11 October 2019
I wish I could be as optimistic in life as Madison is. Her spirit for giving and helping others is what first appeals to Cole – but I won’t give anything away. Personality tests try to tell us who we are, but they’re not always accurate. Only God knows us better than we know ourselves – and that’s the true art of optimism. He sends us into situations that we’re not expecting, but even we don’t like the situation at first, it always ends up in our favor and for our own happiness.
Keep reading to see how God switches everything around for Cole and Madison!
“He sounds spectacular.”
“I know.” Madison giggled as she stored books away in the bookstore, glancing at her co-worker and friend, Michelle Larson. “He’s a very handsome guy, but I don’t know. He just seems really troubled, for some odd reason.”
“I would be cautious, if I were you.” Michelle grinned. “You never know what kind of guy he is until the end sometimes, and it’s not always good.”
“Oh, please, come on. Just be optimistic. I am.”
“You always are.”
She chuckled. “I have a good right to be, Shelly.” She shrugged. “God’s love is amazing. He can make the smallest, most horrible things turn into the biggest and brightest, wonderful things!” She shook her head.
To this day she was still amazed at the unique power of God’s amazing love. He’d been the One who had made her into the sunny, happy-sunshine self she was every day from the day she’d been born to present day. All her life, every friend and, perhaps, some of the few foes, had constantly been impressed with her sunny self. She very seldom got mad, and she was constantly determined to see not only every day to the fullest and live it that way, but to look for many amazing things in each day, whether they were in nature or elsewhere. She knew that God was always watching out for her and those she loved, so it was so easy to trust in Him daily, for her, at least. Her wonderful parents had led her to look for the sunny side in the every day, and her brother’s own sunny self had brought him to be engaged to a wonderful person, also a Christian like she and her family so were.
“I guess that’s true.” Shelly shrugged. “But I guess that’s for me to learn and find out, huh?”
“Yeppers.” Madison nodded curtly, although she sent a silent prayer heavenward for His constant watch to be over Shelly and her family, more so than for her. She had everything she needed, but after Michelle had broken up with her boyfriend, her faith had spun into a pessimistic downturn. Madison hoped and prayed that Shelly would once again have the same kind of faith that she tried to daily. “But don’t worry, Shell. God, I’m sure, is leading you in the right direction, too.”
“You deserve it more than me, though, Maddie.” Shell quirked an eyebrow. “I mean, come on. How many bad things have happened to you and you’ve always seen through it so optimistically, and so faithfully? Unlike me.”
“Every person is different. Each Christian has their own unique styles and abilities, like how they pray, for example.” Madison patted her friend’s shoulder, and continued dusting the bookshelves. “I hope, though, that Cole finds his heart soon. He seems to be so lost. I’m going to see him right after work, though.”
“I’d like to have known what was going through his mind the moment he met your sunny self.” Michelle smiled wryly.
“Hopefully he’s thinking that he’s hungry, ‘cuz I’m thinking of buying a package of those yummy doughnuts at the bakery before I head over there.” Madison giggled in excitement.
“Oh, Maddie, don’t you know that bringing in food for patients is against the hospital rule?” Michelle gave her a warning look.
But Madison waved it aside. “Not if I have anything to do with it.” She nodded with stern determination, and then continued working.
“I don’t think so,” Cole’s nurse told Madison later.
They were standing in the doorway of Cole’s hospital room. Cole was gaping at them with shock as Madison shook her head at Nurse Bettie. She was quite the beetle, Madison noted. She wasn’t sure how the woman could be so fierce and determined.
“Fine. I’ll eat them myself then,” Madison said. “I won’t share any with Cole, and I’ll save the rest for that.” She tossed the woman a big smile. “That way I won’t get into any trouble. Dealio?”
Bettie quirked an eyebrow.
Madison rolled her eyes, and then forced a smile. “It means, ‘deal?'”
“Deal.” Bettie neglected Madison’s extended hand, and left the room.
