Last week my husband Dwayne and I were on a road trip from Sundance, WY to Albuquerque, NM for our Amateur Radio convention for our area of the country. It’s a long trip, but we don’t mind road trips periodically, especially when we have our SiriusXM to listen to Radio Margaritaville. Singing along in the car is a great way to pass the time and miles.
My turn to drive usually arrives after lunch in order to provide a rest break for Dwayne, who always loses his steam mid-afternoon. As I listened to his light snores, I decided I needed something new so I hit channel 8 for the “80’s on 8” station. As I drove through Colorado, I sang along to many of my favorites from the “good ole’ days” until one particular song came on and I suddenly felt as though I was in a sci-Fi movie where I was sucked through a whirlpool and immediately transported back in time. I was suddenly in the back seat of my sister’s car, on our way to the hospital the night my dad died. I was driving while simultaneously I was again that scared teenager, numb with grief in the dark of the evening hours, in the back seat of my brother-in-law’s Crown Vic. I could see the road ahead of me that I was driving on, all while being in that car in 1988 again…all at the same time.
The experience was surreal as hot tears trickled down my face. I didn’t understand what was happening until my ears recognized the music. It was then I realized….I was hearing the song on the radio that was playing as we drove to the emergency room that night, nearly 26 years ago.
The grief of that night returned like a shock of thunder, racketing my body and soul. I was short of breath, I felt numb and confused. I was that 18 year old once again. I reached over and gently hit button 1 to return to Radio Margaritaville. When Dwayne asked why I changed the music, I caught my breathe and told him simply, “that song was playing on the radio the night my dad died.”
After all this time, I find it hard to believe I’ve not come across this song. I don’t believe it showed up in order for me to relive the grief, that doesn’t make sense. The sting of the grief was temporary and my composure returned in about an hour. However, what I believe the song did do, was light the proverbial fire in my belly to write again. I’ve been craving time to write, I’ve missed it. For some reason I’ve let life get in the way which is stupid, because in effect I’ve been denying a part of me. My brain immediately began crafting up what to write about this experience. I knew this was just the whomp on the head from the Universe I’d been waiting for.
I guess the periodic moments of pain are okay, as long as they are periodic. Memories are there, they don’t go away. The secret is not to dwell in them or live in them. You can’t change the past by living in it, which is why I know this reminder from the Universe wasn’t about going backwards. It was about moving forward. For that, I thank you Universe and I thank you Dad. Thank you for the reminder to get back to doing what I love in the present and doing what brings me joy.