Will you think that you’re all alone
When no one’s there to hold your hand?
When all you know seems so far away
And everything is temporary, rest your head
David Cook, “Permanent”
I went for a drive yesterday, feeling restless, needing to get away, wanting to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I’d been locked inside of myself, facing a personal solitude and emotional overhaul these past few days that I haven’t quite been able to escape. I wanted to shed myself of that thick, heavy skin, return to my usual sunshine, positive, strong sense of self.
But sometimes even the strong have chips in their armor. And sometimes, even those smiles can falter and fade.
I drove down familiar roads, listening to my favorite music, feeling the warm summer wind sweep through the car. I knew exactly where I was going. I knew before I even left the house, even confirming directions from my dad, who has been there so many times before.
I slowed and turned onto the drive, American flags lining the pathway as a guide, a salute, an offer of remembrance. My grandfather was buried here in the National Cemetery at Fort Indiantown Gap five years ago, though I hadn’t been back since. But I missed him. I miss him always. And I needed something that I didn’t think I would find anywhere else.
I followed the curves in the road, reading the signs that led to his section. And when I reached it, I pulled over, stepped out of the car, and walked among the stones, surrounded by names of those who had served with honor, those who had loved with heart. My eyes skimmed over the markers until they rested on one so familiar, so beloved…So permanent. I started to cry.
And I didn’t stop.
I couldn’t stop.
A flood of emotions that I’ve been holding in swept through me as that dam broke. I broke. And everything from the past few weeks poured out.
Everything I thought I had has seemed to slip through my fingers in a matter of weeks, days, hours, seconds and I can’t seem to stop myself from losing these things anymore than I could stop his illness, anymore than I could fight that change. Anymore than I could keep them.
I don’t know why love doesn’t always matter. I don’t know why it can’t stop you from hurting, stop you from losing. I don’t understand it. I don’t. I don’t understand why the most important thing in the world — the only thing that should ever matter — can’t change anything.
I have so much and I’ve never been more grateful. But I’ve lost so much, and I’ve never felt more scared.
I believe in love. I believe in hope. I believe there’s a strength within us that can be challenged, but never beaten, a spirit that can be bruised but never truly broken.
I believe in this.
But I feel a little broken, crumbling from the weight, trying to carry it all, and, for the first time, I don’t know how to hold myself up. I don’t know how to fix it.
I know I’ll find that courage, find my strength again. And those chips in the armor will be mended, renewed; I know those smiles can fade, but never truly disappear. And the tears will dry and I’ll whisper my goodbyes again like a silent prayer as I walk away, return to my car and my life and continue on, moving forward.
I know I’ll be able to build myself back up again, piece by piece. Because I’ve changed and come a long, long way. And I know what I have to offer, I know what I’m capable of now.
But I think I need help this time. Because I’m a little bit scared. And I don’t think I want to do this on my own.