Today was supposed to be about something else entirely. Self discipline, I think, or maybe the idea of breaking big goals down into small bites.
Instead, today is about rushing home to attend a funeral.
Jessica and I have been friends since the 8th grade. I cried in the bridal shop when she put on the dress that her mother and I knew without a doubt would be her wedding gown. I was the matron of honor in her wedding when she married Justin, Jared’s best friend. Emma’s beloved bunny was a baby gift from Justin and Jessica.
I apologize; the threads here are random but so intricately woven together.
She’s family, is what I’m trying to say.
Her dad died Monday night. He’d been diagnosed with cancer just a few short weeks earlier when he’d gone to the ER complaining of back pain, and now he’s gone. She texted me early Tuesday morning to tell me.
Once again, I felt so far away from home, from the place I knew in an instant would always be home, no matter where we get our mail or pay our rent. Every connection I had to Jessica, connections that weaved through people and places and memories made, through her mother and sister and dad, through her babies and husband, through the girl she was when we met and the women we’ve both grown to be – every thread came alive like a spider’s web caught in the morning sun. I wanted to follow them, to follow them to her side where I could hold her hand and grieve with her.
There’s nothing I can do to lessen her pain, but I can’t not be there to bear witness to it.
As Jared reminded me when we were debating the impracticality of a mad dash home for an hour-long service, this is the point.
It was for this moment that we gave it all up – the house, the car, the credit, the jobs.
It was not only to be able to hike the Grand Canyon, but to be by our friend’s side when she buries her father. As much as death is a part of life, heartache is a part of happiness; we can’t be open to one without fully embracing the other.
So, once again, we’re cutting time off our trip. We went for one last hike today in Arches National Park, one last adventure for the road, and now we are headed back to Iowa. We’ll be driving quickly through Denver rather than visiting and finding ourselves back in our hometown a full two months before our original itinerary was set to end.
This is not how we thought this American road trip would end, but it is for exactly this reason that we began our journey in the first place.
I can say now with certainty, this trip was a success.