“The finer things keep shining through.” These are lyrics from the song, “The Finer Things” by Steve Winwood. I heard the song tonight as I was driving home. The finer things. Tammy Allbritton Eunice and I were blessed to attend the wedding of one of James David Eunice’s very best friends two weeks ago in Bishopville, SC. Tregea Schaare was one of James’ very first friends in Sumter, SC. It was the type of friendship that they could tell each other anything, and, I think, provide mutual support to each other. They remained close friends even after we moved from Sumter to Valdosta, and Tregea has remained a constant in our lives since we lost James. She is definitely one of the finer things in our life.
Tammy and I drove up on the Friday night before the wedding, and spent the day in and around Sumter, and, of course, having lunch at Baker’s Sweets, Tammy’s favorite bakery ever. The finer things. We started driving to the wedding around 3:30 for the 4:30 event. At some point on the way, we switched from listening to the radio to music from my IPhone. I have over 300 songs loaded, and had placed them on shuffle so the songs played randomly. As we approached Bishopville, the song “Remember Me” by Mark Schultz began to play. We listened to the words,
When the color of the sunset fills the sky
When you pray and tears of joy fall from your eyes.
We felt those tears as the song changed and Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” started to play. Again, we listened to the words,
And now, I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance; I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance.
We’ve listened to this song often, and always think of James. But this day, the song was even more relevant because of a story. Tammy home schooled James when we lived in Sumter, and they were part of a wonderful home school group. James met Tregea through that group, and they became fast friends. Each year, the high school age students had their own prom, and grades nine through 12 participated. Shortly before we arrived in James’ eighth grade year, Tregea had lost her father. As you can imagine, it was a devastating loss. I like to think that James helped her through that time. I know he did his freshman year when he attended the prom. This prom included ninth and tenth graders as I mentioned, but it also included parents. One of the special moments of the prom included a Father-Daughter dance. When they announced the dance that night, Tregea began to walk off the floor in tears. James caught her before she left though, and told her they were going to dance. As they danced, numerous parents tried to get them off the floor, James politely told them he would explain after the dance. As the music ended, James walked Tregea out of the room. He came back in and walked over to the adults and told them the story. The finer things keep shining through.
As this song ended, Toby Keith’s “Crying for Me” began to play. We heard the refrain,
I'm gonna miss that smile I'm gonna miss you my friend Even though it hurts the way it ended up I'd do it all again So play it sweet in heaven 'Cause That's right where you want to be I'm not cryin' cause I feel so sorry for you I'm cryin' for me
Three consecutive songs, all tied to James, as we approached the wedding for one of his very best friends. As we pulled up to a parking spot on Main Street, a car pulled up beside us to prepare to parallel park. I stepped out of the car to walk around to Tammy’s side of the car, and noticed the driver of the car who had parallel parked behind us. It was Victoria Anne Sullivan, another of James’ very best friends from Sumter. We visited with Tori later, as the dancing started, and she shared the conversation she and James had many years ago. She and James had said they would both be at Tregea’s wedding, and would be dancing together. We visited a while longer, said our goodbyes to many of James’ friends and their parents, congratulated Tregea, and walked to the staircase to leave. As we did so, a young man walked in front of us, stuck out his hand to introduce himself, and said, “Hi. My name is James.” A perfect ending to a beautiful evening. As I’ve said before, I don’t pretend to know how God works, but I stand amazed at how he orchestrates events. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." The finer things keep shining through. Indeed.