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I swear I have driven down this road before. I remember it being winter time though, because snow covered the fields on each side of me. Where am I going? My body is in control, not my mind, so where I’ll end up is a mystery. This part of Illinois is beautiful this time of year. The trees are blooming pink and white buds, and the breeze is cool and comforting. I decided to just drive, anywhere, to escape the thought of going back to my mother’s house. I’m visiting her because it’s my son’s spring break from Yale. He missed her, and it has been almost two years since we have been here.
“Why are you pouring that? I thought you quit.” She would nag. It was just one glass of wine. One. Who does that hurt? I did quit, but I’ve been sober for eight months. Ever since Joshua died, it has just been hard for me to pull myself together. I feel alone.
The gas meter is on empty, but I want to keep driving. I’m not sure where I’m going, but I just passed my old high school. Maybe I should stop and get gas, but I don’t. I drive into the small town of Milford and decide to visit the cemetery. I think it would be good to just sit there and think.
I park the car by the cemetery entrance, lock it, and step out onto the gray, speckled gravel. I look up and see dark rain clouds starting to form. The air smells so clean here, and for a moment I wish Joshua was here to share this with me.
I walk over to my grandmother’s grave and sit in the green, soft grass. I read the fading gravestone, even though I don’t have to. I already memorized the beautiful words. They remind me of her laughter and her appearance. Everyone used to say I looked just like her.
I can see the clouds get darker, along with the sky, and I don’t feel like leaving yet. I lay my body beside my grandma’s gravestone and close my eyes. The thoughts of my life flash by in my head. I think about my childhood, growing up in a small house in the country, my first dog, meeting Joshua, getting married young, and giving birth to Bradley. Those were the great times in my life. The ones I try not to repress. Now, the bad times are flashing by like a powerful meteor crashing into the earth, destroying everything in its path. The only thing different between the two is what is being destroyed. My memories are destroying me; Joshua’s death, his funeral, the tears that soak my pillow every night, my alcohol problem, those damn A.A. meetings, and my grandmother’s death. It is all just too much for me.
I open my eyes and the tears start to roll down my face. The clouds seem to give up and it starts to rain so hard that I can’t tell which drops are my tears anymore. I can’t calm down, so I just look up to the sky and let the rain hit me ice shards piercing my face.
After awhile, I gather enough energy to get up and drag myself to the car. My breathing still isn’t normal and I’m still crying my eyes out. It is dark outside, and the clock says 10:30. I check my phone for any calls I may have missed, but there are none. I lay my head back on the seat and take a deep breath before starting the car.
Everything in Milford is closed at this time of night. Well, almost everything. The late night grocery store is open, along with Casey’s gas station. But, I don’t want to go home. I’m too upset for that. Plus, I’m still crying. I miss my life. I miss my grandma and my husband. Without someone to love, who am I? I ask myself this every time I think about my husband. And I know what I want to do now, where I want to go. I feel like my car is leading me there, and I’m letting it.
I pull into a parking spot in front of the town’s ABC store. My car is the only one here, besides the owner’s, and I decide to shut the car off. My tears have already stopped, and all I want now is something to take the pain away, if only for tonight. I stare into this tiny liquor store, wide-eyed, and mascara smeared down my face like a child’s drawing. I open the vanity mirror and stare into it for about five minutes before deciding to wipe the evidence of depression off my face. I start to bite my short nails while trying to decide on what to do now. Joshua used to tell me that one day I wouldn’t have any nails to bite, and lately, I haven’t. It is the only thing that will calm me down.
I close my eyes and think of my two options. I can go inside, buy alcohol, let everyone I care about down, and drink my sadness away. Or, I can just start my car and head home to my son and mother. My eyes start to fill with tears, and I begin to pray. I pray to God. I talk to my husband. I speak with my grandmother.
“Help me.” I beg.
My cell phone starts to ring, and I wipe my eyes with the cuff of my sleeve. I look at the caller I.D., and it says that Bradley is calling. I steady my breathing and then answer my phone.
“Hello?” I ask him.
“Hey mom, where are you at?” He says. He sounds like he just woke up. I start to think about what to say to my son. Our son. Mine and Joshua’s only child. I would never tell him I was in an ABC store’s parking lot. I want him to be proud of me.
“Momma, are you ok?” He asks, sounding upset.
I know what I want to do. I have the strength to be happy. My son is the one that needs me. And I need him, too. I can move forward in my life, and I will, for Bradley. He needs me to be strong for him.
“Bradley?” I ask.
“Yeah?” He replies, sounding relieved.
“I’m on my way home.”
I hang up the phone and start the car. Then, I pull out of the parking lot and start driving towards my mom’s house.