Fifth Month:
Remembering Simple Joys

Please note that this letter to Steve was a device for reflection.
It was not an attempt to communicate with Steve.

July 20, 2001

Dear Steve,

Thinking of you tonight I decide to visit our old hangout, Snow White Bar-B-Que. Remember how we used to stop there on the way back from playing in-line hockey in Mount Juliet. Sometimes you still had on your roller blades, but the folks at Snow White never seemed to mind. It was just you and me. I usually ordered a barbeque plate, and you usually ordered a plain footlong hotdog.

Remembering you tonight, I depart from my old habits and order myself a hotdog. After all, you always said they had the best hot dogs in town. As I watch, moms and dads go in and out with their children, perhaps most of them failing to realize the precious, eternal value of these moments with them. I feel kind of awkward eating at a table by myself. What I wouldn't give to be able to share a hotdog with you tonight, just like old times. Yet my memory of those special times is so keen, it's almost like you are here.

Sitting here at Snow White takes me back to another time, probably over thirty-five years ago, when my own dad used to pick me up after school in Asheboro, North Carolina and take me to Jed's Sandwich Shop. Back then it was just an ugly green building, but the hotdogs were wonderful. I always got a hotdog, and my dad and I would sit and eat together.

Those days are some of the most treasured memories I have of times with my father. But what made those days so special? I don't remember anything that we talked about. I really don't understand what set them apart, but I'll take a guess. There must be something mysterious about a father and his son eating together. Maybe there is some magical way in which fatherhood, childhood, innocence, and trust get captured and preserved in moments like that. Perhaps through just the simple and ordinary ritual of a father sharing a meal with his son, such a powerful and precious memory gets created that it seems forever real: time captured in a bottle.

Speaking of time, I still miss you terribly. I'm sure you are having lots of fun in heaven, even if they don't have hotdogs up there. And I guess it's kind of silly for me to be writing you a letter. After all, I couldn't afford the postage to send it all the way to heaven. Yet Psalm 56:8 uses the imagery of God putting all our tears in a bottle. If God can catch tears, surely he can catch letters too. But where does God put those tear bottles? After all, there aren't supposed to be any tears in heaven, right? I guess you can explain all that when I join you someday.

Meanwhile, even as I sit here contemplating getting a slice of that pecan pie, I savor just a tiny slice of heaven by sitting at Snow White, right here at our old hangout, and thinking of you.

Till that glorious day when I see you again,
Forever Proud to be Your Father,

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