This week, my older sister's youngest child will graduate from high school. My younger brother's oldest child will graduate from elementary school. I am filled with pride over the achievements of all of my nephews and my niece. They have been the apples of my eye since the day the first one was born. My family is extremely close, not weird close, but really close. We attend as many functions as possible to support the grandchildren. We go to church together. And, we try to spend quality time together, especially on holidays and special occasions. So, usually, I am called upon to give someone a ride.
"Dad is at work and he is going to meet us there, so I am riding with you."
"My mom asked if you can take me and she will bring me home."
Or, after church, it's, "Your Dad has something to do, so can you drop us off?"
Or, when mom is on vacation, "Can you pick up (niece or nephew) and take them home?"
First, let me establish that I have no problem transporting anyone in my family anywhere, especially when I am given ample notice. It usually gives me a chance to bond with the people in my car. I have a captive audience after all. What troubles my heart is that after we have whatever big family event, everyone gets in the car with their prospective families, and I ride home alone.
Going from exuberant laughter and high levels of energy to deafening silence can be heartbreaking at times. I want to go to my car, have my husband open the door, load my babies into the car seats, and ride home. I want to recap some funny story that a family member told at the dinner table, or an amazing play that someone made at a sporting event, or even the squabble I had with one of my siblings with my spouse. Instead, I am surrounded by silence that is louder than the white noise of the radio. Silence that reminds me of what I feel is the missing piece to the puzzle that is me.
What's worse is that no one understands. It is not something that I can verbalize to my family. Every now and then, when the prospect of the lonely ride home consumes me, I'll make some snide remark like, "Alright, you all enjoy your rides home with each other." I go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. It's already awkward enough when we go out to eat, and the server asks how we will split the bill, and I have to declare that I am paying for me--just me. I guess the tradeoff is that my bill is less expensive.
I don't know what it is that makes the car such a fortress of solitude, but there are times when I get absolutely miserable. This is coming from the person who has no problem going to dinner or a movie by herself. I even go on vacation by myself. But, the cries from my empty womb during those solo rides seem louder than any other time. And, yes, I pray. I know God is in that car with me. I talk to Him all the way home. He is the one who keeps me from crying my eyes out every time that feeling washes over me. He is the one who helps me focus on what I do have versus what I do not. Still, I am a human being and I get lonely. This life was not meant to be lived alone. As much I love my family, with a niece and two nephews in college and the younger two growing up, I find myself wanting my own family more and more.
Now, before you flood the comments with thoughts about me taking that journey on my own, please understand that I have seen too much and been through too much to raise a child by myself. For me, that is not the right choice. I want my child to have a mother and a father in a loving marriage. That is not to pass judgment on anyone; I am simply stating what I know to be right for me and my future children. And, I could probably make it happen--the whole husband thing, but I have tried playing God before in the relationship area, and I am divorced and very, very single, so we see how that worked out.
I am grateful for everything in my life. I am grateful for salvation, a heart for Jesus, a loving family, an influential career that supports my lifestyle, music and creativity that God gives me an opportunity to use, my church family and my cat. I am hopeful that my solo rider days will come to an end in God's appointed time and that it will be even more blessed and greater than I could ever imagine. That's what keeps me going.
If you find yourself riding solo, literally or figuratively and it bothers you, know that God has not forgotten you. He hears the cries of your heart. He is preparing you to be the best that you can be with all that He has in store you. Before you know it, you will cherish the silence of the solo ride rather than dread it. Right now, while you are in it, it feels hopeless, but my God is a God of hope. You may get frustrated and shed tears, but God will restore the years you have sown in tears in due season. I will keep holding on to my faith in Him and you do the same all my fellow solo riders. Ms. EV