I got home late Friday afternoon….just in time to unpack and head to Good Friday services with Lily. I then made cookies and went to bed so we could go to Kansas City early on Saturday morning.
Lily had her first college visit for herself on Saturday at Kansas City Art Institute. She had attended at least two at Creighton University when her brother, Tim, was considering attending there. But this was the first one just for her. I have to say, going to a fine arts college visit is a bit different than a state school. First off…it was really small…completely focused on art and was the size of a city block. No sports teams. It sounds like a very interesting school. Lily seemed to like it. We have others to look at still, but this was a good start. She would have Joe’s group of friends to look out after her and her sister-in-law, Michelle, right there close by. I know she originally wanted to reach out to this school because Joe would be right there, so it is hard for all of us to know that she won’t have him just a short drive away if she needs anything. The trip was a success though, and we were able to tour most buildings and get a good feel for how her college life would be if she chooses to attend there and they choose her.
We then went to see Michelle….because we missed her and because it was her birthday. We took her out to lunch and caught up on some of the day-to-day things that fall through with texting. Tim gave us a timely call and he was able to be with us over the phone as we went out to lunch with her. She is such a great woman…I treasure her as one of my own children, and have for years. It pains me she is having to go through this tragedy and that Joe isn’t physically by her side anymore. I know she misses him like crazy…just like we all do…but in a much different way. She is having to be way more stronger than anyone should have to be, and it makes me so proud of her yet breaks my momma’s heart all in the same breath. It was nice to be able to hug her, cry with her, and shower her with a few gifts on her special day which she didn’t really want to celebrate.
After lunch, we went to Olathe Fire Station #1….where Joe worked most of his shifts. His crew was on today, so I wanted to bring by some cookies and tell them hello. I was kind of nervous going in there unannounced and taking Michelle with us. We were welcomed with open arms (cookies or not – it would have been the same). We stood there and talked to Joe’s good work friends….his fire fighting brothers. We helped go through some of the names of people who had ordered memorial t-shirts for Joe…and then they discussed where the money made would go…what charity in Joe’s name. Michelle has some good ideas on that. I picked up a LOT of t-shirts and will start packaging them up and mailing them this week. They also showed me a sticker they had made and put on their fire truck, on the window where Joe would have usually sat on calls. It says RFB 446 on it… Remember our Fallen Brother (446 was his badge number). It meant a lot to see that. I left there feeling happy to see these great guys….yet so, so sad that Joe didn’t get to spend more time with them. Joe was really good about surrounding himself with good people, and the Olathe Fire Department definitely counted. They were so wonderful about including him so quickly (okay, he had a way of charming his way into people’s hearts pretty quickly). I feel bad they didn’t get years to spend with him. I feel bad he didn’t get years to spend with them. All I know is they have been so wonderful to us and to Michelle. I am confident that whenever those guys go on a call, Joe is riding with them on the wind…there to protect his brothers, if only in spirit.
For those of you not from our area, KC is a little over 3 hours from our house in Omaha. So we left early yesterday…we got to see a spectacular sunrise. We also got to see a spectacular sunset on our drive home. I have to admit I was a little melancholy on the drive home. Rich and Lily slept while I drove and listened to mindless chatter and music on the radio. Of course I was thinking of Joe…missing him. For a good majority of the drive, I had a small section of a rainbow reflecting in a cloud right in front of me….like for 2 hours of the drive. I would like to think that was Joe just showing me a little love on the way home. When we got home, our front storm door had been painted by LuAnn and Jeff Anglo….friends from our church for Easter. What a wonderful and pleasant surprise!
I have been playing catch up for today…trying to get back on schedule with laundry, bookkeeping at work, and life at home. No Easter photos this year. It was hard enough getting through the Mass this morning. We actually had snow flurries for several hours late morning into this afternoon. Crazy for so late in the year. Although we are still heartbroken this Easter and everything is just still too raw for celebrations, I take peace in knowing that Joe celebrates Easter everyday. Wishing all of you a very Blessed Easter season.