Hugo Flockhart never imagined that a broken transmission would one day end up saving his life, but perhaps that old saying is true: you just never know.
He had been traveling along Canada’s 401 East when he noticed something was up with his car. He had just crossed over the Detroit/Windsor border a few minutes earlier. As an auto industry executive, he maybe should have noticed sooner that something was wrong, and maybe he would have if he was a front line man and not the guy who sits in an office far away from all the dirt and noise. At least the tow truck driver was nice enough to give him a lift to the repair shop.
“I hate to tell you this, but this is going to be an all day job,” the repair guy had said to Hugo. “There’s a shopping mall not too far from here that should help you kill time. It’ll take you about twenty minutes to walk there.”
The repair guy was wrong. Twenty minutes came and went and Hugo still had a while to go. He could see the mall, but at his slow pace he was still a good fifteen minutes away. Hugo used to be able to walk fast, and at just forty years of age he should still be able to, but he often moved as though he had no life in him; had been ever since his wife died.
Truth be told, Annette hadn’t just simply died. She was murdered, three years ago. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, the police told him that day. If she had left the bank a few minutes earlier she would have missed the holdup altogether. Instead, she met up with a trigger happy robber hopped up on drugs. Hugo’s been going through the motions ever since.
Another five minutes went by and Hugo could see the mall even more clearly. He could also see something purple flapping in the wind alongside of the road. It was a ribbon, tied to a hydro pole outside of a McDonalds.
“Why would McDonalds hang a purple ribbon from a hydro pole?” Hugo asked himself. The answer came just a few moments later.
Beneath the ribbon, on the ground, was a large display of flowers and a sign that read: Rest In Peace, Kayla.
“Who’s Kayla?” Hugo wondered.
The name suggested youth. Had she been an employee at this particular McDonalds? Someone trying to earn money for school? Maybe she was just driving by and got into an accident. Or maybe she had suffered a fate similar to Hugo’s Annette.
“Do they have random killings in small town Canada?” Hugo then asked himself.
Canada didn’t seem like the type of place that would, at least to Hugo, but something had happened to that young girl. Something bad, and now there was a family feeling just as crushed as Hugo felt when he lost his wife. And they would go on feeling crushed for years. Their whole lives would be consumed by a misery they wouldn’t be able to shake. Hugo wished that he knew where the family lived so he could go there and hug them, tell them he understood their pain. That they weren’t alone.
It was at that moment Hugo felt something he hadn’t felt in years: a connection to someone else.
“We are all in pain,” Hugo thought. “No one gets through life without some level of heartache, without suffering loss, without having to endure something no one should ever have to endure. Dear God, please don’t let Kayla’s family end up bitter and broken like me. Let them heal. Let me heal.”
It was the first time he had ever asked God to help him heal. But he didn’t need God’s help to heal. It was up to him. Only he could forgive the man who had murdered his wife. Only he could he make the decision that it was time for him to move forward with his life and to let hope back in.
Placing his hand upon Kayla’s sign, he bowed his head and said the words he didn’t think he’d ever say: “I’m ready.”
Hugo then moved on towards the mall, and towards the next chapter in his life.