On a special afternoon in May, Rachel finds an old card that she had stuck behind the glass of her mirror. It’s a congratulations note from Beth, Jesse, and several bus drivers. Rachel thinks about everything that has changed since her year riding the buses with Beth. For instance, Tim had another child, Rodolpho joined the police force, and Cliff became a mechanic. Rachel has continued to support Beth through the ups and downs in her life, like a recent surgery. So have Jesse, Olivia, Vera, and the drivers.
While Rachel and Beth have returned to their separate routines, the connection they built through riding the buses together clearly lives on. In fact, Rachel’s life seems to have changed much more than Beth’s because of their year together. She’s still plugged into Beth’s “traveling community,” which shows that the lessons she learned in the previous chapters about the importance of relationships have stuck.
Most of all, Rachel herself has changed: through her companionship with Beth and her friendship with Rick, she discovered the courage to start dating again. This May afternoon is special because it’s Rachel’s wedding day—and she’s marrying Sam. She called him 10 months before, and they feel like their new courtship is “a miracle.” Rachel hears a bus driving by, and she realizes that, thanks to Beth, she’s not afraid of love anymore.
This closing passage encapsulates how Rachel’s year with Beth has transformed her. Beth taught Rachel to become more open, spontaneous, and fearless, while the bus drivers helped her accept the emotional risks that come with all relationships. In addition, by loving Beth, Rachel became more patient, generous, and willing to make sacrifices for others. Thus, loving Beth taught Rachel how to love again in general, and her marriage shows that her process of emotional rebirth is finally complete.