With a slight sigh of relief, we left the BBQ and drove back to the extended stay hotel so I could change out of my not black but military blue top and pink pants. I wanted to wear something comfortable. Something to help ease the drive.
It was time to drive those Almost Thousand Miles back to Georgia.
It was time to go home.
I don’t know if I was eager to get home…I don’t know if I felt much of anything, really. I guess I was still in that mode of putting myself in gear and doing the next thing.
Move forward into the next phase of this situation. I had survived the Hospital Days. I survived those nine long and gruesome Hotel Days.
Yes, I survived. I was still alive. I had to do it somewhere…live this out.
My husband drove and my son rode in the front passenger seat. I was assigned the back all to myself, and was given pillows and blankets so I could crawl up in a ball and sleep the way home.
But I couldn’t do that. I was wide awake.
And sitting there in the back seat all became strangely quiet. There were no more people, no plans, no time schedule. The only waiting now was to get home. I felt out of place somehow.
It didn’t matter that we had driven the route to and from Texas a dozen or so times before. It didn’t matter that we were familiar with the drive and we could follow our trusty GPS and that even if those things failed, we could rely on an Atlas to help us find the way.
I still felt lost.
I was leaving Texas this time without hugging my son goodbye at his front doorstep and him telling me to be safe and to make sure to text him when I got home. I didn’t get one last big hug and an I love you.
I didn’t get to hear my son say as he always did…
“See ya, Mom.”
You know, the most remarkable thing is that I can hear his voice say that word in my mind. Mom. I hear it audibly. Clear as if he were standing next to me.
I know now that I have collected the millions of times he called me that in his lifetime and recorded them in the recesses of my brain. I tucked them away and now pull them out and allow them to replay.
That one syllable endearment wraps around my brain and calls my name. Over and over.
Said only the way he can.
As we merged onto the highway home, I wanted to look back. I wanted to turn myself around and look out the back window. Get one last look at things as they were just then. The entire experience was like a chapter in the most remarkable book that you simply feel compelled read again and again. The chapter that anchors the entire story and describes it with great detail. The one that puts it all together before things all fall apart.
But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look back.
It was hard enough to have to move forward, to leave him there. My boy.
I didn’t want to think that I would never see him again in this life.
I was frozen by that. It was time for me to turn the page. But I couldn’t. I didn’t even allow myself to think about what was before me. I was stuck there. In the middle between what had happened and what was to come.
I was now confined in some sort of time machine. Those hours and hours of driving a portal transporting me into a time and space of the what not to expect. A lifetime of it…of not knowing.
Of living without.
My entire life was changed. That one chapter changed everything for me. Everything.
I’ve heard it said that the story of our lives is ours to write. We hold the pen.
I swear to you I would never have written this. Death would have never been part of my story.
But I had no choice now. The miles and miles of road stretched ahead were leading me to the next chapter of Home Days whether I wanted to read it or not.
All I could do was decide to wait and see.
Take things one word at a time.