Sense or Nonsense

“I can’t,” mouthed the reflection in the mirror.  Those words are like profanity in my house.  If you say “I can’t”, you best have a good reason why not.  I had no good reason for the words.  I had searched for some logic to explain my feeling, but had none.

There was a tap at the bathroom door.  It was the kids.  “Mo-om.”  It had become a two-syllable word.  They were more than ready to go.  I needed to pull myself together and get going, but there came those words again from the reflection in the mirror.  “I can’t.”  I opened the door despite not having it together.  Something I usually don’t do.  Their mouths opened to speak but no words came out.  I spoke first.  “Sorry, it’s a hard day for me today.”  They found some words.  “Does that mean we’re not going then?”  “No, we’re going.  It’s just going to take me longer than I thought.  We’re still going.”

Why was this so hard?  Why did I feel afraid?  I still didn’t understand myself.  My car is in good repair.  I’ve driven that far before.  I don’t have a GPS, but I’ve always survived with written directions.  I’ve driven downtown Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Salt Lake City.  Dallas didn’t seem like it would be any worse than those cities.  I wasn’t afraid someone would snatch my children.  I was looking forward to seeing my friend at the end of the trip.  I had no explanation for my feelings.

A few minutes before departure I decided I really couldn’t drive all twelve hours in one setting.  It was getting late in the day for that and I was struggling just to get out the door.  My mom suggested I stay with her brother on the way.  It would increase drive-time by a couple of hours but would allow us to stop and spend some time with people who cared.  That sounded like a good plan and new directions were printed.  I would call them later for the details when I could talk without crying.

After a few hours of bleary-eyed driving, I settled in and watched the miles tick by.  And my mind started to get a handle on things.  I wasn’t afraid.  I was sad.  I was grieving.  I used to make a list of snacks to take with us.  He’d go buy twice as many things.  I’d pack them in the cooler.  He’d put them in the car.  He’d pack his clothes.  I’d put in the socks and underwear he’d forgotten.  He’d put the suitcase in the car.  I’d pack the things for the kids.  He’d grab the atlas and print directions.  This was one of those “we-to-me” exchanges that I hadn’t adequately acknowledged.  Not that it would have hurt any less had I recognized it.  But once recognized, I could then understand and move on.  The second day was much better.  The trip home was not an issue at all.  It was something I just had to do.

There will be more things I just have to do.  And how I feel about them will probably not make any logical sense.  Grief seems to be that way.

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