I went downtown yesterday to explore metropolitan Charlotte. To add to the adventure I decided to take the bus, convinced if I could learn the bus route in a third world country, I must be able to figure out a bus system in the United States. I found the bus to take me uptown. The bus driver handed me a "Dump the Pump" sticker as I looked for an empty seat. The tag line message encouraged me to help save the environment. It felt like a daunting assignment, when for the last year I have been trying to figure out how to save myself. Yet, I was happy to be doing my part if only for one day.
I used my travel time to read a book I haven’t been able to put down since I started it, "If I Live to Be 100" by Neena Ellis. Shawn died at 32 and I am reading about the possibility of living to be a centenarian. One couple in the book celebrated 80 years of marriage. Phenomenal. A miracle. An envious feat. Sixty years of marriage was on my wish list. Now I am looking for new wishes.
My bus driver pulled me out of my thoughts. He asked where I was from and proceeded to tell me he used to live in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. A small world. I live in a small, short-term world. He continued to make small talk with me. I kind of wanted to read my book. He asked if I came with my family. I told him I came alone and for some reason that sounded sadly lonely to me. I quickly explained that I was attending a conference while I silently started defining family in my head. Shawn and I had hoped to have four children. That would have made us a family of six. Death cut that number in half. We are a family of three, Jordan, Maddi and me. I wanted to tell the driver that half my family was missing.
I found my bus-stop balancing between deep thoughts and wondering what my bus driver had been doing in Brooklyn Park. On the street I passed a random lady who smiled as I walked by. The interaction took less than two seconds and I wondered if we would meet again on the other side of life. Will I recognize a stranger in heaven? Will the smile she offered and the smile I received someday be our eternal connection? Either way, I was thankful for the smile.
I couldn’t stop thinking. I took my book to a restaurant with an outdoor patio. I ordered unsweetened tea which seemed to go against southern tradition. The waiter insisted I use sugar. I didn’t return to my hotel until I had finished my book. I had no other obligations. That was the best part of my day.