On Saturday, the day I was supposed to leave for Sanibel, there was also the Bike Rodeo – the event designed by my neighborhood’s recently revived Civic Association, in memory of Mark. It was to be held from 9am-11am.
I’d been watching the weather report for several days and it kept bouncing around, but as I sat in my basement, early Saturday morning, it looked like we’d be good to go – cloudy but not raining.
I’d spent much of the previous hour looking into the cost of delaying my trip. I was supposed to fly out at 2:24pm. Roughly $200 to change my plane ticket, plus the “cost” of the loss of time in the condo. My trip insurer sounded less than 100% sure they would reimburse the cost. But I still felt this was worth it, refund or not. I couldn’t leave with Steve not settled and feeling like we didn’t have a firm handle on his mom’s status (thanks, Myrtle). I knew she was only driving to and from CVS every day, 4 miles round trip (her “outing” – code for a daily trip that left her feeling like she had her independence, and also allowed her to smoke cigarettes that she still thinks we don’t know about even though we’ve told her we know!), but still.
I started working another angle. Maybe I could get help? Already, friends and neighbors had volunteered to keep an eye on Steve. I reached out to Steve’s cousin, who lived nearby. Could she check on my MIL, her aunt, a few times? She wrote back, from a church retreat, that of course she could help. And then she said: “Isn’t Kelly [Steve’s sister] coming down tomorrow?”
I thought, “Nah. Not possible. Kelly is coming down later in the week, because she’s going to the Bluegrass festival with Steve and their brother. She’s going to visit her mom AFTER the festival.”
The rain started at 8am.
The rain never stopped.
Twenty people were there for the Rodeo – friends old and new, mostly there to volunteer or donate or sing the national anthem (thank you Annandale High School choir kids, once again). It was actually lovely in its way. One intrepid little girl did the whole course! We all decided to regroup and try again in September.
While the bike rodeo organizers were mulling over whether to call it, I had texted Kelly. Gotta get to the facts.
“When are you coming? Before or after Merlefest?”
“It’s the kids’ spring break. I’m coming down tomorrow until Wednesday and then driving back to NY and then flying down to NC on Friday.”
Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH.
Kelly would be staying with her mom, providing the oversight and evaluation needed. She would go with Steve to his appointment on Monday – if he had a sudden bleed again, I thought company would be good. And then Steve’s cousin would step in after Wednesday and see my MIL through until Steve gets home.
I was going to Sanibel. And I realized the early end to the Rodeo would allow me just enough time to get to the grocery store for my MIL’s supplies, and to finish packing. Shaking with emotion, overwhelmed by God’s grace, I moved forward.
As I packed, I found this little treasure. For some reason it was tucked inside an unused/empty journal I’d received as a gift, more than a decade ago.
Love you too, Mark. With all our hearts.