Back in the Spring of 2006, when Drake, Judson, and I (along with our bun in the oven Jessie) moved to Costa Mesa, one of my first orders of business was to find a local coffee shop in walking distance from our new home for my Buddy Boo and I to sit and sip together – just as we had become accustomed to doing at a place near our previous home. We had a couple options at the time and tried them all within a week of moving to the area.
Unexpectedly, because I was not initially inclined toward the big chain, I found the nearby Starbucks to be the most pleasant and friendly location. So Jud and I soon became regulars. We would take a short stroll together, I would order iced tea and he would order, “Water pease,” and then we would snuggle in a comfy chair, sharing life together.
Faces were starting to become familiar – those of the Starbucks employees and other regulars – when Jessie arrived a couple months later. It was only two days after she was born that we made our initial stroll to Starbucks together as a threesome. It was our ladybug’s first outing after coming home from the hospital and this brand new baby, with her big brother holding her hand, captured the attention of the staff. After noting Jud and Jessie that day, my kiddos became a welcome duo…growing, sharing, playing, and laughing together in this place. Starbucks had gradually become our “Cheers.”
So when Judson’s body began to deteriorate in 2007, they noticed…I never had to say anything, they just noticed. And I recall the day when Aimee, one of the employees at the time, came over, gently put her hand on Jud’s arm and expressed her care, “I know something is wrong, is it serious?” I burst into tears as I informed her Jud had a terminal disease. Her genuine heartbreak touched me deeply.
It wasn’t long thereafter that Judson passed away.
A few weeks after his passing, Jessie and I returned to Starbucks and I discovered this place with the green chairs and mustard walls was a surprising oasis for me; I felt known in my loss but in an environment where I did not have to engage the depths of my heartache. Both staff and regulars loved on Jessie, showering her with attention, treats, gifts, and smiles, while I found solace in simply being around people who knew my name and were glad I came.
Many of my tears have been shed here. Many smiles have been shared here. Much of Judson’s book was written, compiled and edited here. My first book signing was here. Many of my blogs have been composed here. Much of my journey has been lived right here, in this place where I am writing right now.
This Starbucks has been a place of healing for me. Meanwhile, Jessie has been growing up here.
Though the staff and regulars have changed over time, they’ve all been a blessing and people we care for. Over time I will probably find another coffee shop near our new home, but it will never be this place…the place that has tenderly held the most difficult years of my life along with sweet memories of Jud and Jess.
So here’s a cheers to the Starbucks on Harbor and Wilson—our Starbucks—Jessie and I are gonna miss you!
Do you have a place that is your “Cheers?”