It is the first day I am making my way down to the cemetery. The sun is shining, there is a light breeze in the air (Hey, it’s Rutland. There is always a light breeze in the air), and I have Shakey Graves cued up as my Pandora station. As I start my walk, the Universe throws me a curveball and starts playing all these songs that feel like Luke is sending me a message: songs about fires, and mistakes, and I’m sorrys. Songs about funerals, and sad mommas, and Heaven. Hard-wired, The Mess is Mine, Almost Home are all songs I had never heard before, but each one struck such a chord with me that I came home and recorded the name of all twelve so I would remember the moment forever. Oh, that tricky bugger, I thought to myself and I cried or laughed depending on the lyric.
The most important song I heard that day was Rivers and Roads by The Head and The Heart. I was on my way back up the hill. Now this is no small hill, friends, and one of the things nobody talks about is how exhausting grief is. Exhausting! So I am starting my way back up the hill and I am bent over, as I imagine it, like a tree branch heavy with a covering of ice and snow. I feel like my feet are stuck in cement and I am never going to get myself home. But then this song comes on with its powerful constant strumming and I begin to match my steps to this beat. It’s slow and steady, and as I take the lyrics in, I imagine myself taking step after step between this world and the next to meet my boy and hold him again. And I vow to do just that. Day after day; Step by step; breath by breath.
“Rivers and Roads,
Rivers and Roads,
Rivers till I reach you.”
This song became my anthem. I played it every day as I made my way down to where Luke rests easy. Sad story, or for those there that night, probably more verging on pathetic, although that’s a strong word and people will forgive a grieving momma most anything. Here goes: For almost a month of Fridays after Luke passed away, our besties and some of Luke’s closest friends, would come over and keep us company. They would check in, share a story or two about the week or Luke, and maybe have a beverage or three. On one of these Fridays I was incredibly sad. It had been a long week of missing and the red wine was helping me numb my heart. Late in the night and out of nowhere, as I looked around at the group, the words from the chorus just poured out of me. “Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you.” It was raw and emotional and I can feel the sorrow in me still as I think about how those words just needed to come out and so I sang. The room went silent, Eric hugged me, and as I started to cry and apologize, the girls came over to comfort me and the moment passed. But the thought that each day is one day closer to my sweet boy stayed.
So here’s what I need you to know: If today is your Day One without your child, you might be wondering how you will possibly spend a lifetime without them. When you are grieving, a single day can feel like a challenge – A lifetime can seem like an unbridgeable chasm. When you are ready, try thinking about it in very. small. increments. Not as time spent apart, but as time spent moving toward something. Toward that moment when you and your lovey meet up again. I like to imagine that after my lifetime of walking and walking and walking I will take my last breath on the planet Earth, and as the fog clears on the other side, my boy will be standing there and he will hold out his hand and look at me and say, “What took you so long?” And I will say, “A few rivers and roads, son. A few rivers and roads.” Xxx