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Rain has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks...

Was lying in bed, trying to drift off to sleep, lamenting my inability to think of a subject suitable for "telling"...a "Julie story". It was one of our many rainy nights of late and the elements finally spoke to me...

Julie loved rain!

When most people (including yours truly) would take off running with the first drops of rain, Julie would pause...lifting her face skyward...letting the drops land on her face...enjoying the experience. Julie would chastise me for scurrying for cover, my response being that "hair impaired" folks like myself got the dramatic impact of raindrops much more quickly than well endowed folks like herself. She didn't buy it!

When we would get home (or if we were already home), Julie would go to the back door, open it, and spend quite a bit of time just looking out at the rain.

Julie often remarked that she would like to live in Seattle, noted for its rainy weather. Her wishes were briefly sated when the National Education Association sent her to Seattle on one of her "presentation gigs"...and, yes, much to her delight, it rained. (I know, because she called me and told me so!)

Julie loved Hawaii, for the same reasons that most people loved Hawaii, but also because of the frequent afternoon showers...the Heaven-sent variety, not those provided in the hotel or condo. Mount Waialeale, on the island of Kauai (Julie's favorite, of course), is often called the wettest spot on Earth, with an annual average rainfall of 444 inches! Hawaii even provided the proper atmosphere for Julie's experience...sunshine immediately before and after...and even DURING many of the rain showers. Rain was happiness to Julie...NOT dark and depressing.

And, yep, one of Julie favorite movies was "Singin' in the rain". That was another time Julie called me from one of her road adventures...a trip to New York. She related that she had left her hotel for lunch at a deli, and that while there, it started to rain. After she finished eating, she started to walk down Broadway back to her hotel a couple of blocks away. As it started once again to rain, the New Yorkers routinely popped open their umbrellas or ducked into nearby stores. Not my girl! Julie stops, looks up...and smiles. Julie decides it's time to do her Gene Kelly routine. Yes, in keeping with the motto on her headstone...Julie danced...in the rain, complete with splashing in the puddles. Julie related over the phone how passer-bys simply glanced at her, gave a little laugh, and made sure they didn't get soaked!

Many a day that the practical Ronnie and the whimsical Julie "clashed" over the rain. If I heard the rain start to fall, I would dutifully go around and check the windows to make sure they were closed. When I entered the room where Julie was, I knew what would happen; Julie would say "Leave the window open...I like the rain." Until I learned better, I would sensibly point out that the rain would get the wall and floor wet. Julie's typical retort..."So?" Our compromise was that I was allowed to lower the window maybe halfway and place bath towels on the floor under the window.

One of Julie's symptoms of her health problems was a constant low-grade fever. As such, we would run the central air from March to early November, when the furnace would take over. So, open windows for us became moot...unless it rained! Yep, Julie would get out of bed, walk over to the window, and open it. Without saying a word, I would go to the bathroom, get the towels, and weatherize the wall and floor.

Incidentally, atmospheric lighting and sound effects WERE preferred...aka, lightning and thunder...the closer and more frequent the better!

AND...many the time that Julie tried to get me to walk in the rain with her. As I indicated above, at the first drops of rain, Julie stops...I run. Hey, every MAN for himself! Julie would try to coax me back out of my hiding place...I protesting, using my "hair impaired" argument. Julie would finally relent and reluctantly join me in shelter.

Some of you may remember, it rained on the days surrounding Julie's passing and funeral. (No...not going to get into any doo dee doo dee stuff...yet.) Practical Ronnie begins worrying about a funeral in the rain...messy, to say the least. I can't even say truthfully that it even crossed my mind that rain would be very appropriate for Julie's funeral. I just worried.

On the day of the funeral itself, I considered it a blessing when the sun popped out and attentees did not have to worry about getting soaked to pay their final respects.

On the drive to the cemetery, it did begin to sprinkle. I turned to Rachel and said "Well, Julie may get her wish after all." Rachel looked at me quizzically and I explained. "Julie always wanted me to walk in the rain with her...and I would run off. She knows she's got me this time. If it rains while we are carrying the casket to the grave site, Julie knows there's no way I'm leaving her side." Well, in the end, Julie, as usual, took "pity" on her Ronnie (and everyone else). It didn't rain at the cemetery.

Now...for the doo dee doo dee stuff!

As I said above, the topic of rain popped into my thoughts a couple of weeks ago...but I didn't follow up on it...didn't think there were enough memories to warrant an entry.

This past Wednesday, I spent an agonizing day at the inappropriately named (for our purposes) "Comfort Inn" in Marion, Illinois. The special occasion was a mediation session for James Gibson, the Cairo School District employee befriended by Julie when the District reneged on a written contract. As you can surmise from my disclaimer, the day provided insult and further hurt, not settlement.

After the mediation, James and I returned to my house in Cairo...to decompress.

The school district DID make a cash offer...and James turned them down...opting to go to court, where nothing is guaranteed. (Courts DO do strange things. If Rodney King's beating can be shown in court on videotape and his assailants found not guilty...well, you see what I mean.)

As we are discussing the situation, James explains to me why he is NOT worried...an explanation that proved a bit "spooky".

James started telling me about a dream he had a couple of weeks ago. In the dream, God told James to believe in Him...to trust Him. The words James said God used were "It's going to rain in Springfield."

(Springfield is where the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board usually holds its hearings. The rain reference was in the context of a Biblical story about God and the Prophet Elijah - God telling Elijah that He would let it rain after a three-and-a-half year drought..."If you just believe in Me.")

James told me that he went to church the day after his dream and a lady sat down next to him and said something along the lines that "It is going to rain if you have faith." And to top it off, at that same service, the preacher gave his sermon and made reference to "rain" in the same context, although I don't recall what James actually said. Mostly I don't remember because I was no longer paying much attention...I was distracted by my own thoughts. You ready for this... When James finished his story, I said "James, I want to give you something." I stood up and said "James...follow me...I want you to keep me in your sight...so you will know that I did not just do this." James followed me into the computer room. As we entered, I stepped aside and said "James, I want you to walk over to the computer desk and tear off the top post-it note laying in front of the telephone." He walked over, looked down at the note, and said "Goodness!" On the post-it note was one word...underlined..."Rain".

I had written that post-it note a couple of weeks before...the night that I first thought of "rain". Too often, I have thought of something right before going to sleep, something that I would act on "first thing in the morning", only to forget. So, I got out of bed that night...went into the computer room and wrote "Rain" on the post-it note...to remind my absent-minded self to tell the story about Julie's love of rain.

I can't swear that my thought of rain happened on the same night that James had his dream of rain, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.


You skeptics out there, you Doubting Thomases, you who don't believe in "signs", dismissing them as coincidences...

Another song comes to mind.

A Christmas song...of the non-religious type.

You'll remember it...in fact, you won't be able to get it out of your head after you hum a few bars.

Oh, don't believe that either? Ye of little faith!

Well, you asked for it...

The song?


Hmmm...RAINdeer. Could it be another "sign"?


With a couple of slight substitutions - Signs for Santa and James for Grandpa - this line from the song sums it all up:

    You can say there's no such thing as Signs,
    But as for me and James, we believe.

During the ensuing months, there were times when the waiting and wondering would get me down...would James ever get his day in court? Would he win?

James would always reassure me, saying repeatedly, "Ron, God has told me...I'm going to dance in the rain in Springfield."