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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“You’ve Got the Most Unbelievable Blue Eyes I’ve Ever Seen”

Look at that bright smile

Look at that bright smile and beautiful blue eyes

One of the songs we played at Jason’s memorial service during the photo slide show was Donna Lewis’s “I Love You Always Forever.” It was a fun, upbeat song that was popular at the time and parts of it just seemed to represent who Jason was, especially the line “you’ve got the most unbelievable blue eyes I’ve ever seen.” Because, you see, Jason DID have the most unbelievably beautiful blue eyes. They were eyes that twinkled with joy. They were eyes that spoke of intelligence, love, compassion.

Music has a power to connect to our emotions like little else. It brings back memories so clearly, as if the event that triggers those memories just happened. It just touches our hearts so deeply in unexpected ways.

For some reason, that song, “I Love You Always Forever,” does that for me. It just zings me right in the heart every time I hear it, and it takes me right back to that time. It reminds me of how much I miss Jason. It came on the speakers as I was shopping today and just stopped me in my tracks. Tears filled my eyes and I was blindsided by the depth of emotions I felt.

Early on in this journey, I realized certain songs were going to do that for me; they were going to blindside me when I unexpectedly heard them. I realized that could be a problem, and so I purchased a CD with this particular song on it. I played it over and over in an effort to “desensitize” its impact for me. Obviously, that didn’t work very well for me. I still get blindsided by this song…and others. They remind me of times gone by that will never come again. They remind me how much I miss my boy and those beautiful blue eyes of his.

© 2014 Rebecca R. Carney