July 8
12:15 p.m.

It’s been almost two thousand years of torture. Okay, I exaggerate, but that’s what it feels like. I’m already depressed about having Don and Darlene taking over the office, I can’t take off for lunch because Don wants his sermon notes printed immediately, and now this.

It might be a heartless thing to say, but doesn’t death seem to claim the wrong person sometimes? People think it all the time. They’re just not saying it. But they’re thinking it. So I’m saying it for everyone who’s not saying it.

Martha didn’t really want to tell Don, but both our pastors were away.

“I’m not sure if you heard…”

“Heard what?”

“Derek’s been diagnosed with skin cancer.”

“Really? I mean that’s too bad.”

“I guess we have no choice but to tell Pastor Don, right?” Martha is still not comfortable with having an exchange pastor take over pastoral care of the church members.

“No choice.”

“Just doesn’t seem right. Don’s not even from here.”

“Pastor Don,” I correct automatically. I’ve had hours of brainwashing. It’s Pastor Don to you. It’s Pastor Don to you. I’m actually referring to him as “Pastor Don to you.” “Well, he’s actually from Minnesota.”

“See what I mean.” Martha is suspicious of everyone, but somehow Minnesota is even more so.

I should be feeling really badly to hear this, but anyone who has worked with Derek describes him generally as…what’s the word that nice Christian word…challenging! I did use another word to describe him, but Kate pointed out that it would be better to use something else. She was afraid that I’d call him that by mistake.

Derek and Charlie worked really well together. Both on the Finance Committee, both drive me crazy with their endless questions about who’s spending what, where, where, and when.

“It’s our fiduciary responsibility.”

I actually had to look up that word. Thought it sounded dirty. I still think it doesn’t sound quite right. “Yes, yes. I understand Derek, but we do need those office supplies.”

“Do you really use all that paper? It does seem we should cut back on using paper. Why don’t you email the newsletter to the members? They can download them if they want to read them. Most people just throw their copies away, anyway.”

“We do have many,” I stress many, “elderly members that prefer to get a hard copy of the newsletter and Mark’s sermon.”

“Waste of time and money,” Derek snorts. “Mark’s sermons aren’t anything you need to read.”

But wouldn’t you know it, Don and Derek have hit it off really well.

“…that pretty much is all that I know.”

“What?”

“Natalie Taylor, you haven’t been listening to me. What are you thinking about?”

“I’m sorry, Martha. Just thinking about Derek.”

“Don’t waste your time. God will do what he chooses with him.”

And that’s why I love no-nonsense Martha.

______

July 9
1:00 p.m.

“Natalie…” Wendy’s voice sounded, well, not like her usual self.

“Hi Wendy. Is everything alright?”


“Wade’s been diagnosed with stage IV melanoma.”

My heart just sank. Not Wade.

“Wade’s very sure he’s going to beat it. The doctors are very hopeful. But he won’t be able to come into the office today.” I could picture him badgering her to call me.

Wade and Wendy are the sweetest couple ever. You can tell how much they love each other. They always brought the staff gifts, and never stopped telling us how much they valued us.

“Give Wade our love and tell him that we’re praying for him. We’re looking forward to seeing him soon.”

“I know they’re away but if you could please let the pastors and Kate know?”

“Of course I will. Let us know if you need anything. We will be praying for you both.”

“Thanks Natalie. We love you.” I could tell that Wendy was fighting back her tears.

“Love you too.”

Why Wade? I thought as I hung up the telephone, and then texted the news to Mark and Kate.

“Why Wade?” texted back. “Does Mark and Tav know?”

“Just Mark.”

“I’ll let Tav know.” Kate texts me.

“Thanks…xoxoxo”

“Have you told Don?” Kate was texting again.

“Not yet.”

I didn’t want to…as yet.

Please God, heal Wade.

_________________

3:30 p.m.

Martha is back to help in the church office. “Wendy tell you about Wade?”

“Yes, Martha, I’m so sorry. I know how close you both are.”

“Seems like it always gets the wrong person.”

“What gets the the wrong person?” Don’s come into my office. “People just like to blame someone. Nobody likes to take responsibility for their actions.”

I was about to tell him about Wade, but one look at Martha’s face and I stopped.

“Know what you mean, Don. Know what you mean.” I was waiting for Don to tell her it was Pastor Don, but he must have figured out that that wouldn’t work with Martha!

“Natalie, where are the printed copies of my sermon? Now if Darlene was in charge, I would have had my copies a long time ago.”

“Yes, you would have had it alright.” Martha smiled what she called her sweet old lady smile at him.

“Well…well…” Don snatched the copies I was handing to him and left.

“Thank you for helping Pastor Don, Natalie. He really appreciates your help so much.” She wags her finger at his retreating waddling figure.

The church should have more Marthas and less Dons!

________

11:00 p.m.

“It’s our time of the night, Nat. Hope you had a great Fourth.” Smiley face. Winky face with a kiss.

You’ve got to be kidding me. Frankie’s texting like everything is as it was.

I turn my iPhone off. Wish I could turn my thoughts off like I do my phone.