I met Gary in the town square of Murfreesboro, Tenn. He was sitting in a high gloss orange 1933 Chevy Business Coupe that he restored himself. He worked on cars before he was thrown from a pickup in a collision that left him paralyzed. He was 33. He’s 60 now. Church just let out and he was on his way to Captain D’s, a nearby seafood place. But he seemed happy to talk with a stranger for a few minutes about his daughter, who is a teacher in the D.C. area. “I’m so proud of her,” Gary said.
He asked me if i was married. I told him two years in October, child on the way. “Twenty six years,” he said. They lasted together eight years after the accident. He didn’t blame her or himself for the split. It was a fact. His face gave no hint of regret. The sun was getting hot now, a little after 1pm and I didn’t want to keep him from lunch. “I hope to see you again,” he said. “Yes, maybe in Alexandria,” I replied. (His daughter lives there.) Then he surprised me. Gary said that he believes when we die and go to heaven we meet up with everyone who we’ve met on earth . I’m not sure why he told me this. For his sake or mine. But his certainty was reassuring. “Yes, that would be nice.”