I’m writing this blog post tonight, April 25th, the four-year Sadiversary of Chris’s death, at just about the time when he would have been lost in the Mississippi River, though I didn’t know quite yet that anything had happened. As I have on this date every year since he was lost, I visited St. Anthony Falls, the place where Chris lost his life, except for 2019, I think it was, when the gate wasn’t open yet.
I’ve tried to write this blog a few times now and I’ve never quite been able to write what I want. So today, whether I write what I want or not, I will post this in honor of my beloved Chris.
If you read my blog from time to time or follow the Fueled by Love Facebook page, you may be aware that I’m writing a book about my bike journey along the length of the Mississippi River. And since it’s been more than two years since that journey, I guess you can see it’s slow going. Sort of like this post.
Most of the book will be about my time on the bike and the lessons I learned and the fun I had and the contentment I felt when on that saddle in places I had never been, often alone with just me, my bike and Jesus. (Potential title of a chapter)
But in order to set the book into place, I needed to write about when Chris was found–that’s the prologue–and when he was lost. I’ve written these two chapters already because they are the hardest and I had to be able to do that, to write about my deepest sorrow and fear, in order to write the remainder of the book.
One of the chapters is called “(No) Next Time,” just like this blog post, though the chapter will be quite different from this post. I couldn’t get it out and Josué told me just to write what I needed to write and then let others edit for me, so that’s what I did. I’m terrified of the editing, to be honest, because what I wrote is embedded into my being, but in order to tell the story, it will have to be. And it’s okay.
I want to share this one piece of that chapter, though, today, on four year Sadiversary, Part 1.
On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, my friend Doris was visiting from Barcelona and staying at my friends’ condo on the Mississippi River. We were going to lunch with my step-mom Faye, and at the last minute I texted Chris to see if he wanted to join us, because we were just minutes away from his place.
He told me he had just eaten and had to study so he wouldn’t be able to join us. He was just about two weeks away from graduating.
So I texted him back, “Next time.”
And of course there was no next time. No more texts. No more calls. No more visits or lunches or hugs.
So I never, ever say “Next time” anymore.
It’s a little challenging to live like that, especially in this past year. I have lived since then believing that if something is important enough to me I will make time for it. If someone reaches out and invites me somewhere or calls me or asks to meet or whatever it is, I do my damnedest to do it. I don’t reach out as much now as I used to, but if I do, you can know that you are important to me, and if you reach out to me and I agree to meet you, it’s because you are important to me.
So the converse of that is that I take pretty personally those who don’t take the time to meet with me or call me or reach out, even in a pandemic, because I feel like I’m not important enough. I know that a “next time” is expected. And I know that is not necessarily a “fair” way to look at it, but it is what it is.
Josué and I will be attending our fifth and sixth funerals of people close to us in the last few months. None has died from anything related to COVID. So I continue to live my life in the best way I can because I don’t know that there will be a “next time.”
We like to think we control life and death, but we don’t. If there is any lesson I have learned with Chris’s death, it is that. The other thing I have learned is that it’s hard to lose that fantasy, but once you do, it frees you to live differently.
I hope people will be a little more patient with each other and less judgmental about people who meet with their friends and loved ones, and those who don’t. There is some kind of a balance, and it’s not an easy one and it’s not the same one for everyone. There is nothing in this last year that has kept me from seeing those I love from my end, though it has kept others from seeing me. Intellectually I understand that, but my heart is having trouble with it. I know for others it is different. And that’s okay.
My beloved Chris, I miss you so very much. I know the calendar tells me it’s been four years, but my heart still tells me it was yesterday and forever-ago.
I pray that I may live every day the best way I know how and that I may value each moment, each relationship, each friend and each one that I love. And I pray that you may, too, if you are reading this. May we all hold the tension between believing there will be a next time and knowing there may not be.
From Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.