I’ve been eager to share this beautiful guest post from Kasey Mathews ever since she so graciously shared it with me a few months ago. I won’t keep you waiting any longer; it’s just too good. –Tamara
The party began at 6:30. It was already quarter to seven and we were still at least a half hour away. We were late and I’d planned this event days in advance. I’d driven my husband to work that morning, an hour there and back, so we’d have only one car. The kids were spending the night at a friend’s. And in the back, my silvery-gray dress swung on a hook right next to a gift bottle of scotch.
My daughter had picked out the dress. My I’ll only wear my brother’s hand-me-down cargo shorts and t-shirts daughter! She had laid the outfit on my bed, complete with shoes, jewelry and a matching purse. “Surprise,” she’d said, “It’s my hidden side.”
“I like your hidden side,” I told her, after we’d spent two hours putting together other outfits, digging costume jewelry out of dresser drawers, pinning our hair up in glittery clips and applying makeup. “The key,” I’d told Andie as I put makeup on her for the very first time, “is to make it look like you’re not wearing any makeup.” Turning from the mirror, her long lashes looked like two big spiders had crawled onto her eyes. So much for natural!
After an hour and a half drive, our car rounded a corner, and we finally reached our friend’s house. There was one lone car in the driveway and not one car lining the side of the road.
“Is it a surprise?” Lee asked.
And in a way, it sort of was, for us anyway. Surprise, the party is next week! And just like that, all our planning and effort, our excitement and anticipation evaporated into nothingness. Our friends weren’t even home. We left the bottle of scotch with their house sitter and drove away in silence.
“I don’t know if I should laugh or cry,” I said.
“I must have looked at that invite ten times,” Lee said.
“Why did this happen?” I asked. Driving back through unfamiliar towns we’d just traveled through, gazing at people out for evening strolls, we were suddenly like time travelers, transported to a time and space where we didn’t quite belong. “Why did this happen?” I asked again.
“Please slow down,” Lee said. I looked at the speedometer. I had no idea I was going so fast.
“Why do you think this happened?” I asked Lee, and then we discussed and theorized all the possible reasons that we’d ended up in a time and place we weren’t really supposed to be. “Maybe next week we would have been in a car accident,” I suggested. We spoke of other possible accidents and fires and just about any other traumatic event we could think of. “Please slow down,” Lee said again.
We rode for a while in silence. Then he said, “You know what, I think we need to look forward; to trust that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. If God intervened for our own good, we’ll probably never know why.”
He’d said those same words ten years ago when we’d stared down at our tiny, fragile daughter in her hospital home. I’d asked Why? over and over again, until Lee finally had said, Sometimes we just don’t know why, Babe.
“You’re right,” I said, exhaling loudly into the car. “We need to look forward.” No sooner had the words left my mouth, when the highway looped around and there before our eyes was the most massive, glowing orange ball of evening sun hanging in the sky. We both sucked in our breath. Lee squeezed my hand. “We’re always right where we’re supposed to be,” he said.
And as I watched the enormous sun sink slowly in the sky, I thought of the afternoon I spent with my daughter, the time Lee and I had spent alone in the car, our kid’s excitement over a sleepover, and I knew he was exactly right.
Kasey Mathews is a freelance writer and author of the forthcoming memoir, Preemie. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband and their two children, as well as their English Mastiff, Meg, Max the Cat, Nick the Guinea Pig, and Ernesto the Hermit Crab.