May 21, 2020

Dear Larry,

I ate a Little Debbie Zebra Cake in your honor this afternoon. Actually, I ate two because the cakes were twin wrapped. Your laugh echoed off the walls of my brain cells as I chewed. You always laughed when I ate both cakes. After all, you had convinced me the cakes were healthier than most other snacks, so why not eat two?

While I was savoring each sweet, delicious bite, I was thinking about the first time I saw you. My thoughts swirled along a winding river of memories and cascaded into a poem.

Destined to Be

Five miles of blacktop
illuminated by headlights,
rain puddles shimmered
in early morning mist,
tires rolled along.

One lone figure
trudged along the shoulder
assaulted by the wind,
hunched against the rain,
determined in his stride.

Five miles of blacktop
stretched in my direction,
a moment of insanity
overtook my brain.
Braked beside him,
I rolled down the window,
questioned the stranger,
our destination was the same.

Illuminated by headlights
in the mist of early morning
along five miles of blacktop I drove,
trusted a stranger by my side.

Tires rolled forward.
He opened his heart,
shared his story,
exposed his soul.
I listened, attracted.

Guided by compassion,
a forever friendship first found
as five miles of blacktop
stretched before us in the misty morning
to the place where we worked together,
no longer strangers,
destined to be.

I have never been much of a risk taker, and I err on the side of caution. To have picked up a stranger on the side of the road, was not my style. But, I saw you as a way to redeem myself – to right a wrong.

Two summers ago, there had been a man selling magazines in my neighborhood. I bought a magazine subscription, paid by check, and offered the man a lemonade as he sat on my porch. My wary neighbors, afraid to be scammed, had a State Trooper escort this man out of town.
A few weeks later, I was driving home. An early autumn wind whipped the leaves into a frenzy and raindrops splattered the windshield. Up ahead a man trudged, hunched against the wind and rain. I passed him by. A glance in my rear view mirror revealed the magazine salesman. Conscience tugged at my brain, trepidation dictated my actions. I drove on alone.

My actions weighed heavy on my heart. I should have given that man a ride. And so, my dear Larry, that dark rainy morning when I saw you trudging up the road, I would not make the same mistake twice. I pulled alongside you and asked where you were going. You told me you were headed to Lyme Central School and your first day as a substitute teacher. “That’s my school. I am a middle school teacher. Hop in,” I said. And when you did, a grand friendship began.
Today, I ate Zebra Cakes in your honor, as I often do, and I thanked God I picked up a stranger that dark, rainy morning when I met you.

Love Always,

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