A Drive That Leads to a Place, Not a Person

August 25, 2020

I hop on the interstate to head back to my hometown. As always, the tears find their way to my eyes. The homesick feeling finds a way to my stomach. The ache and emptiness finds a way to my heart, always. Each and every time. I never thought a car ride could evoke so much emotion and so much pain, but suddenly it does. Things are different.

My hometown is now empty of the very thing that made it so special, my mother and her love. Now, the drive leads me to the cemetery instead of our treasured family home. Now, the drive leads me to one-way conversations and a longing that couldn’t possibly be described with words. 

It now leads to a place, not a person. That reality is devastating.  

This drive is completely different than it once was. It used to lead to traditions and memory making. Now it leads to remembrance and the ache of the moments and people lost. Time transforms so many things, this drive and feeling are some of them. 

With each passing mile, driving closer to my mother’s final resting space, the emotions grow, as do the tears and the longing. This drive is complicated. Not in direction or effort, but on my heart and emotions. 

I keep going, keep driving, I know this path by heart. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve driven blind, as the tears obstruct my view. Each time I make this journey, I pretend it leads to a different result and visit. I pretend it will lead somewhere other than the place that holds death and grief. Pretending is easier than acceptance. 

Soon, I see the large green sign. The one that says the name of my hometown and the name of the place that holds my mother. It looks and feels different now, as if it’s original symbolism has completely faded and morphed into something new. It looks darker now, not in color, but in feeling. 

No matter how much I prepare or plan, driving here, to this cemetery, to this stagnancy, gets me shattered every time. A drive of painful realities. A drive of finality. A drive of heartbreak. A drive of emptiness. 

A drive that leads me to the cemetery instead of the precious place that used to hold memories made, and most importantly, my mother. 

A drive that leads to a place, not a person. 

A drive that hurts. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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