Free Day

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.

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