“You’re going to need your passport and your bathing suit.”
Through the screen on my computer, the man with the red jacket stared straight into my eyes as he gave me specific instructions for the day he had planned for us.
“What? Where are we going?”
He raised his left eyebrow and smiled in a way that let me know I was not going to receive any further information from him.
“What am I supposed to wear?”
“Pick out three outfits. The morning we leave, I’ll tell you where we’re going and you can choose which outfit you’d like to wear.”
He was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles in a matter of days but I wasn’t sure I could wait that long. I called my cousin, Katie. “Do you know what he has planned? He said I need my passport and my bathing suit.”
“I would just do whatever he says.”
The day came for his arrival and as I watched him descend the airport escalator, his smile was the biggest I had ever seen. He nearly jumped over the people in front of him and wrapped me in a hug that could’ve suffocated a wild bear. I studied his face as we waited for his luggage. He was beaming. Watching him was making my own cheeks hurt.
Two days after his arrival was the 3rd anniversary of my late-husband’s passing. The night before, the man with the red jacket told me to take my time in the morning with the kids. He made plans with a mutual friend and reassured me that there was no need to rush time spent with them as we remembered their daddy.
By mid-afternoon, I began to wonder when I would see him.
“I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
In precisely 15 minutes, my doorbell announced someone’s arrival. I opened the door to find the man with the red jacket. Assuming our mutual friend drove him to my home, I poked my head outside the door to wave in gratitude, however, there was nobody in the car.
“Did you drive here yourself?”
He showed me the keys in his hand.
I shut the door behind him and thought to myself how kind (and trusting) it was of our friends to let him borrow their car. As we entered into the family room with my daughter behind us, I asked Michael what he had been doing throughout the morning.
“Wes and I had breakfast and then I had to go to Burbank.”
“Burbank? Why did you have to go to Burbank?”
“Where else am I supposed to hire an American muscle car?”
Confused, I realized that the car in my driveway was not that of our friends. The man in the red jacket proceeded to tell me that he rented a Camaro after listening to me talk endlessly about the time I rented one and fell in love with the car.
While begging him to take me for a joy ride, I raced to the front door. My daughter was not far behind me as she squealed with excitement and asked to join us for a drive.
As we cruised through the canyon, my mind seemed to let go of the weight I didn’t realize I had been carrying. My shoulders relaxed, my smile was soft, and the roar of the engine muffled the noise between my ears.
I didn’t know why he needed to rent a car. I had no idea what he had planned for the next day. But I didn’t care. My mind was clear and my passport was ready. And I reluctantly prepared my bathing suit, also.
I woke up at 6:00am the next morning. This was the day. The day he planned in secret. He told me that he would be at my house by 7:00am and that we were scheduled to leave by 8:30am. I am known for two things: getting lost and being late. As a result, Michael emphasized the importance of making sure we left on time.
Just past 7:00am, there was a gentle knock at the door. He stood on my front porch with a grin brighter than the sun. He handed a card to me and said, “this card will tell you where we’re going.”
Glancing up towards his eyes, I slowly opened the envelope. As I pulled out the card, I noticed a very familiar scene on the front. My eyes widened, my mouth dropped, and without opening the card, I knew where we were going.
“Are you serious? Hume??”
I could feel my eyes burning with hot tears that were begging for release. I read his handwritten words. My heart nearly escaped my body. He was taking me back to Hume. The place where we first met. The landscape of God’s majesty that held a mixture of my emotions.
I raced upstairs to finish getting ready. I knew exactly which outfit I needed to wear. As I did my best to curl my hair and put on makeup without crying, I could hear the sound of breakfast being made in my kitchen.
My daughter sleepily greeted me as I was getting ready, while my son was lost in sweet slumber in his room.
After enjoying breakfast, I said goodbye to my daughter, woke my son for a quick hug, and told them I would see them in the evening when I returned home.
I couldn’t be sure, but I was fairly positive that this was going to be a day I would never forget. And it wouldn’t require a passport (or my bathing suit, phew!).