So, with school about to start, and time about to become very short, when she suggested that we go "next week", I googled. The cemetery where Charlene is buried is adjacent to the church. The parish has Mass at 6:00 pm on Thursdays, so I told her we would go then. I figured if we were going to make a road trip of it, we might as well do more than sit in a hot cemetery. This is Louisiana, and it was July.
After Mass, we ventured out to the cemetery. Charlene's grave is easy to spot, but someone else was praying there, so we meandered around the cemetery for a bit, before stopping to visit with Charlene. Even though it was after 6 in the evening, it was still quite hot, but the experience was so peaceful. We were alone, and except for nature, there were no sounds. No vehicles passing on the highway.....just peace. We paused long enough to write down our petitions and place them in the box on her grave. We knelt and prayed. Tears may or may not have been shed.
We made our way back home, - a little more at peace, and a little more hopeful, but not before stopping at McDonald's for an ice cream sundae.
Fast forwarding to the next Thursday. It was hotter than hot, but my son and two of his Boy Scout buddies were to meet in a local park for one of the other parents to take their pictures, in anticipation of upcoming Eagle Scout Ceremony.
A couple of the grandkids were visiting, so I had brought them with me, thinking they would enjoy the park as something different. They fed the ducks....
When the photo shoot was done, the boys decided to go eat ice cream (it is summer and it is hot), and after letting the girls play for a little longer, I took them to meet up with their other grandmother. We saw one police unit shortly after leaving the park. We were nearly broadsided by another that was speeding through a red light. After I dropped the girls off, I met up with the boys and the photographer dad at the ice cream shop, and we sat for an hour or more, talking and watching as law enforcement vehicles - marked and unmarked - sped by at odd intervals. The 3 boys have known each other since second grade, and all of them are starting college in the fall, and that occupied much of the conversation. "My mom says there's been a shooting at the Grand," one of them said quietly, reading the text from his phone. So in the age of instant information, we all turned to our phones...
Yep, sure enough. But not much information available. Maybe some domestic issue, we assumed. We visited a while longer before going our separate ways.
Once we got home, we saw our hometown on national news. When all the dust settled, three people were dead - people connected only by the fact that they had gone to see Trainwreck on a hot, July night. The deceased included the shooter - someone from out of state who was "just not right" and two beautiful young ladies, Jillian and Mayci. Several others were hospitalized.
But here, we still pray. Here, we come together to emerge even stronger. Here, we have joy, and nobody from out of town is going to steal our joy on a hot Thursday night.