Madison waited until the door had closed behind the woman before she started giggling. Then, she hurried over to Cole’s table, and opened the package for him. “Hurry.” She smirked. “Before Nurse Baloney comes back.”
A faint ghost of a smile leered across Cole’s face.
Okay, it was almost progress, Madison thought. So far, all she’d gotten from him was either that or frowns. Cole was very difficult for her to read. She could usually sense people’s emotions so well, but Cole here was as talented hiding his emotions as a volcano sprouting lava.
Okay, bad comparison, maybe.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Cole asked, no ounce of amusement on his face as he took a bite of a mini chocolate doughnut. “You could get kicked out.”
“They’d have to call security to kick me out,” Madison determined, eating a frosted mini doughnut with him. The package had a mixed variety of kinds of doughnuts, twelve altogether. “But I bet not even then they’ll be successful. They’ll have to throw me over their backs screaming.” She chuckled at the thought. “But they should probably know I’ll be back the next day.” She glanced up at them, and her eyebrows shot up.
Cole was studying her as if she’d literally lost her mind, one doughnut halfway to his mouth. It was his second. Finally, he chomped into it. “Where’d you get these anyway?”
“At the bakery across from the bookstore. That’s where I work, remember.” Madison daintily wiped the edges of her mouth with one of the napkins she’d also brought along. “I figured that staying in the hospital for a few days really has to be the dickens dirt, so I decided to cheer you up. It adds to the coffee, don’t you agree?”
“I’m getting discharged tomorrow,” Cole said, and then gently shoved the mini doughnuts aside, as if full. But by how lean he still looked, Madison doubted it very much. Her brother could eat a whole package of doughnuts in one day and later regret it. “By then, you’ll wish you’d never met me.”
“How so?” Madison grinned at him. “You seem pretty awesome to me.”
He shook his head, and then looked away, all stone serious. “That’s because you barely know me.”
“What are you talking about?” Madison pushed the doughnut package back toward him. “I feel like I’ve known you forever. I shared both coffee and doughnuts with you. I call that knowing you.”
“Maybe in your world, not mine.” He looked away.
She laughed. “Do you think that I would believe that?”
He shrugged. “I hate telling lies.”
She didn’t get him. He was even tempting her sunny attitude to dampen, and that rarely happened. Very rarely, in fact.
“Keep eating.” She handed him another chocolate doughnut. “Here, I know you like these. By the way, my brother, Patrick? He can eat like three of these in one whole week. He tried to eat two in one day once, but he almost ended up sick.” She chuckled. “We all thought it was hilarious, even my mom, and she’s like the one who actually knows how to worry.”
Cole looked at her then. “You mean you’re always like this?”
“Always like what?” she asked, and then frowned lightly. “‘Course I am. My friends sometimes call me Maddie, Cole, although my family calls me Madison. You can call me anything you want, really. My grandpa calls me Mads, and my aunt calls me Mads-Pads, but I don’t know if I’d go that far with you.”
Another ghost of a smile hinted across Cole’s face. “Wow. What do they call your brother?”
“Well, his fiancée calls him Patty, which is weird. I call him Pat, Mom and Dad call him Pat, but he prefers Patrick.” She chuckled. “He’s twenty-four, only two years older than me.”
“I’m twenty-three,” he said gruffly, and the moment he did, pain laced his face.
Madison stood there momentarily staring at him, shell-shocked.
“Eat up, mister.” She again extended the doughnut. “I know you still have room inside you.” She grinned. “Tempting, isn’t it?”
Cole reluctantly took the doughnut, but just how he ate it made Madison wonder how much food he ate per day.
“By the way…” She finished chewing her own doughnut before swallowing, so she could talk better. She didn’t want to spit food at him. “I’m taking you home tomorrow, Cole. No suggestions or excuses. It’s hospital rule anyway. Right? Or did one of your family members change their mind?”
Cole looked down, and fingered his blankets like he had earlier. “No, they haven’t.” Sigh. “You can take me if you want.”
