Last Wednesday was a big day for me, not just because it was Ash Wednesday. When I was a child I always gave up candy which wasn’t really a big deal because I only had to sacrifice from Monday to Saturday. I got my allowance on Sunday and only bought candy on Sunday – not really a terrible sacrifice!
As an adult, I’ve learned it isn’t so much giving up something, but more taking on something like prayer or doing a good deed daily. I decided for this year I would meditate daily. By the end of 20 minutes I was breathing in Love and out Peace. I don’t know why those words came to mind, but I liked feeling as if I was spreading peace and love far and wide.
I also decided to give up getting on the scale or criticizing my body. I’d let negative thoughts go just as I let any thoughts go during meditation. I’m interested to see what the scale says when I get on it Easter morning before I eat my delicious meal and any candy the Easter Bunny might bring my way!
Last Wednesday was also a big day because I was going to meet a good friend for the first time in 27 years. We’d planned this day weeks ago. I think we were originally going to meet around 11:30, but changed it to 12:30. The time is important.
We were meeting half way. With my human’s help, my friend and I chose to eat at the Panera Bread right next to I-95. We verified the address; there were three Panera Breads very close to each other.
I spent a lot of time reading the menu, but decided I’d eat the meal with hummus on the recommendation of my bestie “Jane” (name changed). I was looking forward to that meal.
I managed to download Google maps on my phone, turned on the location feature, typed in the address for Panera Bread, and connected my phone to the car using Bluetooth.
You cannot possibly understand what an accomplishment that was for me. I set course nervously and eagerly. I was going to see a friend I hadn’t seen in 27 years.
I planned on leaving early so I wouldn’t be late, but by the time I had my phone set I was leaving a little late. No problem, the phone told me I would still be fine.
So there I was, driving along I-95 with the radio off because I had the phone propped in the cup holder so I could watch the little car on the map while watching all the cars and trucks on the actual road and I can’t concentrate on that and singing. I did not hear any breaking news.
I was not stressed, I was feeling pretty excited and mellow and thinking love and peace, love and peace.
I was almost to my turn off ramp. The little letters on the screen (it’s been 27 years since I last saw my friend so my eyes aren’t young anymore) said the exit was about three miles away.
That was when I heard the sound of the first text, but I ignored it because I was driving (obviously). I did wonder why it hadn’t come up on my car as it does when my human drives, but at least I was near my exit and it wouldn’t be long before I responded.
A blue sedan came speeding up from behind me. I was surprised when I saw strange lights on it. I had never seen an undercover police car like it. When it came up behind someone it sounded the softest siren I had ever heard. I was curious as it passed.
The sign hanging over the highway said some town was so many miles away and the time to get there was similar to the mileage. I figured there was smooth sailing to my destination as long as that officer wasn’t on his way to an accident in the next three miles.
Another police car passed soon after, and then another. All were completely undercover and silent until they came upon a vehicle. That was when I thought, well, crap, and prepared to hit the brakes for the accident I was sure to encounter.
Then the second text came at the same time I glanced at the map on my phone. The text was from “Jane”. It showed on my map.
I wasn’t really texting and driving, I swear, but I read the words…
“Are you ok? I heard there was a shooting at Panera in Abingdon.”
Of course I didn’t respond though I knew “Jane” would be worried. I knew how I’d feel if the rolls were reversed. Oh, if only my phone would text through my car!
I took my exit and followed my map. I found the restaurant easily, but it was surrounded by police cars. As I was trying to navigate my way to an appropriate place to park, my phone rang through my car. I answered, relieved that at least that feature worked.
It was my friend telling me she was about ten minutes away and would be late. I was relieved she wasn’t in the restaurant.
I parked in a grocery store parking lot and texted “Jane” that I had arrived, but was waiting for my friend.
“Jane” texted back.
I was freaking out. I can relax now. Eat at Wegmans.
I responded to the first text that had been from my human wanting me to tell him when I got to lunch. I texted that there was a shooting and of course he called me right back, he had not heard about it.
So, after awhile my friend arrived and we did eat at Wegmans and the food was delicious. We talked for two hours. It was wonderful.
Only the day wasn’t really wonderful. Two police officers were shot by someone who had been in the Panera Bread.
The first police officer had simply walked up to a disheveled man, sat down next to him and asked how his day was going. That was when the man shot the police officer in the head.
The second officer was shot outside the restaurant when the suspect fled.
Both police officers are dead. They were both heroes with families and friends and kindness in their hearts.
Neither will ever get the chance to meet a friend after 27 years.
I wish I had been able to send that love and peace just a little further, like all the way to Abingdon.
I wish the world was not filled with desperate people who feel the need to kill others.
I wish for Lent people would give up hatred and then they would feel so much love in their hearts that they wouldn’t pick up that baggage after Easter.
I wish a lot of things, but mostly I vow to spend my days breathing in love, and spreading peace.
I want to thank all the men and women who walk that thin blue line every day. Watch your six and may you go home in peace each and every day.