Reflections on 2016 (Part 2 of 4)

Read Part 1

Spring 2016 was much more eventful than Winter 2016 was, in both good and tragic ways.

On the tragic side of things, my great-uncle James and great-aunt Orpha, who lived just down the road from me, got in a terrible car accident in early spring. James was killed right away. Orpha held on a little longer, but eventually she too passed on. We held a joint funeral for them in early April.

Their little brick farmhouse stood empty. It’s a charming place, built by my great-grandfather. My Dad’s cousin inherited it but wanted to do a number of repairs and alterations before moving in, so my friend Ashlie and I moved in for a while. It was somewhat odd, moving into a home that had been vacated so suddenly, with perishable food still in the fridge. I brewed my tea in a “World’s Greatest Grandmother!” mug.

The Christian Gang

I asked my history teacher if I could copy someone’s notes, because I’d  missed the first class and all, and he said, “sure, Tim can help you. Tim, this is Emily. Emily, Tim.”

I could tell by Tim’s handshake that he was a homeschooler. From a Christian homeschooling family. I don’t know how I could tell from a handshake, but I could.

One day I was walking to class with my textbooks in one hand and my tea in another. I had no free hand to open the door, but that was okay because the Korean-looking chap in front of me opened the door for me. “Hi, are you in my History of the Roman Empire class?” he wanted to know.

“Yes,” I said.

“I’m JB. Nice to meet you.”

“I’m Emily, it’s nice to meet you too!”

I ran into him a few times after that, and he invited me to a few Catholic events on campus. He sat at the front of the class with Tim and this other guy named Sam. Sam remembered me from a geology class two terms prior, even though I didn’t remember him. Since I knew them better than I knew the Dutch basketball player I usually sat by, I moved up to the front of the room.

Sam and Tim came in discussing theology one day. I don’t remember the exact topic but when I asked them about it Tim said, “are you a Christian?”

“Yes,” I said.

“What kind?”


“That’s legit,” said Sam.

I called them the “Christian gang” in my mind, because they were all Christians, and they all sat together, and they took all of the Christian history teacher’s classes.

One day we were talking about church history. Tim, the Protestant, jokingly asked JB, the Catholic, not to call him anathema.

“Well both of your ancestors persecuted my ancestors,” I decided to remind them.

Funny, isn’t it? Who would have thought, back when we were burning each other at the stake, that in 500 years we would be sitting together in class, the “Christian gang” at a secular college, joking about our differences as though they barely mattered at all.

The Wedding

My cousin Derek got married over Memorial Day weekend. There aren’t many weddings on my Mom’s side of the family so it was a momentous occasion, and besides that, my whole immediate family was going to be together for the first time in a year and a half.


Photo credit: Amy Smucker

The wedding was in Indianapolis, over the same weekend as the Indy 500, so needless to say transportation and hotel accommodations were scanty and expensive. We flew into Chicago, and then drove our rental car to this super sketch hotel in Indianapolis. Cheap smelly rooms opened onto sagging concrete balconies that looked like they were going to fall of the side of the building.

“Can you go down and get some ice?” mom asked me.

“Um, okay, if someone goes with me,” I said, grabbing a water bottle to use as a weapon.

“I’ll go,” said Jenny, clutching an uncapped pen.

We walked to the lobby. The clerk watched us through a pane of bulletproof glass as we fiddled with the broken ice machine.

“I know what this place reminds me of,” I whispered to Jenny later, when we were back in our room, sans ice, but alive. “In movies, escaped prisoners always hang out in hotels like this.”

The wedding, on the other hand, was beautiful. Here are a few snaps I stole from my sister Amy:


Derek and Grace cut the cake.


Siblings and cousins blowing bubbles.


Mom with her sisters and one of her brothers.

The downside to the wedding was that it took place just before dead week, and I kept having to dash off for a while and work on my term papers.

The Stressful End

I had four term papers to write: an easy one, a stupid one, a hard one, and one in which I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.

Everything seemed to come tumbling down around my ears those last few weeks. The wedding, the term papers, a bout of strep throat.

My Rhetoric teacher came in one day with the outlines we’d written for our term papers, the papers in which I had no clue what I was doing, and said, “I was shocked by how terrible these outlines were. Instead of having class today, I’m going to my office. You should all come see me.”

I looked at my outline. I’d gotten a C.

She left class, and we all got up, en masse, and followed her to her office. The first student went in to talk with her and the rest of us waited outside and chatted about our favorite episodes of The Office.

I think I was third in line. I told her I was confused. She told me that I was supposed to come to her office and get help from her. Her favorite thing to do was help students with research papers, she said.

“But I’m scared to ask you questions, because you always mock the people who ask you questions in class,” I told her.

“I only mock those who can take it,” she replied.

I left that meeting even less excited about asking her for help.

Needless to say, the stress of it all caught up with me, and when term ended mid-June my immune system crashed and I got really sick. Lie-in-bed-and-wish-I-were-dying sick. But it was okay because term was over and I had the rest of the month to recuperate.

(In fact, remarkably enough, I didn’t get sick again for another six months.)

The Late Days of June

I spent those last days of June, between college ending and harvest beginning, hanging out with my family and going on adventures.




Boating in Clear Lake


Exploring Portland

river 1

On the river

It was lovely.

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

4 responses to “Reflections on 2016 (Part 2 of 4)

  1. Oh, I really enjoy these recaps. Your writing is lovely… as is your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Reflections on 2016 (Part 3 of 4) | The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots

  3. Pingback: Reflections on 2016 (Part 1 of 4) | The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots

  4. Pingback: Reflections on 2016 (Part 4 of 4) | The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots

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