Spilling Apart

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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It was hot when we finally loaded up our little SUV with everything that wouldn’t or couldn’t fit on the moving van. I remember tightening the straps on the canvas cargo carrier we had strapped to the roof of our vehicle, then climbing down from the running board to lean my weight into the hatchback so that it eased shut. It would be futile to try opening it again without everything spilling onto the pavement below. A picture flashed across my mind of what would happen if we did: lamps and curling irons and books and toiletries and sandals and magazines and little bits and pieces of our life scattering at my feet before rolling into the ditch or coming to rest next to the big, fat tires of our car. I leaned my hip into that door once more. Just in case. It took two days of solid driving before we arrived in this new place. High-rises and twelve-lane expressways gave way to rolling green hills and then to mountains and winding four-lane highways with country inns and truck stops by the road. We drove for hours, straight towards the August sun shining brightly in our eyes while bugs beat against our windshield like ping pong balls and the sky stretched ahead of us as far as we could see. Prairie grasses bowed before a golden horizon and we knew we had never been this way before. Those highway miles rolled away behind me, putting distance between me and a life that I had grown to love…and loved still. My heart was sore, but I didn’t know it then. I didn’t realize how much the hurt had twisted its way in and made itself at home. I didn’t know that one day it would stand up and demand I pay attention—arms crossed, feet stamping out a tantrum right across my emotions. But one day there it was. Wagging its finger and making me admit I didn’t have it all together. Guilt and loss and loneliness and anger spilled all over and skittered around my feet and at the edges of my marriage and in the space between my children and me. It was ugly. It was. I remember thinking that there would be no return from this. I thought ugly was all that I had left. And so I cried. I cried a lot. The tears became a part of me. Sometimes they flowed freely and other times—when I needed to appear as if I had it all together—they floated just below the surface. And then one day I sat on my patio and talked with a friend of mine I’d left behind at the other end of that highway. I pressed the phone to my ear and spoke words that told the truth. I told her I had never been this way before and that I didn’t think I could make my way back to what I had known. She answered and she told me I was right. She said things would never be the way they used to be. And she told me that I should grieve what used to be and grieve it well. She told me I should take my time. She told me I would know. She said that one day I’d be able to bend over and pick up all of those pieces and that I would want to carry them gently because in that moment they would be lovely to me. Photo by Leah Tihia. Used with permission. Post by Deidra Riggs.