Arby’s

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As a junior and senior in high school, Jason participated in a program called Running Start. Running Start is a program in Washington State offered through the public school system where a student, as a junior or senior in high school, can attend a local community college or university and receive both high school and college credits at the same time. Jason had about topped out of what I could teach him and what the homeschool community had to offer as far as classes, and so we decided it would be the next logical step in his education.

The classes Jason took the first quarter were not offered at consecutive times – he had a couple of classes certain mornings of the week and one class a couple of evenings during the week. We lived 20-30 minutes away by car (nearly an hour on the bus) from the school with no good public transportation close by, so one of the things we had to work out was a way for Jason to get to school.

At the time, we had a Volkswagen Eurovan. Jason had had his permit to learn to drive since he was 15 and a half, but didn’t have his driver’s license yet at 16 years old. I had taken him out several times for lessons on the VW, but it had a manual transmission with tricky clutch. That first semester of college, he had a lot on his plate. He was beginning a new level of higher education going to college at 16 years old, working part-time in a local hardware store and tutoring math students through the homeschool co-op. For some reason, on top of everything else, dealing with the tricky clutch while learning to drive was just a bit too much for Jason at the time. He took everything he did with great responsibility, including the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle. After a couple of lessons of clutch frustration, he decided to put off getting his license for a little while until he felt he was ready to learn to drive.

The closest bus stop for public transportation was several miles away, so, on the mornings he had classes, I drove Jason to the bus stop and then picked him up again when he was done. He would hop in the car and immediately turn on the radio or pop one of his compilation CD’s in the van’s CD player, and off we would drive to the bus stop, both of us humming or singing or rocking away to some song or another. Jason liked a wide range of music from classical (his favorite piece was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata) to a band named Collective Soul to contemporary music to Christian music to Christmas music. Whether or not it was anywhere near Christmas, we would blast Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas album “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” over the van’s speakers, bobbing our heads in time with the beat of “Sarajevo” or “Mad Russian’s Christmas.”

I decided to sign up for a continuing education evening class at the same college that first quarter of Jason’s Running Start. That way, I could drive Jason to his class so he wouldn’t have to ride the bus at night for nearly an hour each way, and I could learning something new at the same time. Quite often, he and I would leave early enough so that we could stop and eat at Arby’s on the way. We would order their 5/$5 special, and then sit and munch on curly fries and roast beef sandwiches, talking about whatever was on our minds. He loved Arby’s and I loved spending time with him.

I don’t go to Arby’s any more hardly at all, just because it’s too hard. But, I found myself craving an Arby’s sandwich yesterday, so I stopped by for lunch. I ordered a roast beef sandwich and curly fries. As I started to eat, my eyes filled with tears and I had a hard time actually eating what I’d ordered.

The food didn’t taste as good as I remembered, but the memories of my time with Jason eating at Arby’s are clear, strong, wonderful and so very bittersweet.

Oh, how I miss you, my boy.

~Becky

© 2017 Rebecca R. Carney

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11 thoughts on “Arby’s

  1. I understand this as well. We ate at chic fil at least once a week with Clara. I have gone through the drive thru but have yet to eat in. It’s just too painful.

  2. Thank you for your blog Becky – I can relate to and understand everything you write about and are experiencing on your grief journey. I lost my daughter, Anna, 3 years ago on August 12th due to an undiagnosed heart condition. She was here one day, gone the next……very sudden, and of course unexpected, as was the case with your son Jason – who as I can tell from your writings, was an amazing person.
    I know you miss him every minute, as I do my daughter. Every memory is and always will be bittersweet. Take care and thinking of you as a kindred spirit.
    Jackie

  3. I’m so sorry, Rebecca for your losses. It seems as though we often experience multiple losses so close together. I lost my brother in October of 2015 and then my son 4 months later on February 10, 2016. I too find myself avoiding things that I once enjoyed with my son, Aaron. God bless you and your family. ❤️💔

    • I’m so sorry for your losses, too. You know, they talk about memories being bittersweet. I’ve come to the conclusion that memories about those we have lost are a mixture of bitter (painful/sad/sorrowful/heartbreaking) and sweet. It depends on the mixture of the two (bitter and sweet) regarding that experience whether or not we avoid it. I think some places or experiences bring up more painful memories than sweet memories, places where the longing for our child’s presence outweighs the rest, and we tend to avoid those places. For some of those experiences, the mixture may change over time so that the sweetness outweighs the rest. But, I honestly believe there are some things I will never be able to do again or places I will never go again because it hurts too much and I miss Jason too much to experience those things without him.
      Hugs to you,
      ~Becky

  4. My daughter, Sawyer, was a Running Start student. Reading your post brings back so many memories of those years. She was 3 weeks graduated with a degree in Diagnostic Ultrasound from Seattle University when she died from Pulmonary Embolism last October. She had been misdiagnosed for over a year, first as Asthma, then anxiety.
    I just can’t…….when it comes to the things we used to do. Thank you for writing.

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