Alice, because this man is still ticking off the items on the list we made together. If not with you, I decided to finish the tour on my own."
"And guess who else is doing the same thing?"
"Oh, yeah! By the way, Christmas Eve is quickly approaching. Want to get away from this monotonous environment and go out to dinner? I've heard there's an amazing restaurant a few miles from the airport that serves the best turkey and gravy, just how we liked."
"Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!" Walter suggested.
The former college sweethearts left the airport and headed to Au Revoir French Bistro for a lovely Christmas dinner of roast turkey and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and Alice's favorite stuffed acorn squash.
It was snowing outside. As they walked out of the airport, Alice's hair was covered in the hardening white powder. Walter stared at her, helpless to her charming looks. A light flurry of snow fell from the sky, wetting her coat. She sighed, holding a hand out, and Walter held it immediately.
Alice and Walter reunited | Photo: Pexels
She smiled at his reaction and held out another hand, this time for the snowflake, which almost immediately melted against her warm palm. Walter blushed and couldn't take his gaze away from her as she tilted her lips in a smile.
About 10 minutes later, they reached the restaurant, where Walter pulled a chair for her. She smiled and said, "Thank you." Walter's heart started racing fast as it had 60 years ago. The waiter soon approached them and poured them some champagne, having collected the order.
Walter's eyes remained fixated at Alice, his mind still racing through the beautiful memories they'd spent together, while Alice's cheeks slowly changed their color to red. "Don't you think it's a miracle that we met after all these years, especially on Christmas Eve?" she asked, taking a sip from her champagne glass and smiling at him.
"Well, I guess it was all meant to be, Alice," Walter replied, much against what he believed. "I think everything happens in life for a reason. What do you think?"
"Perhaps it does, Walter," she said with a smile.
Walter smiled back at her and placed his hand on hers. She held his hand, covered it with her warm palms, promising that she would not leave him alone this time and that they would fulfill their dream of traveling to 100 countries together before departing for their heavenly abodes.
What can we learn from this story?
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who notices fresh flowers on his wife's grave every week and meets a little boy there one day.
This account is inspired by our reader's story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.