When Joe and I started dating again in 2005 he was working at Ferraro Foods in Piscataway, NJ. He worked an overnight shift doing IT work. The first time we saw each other after several years was at the Dunkin Donuts near where he worked while he was on his "lunch" break. I don't remember exactly what time we met up, but my sister Karen and I were on our way home from line dancing at the Colorado Cafe so I'm sure it was midnight or later. It was good to see Joe and it wasn't long before we were dating again. We started where we were, with all that had happened in the time in between, and just kept building.
His overnight shift at Ferraro Foods defined much of our early relationship as we had to juggle when we would see each other around his work and sleep schedule which were the opposite of my own. We managed it well enough and after about a year he had landed a new job with a more traditional Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm schedule. Even still, in my mind, Joe was connected with Ferraro Foods, and that place to me was a reminder of what it meant to start where you are and keep moving. That place was a part of the story of our re-kindled relationship and even then seeing any reference to the company would give me a little flutter of hope.
After he died, it was even more pronounced. I began noticing trucks with Ferraro Foods emblazoned across the side or a strategically-placed package of food with their logo at times when I most needed some encouragement. Just like how I feel about the song Don't Stop Believin', seeing something with Ferraro Foods became a little hello from Joe.
December has been a tough month. It now starts off with the anniversary of Joe's death on the 5th and this year concluded with my Dad in the hospital. He spent his birthday there as well as Christmas and now will be there for New Year's too. In the midst of the hard though, I have gotten little hellos from Joe at just the right times. There have been many moments, but the big one came on Dad's birthday. I was driving up to work, approaching the Turnpike exit for the hospital, and I started feeling overwhelmed with sadness. I glanced over to the truck lanes only to see that familiar Ferraro Foods truck right there, moving at the same pace. I almost couldn't believe it. But I had to because at just that moment, as if I had planned it myself, "Don't Stop Believin'" came on the random shuffle. Random. But not really.
I am thankful when signs like these pop into my life. They reassure me that I am not alone and that there is a reason to hold out hope. Thirteen years ago when Joe and I started dating again I had no idea how things would turn out for us. But there was the hope of something new and meaningful, which was exactly what we both needed. That hope is what I will carry with me into 2019, knowing that to get to where I want to be I must first start where I am.
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