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I like to drive. It’s a good thing, too, because where my husband and I choose to live and where I have worked for the past 20+ years is a distance of over 40 miles, one way. So I am accustomed to being alone in the car and enjoy the time to listen to music, audio books, interesting programs on NPR, or just being quiet in my own thoughts.

I also don’t mind taking road trips alone. It seems funny/strange to me when some friends or family members say that they would never drive long distances alone. I guess I learned from my mother’s influence as she never hesitated to drive wherever she wanted to go to visit friends and family. A beloved younger brother lived in Florida and she would often drive down from NC for a visit with him. And it seemed that the roads were open from her childhood home in South Carolina in only one direction as she faithfully visited her family there for many decades, with almost no visits from the other direction. Even into her eighties, before she had to give up driving due to health reasons, she never hesitated to get in her car and take off.

So when my son and his wife recently bought a new home in Charleston, SC, I was eager to go down and help them get settled in. It is a five-hour drive, straight-through, and the route takes me near where my daughter and her family live in Huntersville just north of Charlotte, NC. I arranged with my daughter to stop for lunch and a quick visit on my way to Charleston.

That was a delightful visit! She and I seldom have time together alone and I enjoyed catching up with her and seeing some recent improvements they have made to their house. I enjoyed seeing the wall hangings of the special project they do every New Year’s Day when they each make a collage with photos, words, symbols of things they cherish and that illustrate their hopes for the next year. I also just plain enjoy any time I have with her and marvel at the wonderful person she has grown to be. So, of course, shortly after leaving her house, I got “full up” with tears of joy and pride and hopefulness.

I like listening to a variety of music as I drive—everything from Keb-Mo’s blues, popular tunes from Michael Bublé and Josh Groban, any bluegrass, and of course the classicals. As I was leaving Huntersville, one of my favorite songs was playing: Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.” (I strongly recommend that you search for the music and listen to it yourself. Click here to hear a version.). This song provides some comfort when I think of Alex’s death. The particular lyrics that are meaningful go like this:

“Who can say for certain, maybe you’re still here. I feel you all around me, your memory’s so clear. Deep in the stillness, I can hear you speak; you’re still an inspiration. Can it be that you are my forever love, and are you watching over me from up above. Fly me up to where you are beyond the distant star. I wish upon tonight to see you smile, if only for a while to know you’re there. A breath away’s not far to where you are.”

That is the line that really gives me comfort. When Alex first died, the thing that was so very painful was that I felt so disconnected from him. I had nothing to hold onto, no place in my imagination as a reference point. But, somehow, when I first heard this song, I realized that he was not so far away after all. One breath away.

I will share more of my random road trip thoughts in later posts. For now, let that thought sit. One breath away.