On Purpose

Disclaimer: this post is going to be a little wordy.

In 2009, I returned home to Jacksonville, Florida to spend a week at the beach with my old friend Libby. Libby and I went through grade school, junior high and our freshman year of high school together before I moved away to Illinois in 1977. As so often happens, our lives became full with work, travel, marriages, children and although some years we might exchange only a phone call and a Christmas card.. our hearts have remained forever tethered. I had found old letters from when we were kids planning for when we would spend a week at the beach together when we received our drivers licenses… I called her up approximately 30 years later and asked her if she was ready to do just that. We had such a wonderful reunion that we made it a tradition to do it twice a year. Our freshman year we went to school with a senior boy who was all that and then some.  My first boyfriend, Marty, was captain of the football team and the biggest flirt I’ve ever known… He still is. Even though he was a senior Marty gave attention to all of us freshman and even an eighth grader named Stacy who also came from our northside redneck neighborhood to attend school on the southside in hopes of bettering ourselves and expanding our horizons. I had last seen Marty when I was 21 years old… But when Libby and I began to make our bi-annual beach trips he started to pop in to visit. He’s been a great comfort and a big help to me helping me deal with my daddy during his illness over the past year and teaching Libby’s daughter to surf and simply Being a reminder of the good old days and continuing to keep us smiling. He retired three years ago… but quickly became bored and recently became a public safety officer for St. Johns County. Marty told me about a month ago of a call that had affected him deeply. There had been an accident on the north side of town and he happened to be the closest car to answer the call. What appeared to be a minor traffic accident with minimal damage to both vehicles actually was quite serious… One man driving a truck was not breathing and Marty began his first rescue effort using the training he had recently completed… An officer on the scene chided him and told him “not to bother” because the “guy is already gone”… Referring to the Glasgow scale of less than optimal recovery. Marty felt he must protect life over limb, and continued his efforts. The man was life flighted to the nearest emergency room. While he was writing his report a woman knocked on his squad window and asked where the man in the truck had been taken as he was her husband. Marty attempted to find another officer to escort her to the emergency room but no one thought it was that important and told her to drive there herself. He called the hospital later that day concerned about the welfare of his accident victim and learned the man had been placed on a respirator. Due to not wearing a seatbelt, his neck had been broken by the impact. However, after he had been revived he was still able to communicate with doctors, nurses and family even though he was paralyzed to the point of never being able to breathe on his own again. Marty expressed to me how badly he felt that this was the result of his efforts and that perhaps the officer at the scene who scoffed at his efforts might’ve been right, after all.

This week Marty stopped by to have lunch with Libby and I at the beach. During the course of their conversation he began to tell her this story… When he got to the part about the wife knocking on his squad car …Libby ask him exactly where this accident had occurred. He told her the crossroads. She took a deep breath and explained that the man involved in the accident and the woman who was his wife were Stacy’s father-in-law and mother-in-law. Stacy has been living on the upper East coast for the past 20 years but has recently returned to Jacksonville where I met her again & spent time with her at the beach last year… Even though these people had been living in Jacksonville… no one had gotten together again until after I returned to pull together the old gang.

As I mentioned before Marty had met Libby myself and Stacy all in 1976 when we traversed the northside to attend school on the southside of Jax.

As the conversation continued Libby was able to give Marty some details that we might never had known. Stacy’s in-laws were divorced a number of years ago but quickly realized that the divorce had been a mistake and they actually continued to live together as husband-and-wife without the necessary legal documents… Always planning to get remarried but never quite getting around to it. After the man had been revived in the hospital he made known that his wishes to remarry his wife were of the utmost importance to him. His desire was to make her his legal bride saving her any issues they might have with the home they had shared for 30 years and then His request was to be to be taken off the ventilator. The ceremony was performed in his hospital room reuniting them in marriage. He then asked to be taken off the ventilator a couple of days later with his family present. Had the responding officer at the scene simply let him go, as was suggested by one of his peers, that never could have taken place… To me, the fact that four kids who seemingly randomly met 37 years ago… could each find each other again after years of absence assuming they might never see one another again, could then have such a profound impact on each other’s lives… is beyond comprehension and more than amazing.

These two weeks back home have been difficult but rife with little miracles all along the way.

My conclusion… life is beautiful….

Coincidence? I think not.