So now I ask you, dear lady—not as if I were writing to you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another” (2 John 1:5 HCSB).

All I planned on doing was purchase some sandwiches.

When I walked into Blimpie’s, the restaurant was quiet. No workers stood behind the counter as I approached, and, stepping up, I wondered if anyone even knew I was there.

Suddenly, a dark haired young lady with a ponytail and several piercings in her ears and nose appeared from a back room.

“Hey, how can I help you?”

Startled, I responded with an awkward smile. “Oh, hi. Now, let me see.”

Removing my phone from my coat pocket, I reread the texts from family members, their specific orders sent electronically. “Okay, first, I’d like a 6-inch on white, ham with American cheese, please.”

Taking a 12-inch roll, the teenager began slicing it in half, mumbling under her breath that she was having trouble cutting it evenly. I assured her she was doing fine, adding that I would need the other six inches for the second sandwich.

She made my first sub, then asked what the other would be.

“Turkey and provolone, please.”

Her plastic gloves made soft swishing sounds as she assembled the second sandwich. “What else do you want on these?”

Rereading the text messages, I told her the vegetables and condiments, and she fixed them up just so.

Finally, the sandwiches finished, the young employee stepped toward the cash register and wrapped each in paper before placing them in a plastic bag.

“Do you want anything else? Chips? Cookies or drinks?”

I added two soft drinks to my order. As we stood there, I noticed a photograph of a young woman taped to the wall just behind the teenager helping me.

“Oh, that’s Molly Kate, isn’t it?” I wondered if she, too, had once been a Blimpie’s employee.

The girl looked over her shoulder, staring at the photo before she answered my question. “Yeah. She used to work here, until…” She paused.

“I know. I remember.”

And I did. The event had pierced the hearts of many in our small community. The high school junior had taken her life a couple years earlier, one of the many victims of mental and emotional instability.

The young woman was silent for a moment, lost in her thoughts. “Yeah, and I had another friend who died not long ago.”

Our eyes met. “Oh really? As in, this past year?”

“Yes, just this past February.”

I recalled several teenage deaths, and I wondered who her friend had been.

A beat of silence fell between us. What to say? “I’m… I’m sorry. What was your friend’s name?”

“Lexi,” she answered, and her brown eyes pooled.

This teenager’s death I also recalled with a heavy heart. She’d been a passenger in a vehicle recklessly driven by another young person and had been thrown from the car, dying immediately.

“She’s the teen who was killed in the automobile accident at Lake Junaluska, right?”

“Yeah, we’d been really good friends while in elementary school. Then…” She paused, remembering. “Well, we had a couple arguments in middle and high school.”

“My husband and I just walked around the lake. I always remember Lexi when I see her memorial there by the water. Seems lots of people loved her and miss her.”

The young woman’s fingers fidgeted with the plastic on my sandwich bag, her head gently bobbing, lost in some memory. Then, surprising me, she said, “You know, we really just need to tell people we love ‘em when we have the chance. I mean, one never knows. They could be gone the next day. The next second even.”

She lifted her gaze, and our eyes met. I read regret behind her long, dark lashes, and I wanted to reach over the counter and embrace this hurting teenager.

“I’m sorry, but you’re right.”

We just never know.

She rang up my order, and I paid, the ding of the transaction like punctation on our conversation, reminding me our exchange was almost over. She handed me my bag, and our eyes met once more.

Before turning to leave, not wanting our engagement to end, I asked, “Are you in high school, dear?”

“Yeah.” Then, for the first time, her eyes smiled, her bright red mouth curved up. “I graduate in just about a month, right before Christmas.” She considered her next words. “High school–it’s been quite an adventure!”

“Oh, I’m sure, but how wonderful.” Because we have two high schools in our county, I inquired, “Which one–Tuscola or Pisgah?”

“Neither. I’ve been attending the online school. I get to do everything at my own pace, and it’s so much less stressful, with less drama.” She chuckled before continuing. “And we both know how much drama teenagers can stir up.”

I laughed. “It’s been awhile, but yes, I remember it well. Hey, I’m proud of you! Keep your eyes on the goal. You’re almost there!”

“Thank you.” She smiled again as she handed me my bag and soda cups, which I filled at the self-serve station.

Before exiting to face the early December chill, I turned to remind her of what she’d just shared with me.

“Remember, don’t wait until tomorrow. Tell ‘em you love ‘em!”

The young woman nodded, though I recognized sadness in her eyes once more. Raising her hand to wave…

“Yep! ‘Cause tomorrow might be too late.”

As I stepped outside, I thought of this young woman’s wise words–like a gift, when all I’d planned was to purchase sandwiches. Instead, I walked away with food for thought, which was more than I’d anticipated.

Something I don’t want to forget.

Perhaps I’ll visit her soon, purchase some subs and find out how her graduation was. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll say those three words that should come so easily for those of us who carry Christ in our hearts

“I love you!”



Here we are–

  • At the brink of a new year…
  • An opportunity for new beginnings.

Many of us are making a list of goals, those things we hope to accomplish in the next 366 days. (2024 is a Leap Year, after all!)

I, too, have thoughtfully made my list—desiring to…

  • Read my Bible daily…
  • Complete several writing projects…
  • Write our Compassion child regularly…
  • Exercise and read more.

Perhaps you’ve also created or are considering creating such a list.

May I make a suggestion? As you prayerfully put pen to paper, jotting down those “To Do’s” to guide you in the next twelve months, might we all put that one thing at the very top of our list, make it a priority?

Tell others you love ’em!

Because, with God’s love in our hearts, we should love others well, and not just come February.

If we wait, well… it just might be too late.

“This is love: that we walk according to his commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: that you walk in love” (2 John 1:6 HCSB).

Kind Father, help us love. Because You first loved us, we can. We should. We will! May it be so. Amen.