Many Miles Before I Go

I will try
And I Will Stumble
But I will fly
You told me so . . . 

This isn’t the typical way for me to start a post, but I heard this song, by John Hiatt.  It’s the title up there, Many Miles Before I Go  from a CD that gets too little recognition: Crossing Muddy Waters.

I had made a copy of the disc for a friend.  It’s one of my favorites, though I found upon this listening that the disc is strangely prophetic for me.  Never realized that before.  Not that it made me break down or sad, but I was a bit melancholy listening to some of the songs.

But the last track . . . that one linked up there . . . that’s a great sentiment.  Hiatt is, without a doubt, a man who can weave a lyric like a poet with the most complicated yet simple of means.

Which brings me to that stanza up there.  Where his title track haunts in its sound of loss and prophecy for me, with “left me in my tears to drown…and she left her baby daughter…” the last track speaks so beautifully to what I’ve been trying to get across here lately.

For those stumbling across this post . . . two years ago my wife, Andrea, passed away unexpectedly.  Our lives went into a tizzy, for quite awhile.  The hardest part was knowing we continued to live while she just . . . stopped.  Whenever she’d gotten upset or worried or said that things weren’t going well I always told her I needed her.  It was as much for myself as for her, I often said I couldn’t do this alone without her.

Then I had to do it without her.

People ask me “how do you do it?”  I don’t think they like it when my answer is “I just do.”  It’s true, though.  It’s one of those questions that’s often like “isn’t having kids just too much work?!”  Well, yeah, kids are work.  Lots of work.  But if you treat changing diapers and warming bottles and putting flailing arms into tiny sleeves when they don’t want to be there work you’re going to  be miserable.  If you do all that and enjoy the smiles, the giggles, the soft curl of the baby sleeping on your lap . . . you don’t see it as work.

None of my kids were babies when their Mom died.  The boys, twins, were seven.  Just a couple weeks from their 8th birthday.  I had a middle girl, 11.  An oldest, who was 16.

I had homecoming dances; prom; one girl’s first period; boys wanting to date my daughter; questions about sex, life, loss, love . . . all of those came to the fore.

How did I do it?

I had to.

Proud and high
Oh, low and humble.
Many miles before I go.

Many, many miles.  I don’t have the luxury of stopping or slowing or bemoaning my situation.  There’s no situation to bemoan.

I get a lot from all four of my kids.  They have the strength of Atlas, holding up the world.  Occasionally the earth rumbles because they shrug and falter.  We try.  We stumble.  But rather than worry about where we’re going at some point – I can’t tell you when – I decided it was time to embrace the journey.  Sure, the ripples from the stumbles cross our world, but we also keep moving.  We keep living.  We saw the world flying by and rather than watch it from the sidelines I decided we should go with it.  We should fly.

We’ve stumbled.  Hell, we’ve fallen, too.  But we see the sky and dream of flight.

Because there are many more miles before we go.

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