It was a cold winter’s night…
My friend Marie and I had gathered at a lovely local restaurant to toast to our fellow blogger-mama-writer friend, Emilie Lemmons, who left our world on Christmas Eve 2008. Emilie would have been 43 on January 16.
Last year, Marie and I drove four hours to the Twin Cities to meet up with a group of Emilie’s friends at a restaurant where they’d celebrated her 40th with her just a few years prior. It was a beautiful experience of friends old and new gathered to honor the life of one who lived life well and purposefully. But for Marie and I, the travelers from afar, it included a few glitches, too. On our last day of the trip, Marie’s Tom-Tom led us astray and we found ourselves lost in St. Paul. After a few urgent petitions to the heavens, terse words with “Tom-Tom” and finally agreeing to rely on intuition, we did reach our destination, the Cathedral of St. Paul, only 15 minutes late for Mass. That was the first of a few mishaps during our return trip, but all this served to flavor our adventure, make it more real, more memorable.
As the photo at the top indicates, this year, too, the celebratory evening began peacefully, sublimely, even, as we admired the winter wonderland at our backs: the snowy banks of the Red River, the dim light illuminating deer tracks below, snow-heavy tree branches.
When our waitress announced her name — Emily — we smiled knowingly at one another. All was well and as it should have been, we knew right then. Enjoying a shared meal of scallops and broiled walleye, we finished it off with warm coffee and cream. It was a nice evening of catching up on the challenges and joys of our lives.
But the night wouldn’t have been complete without something out of the ordinary occurring, and the first sign was when we paused for a hug in the parking lot and, as I clicked my remote key, heard no response. Dead battery. What to do? It took a little bit of scraping off ice to open the hood to Marie’s car, and acrobatics in my van in an effort to access the jumper cables in the trunk without ready access to it (the key hole was iced over). But eventually, things began to turn around.
“Remember, positive to positive, negative to negative,” my husband reminded me during a quick call home. Just when we were about to give up due to a tightly locked cable cover, I was able to pull it free, exposing the connecting spot that promised to liberate me. As Marie clamped the final cable to her battery, sparks flew briefly and immediately my van alarm began to sound. We both jumped as the “Wonk! Wonk! Wonk! Wonk!”sounded. “It’s alive!!” Laughing, we couldn’t help but feel triumphant at what had taken place. Though we’d almost run inside the restaurant to summon the help of a strong male type, it wasn’t necessary. Marie and I had gotten things running again all on our own. We celebrated with High-5s and a few photos so that we wouldn’t soon forget the power of determination — a trait Emilie greatly admired.
“Now I know Emilie is with us!” Marie said.
Indeed. If not for the run-down battery fiasco, I might have second-guessed it. But as of last year’s trip, we’ve come to associate our remembrances of our writer friend as incomplete without some sort of mishap occurring. Having gotten the sign, our evening was complete. We’d been properly assured that Emilie was near, giggling with us from her new, and likely much warmer, perch.
Q4U: What made you feel empowered recently?