Christian, but he did it. And Dr. Holly admitted she was still as baffled as she’d been when we started. Probably more so. Dad and I had planned to talk about the referral to the psychiatrist or psychologist—I never could remember which was which—when we got home, but the discussion would have to wait until Jo left. Dad went inside, leaving Aleesha and me to deal with Jo. The autumn temperature was brisk, but refreshing. Jo’s unexpected visit would probably be brisk, too—she never stayed long—but I had little hope that it would prove refreshing. “Hey, guys!” she said with a smile. She looked me up and down. “You look like you’ve lost your best friend.” She laughed. You’re referring to yourself, Jo. Or don’t you know that? You’ve known about my fatigue problem all along, but you haven’t shown any concern about it. You may not want to believe this problem is real, but I guarantee you I didn’t dream it up to get attention. If this is the best you can do as a best friend … Why expect this visit to be any different from the two or three she’d made since fatigue took over my life and squashed the daylights out of almost everything that made my life enjoyable? Too exhausted to keep making excuses for her, I would have been just as happy if she’d stayed home. She’d perfected the art of doing that. I remembered too well how her parents—mostly her mama—made her cancel the mission trip at almost the last minute because they were afraid of Mexican drug wars, even though they were nowhere close to Santa María … or to Ciudad de Plata, our original target city. I couldn’t blame Jo for that. But I couldn’t believe Jo’s mama kept her from visiting me. If she’d thought I was contagious, she wouldn’t have let Jo come at all. And no matter what, she wouldn’t have forbidden Jo from calling, texting, or Tweeting me. So I accepted Aleesha’s assessment. Only her ongoing presence in our household explained Jo’s ongoing absence. If she allowed prejudice to keep her from supporting an old friend and accepting a new one, that was unfortunate, but I was powerless to change her heart. Only God could do that, and He wouldn’t do it unless she was willing. Aleesha had been using my car while I was incapacitated, and I’d begun wondering if Jo checked for its absence before coming over. None of her previous visits had included Aleesha. Frankly, I hoped Aleesha’s presence would drive Jo away this time, too. I had too much on my mind, and her visits hadn’t been very uplifting, anyhow. As strange as it might sound, she made me think about some of the things I’d heard divorced women say about their ex-spouses. Things like “I grew up, but he didn’t” or “We grew apart” or “We just didn’t have anything in common anymore. “ I couldn’t accuse Jo of failing to grow up any more than I could claim to be completely mature. I wouldn’t achieve that goal until my next birthday. We had grown apart, though. Maybe because we didn’t have Santa María in common when we should have. We’d done everything together in planning for it. Everything from filling out applications to getting shots to buying those dual-language Bibles that turned out to be Spanish-only. But when Michelle Snelling made Jo drop out, that left me on my own. Not having my favorite little guardian angel nearby to protect me from myself had seemed disastrous at first, but it turned out to be a good thing. Jo’s absence helped me to integrate into the team better than I would have if she’d been there, and I learned to rely more fully on God. When I told Jo about my experiences on the trip, she reacted the way I’d expected. Half-fascinated, half-envious. My reaction to the project change made her laugh, but she could barely believe the part about my reading to the villagers in perfect Spanish. Although she’d expressed some pleasure about Rosa’s conversion, she didn’t act thrilled about it.