This post continues my August travel adventure and personal inner journey. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here. I hope you’ll come along and discover like I did, that you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere, in any situation, if you choose to keep your heart open and make room for it.
Musician Daughter’s voice broke as I listened on my cell phone. She stumbled with the words emergency room, blood tests, and ultrasound. No medical explanation, they told her.
Then the loneliest of words: miscarriage.
“Should I come now?” I asked, working to keep my voice steady.
“No, wait. I think we’ll be okay.”
I called her each day for three days, wanting to offer love and support, but also not wanting to intrude on this most intimate of wakes between husband and wife.
For three days I grieved, I cried, I prayed, I prepared. I lamented the 441 miles between us, which might as well have been a million. I imagined how they felt, and cried some more. I grieved for life lost, for hope crushed, for hearts broken.
Then,'”Could you come now? We need some help.”
“Of course. I’ll be there tomorrow.”
Write Anywhere #67: Rest Stop
I packed my Prius and headed out first thing in the morning. The drive from Oklahoma to southern Illinois, six hours for the normal driver, takes me over eight hours because of my back issues and all the stretch stops I have to make. I didn’t mind. It gave me time. I needed time to empty myself of myself. Musician Daughter, Musician-in-Law and Destined To Be A Musician didn’t need someone else to worry about, care for, or be uncomfortable around. I had to button down my own emotions to be able to let them release theirs. I needed to think about the words. What words could I say?
My first rest stop on the trip was just over the Oklahoma-Missouri border, about 90 minutes into the trip. It’s a nice rest stop, with clean bathrooms, cozy couches, fresh coffee, and rows of travel brochures. I walked several laps around the sidewalks and did my physical therapy stretches where I could, to a few quizzical stares. I walked into the visitor center, and a welcome hostess asked me where I was headed, and if I needed help finding a travel brochure.
“Thanks, I know where I’m going.”
The rest stop had a Route 66 theme, and offered weary travelers picnic tables, each covered with a nostalgic diner or gas station-designed gazebo.
I strolled through the empty shelters, watching eighteen wheelers pull in and out of the parking lot, and reflecting on my own nostalgia: Musician Daughter when she was a baby, a toddler, a young girl. When I could soothe any hurt with a band-aid, a hug, or a cookie.
I felt empty and helpless, her pain now beyond a mother’s consolation. I sat down at a picnic table and got out my notebook, and wrote words. Words to the heavens, words to darkness’s depths, words not to be shared, but words to wash the debris of grief from the wound in my heart.
I had the liberty to grieve later, now I needed to help them with their grief that couldn’t be postponed, each time they passed a nursery never to be used. They didn’t need another person asking questions, wanting details, offering polite sympathies.
I watched an old man get out of a car and make his way to a picnic table. A scruffy three-legged dog hobbled behind him. The dog sat at the man’s feet while he lit up a cigarette. The man began to cough, and the dog put a paw on his knee. The man rubbed the dog’s head, and he relaxed and laid down across his feet.
I realized they didn’t need to hear any more words. They just needed someone to be there, when they need a hug, or a hand to hold. Or when they didn’t. Someone to let them cry. They needed a safe ear to listen to their words, if they chose to memorialize with them, when words are so inadequate, but all we have.
I headed back out to the interstate, wedging my car among tractor-trailers, and moving towards the next rest stop, and the next. As the sun settled behind me in the West, I reached my destination. Arms ready for any and all hugs requested.