Pin It I have not responded to your individual comments; I don’t know as how to respond to be completely honest; just know that I am thankful for them.
I am also grateful for the phone calls which I have not answered, the emails which I have not replied to. For the Facebook messages which I have not ignored and for the text messages which you know that I usually never read. For each of these, I offer up a hearty “Thank you…I’m so glad that I can count you as friends.”
To save time I will reply to the one incessant question which has been universal through most of these forms of correspondence: “Teachinfourth, what happened?”
Please be patient and indulge me just a bit as I answer as I can. I find myself doing what writers do when they are faced with a dilemma…they write about it. It is with this in mind that I put tremulous hand to page—
The steady beat of the windshield wipers scraped away the waves of water as the miles of highway fell away beneath the tires of my Honda CR-V. I hadn’t made this trip in years. The clouds overhead were gray and ominous; they were a good mirror for my thoughts—reflecting back the mood of what I had been feeling.
Wait, let me go back.
It was Saturday. I’d been in St. George when the phone call came
No, I need to go still farther.
My parents got divorced.
Yes, that was hard. But that is a whole story in itself which could fill volumes. The life that I’d once known had become fractured into two. I at times wonder about the life that would be now had that dreadful event not come to pass, however I’ll never be privy to that information; what I do know is the life which ensued because it did.
That’s the one I am currently living.
To surmise: both my parents eventually remarried.
My dad married a woman named Arlene. To sum up nearly two decades in just a few sentences: she helped my dad and me to finally have a positive relationship. She always made it a point to make sure that we were all included as family. She cared about my father’s children just as much as if she had given birth to each and every one of them herself.
Is it any surprise that we call her, ‘Mother’?
I have two Moms. Two women I credit with varied parts of my life.
Fast forward sixteen years into the future—July 2007; Arlene was diagnosed with cancer. She was given between one and eight weeks to live.
This was the time I received a ticket for the emotional rollercoaster known as life, which would offer up its myriad of twists and turns over the next several months. I ended up flying home in October, thinking that one of my Moms was going to die.
She surprised everyone.
She began to get better.
She began to respond to treatments.
The cancer spread.
Saturday, June 20, 2009—1:34 P.M: The call came from Sandpoint, Idaho. My dad phoned to let me know that Arlene’s condition had rapidly deteriorated and it was not looking good. She had been admitted to the hospital just a few days before because of various complications which inevitably led back to the cancer. She had requested to come home—she told my dad that this is where she wanted to die.
There were to be no miracles this time; no saving graces where she would baffle the doctors and glean extra years to her lifespan as she had done so many times before.
This time, it was for real.
I was on my way. I bid farewell to the friends I’d been visiting and began the arduous trek to the panhandle of northern Idaho—a seventeen hour drive from my current location.
I ran the gambit of emotion as I drove in the rain nearly the entire distance to Tremonton, arriving at 9:00 P.M. and staying with an old friend so as to get an early start out the next day.
I was up before the sun, fumbling with contact lenses and car keys—slipping out into the early morning light, inking over the distant hills like warm butter. I drove along in silence. My jumbled thoughts were mismatched as town after tiny town nestled securely in and amongst the bosom of rolling hills passed in my wake, their inhabitants still aslumber.
As I drove, I passed from sunny skies to those of rainstorm. I traveled through storm after storm. Like the tempests in my own life, I traveled through he sun, rain and back again as the miles still fell away. From time to time I was in the sunlight, but I could see the dark clouds out on the horizon, and I was moving right toward them.
Bring it on.
Was this to be a metaphor of the events coming to pass in my own life? Leaving blue skies behind and trading them for heavens of ashen gray?
Makeshift crosses on the roadside served as sordid reminders of what was to inevitably come to pass. I winced every time I saw one, and quickly averted my eyes, as if having seen something repulsive.
I drove into the downpour.
Down it came, harder…threatening to dislodge my little vehicle from the road, but still I drove, unimpeded.
On the other side of the storm was a sky which was bluer than the one I’d left behind. It made the storm feel worth it, just to see what lay on the other side.
Joni Mitchell once talked about having seen clouds from both sides. I think I understood—finally—what she was trying to say….a road trip of this nature was the best thing for me at this time. It was just me—me and an iPod full of music and a head jammed full of thoughts and a heart full of emotions needing to be worked through. Like the trash strewn along the highways of my life, someone needed to pick it all up and sort through it.
So I kept traveling the road, with new sights waiting to be seen with the billboards of my life spelling back their messages in the broad moments of quietness.
This second day’s drive took 11 ½ hours, it was nearly 5:00 P.M. when I pulled into my parent’s suburban neighborhood. As I climbed out of my car I realized that had I flown, so many things would have been missed.
It was with a heavy heart that I cut across the evenly cut grass of the lawn and entered through the back door, silent as a wisp of smoke. The problems of the world were still gathering around me, pushing and shoving; they were mine to be conquered, mine to be vanquished.
But for now, let come what may; after all, there is nothing I can do to stop them.