Dearest Rachel –
I haven’t written to you about Sparks since you left, and I suppose I ought to fill you in. Although, we’ve only met the one other time before tonight, so there hasn’t been much to fill you in about.
In fact, the first Monday after the accident had been canceled – not because of what happened, but because of what was about to happen. The forecast of snow and polar cold was more than enough to have the powers that be to reconsider holding Awana that night. Which was just as well – as if trying to explain your absence wasn’t bad enough, doing so on Emergency Room Night (wherein everyone was to be dressed as if they had just been in hospital) would have been in, let’s just say, questionable taste.
Of course, the cold hadn’t let up as of last week, but with no significant snowfall, it was not called off this time. Some of the other leaders had dyed a lock of hair purple for Crazy Hair Night – and in your honor. Miz Joan told me that, given that over two weeks had passed, she was not going to address the matter with the Sparks at this point. After all, it had been enough time for those who knew you to process the loss, and for those who didn’t, well, why burden a group of 5-7 year olds with that?
At the same time, she did (unbeknownst to me) have all of them draw up valentines to send to Daniel and me. Bless her; bless them. I’ll have to add the copies to the Tributes page soon.
So tonight, it’s Stuffed Animal Night. And while normally we would be bringing Daddy Cat (aka, ‘Chiyo-no-Chichi’ from Azumanga
it seemed more appropriate to bring the two plushies that were closest to you. Literally. As in, lying right next to your side of the bed.
So, here they are, Kevin Koala and the Cedar Point prize.
Which is only fitting, as they are your oldest and newest parts of your vast collection.
Kevin, if I remember the story correctly, goes back to when you were only as old as the Sparks we minister to every other Monday. And you’d kept him by your side at night until literally your dying day. A truly loyal friend.
Now, while the pink and purple bear hasn’t got a name – at least, you never told you’d given it one – it has an equally interesting backstory. The last time we were at Cedar Point, back in 2019, I suggested you try your luck at the Guess Your Age concession booth. Daniel and I would make certain to stay out of sight, as we would be a dead giveaway.
Sure enough, the guy missed by some five years – closer than I expected, but far enough for you to win a prize. And such a prize! As with Kevin, you kept it by your side until the end.
And so here they sit, in their time in the limelight, holding each other as they welcome the kids, and remembering you and your love for them.
And missing you, just like me.