Let me tell you a little about my friend Candice Pace. We were sitting in the fountain square the other day and she was telling me about how she had driven to Pikeville to visit her mom. Along the way, deep in McCreary County, she passed three turtles that were crossing the road.
So Candice Pace stopped the car three times and picked up the turtles to help them across. Each time, she would turn them over to make sure their shells hadn’t been cracked. She discovered that the last turtle she encountered had indeed been injured. “Smooshed” would probably be the word most people would use to describe the poor creature, but Candice, who is a veterinarian, looked at the reptile and decided she could save it.
So she put the turtle in her car and made her way to Pikeville. When she got home, she went to work. She called a vet friend of hers and bought some antibiotics and painkillers. Then she injected the thing with the medicine, all the while deftly avoiding his snapping jaws as he vigorously tried to amputate her finger.
By the time we caught up, she was on day 2 of the turtle’s medical regimen.
“I’m hopeful,” she said. “I think sepsis would have set in by now. If we can make it to 72 hours I think we’re in the clear.”
I sat back on the park bench and marveled over the fact that this simple story contained the character of Candice Pace. First off, what percentage of people would have even stopped the car on a busy highway, never mind three times? Of that percentage, how many would decide to treat the injured? Two percent? One?
But my friend Candice Pace did.
More than demonstrating her nurturing side though, it was the way in which she told the story. There was no self-promotion in it or self-aggrandizement, no, “I saved a turtle yesterday, what the hell have you done?” If anything, she gently chastised herself for her effort. She bit into her sandwich and laughed.
“Boy, do I need to get back to work or what?”
Then she moved swiftly on, asking me about my week and work and home life, none of which, by the way, involved saving anything.
Candice has lived in Somerset for three years and, in that time, she’s smoothly navigated its social circles. I’ve learned a lot from her about diplomacy and reserving judgment and being grateful for what we have. When we met, I liked her instantly. No fuss, no muss. She liked the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” I liked the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” She got teary eyed all the time, I get teary eyed all the time. She has a bad mouth, I have a bad mouth. Perfect, done, sold. I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine.
But in a few weeks, Candice Pace is moving away to Alabama so her husband can pursue his dream job as the sport medicine doc at Auburn University. In her typical fashion, she’s handling the move with honesty and incredible calm; slow and steady wins the race, after all.
I’ve never had a friend move away on me and so far, it’s been a strange experience. With moving boxes and real estate agents at the forefront, she’s constantly being forced to address the issue. But with those triggers absent for me, it’s easy enough to pretend it isn’t happening. I mean, she’s here now and we can still go for lunch and meet for manicures if we want. It’s hard to imagine how things will be in a few weeks, because, you see, she’s still here now so can’t it just keep continuing like that?
I’m learning there is also envy involved when someone moves. You think about what it would be like to move to a different place — a city, no less — and pick a new house, maybe one on a lake. You wonder about what kind of people you would meet and how you could spend your Saturday nights with them in your new city. It all seems very new and exciting. Then you turn back to your house, whose deck needs a paint job, and your town that doesn’t have good restaurants, and it makes you feel, well, left behind.
But let’s not dwell on that. As with the turtle she fixed and released, it’s time to cross the road for dearly beloved Candice Pace, her husband Jesse and sweet little boy Jasper. I wish you the greatest joy, success and luck in your new life. Thanks for all you’ve taught me, my wonderful friend.