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Hi. My name is Beth Erickson Harrison---Dan Harrison's Wife....

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

I feel like I need to formally introduce myself, even if you know Jack, Liz, and Dan. I’m not as much a part of Jack’s story as the others who’ve participated in writing these prequels. That’s one of the reasons my entry is so late. I’ve tried to convince Joy that anything I could say would be either repetitive or superfluous, but she insists that my part in this story is both important and relevant.

Let’s start with how I met Jack. I met him and Dan not long after the two of them moved to Ely, Minnesota, to start a search and rescue team dedicated to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. If they’d been women, I would have labeled them as BFFs (best friends forever), and that would be close to the mark notwithstanding the gender bias. They’d been friends for almost two decades at the time we met, and both were committed to on-scene treatment and rescue of accident victims. Being a life-long resident of Ely, I was happy that the US Forest Service had finally decided to do something about forming a specialized group to help with rescues and injuries to campers and canoeists. I love the outdoors, but unexpected injuries can turn a great vacation into a life and death struggle.

I’d returned to Ely after college and for years I was an accountant for the city. I’d always expected to meet someone, get married, and have kids. Somehow that didn’t happen. I was engaged once, in my late twenties, to a fine man---an Army Ranger named John Cross. He was deployed in the middle east in the aftermath of Desert Storm. He was a month away from returning stateside and we were a month and a half away from our wedding when he was killed by an IED. Somehow, after that, it just seemed easier to face life on my own. I have a lot of friends and family here in my hometown, so I never had to be alone if I wanted company.

At the time when Boundary Waters Search and Rescue: Beyond Belief opens, I was the owner of a bakery and coffee shop in downtown Ely. The Northern Lights Café was my version of a mid-life crisis. I love to bake and make sweet treats. I am also a typical Norwegian in my enjoyment of coffee, so it just seemed like the thing to do. Because I’m not a huge fan of cooking, at least commercially, I was blessed to hire Amos Aamehee, a Native American chef with a flair for extraordinary takes on traditional comfort food.

[Some wonderful (and regular) customers of mine who gave me permission to use this photo to give you a glimpse into my world.]

So, there I was, a business owner, happily single in my mid-forties, when these two guys walked into my restaurant and sat down at one of the few empty tables. I didn’t recognize them, so I figured they were probably tourists—although January isn't a prime time for vacation in the northern reaches of Minnesota. They were both athletic and good looking and when I delivered menus and water to their table, I noticed that neither of them wore a wedding band. What were the chances of that? I asked what I could get them and the blue-eyed one said coffee, the expression on his face telling me that he not only wanted coffee but needed it. I turned to the other guy, who was kinda staring at me with these warm, gorgeous brown eyes and asked what I could get him. He turned his thousand-watt smile on me and said “coffee and your phone number so I can ask you out on Saturday night.”

That was the beginning. Dan fell hard for me and I did my best to discourage him at first, he must have eaten breakfast at my place every day for a month before he got my phone number. After that, I began to fall hard for him. It didn’t matter that he was a two-time loser in the marriage lottery or that he didn’t seem to have a serious bone in his body. I knew that there was more to him. After all, he was the town’s Chief of Police. I fell in love with Dan and got to know Jack very well over the course of the next eighteen months. Dan and I married in August about a year and a half after we met. By that time, the three of us had become very close, because we all enjoyed canoeing, climbing, and hiking, followed by dessert and coffee.

For a while after Dan and I married I was worried that Jack might feel like a third wheel, but that seldom happened. Instead we became a family. I kept hoping that maybe Jack would find someone, just to ease his loneliness, but Dan believed Jack had given up on love. He told me about Jack losing his wife when very young and about his disastrous relationship with another physician when he and Dan had lived and worked in Colorado. She’d both broken Jack’s heart and left him unwilling to try again.

I was glad that Dan and I were able to give Jack a semblance of family life. Jack is a dear friend, and he was alone as we headed into that Thanksgiving season when Joy’s story begins. I was determined that this would be the holiday season that Jack would find the joy and peace the greeting cards keep touting. Dan said not to get my hopes up. Neither of us ever imagined how God would step in that November and change Jack’s heart and life in such a short period of time. And neither of us ever imagined how God would use that change in Jack’s life to bring Dan and me home to our eternal family.

I guess that’s all for now. I’ve given you the basics of how I play into two remarkable love stories. The first is my own personal love story with Dan and the second is Jack’s and Liz’s tale to tell. I pray that you will be truly blessed when you read Joy’s fictional take on a true miracle of grace.

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