I felt it coming on as I picked people up in the church van. I'm driving instead of Bob tonight.
Mary sees me shaking and asks if I'm okay. I tell her that I think I'm coming down with a fever. She comes over and anoints my forehead with the oil that she carries. She prays over me. Because Mary is beautiful like that.
As the praise band warms up I go into the prayer room and kneel on the kneeler. I shake through my prayers.
Church starts and I run the PowerPoint slides for Michael and the band. I sit, like I always do, with Anthony. We talk before and after church. I often have trouble following Anthony's train of thought, and he speaks almost in a whisper. But he is kind and sweet and peaceful. Which is why I like being with him. He still carries the prayer beads I gave him at Christmas.
Church ends and I'm still shaking. I'm late getting out to the van as Herb wants to ask if we might do a foot washing for the inmates in our prison bible study. I agree. It's a great idea. We'll do it three weeks from now.
I get out to the van and everyone is clustered next to the door. I pop the locks. That's a mistake on my part as everyone pushes. We pay for our inconsideration when Doyle bumps Crystal's daughter as he tries to get in. Crystal starts yelling. Doyle goes into a shell and won't recognize Crystal's compliant. This makes her scream louder. I try to get her to calm down and tell me what happened. Doyle reaches his limit and starts yelling back. I clear the van.
Crystal isn't calming down. To help I try to let her know that her protective instincts are exactly what a caring mother should have. I'm a father of two boys, I say, I get why she is upset. She's still very agitated and angry. Too angry to get back on the van. So we go inside to find her another ride home. After a long time, Crystal begins to calm. I take her hand and say goodbye. Mary, beautiful Mary, volunteers to take Crystal and her girls home.
I go out to the van tired and agitated and shaking with fever. We head out and start dropping people off. First, Mr. John who might be living, I'm told, in a crack house. Many years ago Mr. John's wife died. When we take him to lunch every few weeks he tells us the story of being called at work with that bad news. He tells us this story every time we go to lunch. I don't know if he remembers that he's told us before. Regardless, he needs to tell it. So we listen. And he always cries. Like it happened yesterday.
As we drive to drop off Robert and Judy Tony begins to sing a gospel song in the back of the van. I listen.
Tony's got a good voice. I tell him so. He sings louder. And we all quiet.
My fever rages but my heart stills.
Tony sings about Jesus as we drive through the night.