They had the kind of relationship we all want, but few have. They were soulmates. From the beginning, it was apparent it was meant to be. Her maiden name was even very close to his. All you needed to do was switch two letters and add an "s" to hers and it became his.
They weren't kids when they married; in fact, they were close to middle age. A love of the outdoors was shared by them. They participated in century bike rides, and spent a good part of each summer touring national parks. Last summer they hiked 72 miles in Glacier National Park.
Hers was a kind and generous heart. She was active in her church and was a Stephen Minister, reaching out to others who were facing a life-challenge. She wasn't blessed with children; but the second graders she taught for close to thirty years were blessed to have her as a teacher.
So why was she taken?
They were vacationing in Wyoming, on their way to go hiking. She was driving the car which was pulling a trailer. A rogue, strong wind hit the car, flipping it several times.
Her body survived the crash; but her brain did not. She slipped into a coma and then two strokes in succession finished any hope she would survive.
A long way from home, his own body badly injured, her husband had to make the decision no one ever wants to make.
Among the many friends they have through their church, community and work, they also have friends from when they first met. Friends they had made in a community of people who came together to heal. They didn't all stay in contact over the years, but whenever one of their own suffers, the others gather to lend support.
And so they gathered for the wake, which was held a month after the accident, over two weeks after her passing. It was delayed until he was recovered enough to make the trip home.
But as they met outside of the church, they realized this wasn't the time for them to lend support. The line of mourners was long. Hours long; as though every student and every parent of those students she taught for thirty years had come to say goodbye. So they melted away for now, knowing that the time would come when the crowds would dissipate and the shadows would close in. If he needs them, they will be there.
In memoriam. Ellen Cathy Rhodes