Dearest Rachel –
It turns out that one of the runners – or maybe he was just from the place where the group rented the vans from – was from the place we donated Daniel’s old used VW just a week or two before the accident. He was telling Jim and me about he had a transponder to give me; I didn’t realize that he was literally talking about the one we had left behind in Daniel’s car.
The first team started out at 10:30 – not that I was aware of it, as I was trying to get myself situated in the van. Every vehicle I’ve ever driven has a different feel to it, and a boat like this is no exception, so it’s a good idea to ascertain where the switches and dials I’ll need to work with are before I drive off.
By the time I realized that everyone else was back inside the church lobby, trying to synchronize their phones to keep in touch with each other. I’m not entirely sure that it will do me any good, as my phone senses when I’m in a car and shuts down accordingly. Still, I set up what I can, and at least manage to connect with Jim.
Speaking of whom, he’s announced that the teams in the second and third vans might as well run out (cue the rimshot) and grab either breakfast or lunch before heading out. I’ve never heard of the place that’s under consideration, but anything south and east of the Des Plaines campus has always been alien territory to me, no matter how long I’ve lived here, and how long I’d been going to church there.
Fortunately, it’s not left to me to navigate my way there; there’s always someone else who knows the way.
I mentioned in my earlier letter about not having remembered to bring things like gloves and a blanket. Now I remember one other thing I don’t have with me: my mask. I decide that, since it will be taken off in order to eat, I’ll just brazen it out like Daniel would, and strangely enough, that works.
Pastor Scott warned me at one point about my reputation, now that I’m suddenly single, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to scare off the females among the runners; as we’re split between two tables (since our party is to big for any single table in the restaurant), and I find myself the only male at a table full of females. College-age me would have absolutely killed for such an arrangement.
It turns out that one of them, Emily, is the fiancée of one of our worship pastors. She’s talking to the others about having set a date: January 23rd.
It’s enough to make me stop in my tracks.
Look, I can’t ask that no one be happy on that day ever after; indeed, at some point even I need to put that day behind me. But I’m not ready to deal with that yet. I’m still debating about whether or not to visit the spot where it all happened even now.
I do what I can to push it back and wish her well, and the conversation proceeds forward.
Curiously, the discussion touches on remembering anniversaries – I mention how ours became impossible to ignore thanks to what happened on the day before. I also offer that bit of advice we had settled on early in our marriage: always assume the other is getting the short end of the stick in any decision in life, and try to make it up to them. Of course, now I’ll have to hand that information to Josh as well – it works better when both parties arrive at that conclusion.
Throughout the course of the meal, we look outside, as the weather turns from rain to snow. Some of the runners are actually exuberant about this turn of events, as snow is that much less wet and messy than rain. Again, I kind of understand that, but I can’t see running in either condition if I could help it.
Worse yet, by the time we actually wrap up and pay for our meal, and head out to pick up others that had to work in the morning before driving to the next hand-off point, it’s neither raining nor snowing…
Well, I did say I didn’t prefer either of the first two conditions; it didn’t occur to me that things could be worse.
The funny part is, one of the runners as all this is coming down returned to town from where he and his wife (you remember her, you worked with her a lot back in Sparks) had moved to Florida. Bet he wishes he was back there now.
Anyway, I’ll try to get back to you later this evening; I’ve covered enough for now, I think. Take care of yourself. My love goes with you.