While I was in Upland, I decided to stop at the famous Taylor University hang out, Ivanhoes. At this restaurant, one can choose from a hundred different kinds of shakes and sundaes. I never have read their entire menu from one to one hundred. All are tempting and everyone seems to love their choice.
As I stood in line calculating how many calories one dip of chicken salad and one mini shake would cost me, I noticed the man ahead of me ordering. His body language was heavy and wilted. I heard him say his name was Snyder. That didn't register , but when he turned around , I realized it was Howie. Howie spoke at Midwest Writers Workshop and was Earl Conn's friend. At the workshop, they reminded me of two fifteen year old buds with secrets and plans. As I watched them laughing together last July, I immediately understood they were great friends.
I went to his booth, acknowledged that I knew him through the workshop, and he invited me to sit down with him. We immediately started talking about how the loss of Earl Conn created a void in the lives of so many people. Howie felt like Earl was happy now, but Howie was so lonesome. I watched his large brown eyes shed tears of love for his former friend. As he ate his tenderloin, , he told me of his and Earl's journeys around Indiana. He shared how much he respected him and cherished Earl as a friend. He said they were grieving the loss of their wives together. "Grieving together some how made it easier," Howie explained. As he continued to wipe his tears, he shared how much he and Earl laughed together. Howie told me Earl was a pensive and serious man at work, but on their trips in the last two years they laughed often and hard.
I asked if he came to Ivanhoes often. " No, not too much, but Earl and I loved to eat here," he explained. He said today he was visiting Earl's grave site in Marion. He murmured , "I just need to go talk to him this day." He was lonely and thought it was time to visit Earl. My heart went out to Howie. I know how it is to lose a close companion. There is such an emptiness that it feels like you are just flailing endlessly. Your heart hurts. Your head is confused. The grief just overcomes you at times. You realize you are not the same without your comrade.
I was grateful God allowed Howie and me to meet and share that day. It was a happenstance and a God thing. I enjoyed Howie's stories about Earl. I was touched by his sincere love for his friend. It was a day of reckoning and understanding.