This is my story for the past few months. I am writing it down as a simple record for myself. Perhaps one day I will want to remember all that happened. Feel free to accompany me on my memory journey. If you missed part one, you can catch up here.
So there I was, alone in my car, preparing for the 27 hour drive that I had ahead of me. About an hour before (as Josh was on the phone with the travel company), I had called my new supervisor (Josh had left him a voicemail the night before, but I thought that it would be best if I spoke to him). I essentially told him what had happened and that I wasn’t sure when I would be back at work. He could not have been more understanding. I had literally been on the job for three days, and here I was taking off for at least a week with no notice. While I was not at all concerned about losing my new-found position (it honestly didn’t matter to me at that point. If they fired me for this, then I probably didn’t want to work with them anyway. Plus, I was certain that my old boss would have given me my job back in an instant.), I was (and still am) extremely grateful for the sensitivity and kindness that he showed me. He told me to do what I had to do and we would work it out when I got back.
As I began my journey, I had no music playing (somehow, every song that came on seemed stupid and only served to aggravate me). My thoughts were a swirling complicated jumble, but amongst them all, one continued to be prominent. I needed to get to my sister. I couldn’t rest until I had seen her, spoken to her. Nothing mattered other than getting to her as fast as possible.
A few hours after I set out, *E* text-messaged me to find out if I had gotten on another flight. I replied that I was on the road and I would be there the following evening (Tuesday night). His follow-up of “You’re driving?” reminded me that I had not informed them of my change in plans. I would later find out that my dad was present during this text exchange, and neither he nor *E* were exactly pleased with my plans. Apparently the idea of me driving across the country by myself didn’t sound like a good plan to them. Knowing me as he does, though, *E* knew that it wouldn’t do anybody any good to voice their concerns, as I wasn’t likely to listen to them anyway.
I drove for about 13 hours that day. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I spoke aloud, asking God questions that I knew I probably wouldn’t receive answers to. Sometimes I simply sat, attempting to wrap my mind around the idea of a world that did not include *A*. Constantly I prayed. I prayed for understanding, for wisdom, for comfort, for my sister, for my brother, for my other nieces and nephew. Only stopping for gas when I had to, I made myself eat when I wasn’t hungry, knowing that my body needed the sugar to keep going.
Around 11pm, I knew that I needed to stop. I was no longer safe to be on the road. I stopped at a Holiday Inn right off the highway. Before I went to bed, I called *E* to let him know that I was stopping for the night. While on the phone with him, I heard my nephew ask *E* if I knew. It was all I could do to keep it together at that moment. Again, I promised that I would be there as soon as I could be, I told him that I loved him, and I got off the phone. I spoke with Josh just after that, assuring him that I would sleep long enough to matter, and I went to bed. After 6 hours of surprisingly heavy sleep (I hadn’t been sleeping well the week before, and I’m sure you can imagine that I didn’t really sleep at all on Sunday night), I checked out and was on my way once more.
Tuesday was much the same as Monday. I could physically feel God’s healing hand working on me. While I knew that nothing would ever be the same, and nothing would ever make it ok that I would never again hear *A*’s laugh, I also knew that God was there. During this journey, I continually came back to the old hymn “It is Well with my Soul.” For those who don’t know it, the lyrics (of the first verse) are:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Horatio Spafford wrote the song shortly after learning that his four daughters had drowned while sailing to England for a family trip. He had been delayed and sent his family on ahead. Only his wife survived the trip.
For obvious reasons, the song struck a chord deep within me, and I clung to it. Over and over for the next few weeks, I would repeat to myself “it is well with my soul.” It became my lifeline, my reassurance that the pain would not be crushing forever, that I would eventually find a new normal, and that through it all, I would never be alone.
As I drove, I thanked God for the peace that was slowly settling over my spirit, but I continued to think of little other than my sister. I had not spoken to her, and I could not properly breathe until I knew that she was going to be ok. As I entered Texas, I had to remind myself not to get too excited. I wanted so much to believe that being in the same state meant that I was getting close, but I knew that I would be driving across Texas for around 10 hours before I made it to my destination. The time seemed to drag on forever while occasionally skipping ahead at a very welcome rate.
Finally, I began approaching the towns a mere hour outside of my home. I could feel it coming. Soon, I would be able to stop, take a proper breath, and look *D* in the eyes.
To be continued (again)