The journey



What a week it has been.  I didn’t know that it was possible to feel that tired.  Life certainly wore me down over the last few days.  The journey has been necessary, but long and windy. 

I went away this weekend alone, to be with my family for our time of grieving.  The drive up north is usually one that doesn’t seem to be too hard on me.  But, I haven’t done the trip, for the reasons of a family death, in many years.  So, I knew the journey would feel differently than it had in the recent past.  I was reflective; sad; pensive; quiet.  I was grateful for the time alone, to play my music loudly in my car and just think.

My cousin was not someone to whom I was closely connected over the last few years; he was familiar in my mind to me from when he was a small boy; he had the blondest hair I had seen on a boy in a long time; he was silly and liked to run and play.  Over the last fifteen years, he went away to college, met the love of his life, got married, built a home, and had three children.  Life was good to him.  He was thirty eight years old.

Then, he died.  Just like that.  One minute he was with his family.  An hour later, he was dead.

Tough.  So tough.

So, I thought about that during my six hour trip.  I thought about my older brother, whose death was not a surprise, not unexpected, who had been sick for years.  Who had not always lived a good life making good choices, who had been manipulative and abusive toward others in his life.  I had my brother on my mind.  His death, his life, his torment. 

I thought of my parents.  They are aging.  They are planning for the future when they are no longer on this earth.  When they leave one of us, me, to handle all that is left behind.  I thought of my love and I, being there for one another, trying to let go of our daughter to be independent, while still being involved and concerned about the choices that she makes.


I cried.  I sang loudly.  I listened to what my heart had to say. 


I understood even more than before, that with life comes death.  That even when we are not ready for it, death touches our lives.  Death will come and we cannot stop it.  That no matter what, the ones that I love will leave this earth, as will I.  And, I can only enjoy the moments with them, as much as I can, and grieve the loss of them when they leave. 


And go on. 


Live life, embrace the moments, go forward, no regrets, breathe, be.


This trip this weekend was not just travel on a road, but a journey to destinations that I know that I have before me, to my heart and soul and all that it knows and fears at the same time.  The anticipated goodbyes, the tears and grief and loss that I know I yet to face.


The journey helped me to understand that I am ready.  Even when I feel like I am not, even when the pain seems too big to carry, I know that I will be able to get through.  With the stars in my sky.  With my family by my side.  With my map in my pocket.


I know that the road may not be familiar, but it will be welcoming. 





17 thoughts on “The journey

  1. Oh Vanessa, I’m so sorry.. I am also impressed with how you have dealt with your loss.. Your words are beautiful as always – with a wonderful message – live while we can – try not to waste a single moment..

  2. You have a way of expressing even the sad moments beautifully – something I admire and envy, I have to admit. It is a gift to be able to share in the reflections of the soul because someone cares enough to risk showing them to the world.

    I also admire your courage, Vanessa. Thank you.

  3. Fibi: Thank you so much for your thoughts; the trip was so freeing for me in so many ways, and the wisdom that I gained about myself just helped all the more. I appreciate my friends here, like you, so much!!!!

    Andy: Welcome! I am so glad that you are here. As long as I am speaking authentically, and from the heart, the words seem to flow. I have nothing to hide; for what I have to say is just my view of things in life. It feels so healing to have this safe place to come to.

  4. Vanessa. . . I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin. My thoughts are with you and your family. It sounds like you did a lot of thinking and soul searching on your way to the funeral. You are such a perspective individual, and I am sure you will live your life fuller because of it.

  5. Leah: thanks so much for your warm, kind thoughts. A big part of what I enjoy when I drive long distances is the time and space to think and to reflect.

    When my brother passed away almost seventeen years ago, he died in California; I lived here in PA; my parents lived in North Carolina; my older sister was in NH; my younger brother also in North Carolina; and my younger sister in Boston. They all went to NC to be with my parents, but I stayed behind. I needed perspective, and knew that how they needed to grieve the loss is not what I needed to grieve. So I took the week off from work; and I drove to the ocean. It totally connected with what I needed.

    Listening to myself when there is a loss has taught me so much about me, and life.

  6. Wow…goose bumps from head to toe! You always see the light in the dark of night! You amaze me at how positive you see things in such a terrible situation. I’m so sorry you lost a part of your family.

    “Live life, embrace the moments, go forward, no regrets, breathe, be.”

    As always your words inspire me! I’m glad your home with your girls and I’m betting they are pretty happy to have you back as well!!! *HUGS*

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss V. It’s true that life and death are all a part of things but it’s still hard and made much worse by the suddenness of it. When we can prepare, it’s still hard but not quite so bad.

    I lost an aunt a few years ago and it hit me pretty hard. I hadn’t seen her for a few years but still, it was tough. Someone said to me “how come your so shook up over this, you weren’t even close?” Nice huh?? Anyway. I felt like you did. You thought of your childhood and all those fun times. When we lose family members, it’s like we lose a little bit of our past. I kind of feel bad for my mom now. She’s the “last one left” and every once in a while it will hit her that if she can’t remember something, there is nobody to ask and nobody to remember things with her.

    Sending bit *hug*

  8. Nikki: Thanks girl! I have definitely come full circle in terms of death and grief; of course, every loss feels different, but I am gaining wisdom about death, loss and going on that I never anticipated. It helps me to feel whole, like I can heal from anything……

    And, knowing that what I say and feel and think inspires and helps others, really helps the healing along as well. I feel that hug honey!!!!

    Joy: I get really frustrated when others feel the need to “minimize” our losses. They are for no one else to define but ourselves. When I was growing up, we were extremely close to our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We spent time together and had fun. Our memories are pure and real and loving. My paternal grandfather had twelve siblings; his one sister, my Aunt Theresa is the only one left. It feels weird to think about. Yet, their presence in my life, their “presents” in my life, will live on forever……..

  9. Dear V, how real, how beautiful. Well done on your presence, awareness and sharing. I feel sorry for your loss, but happy for your clarity.

    * hugs * !

  10. Cordie: I will go to read that right now…..I feel you holding onto me, thanks you! And, yes, always be love……

    Tess: The clarity helps with the healing; grief is so intense, so personal, yet, being in it and acknowledging it is so healing…… there really is such shame in grief for so many, when it is as real as it gets, next to true love in my book……

    Thanks for that hug, woman!

  11. Psychscribe: Thank you so much; you are so right, that loss of this kind is the hardest, yet I find the greatest, deepest growth in it at the same time. I am thinking as I process that the reason for that is that it represents the ultimate strength of love, to feel a loss that deeply.

    Heath: Welcome! I feel honored that you would want to post a comment for me, and come and visit again anytime!!!

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