My parents live in Ventura, California. On what turned out to be my last trip to Ventura with Judson, he and I went on a date to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It was the end of April and Jud was healthy and whole.
While Jessie napped and my parents stayed at home with her, my little man and I decided to grab a cup of coffee together; we sat, sipped, and chatted.
On that particular occasion, I vividly remember that I asked Judson if he wanted chocolate sprinkles in his “coffee” (milk in a coffee cup like mine). His eyes got really big and with the funny face he often made when we gave him a treat, Judson emphatically said, “Yes!”
We sat at a table by the window and talked about the different vehicles that drove by, amongst other things. At one point Jud accidentally spilled the rest of his “coffee with chocolate sprinkles” all over the front of his new shirt, and as I cleaned him up, he suddenly belted out “The Star Spangled Banner” and captured the attention of everyone in the coffee shop. A couple of women seated nearby came over to converse with him, but as was common with strangers, Jud clammed up and went silent. However, as these ladies walked out the door, Jud shouted “Peace Out!” I grinned from ear to ear as my heart swelled with love for my sweet boy…
Today, I am sitting alone, in the same seat, at the same Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Ventura.
I miss my little buddy beyond words, and I find myself asking, “What just happened? How is it that Jud went from perfectly whole, sitting in the seat across from me, to death?” It happened so rapidly — I have whiplash. It feels like it could have been just yesterday that we were here, in this spot, sitting, sipping, and chatting. Never in a million years would I have believed, that blessed day in the Coffee Bean, that Judson had a genetic disease that would take his life in less than 6 months. Our lives went from joy to sorrow in what feels like the blink of an eye.
Is this the nature of tragedy? — Life moving along as normal, when out of the blue, catastrophic loss alters its course forever. I guess the challenge in the midst of my tragedy is to learn how to live fully with an empty seat across from me at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, even while I long for the day back in April when it was filled with the life of my Jud Bud.