“Well, you don’t have to be so downhearted about it.” She waved a hand. “You live in Manhattan, right? It shouldn’t take too long.”
He looked up at her sharply. “Why are you helping me anyway? I don’t need any help.”
“I think I owe it to you.” She both playfully and gently punched his shoulder. “Besides, I adore helping people. Even animals. Did you know that I like to foster some animals for a living? It’s a side job. It’s not always fun, of course, but you know me. I like to think of the sunny side of things.”
Cole frowned hard. “Why?” he asked, looking at her as if it was the most ridiculous piece of information he’d ever heard of.
“Why not?” She shrugged a shoulder. “Life is to enjoy, and it’s the only life God ever gives you, except for eternally, of course. Right?”
“Glad you agree.” She slipped her third doughnut into her mouth, and then lifted the cover over the package. “You done?” she asked around the doughnut.
Cole nodded, but he looked even more sad.
Madison’s giggle sent him looking up, though.
She shook her head fiercely. “Just think what sort of ruckus I would have started if I’d argued with Bettie a bit more.” She giggled again. “Goodness gracious.”
Cole quirked an eyebrow. Ever since the woman had jumped into his life like one of those jumping beans, he’d been surprised at almost every sentence coming out of her bow-shaped mouth. She was cute and pretty, he had to give her that. She was also fun-sized, and couldn’t be more than five feet, four inches tall. His brother Addison was a six story building compared to her height, and he knew, at least, that he was way taller than her, five feet, eleven inches, to be exact. But the way she kept going really was beginning to irk him only a little.
Finally, Cole decided that he needed to know how she kept going the way she did. What kept her going, exactly? How come she was so constantly sunny?
But first, he needed to know one other thing.
“Can I ask you a question?” he asked, expecting a big and bright answer from her.
“Sure as shootin’.” She grinned at him, every one of her teeth meaning the brightness of her smile. It was exactly like a hundred-watt lightbulb.
“How come you’re so nice to me?” He had to ask. “You’re bringing me doughnuts and coffee. What’s with that?”
Not a single bit of light went out in her violet-blue eyes. She shrugged. “I don’t know. Does a girl need a reason to cheer up a Mr. Grumpy?”
He quirked an eyebrow. “I am not grumpy.”
Madison let out a trill of bell-like laughter, and crossed her arms. “Prove it, oh grumpy one.”
The statement sounded so serious and so humorous at the same time, despite her twinkling eyes, that Cole almost smiled. Every time he wanted to, though, he was starkly reminded of the pain so ready to meet him at home, or at “home.” The harsh reminder of what his family had planned for him if he didn’t stick to his quietness in every meeting. In fact, two days from now, he had to go to another meeting. Addison had decided to hit bimonthly meetings now instead of just monthly meetings. He had to be at every one if he wanted to sleep well at night, or not wake up in heaven instead.
“Maybe I’m not grumpy,” he decided firmly. “Maybe I just would rather see the seriousness of life.”
“What seriousness?” Madison obviously did not know the meaning to the word serious. “There is no such thing.”
“What about death?” Cole felt his whole body flinch at the very word, remembering his mother. “Isn’t that serious?”
“It is if they’re not a Christian.” Madison shook her head, her smile disappearing briefly. “That has to be the saddest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
She had a point there. As a trying Christian, Cole knew that for people who didn’t believe in God, death had to be the most horrifying thing ever. That’s why, despite their deadly sins, he hoped his family never had to deal with that.
“I better go.” Madison grinned at him. “I have a full evening with my dog planned ahead of me, but count your blessings, mister. I’ll be here right away in the morning to bring you home, and perhaps even chew Nurse Balogna out then. All righty?”
Cole nodded. “Sure. I guess I can’t stop you.”
“Of course not.” She tossed him a wink. “I’ll leave the doughnuts with you.” She waved, and then left.
But it wasn’t until she did that Cole realized how empty the room felt.