This entry is not for someone we met. It’s for someone we will never meet again.
My friend Mike lost his wife Elena this weekend. She had battled a blood cancer for several years. We all thought she was in remission, and she and Mike were planning a full summer.
Elena made you happy to know her. She made you happy to say whatever you were saying to her, and she was happy. Mike had the best of wives in her, a woman who took care of him, but who let him be himself. He is better for her, which us the highest purpose of a marriage. (I speak of my own wife here too).
The people we meet on this trip have been a mirror on our own blessings. Some have been in real need. Some have made bad choices and will do so again. Others have
just been there for us as a new friend or brief, happy encounter. They have all made the two of us, lifelong friends, better, closer friends.
I can only hope that Mike faces the loss of his wife, his young daughter’s mother, and his true best friend, with the same — no, it’s not that. No. We all face our dangers and our losses in our own ways. What I have learned from this trip is that Mike is lucky to have had Elena, lucky to have his and her families so supportive, and lucky to have the community around him as he makes it through this moment and into the future.
By looking around for someone to help, Jay and I have come to view the people around us more clearly. Looking for the big problems, we see little things, like searching for a quarter or needing help with a door or a bag. It also makes us question are own needs. Do I really need all those clothes? Do I really have to read the news?
I’m sitting on the bus to Asheville at the Winston-Salem stop, thinking about Elena. Now a man, whom we will call Raven’s Husband, got on. He’s a bit rugged, and he’s carrying a homemade banjo made out of a Guatemalan cigar box. I ask him if he’s on his way to return the box home. He laughs and says he’s on his way to nowhere. Just keep moving. If Greyhound goes he goes. Lost his wife, Raven, back in the Spring, and she wanted to just move about, too, Now it’s just him.
Elena, my dear, we miss you. We just hope that Mike and the baby will keep moving on in your honor.