In the days following our kayak date, Mr W and I would continue to talk during work hours via office communicator, planning several more boating trips. I would help him pack up the boat and take it back to his aunt's house. Afterwards we would drive together back to town, usually stopping for dinner at Subway or at 7-11 for Slurpee's, chatting the entire way.
One night, after the obligatory Subway stop for dinner, we stopped at Plymouth Park, a block away from Mr W's childhood home. We walked laps around the park, sharing about hopes/dreams and failures/disappointments. At one point in our endless lapping of the park, Mr W noticed a gazebo with a fairly flat rooftop and stopped abruptly in front of it. Anyone who knew him growing up could see this part coming. On the side of the gazebo were 2 plastic trash cans with lids on top. He walked over, grabbed a can and rolled it to just underneath the ledge of the roof. Within 20 seconds he was perched on the top of the gazebo roof, extending out an arm. I can't remember any words being exchanged until I was standing atop the trash can, lacking a few inches in height to swing my legs up onto the roof. I must have something like "help pull me up" and he held my hands for some balance until I not-so-skillfully pulled myself a safe distance from the edge of the roof.
Mr W was lying back on the roof-top, hands behind his head, gazing up at the clear Michigan night sky. I instinctively did the same, though less gracefully as I was trying to keep the tar roof-top from sand-papering too much of my elbows.
It must have been at least 15 minutes -which is a long time now that I think about it to have not said anything- until Mr W shared an earth shattering "look at the sky". Which, was less like sharing and more like a statement of what we were doing. I replied back with an equally fascinating observation of "yea, its amazing". Deep, emotional stuff was being exchanged here people. A few more cliches were said that are usually shared under a starry sky. Mr W again broke the silence, wondering out load about what God intended for us.
My brain didn't understand, what do you mean what God intended for us? He continued wondering out loud; about his heart’s desire, God's plan, Heaven. I remember key phrases because while he was deep in thought, I was mentally sweating. I was trying to draw upon 12 years of private, Catholic education to recall information on any of the things he was saying. I was blank. I remembering singing songs about Jesus loving us, studying the crusades and learning God knew all of our sins. What he was talking about sounded so.. personal, so real. I finally interjected, trying to sit up and look at him while forgetting I was on a slanted roof-top and beginning to slide down. "What do you mean about God's plan? God has a plan?". He sat up also [without sliding around on the roof I might add] and told me that the Lord has plans for all of us which intend for us to live for Him.
Mr W mused "What if we actually all loved each other like God intended? What would the world be like? What would our lives be like?". I asked if that was really possible, if everyone could really be good just because God made them. Josh simply replied with "God created all of this [life], every person was created in His image. And He did [all of this for us] out of love." I said that is a really cool thought, how did you come up with that? His response "I didn't, it's all in the Bible".
Dumbfounded, embarrassed and very curious were a few of the feelings I had. I'd grown up reading the bible, well reading it from a this-is-going-to-be-on-the-test perspective. Which , is where I now know how I missed focusing about God being a loving, creative and all-powerful God. Mr W loves God and God loves him and I saw how confident Mr W was in that love. I was beyond curious and frankly, I felt like I had been left out of something big all my life.
Time was rushing past us, I usually started work at 715am, our conversation needed to be put on pause. Mr W climbed down off the roof-top and as he reached the top of the trash can I called out "Wait! How am I going to get down?” He paused from his spot, standing on the can's plastic lid, looked down the ground then back up at me hovering at the edge of the roof. The moment he reached out his arms "Jump"; the plastic lid buckled under his weight, denting inward towards the ground. In one fluid motion I pushed off the roof's ledge, my feet landing on the mere inches left of the collapsing piece of plastic. Mr W's arms surrounded me to stabilize my landing. The plastic lid could stand no more and quickly folded underneath our feet. We jumped off merely escaping the remaining 5 foot tumble onto concrete.
The following summer we would be in Michigan again, walking around that same park. Only this time it was during the day and we would notice how that roof-top was roughly 12 feet off the ground. A detail neither of us deemed important that first night at the park.