August 18 - Morning
Abba, father, I pray you would give your peace to River this morning. Give her grace and peace beyond her understanding. Let her feel your presence as she wakes, drives, and in her time with my family today. I thank you for bringing her into my life, Jesus, and I lift her and myself to you, asking you to continue to mold us to your will and your purpose. Thank you for her heart, and her willingness to serve you and follow your will wherever it may lead. Be with her this morning. We praise you, Lord, for you are good and your promises do not fail. Turn us evermore to the cross. Amen.
August 19, 12:00PM
River, I’ve been trying to remember every single detail from yesterday. I don’t want to let a second go unremembered or undocumented. It’s a futile goal, I know. But i’m sure going to try. But first, a word about the entry on the 17th. I never felt “not much at all.” I felt everything - I just had no name for any of it. I had been prostrating myself before Christ’s plan for me, for us, all day, and then, when everything happened and you called, I simply took everything in stride. I still didn’t really realize everything that was happening, I guess. I’m so glad you called, River. Thank you for calling. Thank you.
I was sitting outside in the church parking lot with Luke when you drove up. You parked, then after a minute I heard your keys, saw you walking over, and got up and hugged you. Said something like “it’s good to see you.” Your laugh was hardly a laugh as you called that an understatement. I kept marveling at you. How you could have gone through that, through all of it, and still be here, still smiling, still breathing. You had told me over and over that it was me that had got you through the weekend. I know I helped. But River, it was you. You are strong.
You hugged Luke and we walked inside, said hi to my sisters, and then walked over through the grocery store parking lot to the Starbucks inside. You got a blonde, Luke got pike, I got gum. I was shaking too much for more coffee. And not even so much shaking. Just nerves. We walked back out through the parking lot. You put your hand on my arm as we walked. I was and still am always grateful that you weren’t afraid of touch. You… you just fit me. We’ve talked about it at length, but you fit me. And I fit you.
In the hymns before the sermon, as we stood, you put your hand on my arm again, then leaned your head on my shoulder. Just slightly. But it was there. My heart melted, River. It melted.
I played that simple little piece for the offertory and sat back down next to you. Our arms touched throughout the service. I simply wanted to be near you, in your presence, It ended, we walked outside, the four of us and you, and Luke and I loaded our instruments in my truck. You hugged me again, the nonchalant, stationary, one-armed hug. It was familiar and yet so novel. I loved it.
My dad told us we were going to * for lunch. You and Rose rode in your car, and Maddie and Luke rode with me. I pulled in first, you pulled in beside me. I opened the door for Maddie and then you came up, handed me your keys. On the marina, we waited for my parents. It was almost cool in the shade under the awnings. You and I looked over the railing at the water. In the sunlight, it was vivid lake-green. I pointed out the tiny flashes underneath the surface that signaled the schools of minnows. Our hands touched as we propped ourselves up on the railing. I was smiling. I love your hands.
(I’m sitting in my truck. I got to work early. I miss you, River. So much. The mix is playing and I’m on the verge of tears. I have been all day.
“One night to be confused,
One night to speed up truth.
…Mind is a razor blade.”
Just kidding. I’m over the verge of tears, not on it. To say that everything reminds me of you is pointless. You’re my world, River. I keep thinking back to the back of your car. I don’t know really why I’m crying. It’s so happy. It’s… it’s real. This is real.)
Maddie took pictures of us, a subtle reminder that after today, I wouldn’t see you, for a very long time. Almost all of us ordered the same thing. You sat by me at the table under the roof of the dock with my family. Waiting for the food, a wasp flew about us and you grabbed me and laughed. “I yield"!” I joked. We all moved to another table. You led the way. You held my hand. It fit. Everything fit. You fit with me, I fit with my family, we all fit in the scene with the marina and the soft breeze and the bright green water and the red clay beaches & thick forests beyond. All felt well. You ran your finger along my forearm under the table. You. You. I signed, smiled, looked over at you, eyes squinting at the sun on the water. Luke threw fries at the ducks.
