It is often a just over four hour road to visit my son and his family. Sometimes longer, occasionally, joyously, shorter. Traffic, construction, accidents, weather all conspire to slow me down, leaving me a bit weary and frustrated as I try to speed along my route. The frustration disappears as soon as I arrive at my hotel, the fatigue and fog of a long drive takes a bit longer.
After a wonderful day of blueberry and peach picking, a toddler gym class and a family dinner, I am glad that I have taken the journey. This morning, reading my email, the paper, drinking a perfectly bland coffee, and finishing the last few pages of a thriller, I am stopped short; not by the surprise ending of this thriller, but a line spoken by the main character, a deeply flawed Norwegian detective created by talented Norwegian writer. The whole story is about loss. Not just the loss of the love of his life, but the loss of his self, or his own best self. The tragically broken man is remembering being in a boat with his grandfather. It is through this old man and his explanation of the path of the boat, the strokes of the oars, the wake left behind and the messy, heartbreaking journey of life between where we start and where we land, that he teaches the young boy perhaps the most elusive understanding of human nature. How we get to be where we are.
I thought of my day with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson and was moved to tears. While I focused on career, it was always second to my connection to my family. Cracked but no less strong for having lost one along the way, my destination seems to have been about those I love, and who love me, not a point on the shore. My hapless and sometimes sad journey was about who was in the boat with me…..and not about where I was supposed to go.
I hope I am smart and strong enough to keep on looking for more company in my boat and not feel lost if I have missed a point on the shore.
Sandra R. Wolkoff, PhD., LCSW-R, COPE Board President