Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Journey

With the snow as such, and a layer of ice beneath, I almost didn't make it out of my driveway a week ago Thursday.  With my car stuck, and wheels spinning, I cussed once or twice, damning the state of Michigan, and pointing out to God, I shouldn't even be here.  But more than hating my home state, I hated that I might miss the 6 PM showing of the Rich Mullins film at Spring Arbor University.

Finally, after 20 minutes of teaming with my parents, shovels, and a bucket of sand, my Corolla made it out of our private drive and onto Pentecost Hwy.  Thankfully, I wasn't more than five minutes late to the screening.  And following, I had the chance to say a quick hello to the guy I know who plays the role of Rich in the film. 

But in waiting to say hello to the movie star, I recognized another man I had met before - an all-star named Damon who has been working at the college for years.  I know this because I had a full day of interviews for an RD job at SAU nine winters ago, and one of the slotted interview times was with him.

I didn't get the job in 2005, but I did get a book recommendation.  Damon suggested I read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller - THE very book that prompted me to start writing a book of my own.  I think I had already heard of Blue Like Jazz, but it was Damon's encouragement that pushed me over the edge to finally pick up a copy.  Thank God for that job interview, regardless of not being offered the position.  Because reading the book eventually led to me submitting an excerpt of my writing to Don, that his buddy Jordan discovered, and insisted to Don, you need to write this girl.  And so Don wrote a kind e-mail to me stating, "First of all, be affirmed, you are a writer... "  I then knew, someday I would be.

Two summers ago I snuck out of NYC and drove out to the Hamptons to spend the 4th of July with some city friends and a few people I hadn't yet met.  At the beach, I noticed one of the girls I had just met reading Blue Like Jazz.  Alicia and I started chatting about the book, the author, and then I told her about the book I was writing, explaining to her that my style was somewhat similar.  Alicia told me she'd love to read my book once I finished.

This past fourth of July, I announced on facebook the completion of the initial manuscript of I Hate Books on Christian Dating - A Memoir Journey Towards a Mysterious God.  Alicia sent me a message, recalling how it had been exactly a year since we chatted about my book at the Hamptons.  She wanted to know how she could get a copy.  And I explained I had a ways yet to go with editing and such before the book would be ready, but that as soon as it was I would be sure to let her know.

I hadn't seen Alicia since that Hampton day, but in dropping by her facebook page, I learned after our exchange that she had a rather serious brain tumor.  (This happened to coincide with the time when my health was especially poor, and I thought I might be dieing.  Weeks later I would learn I had been unknowingly starving my body of oxygen.  I've often wondered, that as a marathon runner, if Alicia unknowingly did the same thing to her body.)  I was hopeful Alicia would be healed, but I noted I would try and send her pre-print copy of my book sometime that fall.  But I waited too long, and discovered the news of her passing before I had the chance to send her a copy. 

Today is Alicia's birthday - age 33, I believe. 

Happy Birthday Alicia!  I hope my book can somehow transcend time, and find its way into your hands in heaven.  I'm still working on finding funding for the book launch, but please know, I regret not sending you what I could have shared with you before you left.  I'm blessed in having had the opportunity to spend that 4th of July holiday with you two years ago.  One of your former BSF girls joined my small group this fall.  She spoke of you fondly; certainly, you're missed.  Both you and Rich Mullins died far too young; thanks for gracing us with the beautiful life of love that you lived.

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