Are We There Yet?

Since losing my wife Barb to cancer back in March, I’ve been dealing with a wide variety of emotions. If you have ever lost a loved one then you probably know what I mean. To say my emotions ebb and flow is an under statement. It’s been more like a roller coaster ride from towering sunny days down into deep dark storms over and over again. But I will say that each time my emotional weather changes the storms become less and less severe. I’m thankful for that.

As part of my self induced therapy over this summer, I’ve planned and been on quite a few trips. Mostly long weekend getaways to see family and friends. From a June family reunion in Missouri, to a visit to Barb’s cousin’s Indiana lake house in July, and to a Tribe Baseball weekend with the ‘boys’ the first weekend of August. Along with a number of other mini vacations over this summer, I’ve been able to spend some wonderful time with those that love me and loved Barb which has brought me great comfort. And for this too I am very thankful.

To cap off the summer season, I booked a 2 bedroom villa on Hilton Head Island. This is my first visit to HHI as Barb and I fell in love with the Outer Banks of NC early in our marriage and never really considered any other beach destination than the OBX. But since change has come into my life, I decided why not try some place new for a beach trip. So this past Sunday, I and Izzy the Doodle loaded up the Subaru and headed south.

Back in the day I could drive 10-12 hours without any issue but now that my personal mileage is well over 200,000 miles (some days feels like 500,000), the old jalopy known as my body just can’t take it. About 6 hours is my limit now. So our HHI drive became a 2 day trip with a stop overnight on Sunday in Statesville, NC. I love driving I77 between W. Va. and N.C. as the mountains and valleys are so beautiful. Especially that drive from the Virginia state line into North Carolina. Spectacular vistas!

Along the road those two days, Izzy and I made a stop at a rest area in each state. Apparently Izzy’s bladder and mine are on the same schedule and spending a few minutes walking her at each stop was a nice break in the drive for me. If you normally don’t stop at Interstate rest areas, let me encourage you to do so. There really are many nicely kept rest areas these days and usually the first one inside the state line is worth a stop.

While at the rest area along I77 in South Carolina, I overheard that proverbial question all children on a trip eventually ask. “Dad are we there yet?”. I think we’ve all heard this from our kids or other youngsters driving with us on a long trip or perhaps we have asked it ourselves (in my case to myself just a day ago).

Do you remember as a kid the excitement building in you as your family prepared for your summer vacation? I do. For me it usually meant a 10 hour drive to the Ozarks to see my mom’s family. I loved making that trip each summer and as departure day grew closer I found it harder to sleep at night. Much like Christmas Eve. I think looking forward to something we love creates in us a level of excitement that is unique. We become so excited that it’s almost all we can think about.

Departure day does eventually come and you start your trip with great excitement and energy. Then usually within a short time you start to realize that your destination is still pretty far off and it’s going to take much longer than you thought it would. The mileposts roll by much slower than you want them to. There are delays and detours. The exits between you and where you want to be seem endless. Will I ever get there starts creeping into your thoughts. How much longer is this going to take?

And just then the car stops, the doors open, and you step out into the place you’ve longed to be in. The sun shines, the angels sing, and the world explodes into the beauty you’ve been dreaming of. You’ve arrived. 

And with that I think of Barb. 

Her journey to her beautiful destination was completed. Way too short of a journey for all of us left here missing her, that’s for sure. But I can’t help but smile thinking of the joy she experienced in reaching her heavenly home. To see again the loved ones gone before her. To now live in a land of never ending light and love. No more struggles. No more journeys. Unending days of being surrounded by the joy and grace of God.

Barb knew she would one day reach where she wanted to be. She never complained though I know her journey with cancer was long and tiring. Through it all she continued to love all those around her and live each day with the hope that soon she would arrive. I can’t help but think it’s everything she hoped it would be, and more. 

Are we there yet? No, not just yet but soon. Until then it is my hope that I travel the remaining road of my life with the excited anticipation of that child from vacations past. To live as Barb did til my journey’s end. 

See you down the road. 

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