In September and October, I wrote a couple of blog posts on how I’d written a story for a contest after losing a very special sheep, the ewe that brought the rings down the aisle at my wedding. I had her in mind as I crafted the tale.
I wrote this Facebook post at 10:35 a.m. the day that Jeff and I met:
Tonight: Panel discussion on ag opportunities like agritourism, farm diversity, local food, and more. Writing up some notes this morning. Come join us from 6-8 at the Extension office.
Then I continued typing up my notes and printed them out. I tucked them into my backpack and drove to the Extension office, settled into my seat, talking with my fellow panelists. The event began, and one of the Extension educators present asked us all to introduce ourselves.
And I say “has been” and not “was” because there are still two weeks left: two weeks in which to celebrate the holidays with family, take some time to reflect and relish in candlelight, to soak in the sweet pine smells, to enjoy music filled with hope and joy in Christ’s coming.
Yet, I am constantly being told by media and others around me that we should say, “Good riddance, 2020,” or “There was nothing good about 2020,” or “This was the worst year ever.”
It’s been difficult to sit down and write the continuation of my last blog post because I’ve known what it has to be about. I cannot compose another blog post until I write about this. I have told some of these stories on Facebook, on Twitter, but not here. For some reason, writing it here, admitting here that it happened, makes it even more real than I want it to be. It wasn’t what I planned Part 2 to be, but this is how it turned out.
On September 20, two days after posting Guardian, one of my best friends collapsed during a CrossFit session and died of cardiac arrest. He was three days older than me and seemingly in the best shape of his life.
His name was Rob, and he was one of my teammates during my Indiana FFA State Officer year. Each of us played a role on the team, both in an official capacity and as a team member. Officially, he was stationed by the flag as the reporter, writing stories and taking pictures that would inform others about the FFA. As a team member, he was our encourager, whether he was sitting up late to help us with speeches or giving us directions over the phone when we became lost on a back road. He dreamed up crazy ideas and persuaded us to follow him in implementing them. Rob encouraged us to be ourselves and saw potential in everyone he met.
I asked Jeff a few hours before he proposed what he thought about May 16 for our wedding date.
We knew where this whole thing was going, even though he hadn’t asked me yet to marry him, and I had an idea: have the wedding on May 16 (5/16) because the date uses a combination of our birthdays (October 5 and November 16). The date would be exactly half a year away from my birthday, so we’d always be close to one thing or the other to celebrate something.
Before that, we had talked about where we would want to marry. He had always wanted to have a ceremony in a dramatic location, such as a beach or a mountaintop, and I wanted a gathering close to home. So we combined the two wishes and chose the longest covered bridge in the county, which is just a few miles from the farm, to host our ceremony.
A few weeks ago, as I was throwing a couple of bags into the trunk of my parents’ car, my hat fell over my eyes. I lost the sense of where the trunk door was and slammed my head on it.
Three hours later, my knees gave out when I joined the line at our local fairgrounds for pancakes and sausage at the Maple Syrup Fair. I jolted forward and clutched a vendor’s table to keep myself from falling to the concrete floor.
Last week while feeding the livestock, I walked quickly from the corn wagon to the feed room and caught my foot on the ledge. I crashed onto the concrete. I wasn’t hurt badly, hands just sore, but I couldn’t figure out how to rise. I grasped at feed barrels and sacks before thinking to bring my right foot forward and lean to gain upward momentum.
The rest of the evening, I moved slowly, disoriented.