Swaying Hugs and a Road Song
The recent snowfall painted a serene backdrop for my lengthy road trip to offer a final goodbye to someone that I’ve known most of my adult life. It seems I’ve lost count, but I know that I’ve attended far more memorial services in the past few years than I have in my entire lifetime. “It’s that circle of life thing”, a friend reminded me. His reply seemed far too casual… maybe even a bit too basic. And as much as I would like to think differently, he was absolutely right.
The calm of the distant drive had a soundtrack, but with little volume. Sometimes there was no volume at all. Instead I tuned to the noises of the moment… the wind, the road, and my thoughts as mile markers passed by as if to keep time.
As mournful as expectations were, the day was instead a celebration. I rekindled with faces I’d not seen in years. Those reunions were often followed by hugs. Long ones. The ones that make you sway back and forth in one another’s arms for what seems like forever… those welcomed kind of forevers. The day was filled with plenty of shared words of comfort. Smiling strangers offered personal accounts, memories, and stories of a man that we each knew just a little bit differently than the other. I laughed far more than I cried. At times, laughing loud enough that people sitting in pews in front of me would look back with a smile. Seems everyone did.
The return home soundtrack was not much different than the one from hours earlier. Loosening my necktie, I turned south on the rural two-lane route. Smiling, I waved back to the oncoming driver with four raised fingers from the top of my steering wheel. My right hand reached for the dial on the dash to raise the volume on the stereo. A mile or so later, I raised it even more. Each of those familiar lyrics was a longtime friend of mine. I sang the words to every song while reflections of miles passed behind me in the mirror, each seemingly humming the very same song.