I stopped by Joshua Tree on my way to Phoenix because I’ve always wanted to go there and it broke up the drive from LA nicely. I actually didn’t realize that Joshua Tree the town is different from Joshua Tree the national park until this morning when I passed the national park that I meant to stay at on my way to Phoenix. Explains why the campsite I stayed at was surrounded by residential housing. The Joshua trees were beautiful either way.
I’m staying with my godmother, Joan, right now, who is one of the coolest ladies I know. She’s in her seventies and her days are booked with activities like tennis, bridge, luncheons, and today she just told me she’s going to start lifting weights. She’s currently knocking out her bucket list, recently taking a train trip across Canada with her sister, traveling to India with her granddaughter, visiting Machu Picchu, and walking the Great Wall of China.
The idea of godparents is usually a formality, but mine really took it to heart, beginning when I was a baby by holding me in front of the congregation for my Lutheran baptism, even though they’re Jewish. My godfather, Bob, was my dad’s best friend since they met in college at ASU, and Bob and Joan became family, first joining us on trips when we were kids, and later letting me crash on their couch and mentoring me in real estate when I moved to Arizona.
A couple years later, when my little brother, Erik, called to tell me my dad was in the hospital and I needed to come home, Bob insisted on taking me to the airport. He was walking me to security when my twin brother, Ryan, called to tell me he was gone. Bob and I stopped at a bench in the middle of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to cry, probably a strange sight for the people walking by, and I remember looking up through tears to see Kirstie Alley staring down at us. That will probably go down as the most bizarre moment of my life and I laughed when Bob turned to me to say ‘Was that Kirstie Alley?” [sidenote, I almost forgot that happened with all the craziness that followed, and years later I wondered if I had been delusional, so I turned to my friend, Google, who confirmed that she was in town to speak at the Arizona Women’s Expo that weekend].
Bob couldn’t finish his speech at my dad’s memorial service because he was too choked up, and afterward he truly took on the role of godfather, offering to walk me down the aisle someday, and inviting me over to watch football and tell stories about how crazy he and my dad had been in college. He used to say that he was always the brown shoe and my dad would throw him his leftovers, and Joan would roll her eyes and say that Bob would have married my dad if he could, because she’d never heard him laugh as hard as he did when they were catching up on the phone.
When Joan called this past August to tell me Bob had passed away, it really stung. It also happened unexpectedly, and it was almost exactly 5 years after my dad’s death. It’s hard to think of the right thing to say when someone has lost a loved one, but the best that I’ve come across is ‘I’m sorry. Life just isn’t fair.’ Because no matter how much it feels like we have the ability to plan out the details of our lives, the reality is we don’t have complete control, and the best you can do is to enjoy as much time on earth as you can.
Ryan and I flew back to Phoenix for Bob’s memorial service, and after I got home, I took a personal day from work to walk around one of my favorite places in Portland, Washington Park. I let go of any reservations I had had about quitting my job to take this road trip, because it seemed really obvious that I couldn’t afford not to do it. I texted Joan what I was planning on doing and she responded that she thought Bob would be proud of me for choosing adventure.