Let's start with Friday, shall we? For those of you who don't know, Foxy has (sadly) moved to San Francisco. I planned a trip to visit her as soon as I had a spare moment. I made sure to include the best possible thing to travel with...Courtnee. Turns out, Foxy has this tour guide thing down. A leisurely wine tour in Healdsburg was the first major activity on our itinerary (after eating fries smothered with goat cheese & marinara, of course). Foxy had our schedule in hand when she gave me a look.
"Bree? Look at the confirmation code..."
What the huh? Our confirmation code: Warner. As in Shelly's maiden name. I have to admit I got chills, but I was ready to prove that there was an explanation. Surely it was our tour guide's name. After 3 - 7 glasses of wine, I approached the tour guide and asked him. Go ahead dude, rain on my parade. His name was not Warner. There was truly no explanation. Okay, so I guess that's pretty cool.
Cut to Saturday. Foxy and I have watched every Iowa vs. Iowa State football game together for the last five years. This year, that game just so happened to fall on the Saturday Court and I were in town. Plus, Mike, one of my best friends from high school, also an ISU alum, lives in San Francisco and planned to join us. I chalked it up to luck. No matter what the outcome of the game, I already knew the day was a winner. (Mostly because I already had a feeling we'd lose.) Then we got to the bar that was listed on the Iowa State Alumni Association website and found roughly zero ISU fans. And zero ISU games on TV. We ordered a drink while deciding what to do next. Our enthusiasm for the game dwindled to a level just above "I don't give a shit."
But then a small, spritely crew clad in ISU shirts walked in. They were much more intent on finding the game than we were. They talked to someone in charge and then turned and headed toward the door. We accosted them even though we had no ISU gear to prove we were worthy of learning the secret location. They could've just told us where to go, but Iowans are friendlier than that. "You wanna come with us?" Don't mind if we do.
Once we got to the bar, it was a free-for-all to find a place to sit. Foxy, Court, Mike, and I meandered toward the back until we found a clearing. The game was the least exciting thing I saw at that moment. There, two feet in front of me, was Jon...Shelly's ex-boyfriend from college.
I. was. stunned. And probably not yet drunk enough for the extreme WTFness I felt. He wasn't just a random two weeker, this guy actually traveled to Florida with her to visit me while I was at Miami AdSchool.
Then I texted Shelly's sister, Kim.
She said this: Do it. You'll never get another opportunity like this.
So I did.
When I walked up to him, he literally looked as if he'd seen a ghost. I guess maybe he sort of did. I hadn't seen him since Shelly's funeral. His face quickly turned friendly. And I think maybe we even hugged. Eventually, ISU failed us. But it didn't matter. Nothing did. I was in this weird world where time teased me, confused me...and I was ready for it to mess with me even further.
As the game ended, those lovely people we followed into the bar resurfaced. I pounced on them and told them about the magic they inspired by offering to be our sportsbar sherpas. I probably hugged them too. You guys know that's a big deal for me, right? I was a hugging maniac.
I had dinner plans with my dear friends so I told Jon I'd meet him later for a drink. Here's where I became an asshole. I was with some of my favorite people on the planet, but as I sat at that dinner table, tears kept welling up in my eyes. Shelly hijacked my brain and she wasn't going anywhere. So I split. I left dinner. And then talked to Jon for five hours straight. It felt therapeutic to share such different memories about the same person. He told me some of the drama that happened between them...and I couldn't help but laugh. What wasn't funny at all back then became hysterical. She was a pistol. We all knew she was a lovable, fucking pistol. Then he told me how she bragged about me the whole time I was in Florida. I wanted to hear him say that over and over. It was yet another moment where I believe she was telling me she approves of me and the way I've shared our story.
It's not over yet, friends.
When I got back to Chicago, I checked the notes app on my iphone and discovered a random email address. Okay, let's be honest...I experienced a bit of a brown-out that night. (Not black-out because I remembered things when given clues...such as an email address.) I had told one of the sportsbar sherpas that I'd email her info about the book. I did just that. And you guys? This is her response:
I just watched the trailer and it kind of struck home for me. One of my best friends, my roommate from college, just had twin boys about 2.5 weeks ago. Her and her husband struggled with getting pregnant and after 3 tries of in vitro (first didn't work, second was a miscarriage) she was able to get pregnant. About 4 weeks ago I got a text from [...] saying she was in the hospital with Preeclampsia. She had to remain in the hospital on bed rest and either be induced or go with natural birth, depending on how long she could hold out. Thankfully she went into labor naturally and gave birth to two healthy boys. One of them is still in the NICU and will be there until he can gain enough strength to bottle feed. I am actually heading home this weekend so I'll get to see them myself!
I know that was probably more than you needed to hear, but I was so scared when [...] told me she had Preeclampsia. I tried reading about it as much as I could, but it was hard to understand everything.
Thank you, Foxy. Thank you, Courtnee. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Kim. Thank you group of people in ISU shirts. Thank you, Jon.
Thank you, San Francisco.
For letting Shelly visit me.