|Photo by Barbara Mills|
The past few days have been, well, hectic. To say the least. They’ve been stressful and sad but also rejuvenating and enlightening and inspiring. The 26th of October, especially. It seems strange to lump it next to the 27th and 28th because they pale in comparison, but I’ll do my best to give each day its due.
You dawned clear, cold, and sunny. You were the day of Uncle Stephen’s memorial service. My parents, grandmother and I ate warmed-up ciche for breakfast in the house next door to my aunt’s, who’s owner had moved out for a couple of days so that we could be nearby. We spent some time with the rest of the family and then got a ride to downtown Davidson, where we walked around, visiting some of the places Uncle Stephen would have undoubtedly shown us if he’d been there. I had Chai tea at Summit coffee shop, where my aunt’s band plays every so often. Of course the bookstore was a must, and we couldn’t leave without buying something. My dad was excited to discover a copy of Looking for Alaska by John Green, and I picked up a collection of short stories by Alice Munro. Other hidden gems included a yarn shop with a tiny record store upstairs, and a cute breakfast place that was closed when we walked by, but I think someone told us it was one of my uncle’s favorite places. Later we walked over to the Presbyterian church on the Davidson College campus for the service. Since we were family we sat in the first couple of pews, but I wish I could have stood in a corner, marveling at the sheer magnitude of the crowd that attended: neighbors, friends, business associates, middle and high school students Stephen had mentored. I suppose it’s no surprise; he made friends wherever her went. The words shared during the service were beautiful and kind, people remembering all of the things Stephen had done for them, how he made them a better person, just by being around. It made me realize how rare it is to find someone like that, and how sad it is when the world loses them. Last was a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” played on the guitar by the pastor himself.
Music seemed to be the theme of the day. Later that night friends gathered at my aunt’s house for cocktails and music, just like Stephen would have wanted. It could have been a somber occasion. We could have felt sorry for ourselves, shared tears and stories from the hardest moments, but instead the atmosphere was light. It was a celebration. Old friends caught up on current events and my aunt’s very large and very talented band played for hours. Music permeated every corner of the room. During the more popular songs the entire party broke out in song, and for a moment we all embodied Stephen’s spirit. There we were, surrounded by friends and family, our hearts beating in time with the music, our voices raised, completely lost in the moment. We were living life to fullest, just like he had.
Just like that my time in North Carolina came to an end. My aunt drove us to the airport and I spent the rest of the day traveling. For some reason it was harder saying goodbye to my parents this time. I’d been preparing not to see them until Thanksgiving, and suddenly I got to spend time with them for a few days. But for some reason, this brief contact made the prospect of waiting another month before seeing them again worse than before. After a long, tiring flight I finally arrived in Cedar Rapids.
I’m not sure which felt more unreal: being back on campus, or the fact that just that morning I had been in the impossibly beautiful town of Davidson, NC. Even though I had studying to do I went straight to bed and slept until dinner. I joined my friends for dinner and tried to get back into the college mindset. Slowly, my brief trip slipped deeper into memory, and I started looking ahead again. Paper due Wednesday. Soc test Thursday. This next week is not going to be easy, but I’ll make it through. And I still have Thanksgiving to look forward to.
I got so much work done today! There really is no feeling like checking everything off of your to-do list. Let’s hope this productivity lasts...
Several songs for several days:
Way Back When/High Hopes by Kodaline
Stubborn Love by The Lumineers
Awake my Soul by Mumford and Sons