Bumps in the road. Detours. Unexpected roadblocks. Dead end streets. The past few days these things have come up in conversation with friends. Today when one friend and I were talking about our need to belong, I started thinking about how, even though I have folks whom I belong to, since my parents have both gone on up to The House, I need to change my way of thinking. I have to wrap my brain around not having them here and the whole concept of belonging, as it exists now.
As I was replying to her, an image came to mind. That of a Global Positioning System, GPS, Garmin, TomTom, whatever you might call it. That thing that tells you when to turn and what road to take so you’ll get to your destination. It’s like an inner compass. Only on the outside.
My Fella likes to use the GPS. No matter where we go. When he entered in my parent’s address one day, I finally figured out he likes the feature that tells our arrival time. So it stays plugged in most of the time.
I don’t usually use it. Sometimes when my oldest is riding shotgun, she will punch in the address for the fun of it. I still go the way I know. In the spirit of “All roads lead to home” I like to change it up and go different ways. If traffic is backed up, I usually know a different way to get where I’m going. If we have errands to run on the way, I might have to switch it up. And quite honestly, sometimes I go a different way than what the GPS says, just to mess with it. Mama always said I got Daddy’s sense of direction, so sometimes I like to see if I still “got it.”
Have you ever taken an unexpected turn? Gone differently than the prescribed way? Had to take a detour for one reason or another? If you have a GPS, do you remember what it did? Do you remember what the screen looked like?
When the GPS realizes the vehicle is heading in a direction that is different from what was mapped out, it takes a moment and looks at the other possible routes. And then it redoes the mapping.
This is what I find myself needing to do. Recalculating. There has been a major change in the route I had planned. I did not foresee life without my parents at this age. Not that anyone asked me, but they were supposed to be around to help get me through all this child-raising. To see all of their grandchildren graduate, and to keep me sane and calm as one by one, they each leave and start off on their own paths.
But it was not to be.
Major change in route. Without any preparation.
And so I have to recalculate.
What will the path look like without them to guide me? My compass is gone–their wise words and funny but meaningful stories from their own lives helped me make the right decisions when I needed to. At least if I didn’t make the right one, I made an informed one and I had a safe place to land when I needed it.
Today I found out that someone I’ve know for most of my life buried her Mama last week. On her birthday. Her Daddy died on Christmas day several years ago. I could see it in her eyes that aren’t ready to focus and make contact, and I could hear it in her voice that is too numb to speak very much at all–she has been knocked off the road, more times than I know, but this last one, it was a doozy. She’s been hit and can’t even tell you what happened. She’s going to need people to love her and help her recalculate her new path. After she gets a second wind. And that will take lots of time. And grace. I am thankful for my family and friends who are helping me figure it all out and start back out again. I hope I can pay it forward for my friend. And help her figure out this new life without them.
On life’s journey,
my folks were the compass to guide me
the tire jack to help me when things went flat
the team that responded when I sent up the flares.
They were the emergency blanket and poncho which kept me dry and safe
during all of life’s storms.
As I traveled down the road all of these years,
they were the road signs preparing me for the twists and turns up ahead,
and they were the fellow truckers who honked their horns when I needed
to know someone else was out there.
Most of all, when I needed to stop
and take a moment
in the midst of all the growing up, traveling, planning the journey,
they were the rest stop,
open arms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
anytime and every time
they were a safe place to rest, refuel, and map out the rest of my way.
They were the key to my staying on the road.
And now they aren’t here to do those things anymore.