My life often feels like this picture. I travel the rough road on the right while almost everyone I know travels the left. My road is bumpy and at times treacherous. There are places where there are no lines and days I don’t even know if I am on the correct side. Potholes appear suddenly and I swerve to miss them. It’s very constitution changes beneath me with no signs of warning. My road is worn from time and use.
I watch as cars zoom by on the other side. From where I am, I am sure they can turn on cruise control. Their road is so well defined they can almost not think about the direction in which to go. I envy them as I watch. They have two parents in the car. All their children have the ideal number of chromosomes. They do not have to stop often for doctor appointments or IEPs or meltdowns. They can stop anywhere to eat or use the restroom. Everyone just hops out of the car. We have to wait until there is a place with food easily pureed or family restrooms. We have a wheelchair and diapers for a 16 year old and a feeding tube. Life seems easy for them and I envy the simplicity.
My road has many diversions. There are stops that take time and we can’t get anywhere fast. Mandatory hospital stays and surgeries keep us stranded, sometimes for days. There is nothing smooth about the road we travel.
But it is our road and the only way we can travel on the other side is with the absence of one of our passengers and no one wishes that. So I learn to live as a vigilant driver. I adjust accordingly. I expect the unexpected. My children grow increasingly patient and empathic. They learn to lean when I swerve. They take care of one another in a way I doubt they would had we traveled the other road. There is no way to know for certain, but I suspect they are and will be different people for their journey.
The grass is just as green on our side. We travel under the same sky, the same stars, the same moon. We see the same sun and God shines on both roads. We have wild flowers, rolling hills, and lush meadows. The scenery is as beautiful. In the slowness of our pace I can take in more of it. I can breathe deeply and almost smell the morning dew. It is during the stops that seem so long when I notice the clouds and the sun. It is those moments that give us a chance to dance even when there is no music.
See, my road still goes somewhere. Although it is different and challenging I am grateful to be on it. It is, for the most part, exhausting. Cruise control is not an option. Even so, I know full well there are families who wish they could be on my road. For they once were but at one of the stops they had to leave their special passenger and pieces of their own hearts. I know they would give anything to deal with potholes and wheelchairs and doctor appointments. I know they miss this road and I realize it is an honor to be exactly where I am.
I can spend my time begrudgingly traveling, indignant and angry for the road on which I traverse. Or I can drive with gratitude and joy but I must drive.
I must travel.
How I do is entirely up to me.