Monday, July 13, 2009

A time to pause...

On Sunday, July 12, while riding east on highway 254 just outside of Wichita, Kansas, Rachel received a phone call from home. Jay Schoenberg, her best friend, lover, companion, and boyfriend of 5 years--no one word seems to fit just right--lost control of his raft while backpacking in Alaska, and was drowned.

In the moments that followed, our world spun to a halt. We sat on the side of the road for over an hour; stunned, unable to move, unable to breathe. Several concerned motorists stopped to help, and one couple, Heath and his wife Michal, stayed with us for that whole hour. Heath, a firefighter, went home to attach a trailer to his pickup truck, and hauled us and our bikes back into Wichita, where Mark, one of Kendal's college professors, lives. We unloaded our gear into Mark's house, took showers, and were at the airport in less than three hours.

Through many tears and desperate hugs, we said goodbye to Greg, who stayed in Wichita to sort through our gear, and got to the terminal. We were to fly to St. Paul through Atlanta, but our flight was delayed for several hours due to storms down south. Feeling helpless, frustratingly immobile, and still very much in shock, we coaxed Rachel to sleep on the terminal floor with Tylenol PM, wrapping her in a sleeping bag, and rubbing her back.

Eventually, our flight boarded, and we made it to Atlanta, with barely 5 minutes to catch our connecting flight. (Kendal's dear cousin Kristin was ready and waiting to scoop us up in Atlanta should we have missed it.) By 3 a.m., we were in the loving arms of Dale and Martha and Rosie, the rest of the Graber crew.

Greg will head home to Texas today, and Kendal will stay in St. Paul with the Graber's for a while. When the time is right, he may very well fly back to Wichita, pick up his bike, and continue The Unforgettable Journey solo.

For now, we are holding each other close, appreciating all the love that Jay poured into every life he encountered.

Rumi - There is a field

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rachel and Jay at their high school performance of HAIR in 2004.


Sara said...

Dear Rachel,
We have been avidly reading of your exploits after picking up your blog from Mike Roddy's, They Rode West. Please accept my sincere condolences on this great loss. I am so sorry for this terrible death of a beautiful young man.
Sara Khwaja

Urbanopolis said...

That kid was freakin rad, a creative and fiery actor, so sad. Memorial service is rumored to be this Sunday at Minnehaha Falls 4-10pm.

Anonymous said...

love to all of you.

Kate said...

Dear Rachel,
Unbelievable. It sounds like Jay lived life to fullest and had so many friends that loved him. My deepest sympathies to you and his friends and families.
Love to you.
Kate Gustafson