The song "Rivers and Roads" means so much to me, and it will always remind me of Owen. I feel totally swept up in its current right as the intensity picks up after my favorite line. The song is about the physical separation from someone that the songwriter loves, and hints at an epic journey which the songwriter will take across rivers and roads to eventually be reunited with the beloved. I think of the distance as more symbolic, that Owen is with us but in some sense is not really with us. I hold him and I don't know where he really is existing or how to reach him, but I imagine a spectacular journey of beauty, sweat, and tears to get to where he is so that we can reach him in a way that he can understand with our messages of love, hope, and apology. "Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you." In my mind's eye I imagine the journey to be very green and wooded, much like parts of the Pacific Crest Trail that BJ and I have walked. And a healthy Owen is at the end.
I pause and reflect, what about me has changed the most since November? Really, several things have, but the most obvious to me is the way in which I now choose to prioritize people in my life. The second facet of this song that speaks to me is about the ability of other people to understand our pain. In the song, the writer notes that his family lives in a different place than him. He then follows with my favorite line of the song, "If you don't know what to make of this, then we will not relate." THIS is where I think of my own life, and about the people that have caught me and supported me this past year. There are now two kinds of people in my life: those that can "relate" and those that either can't or choose not to because they have their own priorities to deal with. For those that are unable to relate to the grief I feel and find that connection with me, I have precious little energy to give. Then, there are the people who will relate, whether because they understand loss or because they are my friend and will hold my hand while I go through it. In the most sincere of losses, when I have stood there with raw grief, swollen eyes, and those crazy hives that always break out on my chin when I cry, I have been supported by the most solid of my family and friends. These are the people that I will pour the best of me back into and hope that I can do them some semblance of justice. These people are the ones who are the most real for me; they are the ones who have walked with me when I have treaded across this balance beam, encouraging me, cracking jokes to relax me, but most importantly being real with me and reminding me that they are there to spot me should I lean too far one way or the other. These people check on me frequently, encourage me often, hug me, share their lives and joys with me, and don't expect easy answers when they ask me how I am doing (which sometimes is good, and sometimes isn't so good).
BJ, Mom, Susan P., Christa A., Sommer M., Chanda K., Laurie L., Sara D., Heidi H-K, Heidi W., Cyndi R., Linzy L., Rachel K., Amanda K., Elizabeth W., Vicky H., Linda K., Laura W., Angie H., Jeremy L., Julie J., and Natalie D.---you have bolstered me with words, gestures, and/or actions specifically in this past year, and you have made my life better. May I return the favor throughout the years of our lives. I'd travel rivers and roads for each of you.