My parents loved (and love) you. It was plain to see, yesterday. We finished eating, and they told us all that we could go on back, if we wanted. All the kids took them up on the offer, and we filed out. You and I were the last to leave the table, and I unfolded myself from the bench, and you finished saying something to my mom. You put your arm in mine again, and we walked back to the cars, our feet sounding hollow on the boards of the dock. I marveled at how comfortable I felt, how at peace everything seemed.
“Can I have my keys?” you asked sweetly. “Absolutely” I overemphasized, and gave them back… then added. “You’re free to stay with me.” You smiled.
The living room at my house was full of furniture, books, mirrors, all the paraphernalia that resulted from half the houses’s floors being refinished and restained. Luke made three cups of coffee, one for him and two for us, and we sat next to the front door. We had each others hands and I could tell you were preoccupied. I asked you how you felt. You were conflicted. “After today, I won’t see you for another three months. Yesterday I had to say goodbye to a person who had been my best friend for two years. I told you, I’m not good with goodbyes.”
“I know. I miss you already.” My heart was bursting.
You smiled a half-smile. Our hands moved over one another’s palms and fingers. Everything in my life had come apart. My sister’s mask, my father’s comfort, my brothers innocence, my secure cynicism, even my house- and yet, here you were. This was happening, with the beautiful wreckage of my old life around us, and the promise of something new, something new and good.
Soon after my parents got back, you told me you needed to leave, that we should go get coffee beforehand. “Not that we need to buy more coffee.” you laughed. “Just so we can sit somewhere or something.” You said goodbye to my family, one by one, and then we walked outside. I opened your door for you and as you got in your said, “I’ll just follow you.”
I drove to the Starbucks on Rayburn, because I wanted to put you as close to the highway so you’d have an easier drive.
After a moment’s thought, I parked with the passenger side facing the shop, and you pulled in on the other side. “Cool,” I thought. “All we’re going to do is sit in the cars, but I don’t want all of Starbucks watching.”
Neither of us needed anymore coffee, so I bought two waters and we went back to the cars.
“So how does this work? What do you want to do?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. I don’t really care.” You laughed. “Want to just sit somewhere?”
“Let’s just pick a car? Yours probably has better air conditioning.”
“That’s fine! Let me clean out all of the stuff in the back seat first.”
“Ha, River, that’s not messy at all. Like, it’s nothing.”
“Still!” You threw the blanket and your shoes (I think) into the front seat. I got in and we laughed about how my pants had been in full view when Joshua was in the car. I don’t remember much else in terms of conversation.
note: there was a page ripped out right here. I don’t know when it was torn out or what it said, if anything.
You are good, Lord. Thank you again for River. Thank you for bringing her into my life. Be glorified in our relationship. More love to thee, O Christ. More love to three.
I started a list in the back of this journal of everything that I am bringing to Bozeman in 95 days. (Yes, of course I counted them.) Unfortunately, I’ll most likely tear it out before I send this to you. Surprises are good. You yourself are the best evidence of that.
When I saw my dad later that day after you left, he asked me how I was. I said that I was really good. And it was true. He said “You know, I was telling your mom earlier, when you’re with her, you seem “man.” It’s hard to explain - you just seem in control. Like ‘I got this.’“
“Well, I feel ‘man’” I replied.
That evening my mom confirmed what he had said. I thought about it. “I think I feel that way because I trust her. I have complete confidence in her. But mom, I think… I mean I’m pretty much 100% sure that she wants to be led, too.”
My mom smiled. “She brings out the good stuff. That’s a Proverbs 31 woman right there.”
We’re not married, I know. But River, read Proverbs 31, the end. That’s how I see you.
(If I write 10 pages for every day, I’m going to need a bigger journal.)
1:16am - First night of this break. I wonder what you’re doing right now. Sleeping, I hope. Maybe you’re writing too. I’m sticking around. I’m here. I’m waiting. You’re worth it all.
I hope you’re losing yourself in your purpose and your walk with Christ. But I also hope, I think… I know that you’re thinking of me.
This is hard. I miss you, River. I miss you a lot. I care for you. I adore you. I admire you.
Goodnight, River. Sweet dreams.