The first week I had my driver’s license I got lost on my way home from work. I worked about 20 miles away from my house, all freeway, but decided to take the back roads home and ended up on the opposite side of town. I called my brother-in-law in tears.
“Gary. Please help me. I have no idea where I am!”
“Okay. What direction are you headed?”
“I don’t know!”
“Where is the sun?”
“Ahead of me. It is setting.”
“You’re going the wrong way. Turn around.”
I made it home, eventually.
In those 2 hours of frantic driving, I had better learned directions than in my previous lifetime of being only a passenger. In retelling my mom the story, she just said “It’s good to get lost, sometimes. Just make sure you leave early and you always have a full tank of gas.”
Cecy recently told me that when my mom was younger, she had wanted to be a chauffeur. My mom had impressive memory for directions. She could take us to a friend’s house once and remember exactly where it was months or years later. She may not have been able to tell you whether it was north, east, south or west (and it didn’t help to mention soggy waffles around her, she’d just look disgusted and keep going), but she always knew how to get to where she was going.
When my mom was first diagnosed and the word “Cancer” was thrown into our lives, before we knew its advancement, my mom, dad and I took a road trip to see the family and tell them diagnosis in person. My dad said something that really stuck with me: “Margarita and I have set off on a lot of trips together. Most of which we didn’t know where we were going at the time. But we always made it together.”
I think along these terms whenever I speak with my family or think about them. We set off on a journey about 10 months ago. We didn’t know where we would end up, we just knew we would stay together as long as possible. When we had to let my mom take a journey all on her own, it broke our hearts. She has always been a pioneer in that way. When I really start to break down what happened and dig deep into my mind, I think about how my mom was always the first to do things, the first to set out on her own. We feel lost right now. We don’t know how to get home or how to get back to her. But what we do know, because of what she has taught us, is that we don’t need a map. We do need to stay together and follow what we know to be north, south, east, and west. Eventually, we will make it back to her.