Awakening this morning, I realized there was something more I wanted to say. At the dinner table last night with Emily, Steve and Elias we were reflecting on the trip. I said, “Even if Lynnie had lived, she would never have gone on this trip with me.” Everyone agreed.
But I’ve had second thoughts. Before cancer invaded our lives, I think she might have joined me for the journey. I wouldn’t have gone without her. She was a super homebody, but before cancer she had gone on a number of away-from-home adventures with me. One of those adventures was a road trip I have referenced several times in this blog. On the sesquicentennial of the Oregon Trail ( which I mistakenly said was 21 years ago, and was in fact, 23 years ago) We drove as close to the Lewis and Clark Trail East to St. Louis and then returned as close as we could on the Oregon Trail. She loved that trip, even with her Mother and I serving as co-conspirators, who insisted on stopping at every historical marker we could find, and reading it and photographing it for future reference. Before cancer, Lynnie still had quite a bit of adventure in her. But in the course of 10 years of a brutal regime of treatment, the adventurous part of her was sucked dry.
Since Lynnie’s death I’ve gone on two semi-solo endurance adventures. Tofu has been my faithful companion, but let’s face it, she has very little to contribute to any conversation. A lot of the time I don’t think she’s even listening to me. It’s almost like I have forced myself to get as far away, to go as far and as long away from home as I can. I think I’m beginning to understand why I needed to do this.
Since Lynnie’s first diagnosis in March of 2008, our world has steadily shrunk. Our world just kept getting smaller. Essentially, starting 10 years ago, our range of activity was limited to two hours driving time out of Corvallis. We consolidated our living space with the Herbs. I am still so thankful for our many friends who stepped in and made the move possible. If you’re World is shrinking, it’s wonderful to have a space such as we have had to keep on living. Homebody Lynnie, truly loved being able to closely observe and to contribute to the raising of two of our three grandchildren.
But getting back on theme, eventually Lynnie couldn’t go for a walk in the woods. Eventually she couldn’t ride her bike. She couldn’t go shopping, She couldn’t’ go to church. She couldn’t sleep in our bed. Her world became a hospital bed in our living room. Last Christmas she was there with the Christmas tree. And then she lost her mind, and finally Lynnie lost her breath. Her world had been reduced to the space of one breath at a time, until even that was gone.
Of course, while Lynnie was alive, my world was shrinking too. Not as radically as hers but still. I went where she went. After she gave up driving completely, I’m the main one who took her places. When she could no longer watch complex dramas on tv or read complex books, I was finding less challenging things for her and we watched and read those things together. As she was diminished, so was I. Our world kept getting smaller.
So here’s my road trip theory. Since Lynnie’s death I’ve had an almost primal need to push out the boundaries, stretch my horizon. The walls had closed in on me. Think of the Bing Crosby song, “Don’t Fence Me In.” So here we go to British Columbia, the Yukon, Alaska. Here we come, 31 states in 35 days. Tofu and I have created some breathing room for ourselves. The claustrophobia has receded. I feel as though I’ve found some breathing room to live this new life. Today, it has been wonderful to be home in Corvallis. I’ve been on an “Incredible Journey” (Disney), but as Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”
So here’s the picture I have on the desktop of my computer. This is how I like to see my Girl (I’m talking about the one in red). Love.
7 thoughts on “Well maybe one more…”
Thank you for this post script of your travels with Tofu. I am glad you found your way home and are glad to be back in your home and your bed. Your travels amazed me with the distances you drove and places you just wanted to see. Stay for a while.
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Ah yes, that sounds deeply true and I’m glad you made those trips and reexpanded the space of your being. I’m also glad you are home and back in the fold all safe and mostly sound. I love you my brother.
There is no better way to remember who you are than solitary travel.
John – Thank you for allowing us to accompany you on this journey. Your insight into the shrinking and expanding world reminds me of a class that Christy Wright taught at church about aging. All of our worlds are shrinking in one sense or another. Ours may not be shrinking as rapidly or profoundly but they shrink anyway. As they shrink we are asked to give up first one important aspect of our lives and then another and another. It helps me to be reminded of this as I visit those saints of the church who are experiencing the shrinking world more rapidly than I. Thank you for sharing in that mission as you visit the homebound of our congregation. Thank you again John. You are special.
Thank you for sharing this last piece John. Your thoughts provoke me to think deeper about the expanding and shrinking universes we place/find ourselves in. It will make me think more about allowing myself to join Evelyn in expanding her universe away from home even when I want my universe to shrink away from the bigger world of dealing with people at work every day for hours on end. Your trips and blogs have been a pleasure to read and I’m delighted you shared these trips with an expanded world of your friends and family. Love and relaxation to you and Tofu!
Beautifully written John. I love that photo of Lynnie.
Yes, that is a great photo of Lynnie. And even the cat cooperated. Thank you for this post too, a fitting reflection on these journeys of many dimensions.