I awoke this morning to the pouring rain and a pit in my stomach.
Which meant I had about 14 hours of one-on-one time with Takkin, nonstop. I decided, despite the rain, to head 2.5 hours down south to Charlottesville to visit my alma mater, UVA, and my friend Michael. That was the pretense anyway, the reality was that 5-6 hours in the car would kill about half the day and the rest… well, I’d figure it out.
We grabbed a cup of coffee and started off on the trip, stopping every 20 minutes or so to get a drink or go to the bathroom. Takkin was in good spirits and kept pointing out which cars he liked, his encyclopedic knowledge of makes and models astounding me as it always did. We had hooked up my iPhone to the bluetooth in the car and were listening to a playlist I’d made. Every time an Avett Brothers song came on, he turned up the volume and started swaying to the music. I smiled to myself when I heard the twangy folk guitar and saw my brother singing along off key and with his own made-up words.
As we neared Charlottesville, the rain let up and the sun came out. By the time we reached Michael’s house in the mountains, it was 85 degrees and beautiful outside. Michael gave us a tour of his property, we picked some tiny peaches off his peach tree, sat on the porch and talked, and left after 45 minutes because Takkin was getting antsy.
We went up to a scenic overlook and took a selfie together, the valley below. There were people around and that made him anxious but he held my hand and powered through the anxiety because he knew I wanted a picture of the two of us to commemorate our day together.
On our way out of Charlottesville, we took a quick drive through the Grounds at UVA. I pointed out my old dorm and other houses where friends had lived. I showed him one of the buildings that all my English classes were held at. We stopped in front of the amphitheater and I ran toward The Lawn to take a picture of the Rotunda and a statue of Thomas Jefferson. All of it brought back so many fond memories.
We passed some old cars on the side of Route 29 and Takkin got so excited. “Look at those,” he said and pointed . “Can we go look at them?” I said sure, and made a u-turn. We pulled into the lot with the garage and the classic cars and we both got out to take pictures. Takkin walked into the office before I could stop him but by the time I got in there to shoo him out, he’d made fast friends with the proprietor who was shaking his hand and laughing along with him and telling him where each of the cars came from. We eventually hopped back in our car and headed home. “Thank you for stopping, sister,” he said.
It was a lovely day.
Then the rain started. The farther north we got, the heavier and harder it poured. And the deeper I went into my own thoughts. Takkin had never gotten his license; he’d never drive a car. He hadn’t gone to college, or had true friends who lived in dorms nearby. He would never see the Avett Brothers in concert, or go to any concert at all.
He would never kiss a girl. He would never stand across the aisle from the woman he was about to marry. He would never hold his newborn baby. There were too many nevers, and my mind was flooded with them as the clouds coalesced and the rain beat down. It was dark. Everything was dark.
He would never have a life like you and I have.