For those who wanted to know.
20 May 2008. 10:47pm.
About ten-thirty in the morning, my phone rings.
Now, this is not a normal occurrence; while I text quite often, I can count on one hand the amount of calls I've received.
I pick it up, reading that Carolina is calling. Bemused, I answer with the expected greeting.
She's in a tizzy; it's hard to make out what she's saying. Finally she calms down enough to tell me that last night her grandmother in Mexico had a huge heart attack.
"Oh, no, that's terrible," I respond.
She quickly continues, "I know. Mom called and had our plane tickets bumped to tonight. So I'm frantically trying to get packed so we can leave."
"Do you want me to come over and help or anything? Run errands, talk to your teachers, anything at all?"
She hesitates for a moment. "Probably better if you don't. Mom's freaking out and we're trying to get everything settled as fast as we can."
"What are you going to do about school?" I ask. "You're going to miss all your finals and stuff."
She sighs. It's a long, sad sigh. She's worried. "I don't know what I'm going to do about it. I guess I'll just have to do this whole semester's work over again. I mean, I don't want to, but she's my abuelita. She might die before we even get there! I don't know what else to do."
I pause. "Are you ruse there isn't anything you need me to do?"
"No, you go to class. I'll get everything figured out before we leave."
After a moment or two of awkward silence, I reply, "I want to see you before you just take off."
Finally she responds, "I know. I want to see you, too. But it's so hectic . . .
"Come to the train station to see us off. We're leaving on the 7:07 train."
"Arrgh, I promised the missionaries I'd go out with them tonight. They need someone to go to their appointments with them, and there isn't really anyone else who can go.
"But I will try. I promise I'll try to make it."
It's six-thirty, and I'm in Hermana Gómez's front room. The missionaries had been sharing a message about families when she erupted into tears, and now she's telling us the story of how and why her husband left her and their children. It's sad; what kind of person just disappears into the night like that, leaving behind a wife and three kids?
It reminds me of all the times when people would just dump on me when I was a missionary. They minute people find out you're a minister, they feel compelled to regurgitate their emotional problems. It's one of those things I really don't miss about being a missionary. But it sure was a wonderful time - all the laughs and the spiritual moments and seeing people's lives change.
It's rewarding to come out with the missionaries again and OH MY GOSH IT'S QUARTER TO SEVEN. I'm gonna miss her.
Luckily, the missionaries are wrapping up. We pray with Hermana Gómez and dive out her door. Elder Collins asks, "What time is she leaving?"
I quickly holler back, "The 7:07 train!"
He flashes a huge grin, replying, "We'd better run then!"
The three of us take off down the street towards the station. (They've come with me because they have another appointment they'd like me there for at eight.) I run as fast as I can, weaving through side streets, around cars, over the small grassy patch in the middle of the road.
I can hear the sea. We're almost there.
I grab a quick glance at my watch. 7:10.
I can only hope it's delayed.
I dive through the doors of the mostly empty station, the elders right behind me. I scan in desperation as Elder Moody asks, "Is she still here?" with that signature lisp of his.
Nope. No luck.
I pull my phone from my back pocket; its screen reads '2 missed calls'. I unlock the keypad and see that both were Carolina. I was too busy running to feel it vibrate.
It announces that I have a voicemail message. It basically just says that the train's leaving, that I've missed her. I fumble through my contacts list, and finally dial her back.
As the elders and I walk slowly to their next appointment I talk with her. She laughs as I tell her of my run through the streets so I could miss her.
"I'm sorry," I admit.
She responds, "That's okay. We had the time we had. And I enjoyed every minute of it."
I can't help but smile, if a bit melancholically. "Yeah, we did. I can't complain. But I'll miss you, Carolina. I hope your grandmother ends up okay."
She promises to e-mail me as soon as she can, to keep me updated on the situation and so we can stay in touch.
"I'll miss you," she says as she hangs up.
The silence on the line is deafening.