During the process of being interviewed for the story that appeared on Valentines Day in the Pioneer Press, Molly Guthrie the writer asked me for tons of documents and accounts from friends etc. I asked my long time friend and co-best-man at my wedding, Richard Dahl to write his first hand account of what he saw as the weeks went by as I was getting to know Lindsey. He got it all right!
I’ve known John since 1992, we became fast friends and that friendship has lasted and grown over the last 23 years. In November 2011, I began working for a client in Minneapolis and for more than the next two years I occupied his guest bedroom two to three nights per week two to three weeks a month. It was a great time, best time I’ve had “on the road” in my many years of traveling for work.
John and I talked about many things, listened to vinyl records through a tube amp, argued politics and religion and shared with each other what was going on in our lives. We shared very personal stories of tragedy and stories of love and hope. On occasion, John would tell me about a woman he met or spent time with. I knew that John accepted his situation as a single man, but I also knew that contentment was the result of great effort. John’s heart, as all of ours, was made to give and receive love, his desire to love someone was great, and it always impressed me that his desire never diminished his standards. John did meet women, he did date some, but he never settled. He spoke to me about them and, never with arrogance or a desire to belittle them (except perhaps the woman who said she was working on a “perpetual motion machine”) made it clear there was nothing there for him. They just didn’t fit together.
We spoke of work a great deal; it’s what guys do. John told me about many of the jobs he had done; combining apartments, repairing absurd drain lines, complicated keying schemes for large buildings, and rehabbing his house. He showed me pictures of the jobs and even took me to a few. His narrative always centered around the problems he encountered and the solutions he found. Without fail, it was clear his interest focused on what he must solve, until the bathroom at the duplex in St. Paul.
Enter Lindsey. Client, Friend, Love. Sure the bathroom needed work, but, for the first time, he wasn’t so much interested in the job, but the owner. I’d heard bits about owners previously, but they had never before been a central character. Lindsey the client was different. She was beautiful, but her physical beauty was not the only thing that set her apart, she was driven, she was confident, she was motivated, and she understood sacrifice. I learned all of these things about her from John, he was excited that her values and her faith were in sync with his.
She became part of the job, but based on what John was telling me, her behavior was suspect. She claimed to trust him to select the tile, yet spent a couple of hours with him choosing tile. She had already hired him, yet came to his house to see the rehab of his bathroom. He was her contractor, yet she was texting him about advice on musicians she should listen to. She had ceased to be simply a client, spending time with Lindsey the friend became joyous occasions for John. He spoke of her in a way that made it clear they were connecting.
At one point, he told me that he was going to see where this relationship could go. John told me one Thursday (May 1st)* as I was getting ready to go home that the following night may be a watershed moment. For the first time, he and Lindsey were getting together with no pretense of the job. I don’t even know what state the bathroom was in at that point, I think it was done or close to being done, but he’d stopped discussing it pretty much. He’d asked her to come over for dinner, lamb on the grill. I’ll admit I was a bit jealous, his lamb is phenomenal. That Saturday night I texted him to ask how Friday went, he said he’d tell me when I got back the next week.
The following week I arrived at his house and he was beaming. He couldn’t stop smiling. His description of that evening was almost unbelievable, but I did believe it. There is one thing that I know about John, from my own experience as well as from meeting some of the people important in his life, he is a great judge of character. The people he talks about, the people he chooses to spend his time and energy on are worth it. This may seem a bit of self-praise, but I am referring to others. Dawn, Marla, Paul, Tim, his Nana, and Becca, to name a few. The people in his life that he speaks so highly of, so often of, are wonderful. I’ve had the privilege to meet all but Tim, but I have no doubts about him. John’s recommendation of a person is true. He’d told me so much about Lindsey, I was not concerned about who she was.
I was excited to finally meet Lindsey, but what I saw was very different than I’d expected. She came over that evening to meet me. There was a comfortableness between them, with no pretense. They seemed to simply want to be in each others presence to share some time with each other. They did not need to do anything together, just be together. They sat on the couch, reclining into each other. I made us drinks and we sat and just talked, like old friends. There was never a moment, then or since, where I got the feeling that either of them were a distraction for each other, or that they needed a distraction when together.
Lindsey made me feel comfortable with them, not like a third wheel on a date, just friends hanging out. I admit, prior to that I did suspect they were infatuated with one another. Like two kids finding a first love. Except they weren’t. They weren’t kids, they weren’t finding first love, and if they ever were infatuated with one another it didn’t last. They began to spend more and more time together, Lindsey had long since ceased to be a client, she was now more than a friend, Lindsey was his love. He looked for things that he could do for her. He coveted time with her, he adjusted his schedule, his late nights and late mornings became early nights and early mornings just to able to speak with her or text her prior to her morning at work. His schedule changed more so once they were married and living together. I was in some ways in the background, I joked that she was an interloper, but I was exactly where I needed to be. Lindsey was his love, and deserved all the affection, attention, and adoration John gave her.
Many people may have been concerned that their story, in particular, her progression from client to friend to love happened so quickly. But not people that know John, that saw he and Lindsey together. I am reminded of a line from When Harry Met Sally, Harry says to Sally “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” It may sound cliche, but that sums up their story in my mind.
At their wedding, as John’s best man, I toasted Lindsey alone. It never occurred to me that it was somewhat unconventional, it just seemed appropriate. The one thing I saw more than anything was that John’s contentment as a single man, which on the surface appeared to be happiness, was anything but. Lindsey made him happy in a way that he yearned for for so long. From everything I saw, he made her happy too. They clicked, they worked, there was nothing cheap or counterfeit to them. It’s tragic that so many people live a lifetime without finding love in the way that John and Lindsey did.
When John called me from Cozumel to tell me Lindsey passed I couldn’t comprehend it. I literally did not understand what he was saying at first, not because he was unintelligible, simply because it was too shocking. I take comfort knowing that Lindsey is with Christ, and greater comfort knowing that God is sovereign and He works all things for good for those who love Him. I know that both Lindsey and John love Him and are in His hands, and there is no doubt in my mind that she is with God now. There is also no doubt that for that all too brief time that they were together there is no where else they should have been.
*John added the date for clarity