December 4, 1969
On the Thursday after our wedding, Nate and I woke to the ringing of an alarm clock — our official call-back into “regular life.” But waking up with a husband lying next to me was indeed something special. The charm of that hadn’t diminished at all…. but then again, we’d only had five such mornings.
“Hello, my husband!” I said, enamored with the sound of that.
His response was, “I love you, Meg.”
We extracted ourselves from the swoopy center of the Murphy bed, and Nate made coffee in our little percolator while I showered. But making coffee didn’t take long, and before I finished, he was peeking around the shower curtain, hoping to be invited in… which he was.
In an hour I was riding in Judy’s car on the way to Danville with her and Linda, mentally working hard to switch gears from bride to teacher. I couldn’t recall what I’d been teaching them when I left and was nervous about jumping right in. A sub had taken my place for 3 days, and I had no idea where the children were in their studies.
But I needn’t have worried. While I was reacquainting myself with my lesson plan book, “my” children began running in, excited that I was back. Each wanted a personal hug, and their affection was exactly the encouragement I needed.
Once they were all at their desks and we’d said the Pledge of Allegiance, I began happily sharing the details of our wedding. But what they really wanted was to tell me what had happened in their lives while I’d been gone.
Many had gifts for me – drawings of turkeys, family members, and me. Together we hung them in a row across the blackboard, and I reminded them of my new name.
“But you’re Miss Johnson,” several said, with furrowed brows.
Lowering my voice to a whisper, I leaned toward them and said, “Let me tell you a little secret. I’m having trouble remembering my new name. I’ve been Miss Johnson for 24 years and have only had my new name for 5 days.” I held up 5 fingers, continuing to whisper. “I’m going to ask you for a big favor. Would you help me remember my new name?” None of them said a word.
Throughout that first day, I purposely referred to myself as Miss Johnson a number of times, and sure enough. They jumped all over me. “Not anymore! You’re Mrs. Nyman now!” Before long they were competing to see who could correct me first — and that’s all it took.
As we got closer to the 3:00 bell, my thoughts turned toward our apartment, hoping Nate would be there when I got home. Being separated from him had seemed unnatural after 7 days of togetherness.
Once our carpool had driven the 40 miles back to Champaign, I raced up the stairs and there he was, throwing the door open. He spread his arms wide, and I joyfully ran right in.
His day of classes hadn’t passed as easily as my first day. He’d missed a great deal, and law school moves at a fast clip with massive reading assignments every day. He knew it would take a while to catch up and get on top of it again.
To this point in his studies he hadn’t missed a single class, so it was hard to deal with the fallout of having missed so many. My role in all of it, though, was a very nice one — to do everything I could to ease his stress.
“When we run into problems…. we know that they help us develop endurance.” (Romans 5:3)